We all know that "green" is the new gold in marketing, from eco-friendly soaps to hybrid automobiles. Hybrid cars are becoming "in," as Hollywood stars are seen driving them, but they still represent a miniscule percentage of vehicles on the roads in the U.S.
Brandweek's cover story this week, titled "(not so) Green Machines," tells how Detroit (and Tokyo and Stuttgart) "hoot about their green machines...but are still cranking out more gunboats than ever."
Back in 1955, when gasoline was under 20 cents/gallon, a V-8 Caddy got 13 mpg. Today's Cadillac Escalade, with a V-8, gets 14 mpg. More than 60,000 Escalades were sold in the U.S. last year. Toyota Prius hybrids, which get 45-50 mpg, sold some 185 units in 2007.
Clearly, there's demand for cars with better gas mileage, and it's not only to save money. A survey of Prius owners showed nearly 2/3 bought a Prius because it makes a statement about who they are -- environmentally conscious.
But even as the carmakers talk green in their ads and news releases, they continue to produce and market gas-guzzling monsters. They're just serving a market, some will say. True, but maybe, with much more than corporate profits at stake, the government needs to step in.
Just as has been done with cigarettes, perhaps heavy usage taxes should be added to cars that exceed a certain mpg rate. It will push consumers to buy, and the car companies to pump out, vehicles that are less harmful to the environment. And those added tax revenues can go toward developing and implementing other more environment-friendly sources of power.
If the car companies -- and we consumers -- are talking, but not walking the walk, maybe we need a push... before it's too late.