Sunday, January 11, 2009

Going green even against Murphy's law

When I watched the news this evening I had to laugh a little at a story about an auto show. (I know that it has a name but I don't want to give it the wrong name.) The big three auto makers are all trotting out their new fuel efficient models and prototypes but the outlook is grim.

When gas hit four dollars a gallon earlier in 2008 people were scrambling for small, fuel efficient cars including hybrids such as the Prius. At the end of the year all of the increases in small car sales had evaporated in the mess that is the financial downturn.

Now the big three automakers face a conundrum. Do they continue to produce and invest in these fuel efficient cars like they should have been and the kind of cars that the government is demanding in return for money or do they go back to putting money into cheap cars that consumers will actually buy?

I wish that I could say that I would buy a hybrid or some other sort of fuel efficient car but to be completely honest I do not see the wisdom in buying a depreciable object that cost around the same amount of a potential year's wages.

Sometimes though businesses have to make hard choices in order to survive in the long term and become a brand that lasts. I hope that America's big three automakers have the courage and the financial wherewithal to make that choice. Otherwise we as consumers might be in quite a pickle when once again gas prices skyrocket and we are stuck with guzzlers.

1 comment:

Eric said...

Great post!

A standard Prius starts at $22,000.00, which is a hefty chunk of change. Would the financial savings from lower fuel costs offset that sticker shock? I guess it would depend on your frequency of driving. For the person who drives a couple of miles to work and spends most of their time at home, probably the savings wouldn't add up. For someone like me who drives 40 miles round trip daily for work and more miles for my second job the savings might work.

Toyota, Honda, and Nissan are all working on making significantly more hybrid and zero emission vehicles and having these cars compose a majority of their offerings. It appears to be working. True, they have a large European and Asian market where environmentalism is a far higher concern, but it should be an example to US auto makers.

One final thought: It is said, Americans WANT the big gas guzzlers, they don't WANT the small cars. Truth be told, for the most part, Americans are fed what they "want" by the companies that make the items. 25 yrs ago, who was demanding a Hummer?