Environmental Groups Rally at Entrance of North American International Auto Show
DETROIT, MICH. (January 7, 2001) - Today, a coalition of 18 environmental organizations joined with consumers and rallied outside the North American International Auto Show to send the "Big Three" a clear message -- build cleaner, greener vehicles. Honda Insight and Toyota Prius owners drove their convoy of hybrid cars in a continuous loop in front of Cobo Hall, while representatives from the Michigan Environmental Council, Natural Resources Defense Council, Union of Concerned Scientists and Environmental Defense called for automakers to step up to the challenge.
"Automakers usually try to sell us cars," said Roland Hwang, a transportation expert with NRDC. "This time we're trying to sell them one. Cleaner car technologies are primed and ready to go."
"Today's hybrids demonstrate that Detroit runs the risk of falling behind in the race to meet consumer demand for more environmentally-friendly vehicles, " said Lana Pollack, president of the Michigan Environmental Council.
The coalition -- united under the Green Car Campaign -- collectively represents over 1 million members. Utilizing the Internet, mailings and volunteers, the coalition combined their efforts to collect pledges from consumers interested in purchasing more environmentally friendly vehicles. Roughly 150,000 signature/pledges were brought to the rally, stating that they (consumers) would be interested in purchasing greener cars if Detroit would build them. The pledges call for automobiles that deliver 50 percent better fuel efficiency when compared to other vehicles in the same class, meet California's super-ultra low emission vehicle (SULEV) standard for smog-forming pollution and are cleanly manufactured using non-toxic, recyclable materials.
"These 'pledgers' want automakers to offer appealing vehicles that meet the standard in every market segment now. They represent the tip of the iceberg of consumer demand for cleaner vehicle choices," said Kevin Mills, a senior attorney with Environmental Defense.
Although hybrid vehicles utilize the most promising near-term technology for meeting this challenge, the environmentalists' would like to see greater development of fuel cell and battery electric technologies that produce zero tailpipe emissions, ultimately replacing the internal combustion engine.
"The automotive industry is clearly in the midst of a major transition," said Jason Mark, director of the Union of Concerned Scientists' Clean Vehicles Program. "Ultimately, we will move beyond pistons, beyond petroleum and beyond pollution."
The organizations discovered during their efforts to collect pledges that many potential customers were unaware of new, cleaner technologies that offer greater value at an affordable cost. To increase awareness, the environmental coalition also called upon automakers to increase their promotions.