From: Editor, Sierra Club Green Home, More from this Affiliate
Published January 21, 2011 03:49 PM

The Detroit Auto Show: Sure Looks Green to Me

I'll bet many of you have heard rumblings from friends and relatives or colleagues at work about the premature death of the green movement, and how the economic recovery must first occur before we even address climate change. This rhetoric is a groundswell among otherwise rational people, not just climate change deniers.


I just returned from the Detroit Auto Show (courtesy of Ford Motor Company, I should disclose) and there was one overwhelming, over-arching headline that was in your face, anywhere you looked: the green movement in personal transportation is just beginning. Virtually every automaker showcased green cars above all else. Doubting Thomas's claim that electrics and hybrids combined won't amount to more than five percent of the total car market. It's hard to fathom that almost all the car companies would devote this relentless effort to R&D and marketing launch publicity in return for only a token slice of sales. Indeed, some analysts seriously question the numbers behind the auto industry going green. Thankfully, the companies themselves seem rather committed at this point and there appears to be no turning back.

Now, skeptics might say that four or five years ago, when the green movement appeared to be The Next Big Thing times ten, the automakers had to decide to go green and we are just now seeing the real results of those decisions. (It takes anywhere from two to five years for a new model to make it from concept to production.) I would humbly submit that the incredible onslaught of hybrid, electric and other alternative fuel vehicles seen at the 2011 North American International Auto Show demonstrates that those who really know – the car makers themselves – believe Gen Y and Net Gen are being raised to be environmentally conscious as part of their DNA and will default to buying green vehicles.

Highlights of this commitment include everything from the new small car line from Ford (Fiesta, Focus and C-Max) to two new models of Prius from Toyota, to the best of show-winning Chevrolet Volt hybrid electric, the all electric Nissan Leaf, and unbelievable electric/hybrid race cars for the street from Mercedes Benz (the E-Cell, an electric version of the new SLS Gullwing which only come in a retina piercing electric yellow hue) and Porsche (the 918 hybrid street exotic and track version, both of which are absolutely stunning). The only automakers who seemingly didn't have much to boast about green-wise were Ferrari and Maserati. Even Bentley claims its new GT, all 5,000+ pounds and almost 600 horsepower's worth, is significantly lighter and more fuel-efficient than its predecessor.

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