I was very excited to go to the Chicago auto show this year. The Chicago Auto Show web site boasted 27 hybrids and 11 electric vehicles. I mean, as the owner of a green car service, even 2 hybrids and 1 EV would have me curious; but 27 and 11 had me salivating. I couldn’t wait to go and see what was in store for me and the future of my eco limo company.
So, let’s start with the 27 hybrids. Or should I say two hybrids? Granted, I did not find all 27 listed, but after seeing at least half of them and discovering the green washing that was occurring, I had seen enough to have my head shaking and my eyes rolling.
Are auto manufacturers so determined to be part of the green scene that they are willing to green wash to get there? Wouldn’t it be just as simple to create a full hybrid and really be more environmentally friendly then to, well, stretch the green certainty?
To be fair, there are different kinds of hybrids that car manufacturers have released in the past. However, now that full hybrid technology has been available for a number of years and proven to be effective, there really is no reason to continue to manufacture partial hybrids. So, why all the partial hybrids?
And I use the term partial hybrid relatively loosely. The majority of the MPGs on these partial hybrids can make your eyebrows raise and then furrow. I exchanged that look with several participants at the auto show on numerous occasions.
Let’s face it, when you look at a hybrid SUV like theFord Escape and see 35/31mpg and then look at a hybrid sedan like the Mercedes Benz 5400 and see 19/25mpg, something does not compute. Especially if you understand the different types of hybrid technologies, or even know that it exists. The Ford Escape Hybrid is a full hybrid and the Mercedes Benz Hybrid is only a partial hybrid.
Just because a car says HYBRID on the side of it does not necessarily make it a full hybrid. It may simply be a partial hybrid, or an electric assist, which is really all it is. Cheers to Buick for at least being honest enough to name their “hybrid” cars E-assist; and no, they did not slap the HYBRID logo on their E-assist cars.
None of this is to say anything negative about partial hybrids or electrically assisted cars. As a matter of fact, I have a partial hybrid on my limo fleet. The point is that in 2011 when full hybrid technology is readily available and EV technology is closely following, why are we now manufacturing so many partial hybrids?
And why are we touting them as hybrids instead of what they really are? Partial hybrids, or electric assisted vehicles, are unable to actually drive without the motor. However, the battery does help power the motor to conserve fuel. Also, when you don’t need the motor, such as when you come to a complete stop, then the motor shuts off and the battery is used solely to supply power to your car.
Partial hybrids are better than gas guzzlers, but it is so disappointing to run up to a car that says HYBRID and then see a MGP that is lower than what my 8 passenger stretch limo gets. It does not make sense, especially not in 2011.
The disappointment I had at this year’s auto show was almost as great as the bubble burst from Ford’s EcoBoost last year, which, in my opinion, was the green washing attempt of the 2010 Chicago auto show. To Ford’s credit, however, I noticed the EcoBoost did not have a strong presence this year at the auto show; so perhaps they decided to tone down the green washing in favor of promoting truer environmentally friendly cars like their full hybrids, the Ford Escape and the Lincoln MKZ.
Interested in learning more about the EcoBoost and why I call it green washing? Or how about the full hybrid at the auto show that truly deserves the green award? Those blogs are coming soon, along with the blog about the 11 EVs at the auto show. Subscribe to our RSS Feed now so you don’t miss the next article in this series.
Every major metropolitan city offers limousine service, Chicago included. There are also suburbs, towns, and small cities with limo service. There are over 9,000 limo service cars in Chicago alone, and that does not include taxis or suburban limo companies. The number of limos that are not yet going green is toxic.
To quote directly from Jason Rothstein’s book, Carless in Chicago,
“According to the Environmental Protection Agency, the average car burns 581 gallons of gasoline per year, and in doing so, emits nearly 600 pounds of carbon monoxide, nearly 40 pounds of nitrous oxides, nearly 80 pounds of volatile organic compounds (VOCs), and a whopping 11,000 pounds of carbon dioxide, a contributing greenhouse gas. The average Chicagoan burns through about 880 gallons of gas per year, making his or her contribution about 65 percent higher.”
Now, what makes these numbers even more significant is in the consideration of limo companies. The statistics above relate to the average resident, not limousine services that spend the majority of the day idling. Limousines, both sedans and stretch limos, idle while they are waiting at the airport, which can be for hours at a time. They also idle during traffic as well as when they are in front of their pick up location waiting for passengers.
This means that the statistics for poisonous emissions listed above are much higher for limos, especially in Chicago and other major metropolitan cities where limos are used regularly. This is why it’s not enough to think green. Limousine service needs to be going green with truly reduced emissions.
Hybrids can reduce emissions in our industry by up to 80%, which means you are making a significant impact by using an eco car service that uses hybrids instead of traditional sedans or other vehicles. With all of the technology that is available today, only hybrids and electric vehicles can really help to reduce your carbon footprint when you are taking a limo service.
There are some cars now that are being touted as more energy efficient, such as cars using the Ford EcoBoost. However, those cars are designed to deliver high performance, such as getting V8 power in a V6 engine. They only range from 16mpg to 22mpg on the highway and even Ford admits the Eco Boost is not really advantageous for the environment.1 In comparison, the Ford Escape Hybrid SUV gets up to 36mpg on the highway, and Going Green Limousine has seen their Ford Escape Hybrid Signature vehicle get up to 60mgp in the city.
That being said, the eco part of EcoBoost cars does not really come into play in the limo service industry. When you hire a limo you are not hiring a race car driver. You are hiring a professional chauffeur who will take you to your destination safely and on time.
Our next blog will follow up on different types of cars that can help reduce your impact on the environment. But in the meantime, regardless of the car you own, next time you need to hire a private car service, think Going Green Limousine or choose another eco limo service that uses hybrids.
1 Driving Smart, by Sheryll Alexander, Why Smaller Engines Save you Money. Posted on Autotropolis.com
Section entitled Ford EcoBoost:
Chicago just had its first real blizzard since 1979 and the one we had prior to that was in 1967. Normally we would only have a 20” snowfall every fifty years1, so having three in that time frame may be yet another sign of global warming.
The term global warming may be misleading to some people, since they may think a blizzard is a sign that global warming is not taking place. However, understanding how global warming works means that these extreme changes in our weather are an indication that global warming is indeed occurring.
To learn more about climate change, check out these resources:
Yes Magazine http://www.yesmagazine.org/planet
Carbon Nation http://www.carbonnationmovie.com/
If you have additional resources to add regarding climate change, please post them here. We would love to hear from you!
1 Chicago Blizzard: City Digs Out After Third Biggest Snow Storm EVER
The Huffington Post, February 1, 2011