In a long Guardian article from a couple of weeks back I noticed a fine example of the favourite "consumer choice" excuse of corporations under pressure to change their ways. The massive German car maker Volkswagen has more efficient versions (blue motion) of their popular models but doesn't sell very many:
The VW Polo BlueMotion gives off just 99g of CO2 per km. But this year VW envisages selling 5,000 BlueMotion Polos as against 36,000 conventional ones. Some of this is market reticence, but some is down to the increased price - an extra £500. Surely a company that takes the environment seriously would withdraw the old version or price the more environmentally friendly one equally?
'We wouldn't be doing ourselves any favours if we withdrew customer choice or disguised the increased costs of BlueMotion cars,' says VW's UK press spokesman Paul Buckett.
Notice the weasel words of "consumer choice". VW definitely would be doing the planet a favour if they just sold the more efficient version. Also VW and all other car companies spend fortunes every day on adverts, billboards and marketing to create the very consumer demand (for large, fast, inefficient cars) they then use as an excuse not to act.
Here's Toyota using the very same excuse to try and justify supporting weak US fuel efficiency standards:
"Toyota is in the business of offering a full lineup of cars and trucks to meet the needs of American motorists. Its success is the result of listening to customers and offering products they want."
Customers most often 'want' what they see in adverts and companies do limit 'consumer choice' all the time when it suits their needs.
Our own research at the recent Geneva car show clearly demonstrated that the car industry is still puts most effort into selling big inefficient cars. Indeed right now German Chancellor Merkel, at the behest of the German car companies like VW is trying to weaken proposed new fuel efficiency law in the EU. Take action to stop this dirty car deal.