No, I'm not kidding. General Motors, the company that produces some of the world's best small and flex fuel vehicles but, as the Washington Post put it last year, "hides them in Brazil," and kept them out of the American market because, hey, we all want SUVs here, don't we?, and which put 2 million innovative flex fuel vehicles on US roads but didn't bother marketing that fact until lately, held an extraordinary little event in Detroit last week. And I was there.
And, flag wavin' green romantic/realist that I am, I'm pretty happy about what I saw.
General Motors actually reached out to members of the green media blogosphere--people who write and work on sustainable living sites like The Daily Green, Eco-Geek, Groovy Green and others--flew us to Detroit, put us up for the night, gave us lessons on accident avoidance techniques and then unveiled their 2008 earth friendlier auto line-up and then let us test drive the things on their 4000 acre proving grounds in Michigan.
So here's why I'm a happy camper.
One: I'm a car geek. OK, I admit it. A life-long love affair with cars. A 1951 Chevy pick up in my garage just because I think it's pretty and, as the first post-WW2 model year with new styling, also very symbolically patriotic, and no, it's not my husband's, it's mine, I bought it on a whim at an auction. It barely runs, so it's really eco-friendly. It's fine for hauling horse manure to my organic garden and appearing in Memorial Day parades.
Two: General Motors has A LOT of enviro-friendly cars in the 2008 model year line up and they're aggressively telling people about them. Yes, I know, it took Toyota's success with the Prius to help them understand they could actually, you know, make money with greener cars, but hey, here they finally are, and let's take a look under these American-marque hoods. Here's the line up: Five Hybrids (including the world's first hybrid full sized SUVs) and 12 E-85 Flex Fuel Models
Chevy Tahoe Hybrid SUV
GMC Yukon Hybrid SUV
Chevy Malibu Hybrid
Saturn Vue Green Line Hybrid
Saturn Aura Green Line Hybrid
Chevy E85 Flex Fuel Vehicles: Avalanche, Express, Impala, Silverado, Suburban, Tahoe, Uplander
GMC E85 Flex Fuel Vehicles: Savana, Sierra, Yukon, Yukon XL
Pontiac E85 Flex Fuel Vehicle: Montana SV6 (Canada only)
Three: General Motors? The blogosphere? Environmental journalists? All together in one garage, eating lunch, talkin' design and fuel cells and lithium ion batteries? What in tarnation is going on here? The car companies are famous for romancing the car writers at the nation's magazines and newspapers, but the online world? Not so much. Enviromental journalists? Riiiiight.
Maybe green is going mainstream after all. And an American manufacturing icon that has suffered billions of dollars of losses is catching on. About green and about the power of the online world. Nice.
PS: The Volt! I ate lunch sitting next to the much talked-about Chevy Volt Electric concept car, which sadly looks like a Camaro right now (typical Detroit muscle car syndrome) but I bet when it finally rolls, it'll look more like something lots of actual people will want to drive. This is really innovative technology, it's an electric plug-in that lets you run your car off your home juice. They are just waiting for the lithium-ion battery to be developed that is sufficient for auto use. This is the Holy Grail of electric car technology, and some are looking to the January 2008 Detroit Auto Show for an announcement about when Chevy will get this car on the road.
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