It’s been half a decade since I killed a tree (and I’ve killed more than my share in my day), but that might come to an end very soon. I’m getting ready to shop a book/documentary proposal, with the working title “Bent Over a Barrel” … it’s the story of how Big Oil’s actions and influence have driven this country’s economy to its current state.
Influence is just as important as action (or inaction).
Here’s a specific case in point …
Last April, Newsweek published a piece entitled Miles to Go, with the far more descriptive yet entirely misleading subhead, “Why automakers don’t sell a car that gets 50 MPG.” Never once does the article mention fuel-efficient diesel engines, yet the article begins with the chestnut:
Wouldn’t it be great if you could drive a car that gets 50 miles per gallon? Well, you can. Just hop on a plane and fly to Europe, where all new cars average 43mpg, or Japan, where the average hits 50mpg.
Well, gee … why do European cars get such great mileage? Lets guess … it’s not just because they are often smaller then their American counterparts. It’s not because Europeans are driving hybrids (which they largely dismiss). It’s because more than fifty percent of the new cars sold in Europe use far more efficient diesel engines.
Can we blame the article’s omission of fact on editorial ignorance or something more heinous?
Ah, but all hope is not lost.
Earlier this month, Newsweek woke up and ran an article entitled Diesel vs. Hybrid, with the subhead “There’s more than one way to build an environmentally-friendly car.”
Could it be? The oil men have left the building and only weeks later Newsweek wakes up to the facts?
The piece opens and closes with the word from Volkswagen. The 2009 Jetta TDI is flying off the lot. VW put in the work to bring a clean diesel engine to the States and the gamble – rather, the investment – is paying off.
The vast majority of Americans have absolutely no clue how wonderful the new clean diesels are to drive. I’ve spent a considerable amount of time test driving clean diesel vehicles over the past year, at my own expense. (My research and coverage is not influenced by corporate overlords, though it is constrained by current economic conditions.)
The German automobile manufacturers absolutely have it right. Bringing fuel-efficient fun-to-drive clean diesels to America takes a lot of guts … and smarts.