Stepping Forward

According to the New York Times, "Detroit Goes for Electric Cars..."

It seems that American car manufacturers are trying to get full electric or hybrid vehicles together, which is a great thing.

We can already see the seeds of a stabilization wedge - by 2050, in order to reduce the amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere, an attainable goal is to put 2 billion cars on the road that get 60mpg or better. Practically speaking, these will need to be efficient hybrid or electric designs.

In this case, the decision to go hybrid and electric comes from the corporate side of the Big Three (though government pressure might have something to do with it). They've started the green wheel turning because of economics - Detroit needs to save themselves somehow, and they're hoping this'll be the way.

The thing they're not sure about: How much demand there's gonna be for these kinds of cars, given lower gas prices and car loan uncertainty.

Economically speaking, electric and hybrid vehicles are generally more expensive, even when better gas mileage is taken into account, so it's fair to say that people might not go for these cars. For the Big Three, the risk is there - which is why Ford is only planning on making 10,000 of their electric car. It makes sense.

At least, it makes sense in terms of modern economics, and the science of cost-benefit analysis.

Here's the thing: modern economic sense is what's created this problem. Millions of decisions have built up since the industrial revolution to put the world - and us - in this position. Modern economics, if left up to itself, would probably find it beneficial to address climate change somewhere down the line - but not until it was clear that there were no more profits left for business as usual.

Don't get me wrong - Ford and the other Detroit manufacturers are trying to step forward. It's possible their motives aren't pure - but who's fault is that?

Ours. As United States consumers (those of us who are), we have not demanded better cars from Detroit until now. And as consumers world-wide, voracious consumers, we haven't demanded anything human from corporations. In simple terms, the law says that a corporation takes the place of a person - so why don't we hold them to a more human standard?

But that's all opinion.

At it's core, this should be welcomed. It is a step forward.

1 comment:

  1. If we took all the government assistance, current and future, given to the Big Three car companies and poured it only into production of hybrid and electric cars -- they would get better fast (innovation follows the money) and cheaper (more produced lowers cost) and more available. We need those cars. If US companies aren't going to be the ones producing them, Americans will be buying them from foriegn companies. Its time we took back the leadership role in this and use our great American know-how to solve some of these problems and its time the government got totally 100% behind it instead of propping up unsustainable industries and people's freedom to make bad choices.