It’s auto show season again. That’s right—the beginning of the annual cycle where the automakers roll through LA, Detroit, New York, (and thousands of smaller cities in between) launching their new concept cars. This week, Freedom from Oil is blogging from the Los Angeles Auto Show—the “green” autoshow of the year. Like last year we’re expecting great eco fanfare as the auto industry rolls out a series of eco-concept cars. And like last year, we’re staging a series of creative actions to highlight the continued wide gap between the auto industry’s eco-promises and status-quo action.
Here in LA, we’re slicing through the hype and keeping our eye on the prize. The automotive CEOs might be back at the podium making promises about sustainability, but on the streets of LA and throughout the country, hardly anything has changed in the past year:
- Fuel economy of the cars available to American drivers remains at the bottom of the barrel.
- Automakers are still fighting tooth and nail again fuel economy and tailpipe global warming laws.
- I still can’t walk into a show-room and buy a plug-in hybrid.
To kick off the week, we’re juxtaposing Ford, Toyota, and GM’s eco-promises with their continued participation in the lawsuit against California’s groundbreaking tailpipe global warming law. At this morning’s keynote speech to kick off the LA Auto Show, we put Ford CEO Allan Mulally in the hotseat by confronting him one-on-one and demanding he respond to a clever Freedom From Oil-produced USA Today front page wrap targeting Ford’s greenwashing.
Eco-cars (like the Cadillac Escalade hybrid, um what?) cannot just be an effort to deflect building criticism on the auto industries’ continued and stubborn reliance on gas guzzling, high global warming emissions vehicles. As I read the news this week and see extreme drought and wildfires in California, oil spills fouling the shores of San Francisco and the Black Sea, and oil prices approaching $100 a barrel, I’m more offended that usual (and that’s saying a lot) by the business as usual shenanigans of the automakers. It is high time for the automakers to stop saying what they can’t do and start giving American drivers the oil-free, zero-emissions vehicles we want and deserve.
Our showcase action of the week is going to do what non-violent direct action does best, “show not tell” the automakers what we want from them. On Thursday, while the automakers are inside the convention center making excuses and promoting concepts, we’ll be carrying out a high-speed one day conversion of a Prius hybrid to a plug-in hybrid (we’ll post more details on Thursday). With our action and our messaging, we’ll be asking the automakers what is taking them so long to get the cars America deserves on the road—if grassroots engineers can make a plug-in in a day, what’s holding back the auto industry?
UPDATE 1: Check out the photos on RAN’s Flickr site!
UPDATE 2: The AP wrote a great article about RAN confronting Toyota today!