We Americans are unfortunately known the world over for wanting bigger, faster, more luxurious, lots of oil or grease. That's especially true with hotel rooms, cars, houses and junk food. So now we're literally paying the price for it. It can be very hard to find a smaller or more efficient car in the U.S. as I just blogged. I poked around to find out more. I found a waiting list over a year long.
1) AMERICA IS NOT THE FIRST MARKET YOU ENTER IF YOU ARE BUILDING SMALL OR EFFICIENT CARS. Ford is going to be building a new small car, the Fiesta...in its Mexico assembly plant. And the car will be sold first in Europe and Asia, not hitting North America until 2010. Not an unusual marketing strategy.
Europeans have smaller cars on the average, and many more diesels which can get more miles per gallon than current gasoline cars. The diesel makers have been very slow to bring these cars to the US. Those on the market in the US are not heavily advertised. VW is promising one "soon." Meanwhile, diesel ain't necessarily a panacea. A couple years back a scientific panel concluded there was more savings of gasoline, money and a reduction of pollution by making gas engines more efficient, NOT SWITCHING TO PETROLEUM-BASED DIESEL.
2) Our national emissions standards continue to lag behind Europe, and even China. Are we Americans just bound to be more polluting and wasteful? Could there be an agreement between politicial power and big auto companies that it would be impolitic for the US to keep up with other developed and developing countries? Is the bottom line the bottom line when it comes to marketing cars to Americans? Duh.
AMERICANS SMART, CARS NOT SO SMART
The Smart Car has been on European roads for most of this century, since gas in the US was less than $2 per gallon. Now they've come to the US. Been here since January. 33 city/41 highway mpg according to 2008 EPA standards--that's what their website cites. And so are Americans buying the little runabouts? Well, I called the only Smart Center in my state of Oregon. Waiting list for this car: one year to eighteen months. That seems like proof there's a market. That's much worse than the iPod wait, even at the peak of initial demand. And the Smart Car would likely be illegal in some areas of the US BECAUSE THEY ARE ALL MADE IN FRANCE. This reminds me of the days when VW Bugs were destroying jobs at Detroit automakers who just didn't get it.
SOME HOPE FOR AMERICAN TECH AND AMERICAN DRIVERS?
How about a car that gets 220 MPG. Detroit won't build this one, Neither will Japan. They're promising to compete for the x-Prize. That competition will culminate with two long distance races in 2009 and 2010.
And here's a photo gallery of the twelve greenest cars YOU CAN ACUTALLY BUY, IF YOU CAN FIND ONE. Number one: Honda Civic GX, powered by natural gas.