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Out of Our Minds
Monday, July 18, 2005 9:22 AM
Today's Depressing News
Kevin Salwen on Making a Difference

Why is it that just when we're on the verge of something that can truly make a difference, our values get misplaced? Take the case of hybrid cars. The auto makers started off doing what so many of us wanted in our new generation of vehicles: Conserving resources, polluting less, making driving more about getting somewhere and less about consumption. The Prius became the rage ('look, Hollywood stars are driving them!') and Toyota couldn't make enough of them.

But the New York Times, picking up on research by Consumer Reports, now reports that many of the 2006 hybrids barely have any gasoline savings over their nonhybrid base models. Some, like the Honda Accord, get only 2 mpg more. What are the hybrid's batteries doing, then? Adding to horsepower. In other words, giving us faster 0-60 acceleration.

Is that what the world needs, more power? This is the choice we're making? My bet is that many hybrid buyers don't need more power in their lives (seems like there is a metaphor for life in there, doesn't it?). What I'm betting they want is decent vehicle performance that saves money, resources and maybe a little guilt. Where did this get so off-track? Have the auto makers misread the market?


shari aaron - 7/20/2005 10:40:16 AM
You raise a good point for us all as shoppers -- what tools do we have to evaluate the true social and environmental practices and policies of companies? How do we really know which companies are working to reduce our dependency on foreign oil, employing fair labor practices or operating in ways that match our concerns and beliefs for a just and fair economy and an environmentally safe world?

I found a company and a group of committed individuals that are working to bring this information to us as consumers. www.alonovo.com is a consumer led effort to build a web community, shopping website and rating system that will give consumers access to unbiased trusted information about the social and environmental policies and practices of companies. The hope of alonovo.com is to educate consumers and guide them to purchase from companies that match a buyer's concerns about the environment, social justice and ethical behavior.

If we all start to evaluate companies and make our purchases from those that we can confirm are operating in our best interest, not just for profit motives, then we build a strong economic influence and create sustainable change.
I invite you to visit www.alonovo.com and learn about this project. I think we are all tired of hype and marketing manipulation. I believe it's time for all citizens to get involved -- I am doing my part to bring awareness and education to my fellow shoppers -- I hope you can join me.
Jeffrey - 7/18/2005 12:20:03 PM
I think you're overgenarlizing the state of affairs with hybrid cars based on this one article. Like any technology, it has multiple applications, and some manufacturers with some models are indeed using it to simply amplify power. Doing so may not increase mileage as much as it does in other models, but it can still have a positive affect on emissions. There's not one set of values at play in this market. There are mutiple sets.
Sue - 7/18/2005 12:09:49 PM
I'm surprised by this revelation especially after being won over by an article in The Economist that boasts all the great features of a Honda Hybrid.


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