There's something to be said for being the "first mover" in an industry trend. Those years of extra experience in tinkering with a new idea can be invaluable in helping the first mover fend off inroads into its business by copycats. Hybrid engine pioneer Honda
Leaving aside the ace-in-the-hole hybrids, Motley Fool Stock Advisor pick BMW took top honors for fuel efficiency in the mini-compact category with its Mini Cooper sedan. General Motors'
On the other end of the scale, European carmakers won dishonors for fuel inefficiency. Italy's Lamborghini staked out two of the top five least-efficient slots; Britain's Bentley claimed another; and DaimlerChrysler's
Fools brave enough to invest in an industry engaged in one of the worst price wars in recent memory would do well to keep any eye on the majors' relative fuel efficiency. With oil prices at or near all-time highs, being able to promise buyers more miles to the gallon should have a bigger than usual impact on manufacturers' ability to move product in the coming months.
When seeking to boost sales, one alternative to making better vehicles is to sell the ones you've got for peanuts. Read about which automakers have taken the easy road in:
- Quiet Desperation at General Motors
- Ford, First of the Worst
- Car Buyer's Market?
- Detroit Downshifts in June
- U.S. Carmakers Sweat Sales
Fool contributor Rich Smith has no interest in any of the companies mentioned in this article.