Tuesday, September 13, 2005

Deflation Tactics

It seems SUVs are beginning to spread their love all the way to the most romantic city in all the world: Paris. SUV and light-truck sales are sky-rocketing among European Union countries, more than doubling over the past year. Even in countries that normally pay $6.60 per gallon for petrol (prices have hit $7 after Katrina), the idea of driving a H2 Hummer down the Champs Elysees is somehow catching on. Here's the kicker: in France, to fill up your new Humbug it'll only cost you a mere $210. Yeah, you thought your wallet felt a little lighter, imagine what a night out driving around Paris will cost 'ol Pierre. Whats interesting in all this is what this spike in SUV sales is driving European activists to do.

A group called Les Degonfles ("the deflated") has taken to the streets to send a gentle (but firm) message to SUV owners: stop driving your damned gas guzzlers. The method to this madness is rather ingenius. Using a bike pump Les Degonfles are able to deflate the tires of parked SUVs without damaging anything while piling the winshield with fliers, pamphlets and reading material. Apparently, its not (really) breaking any laws.

Meanwhile, as Eurpeans choose to deflate SUVs, over here in the U.S. the nation's most famous environmental group, the Sierra Club, is busy endorsing SUVs. The Mercury Mariner, Ford Motor Company's newest wanna-be hybrid (23 mpg city, 29 hwy) is ready to grace the red, er, green carpet this fall and the Sierra Club is already tipping it's hat. For the record, I find it humorous (maybe sad) that a member-based group like the Sierra Club formally known for being rooted in activism that pushed the cultural and political envelope is suddenly endorsing the worst car company on earth when it comes to overall vehicle emissions. Even GM is better.

I'm glad Ford made a hybrid. Like I said earlier, I'm all for baby-steps. But shouldn't we be aiming to put zero-emission vehicles on the road? We're capable of it, and if consumers weigh in hard enough it can happen. However, often consumers don't weigh-in until it's too late.

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