Environmentalists Chide Ford For Broken SUV Promise

Bluewater Network accuses Bill Ford Jr. of breaking his pledge of four years ago to dramatically increase the fuel mileage of Ford’s popular lineup of sport utility vehicles by 2005.

Published: 06-Feb-2004

SAN FRANCISCO - February 5 - This week, nearly three dozen environmental organizations targeted Bill Ford Jr., the CEO of Ford Motors, as part of a national ad campaign that accuses him of breaking his pledge of four years ago to dramatically increase the fuel mileage of Ford’s popular lineup of sport utility vehicles by 2005. Led by the national environmental group Bluewater Network, based in San Francisco, the illustrated ad depicts Mr. Ford with an elongated nose, with the headline, “Bill Ford Jr. or Pinocchio? Don’t Buy His Environmental Rhetoric. Don’t Buy His Cars.”

Attached to the ad is a coupon that readers can send to Mr. Ford, pledging not to buy Ford vehicles, including other Ford brands such as Volvo, Mazda, and Range Rover, until the company agrees to meet specific demands to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, which are related to fuel mileage. The ad, appearing today in the national exclusive edition of The New York Times, is slated to run in other national publications over the next month.

Russell Long, Director of Bluewater Network, and the author of California’s landmark law to reduce vehicle greenhouse gas emissions stated, “That Pinocchio nose is well-deserved, because Mr. Ford’s vehicles aren’t any better now than when he made the pledge four years ago. Ford also personally lobbied Congress against raising national fuel mileage standards, promising instead to deliver fuel efficiency without federal regulations.” Last June at Ford’s centennial, Bluewater Network agreed to negotiate with Ford officials in return for temporarily withholding their ad campaign. Negotiations broke down last month.

The Bluewater ad refers to a Ford announcement in 2003 that it would not meet a deadline it set for itself to improve SUV fuel economy because of financial pressures and continued consumer demand for large, fuel-guzzling vehicles. Despite Ford Motor’s return to profitability in 2003, the environmental group notes that Ford has so far failed to reinstate their pledge or offer alternatives for reducing greenhouse gas emissions from the Ford fleet. Light-duty vehicles such as SUVs, minivans, and pickup trucks are reportedly one of the largest sources of global warming emissions in the US.

Within days of Ford making its July 27, 2000 pledge, General Motors and DaimlerChrysler made identical pledges, creating the appearance of an environmental race between the Big Three that helped to undermine a Senate measure that would have nearly doubled the fuel economy of light-duty trucks, from 20.7 mpg to 36 mpg by 2015. When Ford withdrew its pledge last year, the other manufacturers also withdrew their commitments. Subsequently, The National Highway and Safety Transportation Board established a very modest 1.5 mile per gallon fuel mileage increases for light-duty trucks by 2007.

In response to Bluewater’s criticism, Ford officials have pointed to the upcoming debut of a new fuel efficient SUV, the Ford Escape hybrid, as proof of their commitment towards protecting the environment. “Despite the name of the new hybrid, Mr. Ford can’t escape his broken commitment. If he wants to protect the environment, he should ask Congress to cut global warming pollution from cars by half in the next ten years, and make all his vehicles climate-friendly. That’s the only real escape. Otherwise, the planet can’t afford a Ford.”

The Bluewater Network ad can be viewed at www.bluewaternetwork.org

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