Thursday, August 31, 2006

GM Pimps Rides for MTV and You

Last night I walked down the street to a friend's metal shop to see what was up. He was busy dumping gallons of heinous used cooking oil from Food Town into a giant vat of, well, heinous cooking oil. I asked him what he was doing. "Cooking up some fuel for my truck" he replied.

GM Pimped out Tahoe for the 2006 MTV music awardsCome to find out, Dan has been going about his simple life of fabricating metal and in the meantime quietly producing his own bio-diesel. He said it's still spendy to make, averaging out to about $1 per gallon. "Yea, real spendy" I thought. When I asked Dan why he goes through the trouble, assuming the obvious cost savings he said, "We have a responsibility to the next generation to reduce our impact."

To that end, I think, GM recently launched a website called www.reduceuruse.com which from the surface looks like nothing more than a meager selection of random consumer videos (58 so far to be exact) that are highlighting "How would you spend your time away from the pump?" In looking at GM's SUV line up owning a GM SUV may never allow you to spend much time away from the pump given the listed mpg's. And left to the imagination are the 6 vehicles (3 of which incidentally are from the Hummer family) whose mpg's are listed as N/A.

Which brings me to GM's most recent stretch of the imagination taking form of a product placement. They've taken the MTV Pimp Your Ride concept and "pimped" 60 E85 compatible SUV's to transport celebs to the MTV awards. Of this they said,
"The partnership is an effort to educate viewers on E85 ethanol technology, reduce greenhouse gas emissions and curb dependence on fossil fuels."
You may have to go to the moon to find one of these babies One night of reducing fossil fuels? The fleet will be up for sale after the awards show at Chevrolet dealerships in the New York area where they'll likely end up sitting in car garages on the upper east side in company with 5-6 other "show" vehicles for the owner to choose from. I say they give the 60 vehicles to NYC taxi drivers and keep track of the reduction over a year or two, if the vehicles survive that long.

Reportedly, reported by GM, there are over 2 million E85 GM vehicles on the road. Funny that this is the first I've heard of E85. By contrast consider that Hybrids currently account for only 1 percent of new car sales in the United States. Japan's Toyota Motor Corp, the hybrid market leader, sees its annual hybrid sales topping 1 million units soon after 2010. Detroit can do better. But will they?

Sparing no expense, the vehicles have been pimped to the max by including the following upgrades:
  • On Star - "On Star can I help you?...Oh yes, there is a star on board your vehicle mam...Could I post this conversation on my blog mam?"
  • XM Radio - "Driver, will you please play my song one more time commercial free?"
  • CD/MP3 audio system - "What do you mean you can't find a station with my song? Here, plug in my iPod. I've got my latest hit on a repeat playlist"
  • Rearview camera system - "Driver, is that Nick behind us? I told him to leave me alone!"
  • Touch-screen navigation system - "Keep your hands on the wheel driver. I'm navigating this ship."
  • DVD rear-seat system with an 8-inch screen - "Wanna catch a movie later?"
  • Heated first and second row seats - "Paris, your ass is so hot!" "Well, ya, no kidding"
  • ...and more... "Is this all you've got in this thing? Pfft, my Hummer has a hot tub"
Is this the best way to reach thier target market regarding the fuel efficiency of the E85? Will the teenager next door care or even realize that the vehicle Snoop arrived in was more energy efficient? I'm crossing my fingers and rubbing the lucky rabbit's foot for a curbed dependence on fossil fuels. A likely result will be an increased demand for technology features in autos, thus boosting GM's sales targets.

GM touts Active Fuel Management Technology but I couldn't easily find the fuel efficiency of the E85 engine, one that burns up to 85% ethanol. I've been practicing my own Active Fuel Management Technology - it's called riding my bike to work 2-3 days a week and minimizing my vehicle use in general.

Jalopnik chimes in.

The comments at Treehugger.com were more interesting than the original post, sadly so.

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