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The same companies behind the Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers have created a new campaign to educate consumers about the advantages of electric cars. Are they the world's biggest hypocrites?


Same Car Companies Slashing Away At EPA Emissions Rules Are Promoting Electric Cars

The same companies behind the Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers have created a new campaign to educate consumers about the advantages of electric cars. Are they the world’s biggest hypocrites?

Can you say, “Lying bastards,” boys and girls? Yeah, I knew you could. The very same companies which have directed their trade association, the Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers, to bitterly oppose the Obama-era fuel economy standards have now banded together to educate consumers about the benefits of electric cars. The program is entitled “Drive Change. Drive Electric.” It has its own website and will feature print ads and social media campaigns designed to reach people who are in the market for a new car.

electric car

The hypocrisy here is so thick you could cut it with a knife. Who are the car companies behind this outreach program? The list includes BMW, Chrysler, Ford, General Motors, Honda, Hyundai, Jaguar, Kia, Mazda, Mercedes-Benz, Nissan, Subaru, Toyota, Volkswagen, and Volvo. Check the list of Alliance members in our story from March 20 and you will see the same companies are involved. The new group has partnered with officials from New York, Connecticut, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Rhode Island, Vermont, and New Jersey to get the word out about electric cars.

“What we’re here to do is educate and inform consumers that there are a wide range of zero emission vehicles — electric vehicles — available in this region at a price point they can afford, says Toyota general manager of environmental regulation Fred Turatti in a story by Mashable. “It’s really important to get this information to consumers before they go to the dealership,” said Britta Gross, General Motors director of advanced vehicle commercialization policy. “9 out of 10 consumers already know which technology they want in their vehicle before they go to the dealership.”

Gross doesn’t add that some General Motors dealers don’t want to hear about electric cars and actively discourage customers from considering them. Squint really hard and you might see The General and the other manufacturers doing an end run around recalcitrant dealers with the Drive Change Drive Electric campaign.

“Automakers are really good at saying ‘This is why you should buy my pickup, my SUV, my sedan over somebody else’s,'” said Robert Bienenfeld, Honda’s assistant vice president of environment and energy strategy. “What we’re not as good at is saying ‘Here’s a new category and you should consider the new category.'” Whoa, understatement of the century, Bob.

Do the people involved in setting this up believe they are doing the virtuous thing? Probably. But that doesn’t mean the suits in the C Suite above them are wholeheartedly committed to this program. It may be a step in the right direction, but the car companies have a long way to go to convince people they actually want mainstream drivers to consider an electric car. Chances are this is little more than greenwashing designed to sprinkle environmentalist pixie dust all over the people working the hardest to keep the internal combustion engine alive for another decade or so.

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Steve writes about the interface between technology and sustainability from his home in Florida or anywhere else The Force may lead him. 3000 years ago, Socrates said, "The secret to change is to focus all of your energy not on fighting the old but on building the new." Perhaps it's time we heed his advice.


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