I fell in love at least a dozen times in Detroit earlier this week . . . no silly, not with all the handsome foreign men in suits wandering around Detroit’s North American International Auto Show! I love cars. It is a genetic thing. I blame my father (and so would my mother). I have been to a lot of various big fancy pants trade shows, but nothing even close to the experience of dashing from staging area to staging area (you could never refer to these exhibits as booths). Elaborate? You had to be invited into the Maserati exhibit, which had a glass gate around it (and several gorgeous female models adorning the cars).
So, how does a Green Diva (or two of them as it turns out) end up at the Detroit auto show? Well, someone at Ford has been paying attention, and decided we were significant online influencers (maybe they saw my series of posts on the hybrid Lexus left with me to drive and play with for two weeks a couple of years ago), and we were included in an amazing group of serious bloggers and online media peeps who were flown out at Ford’s expense – entirely – to have a up-close-and-personal look at some of their newest offerings.
This is the same event that our favorite green car dude, John Voelcker, Sr. Editor GreenCarReports.com went to last year. When he talked about the show, he did talk about how impressive Ford’s lineup of eco-friendly cars was and I trust his judgment on these things entirely, so my mind was opened. To be honest, the last time I drove a Ford and loved it, I was in Europe and it was a completely different car than its counterpart here in the US. That was quite a few years ago.
I’m always a little skeptical of events like this because I’ve been a PR professional and I know how hard they will work to put their best foot forward to influence me. I will say, we were extremely well taken care of and I am grateful for that because the schedule they had us on was go, go, go from 7am till 9pm+. It was a finely tuned machine and they managed to house (comfortably), feed (STUFF) and bus a group of 150 of us with remarkable efficiency. Kudos to those event planners!
It was all perfectly timed . . . I think I was invited last year, but somehow skimmed past it. This year I paid closer attention because as it turns out, I had not one, but TWO cars totaled during Sandy (ya know, big storm here in the east this past fall?). I’m in the market for a new car. My husband of course was convinced I would come home from Detroit with a complimentary car from Ford despite my attempts to disabuse him of the notion it would be like an episode of Oprah.
Part of my goal was to identify a potential new car – criteria: sexy (of course), eco-friendly (hybrid or electric or both), peppy (because this green diva hates put-putting in the slow lane).
Our first encounter with Ford and one of their new Fusions was at the airport. Very sleek lines, loved the color, but the dashboard was . . . eh? As it turns out, later that night I would have the opportunity to diplomatically tell some of the designers of this car that I wasn’t in love with the dashboard. Picky? Yea, I am. I still want to drive it and now it is among the top few in my new GD car wish list.
Day 2, we loaded into buses and went to visit Ford’s famous Rouge plan, where they now make trucks. They wanted to show off some of their new sustainable features that help mitigate some of the environmental impact of the plant. They have gone to great lengths (and probably great expense) to implement solar energy and to create the largest living ‘green’ roof. The green roof is over 450,000 square feet and helps reduce energy consumption in a number of ways and helps to collect and manage water. In fact, I saw this in the ladies room at the Rouge plant . . .
Hope I don’t get in trouble. There were strict – and I mean strict – rules about no photos in the plant area. We saw a poor Japanese fellow, who probably didn’t get that memo, get walked aside and have the security guy watch him delete the images he took. They explained it was about the workers not wanting to show up on youtube, but . . . So, I went in and took this, then Mizar went in and unbeknownst to me, actually did a little iMovie with her phone! hee hee hee . . .
Ford got the message across that their commitment to the environment is serious and comes from the top down – Bill Ford himself. Here’s a pic of teeny Mr. Ford opening the big – and I mean BIG – press conference at the auto show. Event was in Red Wings stadium – Joe Louis Arena – it was remarkably full and when the big music came on, it took me a minute to realize it was a LIVE band.
The big news was about the Ford truck, the Atlas, which was a heck of a show complete with men on iron platforms actually welding and giant trucks falling from the sky, but not so relevant to my interest as a Green Diva in hybrids, EVs, plug-in hybrids, etc.
John Voelcker was right. Ford does have an impressive lineup of affordable, attainable, real-world cars in production — from the C-Max hybrid to an all-electric Focus with a few hybrids, and some plug-in hybrid versions in between. They also love to talk about their selection of EcoBoost engines, which inhabit most of their non-hybrid vehicles and have made most of their gas-powered cars much more efficient.
Here’s a good site to see how all of Ford’s cars, including the hybrids, plug-ins and EV Focus do with mileage.
The C-Max, Fusion and all-electric Focus are among the top few of the cars I am seriously considering for the new Green Diva mobile . . . Next post will be a rundown on the serious candidates and to my glad surprise, Ford is in there!
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