Ford retools S.U.V. factory for smaller, greener cars

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Automotive industry analysts have been quick to point out financial downsides to this move. These downsides have nothing to do with the environment and everything to do with return on the investment and future profitability of the company. Briefly stated: smaller cars have smaller profit margins and if the price of gas falls and consumers decide to purchase the gas guzzlers again then the company will be in dire financial straits more quickly than it would be if selling cars with higher sticker prices/higher profit margins (i.e. S.U.V.’s). If consumers are only going to practice ecology because they are forced into it by high gas prices then they should forfeit the right to complain about the destruction of the biosphere. If consumers demand that manufacturers remain loyal to ecological principles then consumers must too, despite whatever purse strings we allow OPEC to pull. We the people of the United States should begin to think of ourselves more as “we the consumers of global natural resources” and take account of how our consumption dictates not only the U.S. fiscal condition but also global politics.

We the bloggers of Creative Loafing’s Green Community are forming a collective effort to remind consumers that they will determine the fate of businesses that provide environmentally friendly products and services by consuming these products and services. During the present financial downturn in America, the public has oft heard the mantra “It’s a consumer driven economy” and indeed, it is. Environmentalism cannot be legislated because it only takes one administration to gut environmental laws (as we saw in the G.W. Bush administration). The Bush Administration took the U.S. back about ten years in terms of environmental law reform and was sued by nine states for violations of The Clean Air Act. Without that suit, environmental laws probably would have suffered more damage. Nor can businesses be trusted to care for the natural resource base. Most of the Bush administration’s changes to environmental law consisted of making the environmental regulation of businesses a voluntary compliance rather than enforced doctrine under the watchful eye of the EPA. This is the equivalent of leaving the fox in charge of the hen house. Without threat of government oversight and fines, many businesses returned to the unspoken law of business (i.e. profits first). So, even if the Obama administration begins passing environmental laws the jury is out as to whether they can survive whoever occupies the office next.

That’s why this reporter will stick to his mantra: “Environmentalism equals conscious consumption”. It’s a supply and demand economy. An ecological economy is not the sole responsibility of business or government. Environmentalism seems to mostly be about what the individual consumer votes for with every dollar they spend. If the consumer won’t remain loyal to a healthy environment, than why should we expect businesses or a government often controlled by business lobbyists to?


Ford Motor Company

Office of the attorney general, state of NY

Edmonds Auto Observer

At a time when many American companies are cutting back, Ford Motor Company is investing 550 million dollars retooling one of it’s Michigan based truck factories to manufacture smaller, fuel efficient cars and an electric version of the Focus sedan. The question is whether consumers will make the investment return if financial and political tides return fuel prices to previous lows.

This reporter does not know how Ford (whose Explorer line helped spark the S.U.V. craze) was able to avoid taking government bailout money while GM had to take billions to keep from going under, but this news is made even “greener” considering that the factory Ford is retooling is the same one that produced the gas guzzling Expedition and Lincoln Navigator. While Ford did not take federal aid, it is Michigan State and local government tax incentives and grants that allowed Ford to make the investment. Ford is also retooling two other plants to meet the current global demand for more fuel-efficient cars.

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