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Is Green Car Focus Just Politics?

green_car.jpgJapanese automakers like Honda and Toyota are ahead of American companies in producing green vehicles. Clifford Winston, an economist at the Brookings Institute, told CBS News that American automakers may be lagging behind because of market demand. Winston says that the bulk of the demand for green vehicles is confined to the East and West Coasts.

So if demand is not driving the push for green technology, what is? Eric Smith, political science professor at University of California Santa Barbara told CBS News that it’s politics.

Smith says members of Congress “have to look tough on environmental issues,” so they are leveraging the collapse of the automakers to push for investment in long-term hybrid projects that will please their constituents.

Last week, the big three automakers made green promises in return for a bailout.

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2 thoughts on “Is Green Car Focus Just Politics?

  1. “American automakers may be lagging behind because of market demand”. I’ve heard this stated or implied a lot lately. I believe the automakers are the ones who create the market demand, through their marketing and financial incentives. No one asked for the Hummer to be developed, surely?

  2. I disagree with Eliot, though. Automakers are in the business to make money, and nobody is going to launch a multimillion dollar campaign to promote a car that nobody will want. And if nobody is buying, how can companies offer financial incentives?
    That said, they could try to transform the hybrid or green industry into a more encompassing one. For example, Toyota has its levels of cars, Corolla, Camry, Avalon, etc., that you can grow up in and trade up into as you grow. If the hybrid/green industry made these kinds of levels (and maybe a better body structure – I’m not a fan of the Prius) it’d be easier to attract more customers.

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