Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Chevy's Greenwashed "Gas Friendly to Gas Free" Marketing Campaign

OK, we all know that all of the U.S. car manufacturers have made decision after decision that is leading to their own demise. First, the engineered obselescence of the 80's and 90's - you need to keep buying new cars if the one you bought was designed to fail, right? Brilliant strategy. Once they knocked that off and lost the faith of the U.S. consumer, they launched ad campaigns convincing a frightening number of us that big, powerful cars are what you need to be a rugged, manly American. They even managed to get ridiculously unnecessary tax incentives passed for ginormous SUVs to sucker in more people. Unfortunately for the American worker, they have continued to lag behind the rest of the world's auto manufacturers and have yet to give us a reasonably sized hybrid or alternative fuel car with the exception of the Chrysler Sebring and Malibu (I don't consider the Impala "reasonably sized")
Now Chevy has answered all of our environmental prayers by launching their new "Gas Friendly to Gas Free" marketing campaign. This ridiculous attempt at greenwashing lists the following subjects: Fuel Efficiency, E85 Ethanol, Hybrid, Electric, and Fuel Cell. Let's go through the list:
#1: Fuel Efficiency - although some chevy cars get decent gas mileage, they still don't match up to most foreign offerings, with Toyota, Honda, Nissan, Minis, and VWs taking all of the top MPG spots. Some improved technology has come out, limiting the use of cylinders when not needed, but this is mostly in huge vehicles. Thanks for polishing our brass - love, the Titanic's crew.
#2: E85 Ethanol - Once again, almost all of these Flex-fuel vehicles are massive SUVs. Also, when was the last time you saw E85 at the pump in most of America? This in addition to the fact that corn ethanol is THE WORST BIOFUEL available! For every 1 gallon of fuel you put into the process you only get about 1.3 gallons of fuel out. Corn requires large volumes of irrigation, fertilizer, and pesticides. And don't forget that you're taking a needed food source to pour into your SUV - it just doesn't make any sense at all. Please feel guilty and picture a starving child while you pour what should be their corn into your fuel tank.
#3: Hybrid - What is their first hybrid? A freakin' Chevy Tahoe. You have got to be kidding me. This wasteful monstrosity gets a whopping 20-22 mpg, and although that's good for an SUV, it's downright horrendous for your most eco-friendly offering to date. Why not take your Aveo or Cobalt, which get 24/34 and 24/33 (city/hwy mpg) respectively, and make one of those into a hybrid to compete with the Prius or Civic hybrids?
#4: Electric - Ahh. . . The much discussed Chevy Volt. For one thing, didn't you already make one of these that worked marvelously? Oh right, the EV1. They were repossessed and shredded (not even recycled or disassembled!). Whoops! The Volt is still vaporware to date (but to be fair, so is the much anticipated Tesla Roadster). If/when it actually does come out, it might be a pretty sweet ride.
#5: Fuel Cell - Yet another concept that will probably never reach any one of us. Can we please get some people with money and brains (Sir Branson, would you consider this as the next X-prize?) together to design a functional, reliable, long-lasting, non-toxic super battery/fuel cell/whatever? All we need is a power source people - that's all the hydrogen and fuel cell concepts are - glorified batteries. I think that ultracapacitors might do it (still vaporware as well, though) - imagine driving your electric car for 250 miles or more and when you run low, plug in to a power station, swipe your card, and charge up in minutes! Maybe if the oil companies would release some of those battery patents they've gobbled up, there would be one worth developing.
Basically, I'm asking that nobody fall for this greenwashing campaign of Chevy's. Don't buy an SUV just because it's a hybrid or it's Flex-fuel - don't buy one, period! If they really cared, they'd stop making Hummers, Tahoes, Escalades, and all of the other gas-guzzling compensation tools and make super-efficient, hybrid, alternative fuel (the forthcoming algae biodiesel or cellulosic ethanol), or electric work vehicles, people-movers, and small personal transportation vehicles. Admittedly it would take a lot of chutspa for a major auto manufacturer to trim the fat and only concentrate on these types of vehicles. Toyota is coming close with it's goal to go all-hybrid, but that's not enough. If one of the American companies would step forward to this goal, it could be done, and it could be accomplished with American ingenuity and style and we could lead the world once again in transportation innovation.
Any takers?


Anonymous Anonymous said...

I am with you on this one. I have been an automobile technician for almost 25 years now. The big three have always lagged behind and because of having cheap fuel in comparison to the rest of the world, have made a fortune out of marketing these terribly inefficient vehicles to the American buyer. I think their sales figures are starting to show that when fuel costs rise much like the situation in the housing market when people are over their head they buy more fuel efficient vehicles, usually import cars. I have seen this happen before and I think you are going to see people demand better fuel efficiency or they will not buy the vehicle. I am a big fan of biodiesel myself and use B100 in my own vehicle with no problems as long as it is spec fuel. I think you are going to see a return or good power range highly fuel efficient diesels that will surpass the mileage of a hybrid and cost less than the hybrid. - Gadget

4:47 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

hey klint, its biodiesel jason here. i saw those same ads a little while back and could not believe my eyes...what a total joke. i completely agree with your arguments on all of their "green cars". a tahoe hybrid that gets 22mpg, or an e85 tahoe, these are such marketing ploys that, unfortunately, many folks probably beleive. this type of thing is probably creating more problems than it could ever help or solve.
lets hope the big three do get with the program for real.
cheerz, jason

6:48 PM  

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