Should we buy low emission cars from companies that oppose efficiency?
The last time I posted about electric vehicle etiquette, I shared that I was about to buy a plug-in hybrid minivan. What I did not note is that very same minivan is being built by Chrysler, a company that is actively lobbying to undermine federal and state fuel efficiency standards. And as the Globe and Mail reports—they just scored a major victory.
Such efforts put environmentalists in a bind. On the one hand, it's exciting that a growing number of car makers are finally getting serious about electrified mobility. Many auto execs even appear to believe that electric cars will dominate and car ownership will decline within the next decade. So demonstrating to these companies that there is a market for innovative, lower emission products and business models ought to be a no-brainer.
Yet while General Motors enjoys gushing reviews of the Bolt, it's also working hard to make sure it can keep selling gas guzzlers too. While Chrysler launches a minivan that'll get 84MPGe, it's joining in the efforts to dilute government mandates for fuel efficient vehicles. And while Ford is investing in electrification, it too is pushing Washington to bend to Detroit's will. And let's not forget that without government bailout, it's doubtful that these companies would have survived the financial crash. So whining about regulatory "assault" may ring a little hollow to US tax payers.
Honestly, it all kind of sucks. Many of us don't yet live in communities where car-free living is a practical reality—so electric and plug-in hybrid vehicles are a major step forward. But turning over $30,000+ to a company that is actively undermining the fight against climate change, just to reduce one's own dependence on fossil fuels, is at best a muddled way to advance our cause.
Of course, the Tesla Model 3 is coming soon too. But Elon Musk's advisory role to the current regime has muddied those waters too.
Oh well, nobody ever said the road ahead would be simple. Let's just hope it includes a separated bike lane soon...