Last year’s Oscars featured a bevy of green vehicles ushering celebrities to the red carpet. From the electric Zap! and Tesla Roadster to the Toyota Prius to plug-ins and hydrogen-powered sedans. It was encouraging to see so many different examples of sustainable vehicles grace the evening. This year’s announcement that GM will be sponsoring the transportation makes 2007 seem like the good old days. In other words, it’s a step back for Hollywood.
And here’s why: Much like the 2008 Grammy Awards, GM is bringing a fleet of 75 vehicles to usher celebs to the red carpet. Of those deemed ‘eco-friendly’, the majority will be the 2008 Yukon Hybrid SUV. This hulking full-size SUV is large enough to fit 9 people. Gas mileage, while continuously touted as 25-50% better than previous Yukons, is still a miserable 20mpg. By 2020, when the new mileage standards come into force, this thing is going to look downright caustic; much less a symbol of American innovation in the face of rising gas prices and environmental concerns.
There are some that will argue green technology in these vehicles is better than none at all — and I agree. However, I don’t think they deserve to be promoted in the same light as smaller green vehicles. Last year’s Oscars had the right idea because there were technologies and options in the spotlight that otherwise might not have crossed America’s radar. This year, it’s a fleet of full-size SUVs that say hybrid and fuel-cell on the side. If one didn’t know any better, you’d think the Academy Awards were being held in Detroit instead of Los Angeles.
Alas, bring on the clowns…