Saturday, January 12, 2008

Detroit: Green Envy and Not Going To Take It Anymore

If you don't have time to read this whole BusinessWeek article on U.S. Automaker's "Green Fear and Loathing" at the 2008 Detroit Auto Show, here are your key takeaways:

  • A phenomenal headline: Fear and Loathing and Green Tech in Detroit
  • Toyota is kicking U.S. automaker arse in the "green vehicle" race, with the Prius becoming the 9th best-selling car in the U.S. in 2007!
  • Ford, with its gas-turbocharged direct injection hybrid technology, and GM are apparently scrambling to close the gap (the sleeping giants have awoken!)
  • Oil barrels cost over $100 each now (with oil in them; a few bucks if they're empty, I'm guessing)...will this be the breaking point, and thus 2008, that we collectively say "Enough!"?
  • All improvements are still incremental to this point, I am required to say, and fuel efficiency progress is embarrassing compared to, say, microprocessors (duh, but still)
I remember going to the Detroit show up at Cobo about 15 years ago, a care-free pre-teen, with my longtime pal Brad (who lives not far from Detroit and works on some of the coolest ad campaigns for some of the region's best vehicles, including Jeep). We were young and carefree, mesmerized by the shiny metallic Lamborghinis. Hummers and other 9 mpg beasts were nary a thought on our minds- heck, the minivan heydey had yet to yield to the SUV craze.

Imagine how far we've gone in 15 years...I mean, it's 2008 and we're talking about how this might even be the year that possibly we could maybe start to think about how U.S. automakers might consider preparing to compete with mass-market, cutting edge alternative technologies of their own!

P.S. With Subtle Disclaimer: Just so as not to appear entirely cynical, the 2008 Ford Escape Hybrid (younger and more eco-friendly nephew to my 2001 unhybrid Explorer) is a seriously good looking vehicle.

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