Ford issues environment ’mea culpa’

DETROIT: Ford’s environmental mea culpa at its annual shareholders meeting earlier this month has left many automotive observers crowing about the company’s commitment to the environment - and just as many passing off the company’s plans as sheer PR manipulation.

DETROIT: Ford’s environmental mea culpa at its annual shareholders meeting earlier this month has left many automotive observers crowing about the company’s commitment to the environment - and just as many passing off the company’s plans as sheer PR manipulation.

DETROIT: Ford’s environmental mea culpa at its annual shareholders

meeting earlier this month has left many automotive observers crowing

about the company’s commitment to the environment - and just as many

passing off the company’s plans as sheer PR manipulation.



At the annual meeting, held earlier this month at the Atlanta Zoo, Ford

released a ’green paper’ in which it confessed that its highly

successful and profitable sports utility vehicles (SUVs) were not only a

nuisance to other vehicles (because of their unwieldy size) but also to

the environment, due to their thirst for fuel.



’Publicly owning up to the problems was a good first step,’ said one

Ford observer. ’But do they genuinely want to do this, or has the bad

press forced their hand? Who knows?’



Questions about sincerity aside, Ford believes it has an ace up its

sleeve in the battle for consumers’ hearts, minds and purses: the

smaller, more economical Ford Escape SUV, which goes on sale this

summer.



What could make the Escape stand out in the crowded SUV sector is that

none of the other major automakers have a comparable mid-sized SUV close

to market yet. Moreover, Ford plans to introduce a hybrid

gasoline/electric-powered version of the Escape within the next couple

of years, sure to be even more environmentally friendly than any of its

predecessors.



While the Escape can readily fill the carpooling needs of suburbia, it

is unlikely to replace Ford’s giant Expedition and Lincoln Navigator SUV

models - the focus of critics’ complaints - in the hearts of

consumers.



The Escape lacks the oomph to tow big boats or trailers, considered by

many to be the real test of an SUV.



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