Freedom From Oil Campaign Launched
With the North American International Auto Show about to kick into high gear, concerned consumers are waiting to see whether automakers will meet the increasing demand for more fuel efficient vehicles. The "Freedom from Oil" campaign, formerly known as Jumpstart Ford, will be in Detroit this week to ensure that automakers do not divert public attention away from fuel economy, flagging sales and lost jobs with claims of "fuel- conscious" concept cars that do not reflect real world production.
Freedom from Oil campaigners will be on hand outside Saturday’s General Motors pre-auto show kick-off party illuminating the surrounding area with giant banner projections reading slogans like "The Road to Recovery Starts in Detroit" and "Stop the Layoffs. Build Green Cars." Activities will continue throughout the week, keeping the pressure on carmakers to shift their focus from PR to production of ultra-fuel-efficient vehicles.
The big three American automakers – Ford Motor Company, Daimler Chrysler and General Motors – suffered their lowest collective market share ever in 2006, largely due to their continued efforts to force large, gas-guzzling cars, trucks and SUVs on an increasingly fuel conscious public. According to an August 2006 study by J.D. Power and Associates, just 23 percent of consumers say they will only consider buying a gasoline-powered vehicle for their next new car purchase, while 57 percent of consumers who plan to buy a new vehicle in the next two years said they are considering hybrids. Recent studies have also shown that by investing in fuel efficiency, the automakers can regain profitability and create 161,000 new jobs.
Even as their workforces are being drastically reduced due to declining sales of SUVs, automakers’ attempts to appease consumer demand for increased fuel efficiency have centered far more on greenwashing their public image than on using existing fuel efficient technologies to mass produce vehicles people really want. Though several companies plan to use this week’s auto show to display eco concept cars like plug-in hybrids, none have yet committed to making the vehicles commercially available.
"We’ve changed the name of our campaign to better reflect the need for broad change throughout the auto industry," said Sarah Connolly, campaign director at the Rainforest Action Network. "Though we still believe Ford has the most to gain by severing its addiction to oil, it’s clear that the future of all auto companies depends on their ability to build the fuel efficient cars that consumers want. Consumers can’t drive concept cars, so whether it is Ford, GM or Daimler Chrysler, America needs someone to break away from the pack and bring jobs back to Detroit by taking concrete steps to lead in fuel economy." "The average fuel-economy of new vehicles today is worse than it was ten years ago," said Mike Hudema, campaign director at Global Exchange. "We are in Detroit to ask the automakers which one of them is going to commit to leading the industry in fuel economy and greenhouse gas reductions, which one of them is going to commit to bringing jobs back to Detroit?" The Freedom from Oil Campaign is working to end America’s oil dependence, reduce oil related conflicts, and stop global climate change by convincing the entire auto industry to dramatically improve fuel efficiency and eliminate vehicle greenhouse gas emissions. Launched by RAN, Global Exchange and the Ruckus Society in 2003, the campaign is pushing automakers to break their addiction to oil, create more jobs, and meet consumer demand for green cars by producing more fuel efficient vehicles.
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