Green America: Growing the Green Economy for People and the Planet

Co-op America Encourages Automakers to
Plug-In to Climate Solutions

Over 10,000 American Consumers Have Already Sent Letters, Postcards to Push American Automakers To Mass Produce Plug-In Hybrids

January 22, 2008

Washington, DC — Co-op America continues its campaign to encourage automakers to mass produce plug-in hybrid vehicles today outside the Washington Auto Show as members and staff encourage attendees to ask American car makers to “Plug-In To Climate Solutions.”  Over 10,000 consumers have already expressed to General Motors and Ford their wish that the companies devote more resources to mass-producing a plug-in hybrid and using already available technology to achieve over 100 miles-per-gallon.

Co-op America’s Climate Change Program Coordinator Yochanan Zakai said: "Consumer demand continues to grow for fuel efficient plug-in hybrid vehicles, but for year after year automakers continue to display concept cars inside auto shows.  We call on domestic automakers to keep their assembly lines open and meet consumer demand by mass-producing plug-in hybrids vehicles before 2010.”

As the planet heats up, America’s largest car makers are giving us a lot of hot air about solutions, but taking few real steps to meaningfully reduce carbon emissions. The technology exists today to make cars that get 100 miles per gallon and move away from dependence on foreign oil. Instead of mass-producing these vehicles, GM and Ford have promoted corn-based ethanol as a viable part of the solution to global warming and energy security.

American consumers have a growing appetite for fuel efficient cars.  Domestic automakers could continue the strong legacy of American innovations by leading the industry and producing the next generation of plug-in hybrid automobiles.  Instead, foreign automakers are capitalizing on this trend and threatening American leadership and jobs.  Consumers are talking about global warming, and automobiles, a main source of carbon emissions, must be a part of the solution.  The single biggest step we can take towards breaking our addiction to foreign oil is to mass produce cleaner, more fuel-efficient cars.

Detroit automakers have continued to push ethanol-fueled cars, which are less fuel-efficient and using current technologies can even produce more global warming emissions than gasoline-fueled cars.  The corn that goes into ethanol takes massive amounts of energy, water, and land to produce, and using it for fuel could take away food from the world’s poorest peoples. Instead of promoting ethanol, automobile manufacturers need to significantly improve the fuel efficiency of their vehicles and increase their production of hybrid and plug-in vehicles.

A Civil Society Institute survey of Michigan households released in February 2007, with more than a third (31 percent) of households including one or more people directly or indirectly involved in the auto industry, showed that residents felt the U.S. auto manufacturers were falling down on the job when it came to fuel efficient vehicles. When asked to identify the three biggest problems facing the U.S. auto industry today, more state residents (60 percent) pointed most often to "the industry not offering the best available technology, including improved fuel efficiency."

The second most common response at 59 percent was an "over-emphasis on production of vehicles with poor fuel efficiency, like SUVs". (Auto industry workers in Michigan are not inclined to defend their employers; 60 percent of survey respondents in households with someone working in the auto industry cited Detroit's focus on SUVs and other fuel-inefficient vehicles as one of the biggest problems facing the industry.) The third most common response at 53 percent was that there was "poor U.S. auto industry vision and leadership."

ABOUT CO-OP AMERICA

Co-op America is a non-profit membership organization founded in 1982 with the mission to harness economic power—the strength of consumers, investors, businesses, and the marketplace—and to create a socially just and environmentally sustainable society. 

Contact:
Yochi Zakai
Fair Trade and Climate Change Programs Coordinator
202-872-5302
eoconnell@greenamerica.org
 

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