Because most philosophies that frown on reproduction don't survive.

Friday, November 02, 2007

Image Conscious

Green has been fashionable the last couple years, but like any popular piety the green revolution has brought in plenty of opportunity for hypocrisy as well. Enter the Lexus LS 600h L hybrid, the ideal ride for he who wants to stand apart and pray, "God, I give thanks that I am not like other men: greedy, wasteful, emitting more than my share of carbon dioxide."

Today's Wall Street Journal reviews this wonder of luxury and green technology (subscription only):
The biggest con running in the auto industry right now is the notion that hybrids represent some sort of quantum leap in green transportation. Not only is this patently untrue -- hybrid technology is actually decades old -- but it shamelessly plays to the hypocrisy of our society. If we really wanted to save the planet, instead of buying hybrids we would start walking. Or riding bikes. Maybe a few more of us would try public transportation. How about starting with slowing down to the speed limit on the freeway?

But let's be honest: Most Americans aren't willing to change to conserve energy. Even lifestyle choices like driving a small car, carpooling and living in the vicinity of where we work are largely anathema, which is why I'm not the least bit shocked by the Lexus LS 600h L.

This is a hybrid limousine with a base sticker price of $104,765, meaning that it's the perfect way for a captain of industry to show the little people that he, too, will sacrifice nothing in his attempt to demonstrate to the world that he sort of cares about the environment. (And of course he does, as these days there are profits to be made by selling all manner of "green" products, whether they have any tangible environmental benefit or not.)

Toyota is bullish on the LS 600h L's "Super Ultra Low Emissions Vehicle" rating, the EPA's tightest standard for gasoline-powered vehicles. Of course that standard has nothing to do with carbon-dioxide emissions, which are strictly tied to fuel economy. And with an EPA combined rating of just 21 mpg, this 16.9-foot, two-and-a-half-ton sedan isn't doing a lot to combat global warming. It will get two miles per gallon more than the nonhybrid LS 460 L on which it is based, a car that costs $33,000 less.

Cost-benefit analysis clearly doesn't figure into the allure. We did the math: The hybrid version will save its owner enough on gas to break even after only 2.1 million miles.... [emphasis added]
So for a mere 100k, you can have all the fuel economy of our family's roomy Town & Country minivan, and rather less economy than my fifteen year old Toyota Camry.

Glancing around through other recent car models, this new "green" entry has exactly the same EPA fuel efficiency rating as the current BMW 525 (not exactly a light eater in the gasoline department) and 25% less fuel efficiency than a standard Toyota Camry.

What exactly is the point, other than having "Hybrid" emblazoned on your rear end?


Antonio449 said...


vide South Park "Smug" episode for details.

PB said...

I live a mile from work, we only have one car because we only need one car, it's a minivan.

When we started to tell people we had dropped to one car the most common reaction was pity, "oh sorry, if there's anything I can do to help please let me know..." So I started to tell people that our decision to drop to one car wasn't that several thousand we gained by getting rid of it, but rather we were doing our part for the environment.

It was an amazing difference, people were proud of us, almost envious that we were willing to make that sacrifice for the "greater good".

Catholic Bibliophagist said...

"What exactly is the point, other than having 'Hybrid' emblazoned on your rear end?"

Um, because a hybrid gets to drive in the car pool lane even if there's only one person in the car?

Kiwi Nomad said...

I have a Toyota Corolla which is pretty fuel efficient in any case. But I find 'green' is foisted upon me lately anyhow, partly because of the fuel cost, and partly as full-time work ends just before Christmas, so I am budgeting. I am lucky in that I am single so I can cycle to work, and the weather has improved to make that more possible lately. (She says as she glares at the heavy Sunday afternoon rain outside!) But the petrol cost being what it is, even without budget constraints, I think I would be thinking more about walking places, and finding what I need/want closer to home.

Darwin said...

Yeah, I hear you on that one, Kiwi. Good old fashioned thrift will get you to the most 'green' solution most of the time.

A lot can be accomplished by having the smallest car possible and driving it as little as possible -- probably rather more than putting fancy stuff under the hood.

Anonymous said...

Nowadays all big car producing companies started to produce hybrid. GM producing hybrid trucks. And now Lexus started to produce a huge hybrid Limousine, so I believe that after 5-10 years every company will produce a hybrid cars.