Sunday, June 29, 2008

Getting here

A big part of me brightened when I read that SUV and big truck sales have plummeted, causing a shift toward the production of fuel-efficient cars and technologies. The success of Honda, which has the most fuel-efficient line-up, illustrates this point: it was the only company to show an increase in sales (1 percent) while the sales of other companies, such as GM, Toyota, Ford plunged by 18 to 28 percent. Another part of me asks, "How did we get here?" and "Why did it take so long to realize we were here?" In other words, "Why were SUV's ever so popular?" and "Didn't they lose their luster years ago?" Although I never purchased one, I recall being entranced by them, wanting one and thinking it would solve all my problems (I could go wind-surfing anywhere and sleep in the back). Nevertheless, a year or so after, me and my friends were mocking all those ads showing a "ute" that still had its last waxing untouched by dirt in the middle of a forest or on a mountain-top. Perhaps, their expression of power or not giving a damn made them so appealing. Perhaps, nostalgia drew us in; I still want to rebuild a 70's era Toyota Land Cruiser to relive my travels as a kid through deserts and jungles.

Likely, it's some wider marketing tool more closely related to Manufacturing Consent. The StoryofStuff does an excellent job of how this came about. Soon stories such as Vancouver City Hall's conversion of free parking spots to pay spots won't make the news. In other words, items that aren't free won't be considered as such. Besides an opportunity-cost, parking spots have many costs which remain outside of the profitability equation, oil and gas run-off being the most prevalent. The frequency of oil-logged pits in parking spaces and the rainbow effect of mixed oil and water after a rain hints at just how much oil leaks out. In the end, the eco-system pays, as do we: "Mercury with your fish, anyone?"

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