Hey everyone, Jim Kliesch here. I know that ScottN is our resident pop culture nerd, but during the Super Bowl on Sunday, I caught General Motors showcasing their advanced and efficient technologies: plug-ins, fuel-cell vehicles, electric vehicles, hybrids, biofuels, and efficient conventional vehicles with ads like this one.
Very exciting, yes?!?
Yet if you watched closely, the fine print at the bottom of the screen detailed the fact that many of the vehicles being promoted had either limited or no sales volumes. When it comes to improving the environment, sales volume means an awful lot. Engineering vehicles with the environment in mind is one thing; engineering them with an ad in mind is quite another.
Now let's compare that to the host of recent announcements from Ford. First, they are planning to put approximately 500,000 of their "EcoBoost" engines, which can increase fuel economy to around 20 percent, on the road by 2013. They have also been talking about cutting weight out of their vehicles to save fuel and are going to spread electric power steering throughout their fleet in the next few years to boost fuel economy and even save money on warranty costs. And, yes, it is just a concept and it does not go all the way, but I can't help but see some hope and a little UCS influence on Ford's Explorer America "Greener SUV" concept.
I'm by no means saying Ford has completely changed their stripes (note what Scott said about the '09 Escape Hybrid in the last HybridCenter.org Driving Change Network newsletter), but their emphasis seems to be more on products than PR--and that's a real step toward the end zone, rather than just an engineering lateral.
Posted by: Jim