So, remember when I got all hot and bothered about bailouts, car companies, and all that other crap I get mad about? The funny thing about blasting your opinion out there is sometimes people listen. Sometimes BIG PEOPLE listen. MAJOR people, like Ford Motors. Ford Motors, who has NOT taken any bailout money and decided they want to try pulling themselves out of financial crisis with innovation and gumption.
I dig that.
So when Ford asked me to attend several hybrid car events, I was ALL for it. Then I looked at my calendar and realized I would be traveling for most of March and April, not able to sleep much less run around for Ford. So, we sent my best friend Jeff to one of the events because he is going back to school for environmental engineering. Sweet! Here’s someone who knows what he is talking about, can take my place, write up some awesome enviro-tech stuff, make me look super smart – all while I am off tubing with my kid!
AND THEN! The next event was when I got to test drive a 2010 Ford Fusion Hybrid, and Ford was smart enough to send me out with 2 other ladies who know WAY more about cars than me, so I could suck up all their smartness on video, add my smartassedness and call it a day.
That works. So here is some info on the now and then of green.
I’m No Gearhead
by Jeff M.
The Denver Auto Show came to our convention center last week, which normally would not be highlighted on my calendar. But my ears perked up upon hearing about one breakout session known as the 2nd Annual Rocky Mountain Automotive Summit. The theme was green auto technology, and speakers included business leaders, state senators, and representatives of Volkswagen and Ford as well as regional non-profits. As a sustainable design/engineering student (and someone in desperate need of a reliable vehicle!), I was eager to attend; here are some items I’d like to share.
Despite negative press to the contrary, automakers DO understand the need for change.
For example, Ford’s Thomas Niemann spoke about his program known as Sustainable Business Strategies; it’s a major effort toward re-thinking their business model. They’re switching to more of a component-based manufacturing system, where different vehicle models might use the same “platform” (or chassis, for those of us who took auto shop in high school)… but the rest of the vehicle can be customized to local environment/demands. Also, watch for lots of press around their improved powertrain, called “Eco-Boost.” (See www.ford.com/innovation/environmentally-friendly)
Gunter Schiele from Volkswagen told us that their big focus is reacquainting North Americans with diesel. Similar to the slogan, “It’s not your father’s Oldsmobile,” VW wants to show us that diesel-engine vehicle tech has matured… it’s no longer smoky and loud. In fact, the Jetta (clean diesel) TDI recently won Green Car of the Year 2009. (See www.vw.com/jetta/en/us/?tab=tdi)
It’s not just about innovative technology and slick marketing.
Every speaker at the summit stressed that tech is just a piece of the puzzle. We must all conserve energy in general, relocalize, and support public policy that promotes the reduction of petroleum use while either saving or increasing jobs.
Although the marketplace already exists, we’re still developing the infrastructure for this transportation transition. For instance, one of the biggest challenges for a clean automobile industry is that we don’t currently have a plan for how to reuse or dispose of spent batteries (and an electric car needs plenty of batteries). Not to mention that recharging an electric vehicle with power from a coal-burning power plant isn’t truly a “clean energy” solution.
So while I’m very anxious to buy a highway-speed plug-in vehicle, it looks like I still have some time to ponder that purchase… as I pedal the miles to school and work.
Before I sign off, I just want to gaze lovingly one more time at the dashboard of the Fusion and the leaves that grow on the right side when you are being more economical with your gas. I need to figure out how to add this to my blog. Like maybe more monkeys jump around the page when things are groovin’? Can Dave from Ford can work on that for me?