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Cars In GM-Ford Dustup, Detroit Dirt Is The Big Winner

Published on March 29th, 2014 | by Tina Casey

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In GM-Ford Dustup, Detroit Dirt Is The Big Winner

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March 29th, 2014 by  


GM and Ford have created quite a stir with dueling plug-in EV ads that play off the 1% – 99% thing. GM got things going with the Cadillac ELR in a spot naturally bent to the smaller fraction, and Ford shot back with a closely tailored, insanely hilarious spoof featuring Ford’s C-MAX Energi. After watching the two go 10 rounds in the blogosphere for a couple of weeks, we can declare a winner…Detroit Dirt, whose founder Pashon Murray narrates and stars in the Ford ad.

We tried to access Detroit Dirt online just now and it seems that the site has exceeded its bandwidth, most likely because everybody now wants to know about this intriguing urban food waste-to-compost company and its dynamic founder, Pashon Murray.

So, we’re going to have to wait a while before we get to those details, but in the mean time let’s see how CleanTechnica got mixed up in the whole thing.

Detroit Dirt wins Ford GM fued

Food scraps by Nick Saltmarsh.

Cadillac ELR Vs. Ford C-MAX

After GM launched the Cadillac ELR ad, back on March 6 our sister site Gas2.org took the company to task for not divulging any of the EV tech that makes this high-end car so cool and daring for a brand that is not particularly well known for being cool and daring.

That was the extent of Gas2′s critique of the ad.

On March 11 CleanTechnica reposted the article (here’s the link) with an editorial update to the effect that the GM spot was intended to be a generic brand ad, and the choice of an EV to pilot the brand was “interesting” but secondary.

In the mean time, the ad became part of a broader conversation about wealth, work, and the deserving rich.

Things really started to erupt last week, when Ford launched its spoof ad. As recapped by our friends over at autoweek.com, the ad turns the race/wealth angle on its head, using African-American Murray and her striking Dante de Blasio styling to navigate a sometimes bleak looking urban landscape in search of food scraps to harvest.

She starts off in work clothes but by the end of the ad, Murray emerges all cleaned up and ready to go to some important meeting or dinner or wherever in her C-MAX.

We’ve been closely following Ford’s C-MAX MyEnergi Lifestyle solar package and the ELR, so we’re going to give GM points for inadvertently positioning cutting edge EV tech as part and parcel of an otherwise un-daring lifestyle.

However, Ford also gets some points because it packs that extra green punch into its advertisement by choosing a spokesperson who walks the walk, so we’re calling this one a draw.

Speaking of Detroit Dirt, we just checked and the site is still down, but here’s some information from a 2011 interview with Murray at Model D (modeldmedia.com).

Murray co-founded Detroit Dirt a few years back with Greg Willerer of the urban farm Brother Nature Produce. Some of the compost from Detroit Dirt is used at the farm, and the rest gets sold. As Murray says:

It’s what’s best for the environment and the community. We are trying to be part of a viable food system in Detroit and maybe help create a few jobs along the way.

Model D also notes that GM was an early supporter of Detroit Dirt, as later noted in the Autoweek piece, so who knows, maybe the next time we see Murray in a car ad she’ll be driving an ELR.

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About the Author

Tina Casey specializes in military and corporate sustainability, advanced technology, emerging materials, biofuels, and water and wastewater issues. Tina’s articles are reposted frequently on Reuters, Scientific American, and many other sites. Views expressed are her own. Follow her on Twitter @TinaMCasey and Google+.



  • JamesWimberley

    Why bend over backwards to call this a draw? The GM ad is obnoxious pandering to American redneck myths and prejudices. (Social mobility is much lower in the USA than say Norway; productivity per hour is lower than in France; longer holidays are a legitimate and some would say wiser European choice, which US workers are not allowed to make). The Ford ad is witty and inclusive.

    • Benjamin Nead

      As with James, I also declare the Ford retort ad to be the winner over the Cadillac one. It’s not even close. Pashon Murray rocks!

      All of this begs that larger question, though, regarding the availability of pure electric cars from American brands. Ford will begrudgingly sell you an all-electric Focus EV, which is priced far beyond a comparably equipped Nissan Leaf, and it’s only available through a handful of Ford dealerships nationally. They are far more comfortable offering the plug-in hybrid electric (PHEV) C-MAX Energi.

      Likewise, GM has the Chevy Volt and Cadillac ELR . . . both PHEVs. The only way to purchase a GM nameplate pure EV is to live in California or Oregon and hope you can find a Spark EV.

      Chrysler plays the compliance-only game even more completely. There is nothing (please correctly me if I’m mistaken) in their nationally-available lineup that can be plugged in before driving. Their California-only Fiat 500E (which, by all accounts, was a very nicely engineered product) sold out very quickly, with no hopes of future availability.

      Tesla, of course, makes beautiful all-electric cars here in America. But – perhaps wisely, given their financial resources when starting out – has chosen the slow path to the mainstream. The 4-door Model S sedan is less expensive than the earlier 2-door Roadster. But both are (or was, in the case of the Roadster) well out of reach for the typical consumer. Here’s hoping their upcoming Model E (ie: $30K, 200 mile range all-electric) gets here sooner than later and will be followed by even more affordable offerings.

      So, several decades after the Japanese automakers basically made the US brands look like anachronistic dinosaurs, history is largely repeating itself. If you want to buy an affordable all-electric car in most places across the United States, you’ve basically got two choices: the Nissan Leaf and the Mitsubishi i-MiEV. Sadly, for the American branded auto manufacturers, I don’t see that situation changing anytime soon.

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