I received word today that the environmental group Center for a New American Dream is running an interesting contest: come up with the best slogan directed at car manufacturers to encourage them to build more fuel-efficient cars, especially hybrids, and win a 2005 Prius. Seriously.
The slogan will be used as part of a massive advertising and PR campaign to get the word to automakers that Americans want more hybrid cars, and want them now. As Green Car Congress' Mike Millikin noted in his Sunday wrap-up article on WorldChanging, at the current rate of introduction, hybrids will make up only 4-7% of the auto market (and 2-4% of the "light truck" market) by 2008, improving "fleet efficiency" by a whopping 2%. Hybrids are great, but they're just not being rolled out fast enough.
The contest rules are straightforward: the contest is open to adult residents of the 48 continental US states (sorry, Alaska and Hawaii); the slogan must be limited to 10 words or fewer; one entry per email address, so if you're just bubbling with ideas, go buy a domain; and the slogan must be posted to the website by 11:59 pm EST on January 24, 2005.
Ah, yes, the website. As of the time of this posting, the New American Dream site is slow to the point of seeming broken. With patience and a fast connect, though, you can still get some useful info. Presumably they'll be fixing this problem as quickly as possible, so it may be working fine by the time you read this.
I must admit that I hadn't been aware of the Center for a New American Dream before, but they look like a good group: the staff have solid backgrounds and the advisory board includes WorldChanger Alan AtKisson as well as WorldChanging favorites Lester Brown, Paul Hawken, Hunter Lovins, Bill McKibben, along with many more.
Here's your chance to do some memetic engineering, change the US for the better, and get a swoopy new hybrid -- all in ten words or fewer.
if you're just bubbling with ideas, go buy a domain
"Talk to the hand" was so '90s, but nothing really took its place. Until now. "Go buy a domain".
this is pretty durn cool tho'
I sent my entry, then realized that it was open to the US only.
I guess that if I win I'll have to charm them into delivering the car at a friend's place in the US and I'll go pick it up.. They can't deny me my Prius, I hope :(
This is a little be off topic, but there's a lot of smart people here, so I figured I'd ask...
Hybrids are great, and from what I know of it so is biodiesel, so why isn't there a bigger push for hybrid (bio)diesel-electric engines? Wouldn't we be able to get all of the benefits of hybrids, and create a market that can smoothly transition to a much much greener car (by slowly changing from regular diesel fuel to biodiesel) that's impossible for gasoline-electric hybrids?
Aaron: There is not enough biological productivity in the world to supply all our appetites via conventional biodiesel. Higher plants are just not efficient enough, though algae may be.
Biodiesel is a great way of setting a floor under the price of oils and making certain that they are used rather than wasted. It is also an excellent lubricant for diesel fuel systems, making up for the removal of sulfur compounds which used to do the job.
Thanks for your reply Engineer-Poet. Even if there isn't currently enough biological oils to supply us fully, wouldn't a 50% (or even 10%) mixture be better than none? It seems like every liter of fossil fuel that is replaced with biodiesel is a step in the right direction.
What are the drawbacks of diesel engines? Is it easier to make gasoline-electric hybrids than diesel-electric hybrids? Or is it just a marketing issue to show people that diesel can be green(er)?
This is a fine idea, but I can't help but think that its badly conceived since car manufacturers do plenty of market research and already know exactly what the demand for their product is. The real problem is that not enough people are buying hybrids, and this can't be solved by advertising to the manufacturers. If it was advertising directly to consumers on the sheer awesomeness of owning a hybrid, that might be more effective.
McKorsky, I'm not sure where you get your assertion that "not enough people are buying hybrids" -- have you actually tried to buy one recently? Do you know how long the waiting lists are?
Aaron, I posted about the diesel hybrid question back in June:
...and a follow-up in October:
The short answer is that diesel in the US remains very "dirty" in many places, which makes diesel hybrids more difficult to produce.
Great links Jamais. Thanks for pointing them out to me. It sounds like we'll have to wait until 2006 (not that far off really) before we start seeing diesels making a come back in the US. I hope that when they do the manufacturers go all of the way and make them hybrids.
"The short answer is that diesel in the US remains very 'dirty' in many places, which makes diesel hybrids more difficult to produce."
You mean that current emissions standards would negatively impact manufactures who produce engines that use the dirty fuel? Would there be a legislative way to alter that if biodiesel would be used? Prehaps those dirty areas need to go to B20 or something to reduce the emissions issue before cars are produced.
Are there any studies of the footprint needed to produce a gallon of biodiesel from a variety of crops in temperate and tropical areas? Hmm... Answered my question via Google: http://journeytoforever.org/biodiesel_yield.html
Biodiesel isn't going to solve the whole problem, but it could be a reasonable percentage. Seems like a biodiesel/hybrid is a really smart idea.
I mean that the particulate matter in dirty diesel isn't compatible with the more delicate engines used by high-efficiency European diesel cars and, from what I've been able to find out, in gasoline hybrids. The switch to "clean diesel" (currently underway) will make diesel hybrids much more plausible.
Biodiesel will definitely be a part of the solution.
From trustworthy electronic voting to efficient biodiesel automobiles to a massive educated populace, India's passing America in a variety of areas. Their public toilets still stink, though.
For those of you who don't know what I'm talking about, Delhi mandated switches to Compressed Natural Gas, reducing its carbon monoxide
levels by 32 per cent and sulphur dioxide levels by 39 per cent. Mumbai is also considering the switch.
You'll like this hybrid cartoon: