Time up for trucks. Why pick-ups are the dinosaurs of the car world
05 June 2008 12:11
Just as the Greenham Common women did not get rid of cruise missiles in Britain, so eco agitators have played no significant part in persuading America’s masses to go green. But just as one is now history, so the other is happening fast.
This week’s announcement that General Motors is to close four SUV and truck plants, and is to launch a new fuel efficient small car and the innovative plug-in Volt petrol-electric hybrid, is a sure sign of the sea change in America. This is no short-term sales blip in America’s century old love affair with over-stylised street supertankers. GM, despite years of disingenuous green-tinged press conferences, and despite a century old reputation for ecological irresponsibility, has seen the light. Yanks really are going green. To prove it, the Honda Civic – that little itty-bitty car – last month outsold the Ford F-series pick-up to be America’s best selling vehicle. It was the first time in 26 years that the F-series has failed to take top spot.
The change has not come about because of distressing eco stories in Vanity Fair, or Leonardo di Caprio posturing on melting ice caps, or frequent flyer TV environmental correspondents standing on Pacific atolls with rising sea levels lapping over their ankles. Rather, it is because of the rising price of oil. The market has persuaded the great unwashed – including General Motors – to go green. The same thing is happening around the world.
It is perhaps a sad indictment of our moral atrophy that it takes an assault on our wallets rather than on our consciences to change behaviour. But that’s the way our democratic capitalist system, for better or worse, works.
Just as Reagan and Thatcher, those twin Antichrists of the Greenhouse Common women, helped to end the Cold War which in turn got rid of the cruise missiles, so the corporate eco-Satans – the multi-national car companies – will do most (far more than activists or governments) to cure auto environmental ills. They just needed the financial incentive to do it. They finally have it.
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