General Motors and Chrysler are taking the nation’s concerns over rising gas prices and the environment to heart by offering a hybrid option in their biggest SUVs. The companies’ 5,500-pound eight-seater SUVs can now come with big hybrid badges, a slightly less obnoxiously consumptive engine, and a significantly higher price tag.
G.M.’s four-wheel drive Tahoe hybrid model gets 20 mpg, up from 14 with the conventional engine. The price tag? $53,000! – a hike of $4,000.
SUV sales have been way down – by about 50% since 2007 according to the R.L. Polk research firm. Not surprisingly, the new gigantic hybrids aren’t the answer most people are looking for. G.M.’s hybrid SUV sales are way below their targets. The national trend is towards smaller, more efficient vehicles. Toyota’s Prius now ranks as the 9th best selling model in the nation. Even better – people are decreasing car use and walking, using mass transit, and biking more.
“Is this a green vehicle? I think it could be a lot greener,” David Friedman, research director of the vehicles program for the Union of Concerned Scientists told the NY Times. “The question is whether the improvement in fuel economy is worth the cost.”
In Norway car manufacturers are forbidden from even using words like “green” or “environmentally friendly” when advertising cars. Cars are deemed inherently bad for the environment – to claim otherwise would be false advertising.
In the U.S., we’re still trying to work within the confines of a broken, car-centric system. Hybrid SUVs may be the most glaring recent example, but Americans aren’t falling for this ploy and sales are flopping.
Source: NY Times.
Photo via flickr by geognerd.
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