Viva highways! The car biz pushes back

Post by Daniel Fontaine in


The car biz redefines "freedom" for consumers not clear on the subject

We've talked a lot on this blog over the last 11 months about the issues relating to our North American car culture and the urban sprawl it has facilitated. As a result of a heightened level of awareness, we've now come to better understand the impact fossil fuel dependent cars are having on our environment.

That's why I wanted to share with you a PSA (public service announcement)  that I recently saw (click on play button above) on KIRO TV from Seattle over the weekend. After viewing it, I had to ask myself if this was 1959 or 2009. The 30 second public service ad is entitled "The Freedom to Drive." It has been playing throughout North America for a while now and it extols the virtues of why the car has made America such a great place to live.

The voice over in the commercial tells us how the car has provided us with the freedom to go places and live our life to the fullest. Perhaps if the spot were extended to a 60 second, they could also add the following lines to the script. "The car has provided us with the freedom to facilitate suburban sprawl. It has provided us with the freedom to pollute. It has provided us with the freedom to pave over countless acres of green space and farmland in order to build super highways."

The PSA we came across is not the only one out there challenging our collective efforts at going green. A new Audi commercial also pokes fun at all of us seeking a more environmentally friendly lifestyle. In what could be considered a slap in the face to many of Vancouver's green activists, Audi laughs at people who use their bicycles to go to work or choose other alternative forms of transportation.

In one scene, a cyclist is riding in some urban centre while the rain is pouring down on him. Moments later a beautiful new white Audi drives by on a sunny day with the occupants claiming they're just as green as the cyclist. This is due to the fact they are burning up "clean diesel". The ad says if you're going to save the planet, at least have some fun doing it.

In any event, we wanted to share these two commercials with all of our readers who aspire to live a greener and cleaner urban lifestyle. I'd encourage you to take a moment and look at these two commercials and let us know if you think they're the kind of advertising that should be produced in our new enviro-age.


I'll take the audi thanks, winter's coming! doh!

Have any of you car hating extremists considered what it would be like to live without a car in the Lower Mainland? Life would be unbearable if we had to totally depend on public transport and cycling.

Given the amount of rain and cold thru the year, how do those of us who have to arrive at work in suits or meet clients dry off after getting soaked in Vancouver rain? Then, there's the overall inefficiency and waiting for buses and connections. How does anyone justify the time wasted on Vancouver's inefficient public transport.

Who is speaking for the people who need to drive cars? It would be great if everyone worked for an idyllic green business like Electronic Arts- but most of the drivers you love to hate need to use their cars.

So rather than waging a jihad against drivers, why don't you use common sense and stop trying to impose your futuristic lifestyle on the average citizen?

Love the Audi commercial. Europe has cauught on the clean diesel long time ago. The questions we need to raise with our governments are why are these cars not being allowed import into Canada. Why the non-tariff barriers are put up against these cars?
VW has been producing and selling a car using less then 3L of diesel per 100 KM. Citroen and Renault sell many cars in Europe using just over 3L of diesel per 100 KM. Only clean diesel cars sold in Canada are luxury cars like Mercedes ML or E Class, or new BMW X5 and VW Toureg, eception being VW Jetta. If we want the masses to use fuel efficent cars, make them available. Right now seems like you must have at least $60,000 car budget to drive green.

Is it just me, or does the term "clean diesel" not sound just a bit oxymoronic?

"waging a jihad against drivers" - hmmmm, a wee bit hyperbolic wouldn't you say Bobby?

No one is suggesting everyone be forced to cycle or use public transport for all their trips. Indeed, that would probably be devastating to the economy. Just a fair and balanced assessment of the true social and economic costs of an auto-centric urban form. Costs like pollution, massive amounts of land consumed by roads and car parks, health care costs of sedentary choices, unintentional death and injury due to collision, noise pollution, stress, maintaining and repairing bridges and highways etc. etc. Are we using our limited resources (like land) in the most efficient and health-conscious way possible? Are the disabled and others with physical or financial barriers being denied life opportunities simply because they cannot drive?

Lets take the ‘greener than thou’ aspect out of the cars vs everything else debate and start thinking more about the pragmatic consequences of a car-dominated urban environment.

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