Going Green Limo Chicago Blog
Everything green, from transportation to daily living

February 2011
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Green Washing was a Go at the Chicago Auto Show
Filed under: General, Green Transportation, Green Chicago Limo Service
Posted by: Rebecca @ 2:52 pm

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.