GM Hangs Out the Greenwashing

Robert Farago
by Robert Farago
gm hangs out the greenwashing

The cheerleading team over at The Detroit News (DTN) is happy to report the GM is set to launch "a massive, worldwide [environmentally-themed] marketing campaign and a lineup of vehicles that uses a variety of fuel-saving technologies — including some that have yet to be created." Skating over the potential irony of that statement (and the obvious connection to the Doobie Brothers' "What A Fool Believes"), they also reveal that "As part of the announcement, GM today will debut its gasoline-electric Chevrolet Silverado, the nation's first hybrid pickup." Huh? What about the Sierra SLE Hybrid we reviewed in July 2004, and the, uh, Silverado version launched at roughly the same time? Never mind. Apparently, "the automaker is struggling to overcome a less-than-stellar reputation when it comes to the environment, and trying to do so without an iconic hit like Toyota Motor Corp.'s Prius hybrid." Ya think? Oh, and here's the real news, GM will also provide Walt Disney with 10 more fuel-cell-powered Equinoxes to let the Hollywood entertainment company claim green credentials while their execs and stars shuttle around in limos transport workers and "others" at Disney facilities in California. Just in case you think we're being too hard on GM's newfound love of all things green (as if), we'll give the last word (as does the DTN) to Michael Robinet of CSM Worldwide. "Robinet said GM has the product to become credible, even among import-loving East and West coasters who want to drive green vehicles." Fair and balanced enough?

Join the conversation
4 of 13 comments
  • Raskolnikov Raskolnikov on Nov 14, 2007

    “Oh, so the ‘04 model wasn’t a REAL hybrid. The new one is the first-ever REAL hybrid pickup truck.


    Are you implying that GM said this is the nation’s first hybrid pickup? The press release (from GM @ LA Auto Show) refers to their previous gen hybrid pickups as the first.

    And Orian: GM has had diesel-electric hybrid systems operational in transit buses for “a number of years.” In fact, the 2 mode system in the Yukon/Tahoe/Silverado/Sierra is a scaled down version of this hybrid (developed and produced in Indianapolis, IN by Allison Transmission)

  • KixStart KixStart on Nov 14, 2007

    mistercopacetic: "I would be more interested in GM talking about how hybrid pickups used as work vehicles could do more to reduce emissions than a single commuter in a Prius, i.e. per load/passengers/etc." Sure. Or maybe if the fleet of V8-equipped, 6K lb "work vehicles" parked next to the office building I'm sitting in right now (many with low-profile tires, chrome wheels and the other necessary accoutrements of rough-duty "work vehicles") was swapped for Malibus... that might reduce emissions as much as getting a Corolla owner to switch to a Prius or maybe even more. Who's going to buy a "work vehicle" from GM in hybrid form? The upcharge is about $10K (based on TTAC notes about Escalade pricing). On the other hand, Toyota puts a Prius on the market for $5K more than a Corolla (and can claim it's bigger and nicer inside) and a hybrid Camry on the road for about the price of an XLE (also trimmed up to look a bit better than an LE). If GM can do this for $4K/vehicle, they've got a chance of selling some (a radical new first-year drivetrain from GM? Ummm... let me think about that). At $10K, I don't see how they're going to manage to move many. Ford's Escape hybrid has a much narrower premium over the comparable Escape than GM's talking about. The invoice for the hybrid is just $5800 more than the cheapest Escape and the hybrid has more standard features (I'm not sure which trim level it would equate to, doesn't look quite like it has "Limited" features). Given the dual powertrain, it might even be quicker than the base I4 Escape. Call it a $4K premium, that's far less than GM's.

  • Orian Orian on Nov 14, 2007

    Raskolnikov, I'm aware they've had that for years...and sold it off to fund the VEBA (Allison). And exactly where can the general population buy a mass produced vehicle with this technology? That is the problem right now - they can't. GM (their leadership and ad firms) tout all these green technologies coming, but we've yet to see anything in the consumer market so I am skeptical. When the product arrives, it is going to have to be spectacular to gain sales from Toyota or Honda at this point. As someone stated before, diesels are a better option right now than a hybrid would be as far as mileage goes in a truck, especially one used for work.

  • Steven Lang Steven Lang on Nov 14, 2007

    I don’t know about this folks… On the one side I’m reading a lot of harsh criticism for GM’s $10k markup on the Silverado. Then, of course, you have Toyota adding a 32k premium on the Lexus hybrid… but nevermind that. I also recall back in the days of yore (80’s 90’s and the last few months) that GM was routinely criticized for making uncompetitive small cars and yet, they sold an amazing number of them and were the leaders throughout most of that time. Was the market really so wrong? Or was GM just being a large dumb company with an incredible lucky streak? Toyota has made a very good Corolla and Camry for well over 20 years now. However, it took them nearly 25 years to offer a subcompact that could register the sales and overall value of the subcompacts sold be GM, Ford or Chrysler. The Tercels and Echos were absolutely bare bones wretched products that were largely unpopular in spite of Toyota’s good name in the marketplace. Yet no one seemed to blame Toyota for making such a cheap tinny car for all those years. It took them a long time… but they finally got it right (or right enough). In the meantime the press more or less gave Toyota a free ride, as it usuually has, through all those mishaps and mis-shapes… to the point where they had no real stigma once they offered a competitive product. The Silverado hybrid may not be ‘the’ breakthrough. Fair enough. But I do hope that when GM makes that brilliant pickup at a reasonable premium the press will express support instead of perpetual doubts. So far, it just seems that for every good thing that GM does they get slammed for it. They bring a good compact vehicle into the United States from overseas, and they get knocked for the fact that it won’t make money (1st gen Prius anyone? What’s this about a Rabbit?). GM builds a midsized car that equals/competes well with the Camry or Accord. But damn it, it’s got a bowtie on it so they won’t win any conquest sales anyhow (but never mind substandard products like the Ridgeline, Echo and Sentra). I don’t know folks. Every time I’ve been in a Tundra, I was reminded of the fact that the Silverado is still a far better truck. Every time I enjoyed the comfort of a Camry, I’m reminded of Sonatas that are much better deals. Every time I drive a Civic I…. um…. well no one has really outperformed the Civic. The dashboard stinks of early 80’s digital flashbacks, but the current platform is utterly amazing. GM is obviously going with their strong hand in the marketplace. GM makes excellent pickups and this will probably be a minor accolade (a la the Lexus) that will gain greater promimence as the models evolve. Hopefully we’ll find this hybrid ‘Insight’ will eventually find it’s way to the rest of the truck and SUV line for GM. Good work GM. Now find a way to build more of them, improve the efficiency of the design, and stay with it. As they say in Costa Rica, “Siempre Mejor!”. Always better.