GM Greenwashing: How About a Cup of CAFE?

Frank Williams
by Frank Williams
gm greenwashing how about a cup of cafe

"Talking in circles" must be an executive training course at GM. You'll find a perfect example at GMNext, where GM's chief of American sales operations, defends GM against charges of greenwashing. To that end, Brent Dewar held an on-line question and answer session– make that an "evade the question" session– with no less than 50 online journos (TTAC's invitation got lost in the email). Even the condensed version is dizzying. When asked when we'd be seeing E85 available across the country, Dewar launched into a tale of his six year stint in Brazil– without answering the question. One participant asked Dewar point-blank about GM exploiting the E85 loophole in the CAFE standards. His response? "As I just mentioned it is a huge opportunity now. The problem is we are often American centric. This is not a CAFE loophole, but a solution. We did this in Brazil. Cafe in south america means coffee…" The complete transcript is on line, if obsfucation is your cup of [s]cafe[/s] tea.

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  • Glenn Swanson Glenn Swanson on Feb 20, 2008

    tree, I respect your position. :-) That said, my money is on a company like Honda, which makes fuel-efficient cars-- no matter what the price of oil. All I'm advocating is that the Big 2.8 at least keep a competent small car (or two) on the market, you know, just in case the price of oil does rise (again). Plan for the worst (we need a competitive small car), hope for the best (SUV's make us a lot of money).

  • Landcrusher Landcrusher on Feb 20, 2008

    Tree, Perhaps I misunderstood your OP? You disagreed with the thrust of the article that accused this guy of talking in circles and greenwashing (with a strong implication that those things are bad.) You claim that talking in circles was justified because people kept asking the same or similar questions which would have forced Dewar to counter the company line to answer any differently. You say we should have expected his responses. You say he is SUPPOSED to say E85 is an essential step. You say that this meeting was no place to have an ethanol debate. While I agree the hall was no place for an ethanol debate, I disagree with the rest. Dewar needs to stop repeating nonsense, and do something about it. The Emperor has no clothes, and he does not need another lieutenant to tell everyone the official line. You seem to think it is fine for Dewar to defend the new clothes? Sure, if we accept the premise of the invisible clothes, then Dewar did a fine job. Since the meeting was no place to debate the whole invisible clothes issue, we should just move on without comment? Is this analogy a misrepresentation of your argument?

  • Tree Tree on Feb 20, 2008

    Thanks, Glenn. I have a lot of respect for Honda, as well. They'll do well in the next few years, and if gas prices don't fall, they'll have an easy transition into a 35 MPG future. Landcrusher, I agree with what you said, except for the definition of "Emperor". The purpose of a corporation is to return value to its shareholders. "Corporate responsibility" and all those new-age concepts created by us and them cloud that simple fact. It is in the interest of the GM spokesman to speak highly of GM. We need to show that the GM spokesman is the emperor and has no clothes, and therefore that GM has none. We realize that we can't do that in this 1 hour 50 journalist discussion. You don't think we should have expected his responses? If you expected honesty and candor, considering this is 2008, it would have been nice, but it runs against the purpose of a corporation.

  • Landcrusher Landcrusher on Feb 20, 2008

    It does not run counter to the purpose of a corporation at all. Quite the contrary. I have been very successful using candor, much to the advantage of the people I worked for. While the last large company I worked for was losing sales and customers all over the map, I was steadily growing my territory. Guys like Dewar were getting promoted, making more money for themselves, and sinking the ship. I took a package. Was the corporation better off with their methods or mine? I think the modern corporation has decided against its own best interests, and consistently makes the same mistakes by promoting the same sort of people over and over. I have faith that if the government would stay out of it, the market would fix it. The press has a job to keep pointing out the emperor is naked. Go TTAC.