US Auto Companies Are Going Green
Sorry that I have been gone for awhile. As you can see from the picture, I’ve been checking out cars at the Detroit Auto Show, courtesy of General Motors. I was one of a group of social media writers that GM hosted, but I was the only one focused on parenting, while all the others were auto enthusiasts, technology or environmental writers. Although at times it was a bit intimidating, it was also an unbelievable opportunity to learn from these passionistas.
The overriding theme of my trip was the desire by the US auto companies to accelerate production of alternative-fuel technology vehicles. I witnessed it when visiting the automakers’ showcases and saw their near-term production pipelines and their longer-term plans, as expressed in concept cars. It was “hyrid,” “biopower,” “dual mode hybrid,” “plug-in electric” everywhere. And, I heard about an honest commitment to go green. The majority of every conversation my traveling group had with with GM executives (Chairman & CEO, Vice Chairman, President of North America) focused on environmental issues or fuel economy. There was no polite dodging of uncomfortable questions. And, of course, GM put its money where its mouth is by investing in the production of an alternative energy source. That’s right. GM is helping bring to the market a breakthrough technology that affordably and efficiently makes ethanol from practically any renewable source, including garbage, old tires and plant waste. GM is trying to help make economical and non-grain-based ethanol a reality.
The truth is that GM and the other US car makers have been probably brought to this position kicking and screaming. The companies say that change in focus on “green” car technology and fuel-efficient cars is in response to 1) climate changes making it clear that the auto industry needs to do its part in reducing the carbon emissions, 2) cost of transportation has risen dramatically with the rising price of fuel, and 3) increasing need for energy independence. I’m sure the fact that Toyota Prius is a top-ten-selling car was part of the reason, too.
But my new auto and environmental buddies (see below) tell me that this is the greenest auto show by far, within a movement that started around 12 months ago.
Criticism of the US auto makers continues with naysayers citing their efforts as too late and that the US companies are doing more green talking, than walking. As I told the Detroit News, I applaud any change in the right direction. You don’t criticize children if they are able to improve behavior a bit. You applaud their achievement and incentivize them to continue to do better.
Here are some great write-ups by some of my new friends:
– The 2008 Detroit Auto Show: the Complete Roundup
– Most Fuel-Efficient Cars Still the Prius and Honda Civic
– Detroit Auto Show 08 Goes Green?
– Comprehensive Detroit Auto Show Coverage
Next up: Car Eye Candy
Picture Source: John T. Greilick / The Detroit News