Environment News Service (ENS)

Activists Confront Automakers at Los Angeles Show

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Source: Environment News Service (ENS)

Environmentalists from Rainforest Action Network are making waves at the Los Angeles Auto Show, which opens to the public Friday after two days of media previews.

The environmental group says, 'We're juxtaposing Ford, Toyota, and GM's eco-promises with their continued participation in the lawsuit against California's groundbreaking tailpipe global warming law.'

At Wednesday morning's keynote speech to kick off the show, the activists put Ford CEO Allan Mulally in the hotseat by confronting him and demanding he respond to a Freedom From Oil-produced 'USA Today' front page wrap targeting 'Ford's greenwashing.'

The L.A. Auto Show is an international auto show showcasing 1,000 of the newest vehicles from 47 of the world's automobile manufacturers. It is traditionally the place to first introduce green cars and concept cars.

Full-size SUVs from General Motors Corp. and Chrysler LLC complete with hybrid drives are making their debut at the this year's show, which opens to the public Friday.

Across the floor, Toyota is debuting its full-size sport utility vehicle, the Sequoia, which has no hybrid option. After the Sequoia was introduced on Wednesday, an environmentalist from Rainforest Action Network confronted Toyota's manager for U.S. sales, Bob Carter, asking why the company will not withdraw from the lawsuit.

Carter did not answer and the activist was taken into custody. But the environmentalists will not go away, and protesters picketed Toyota outside the show.

Other environmentalists from RAN proved their point by carrying out a high-speed one day conversion of a Prius hybrid to a plug-in hybrid.

Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger appears to bear no grudge against the automakers who are suing to block his tailpipe global warming law.

Visiting the show on Thursday he said, 'It is fantastic to see that the world's automakers are developing the technology to help us meet our goals in California. These cars come in every size and shape and they prove that we can give consumers the choices they want and still protect the environment.'

The L.A. Auto Show has become the main stage for unveiling alternative fuel vehicles as manufacturers look to California, which drives the market for hybrids and other fuel efficient vehicles, to establish trends for environmentally-friendly cars and trucks.

At the show, Honda has unveiled its all-new FCX Clarity fuel cell vehicle, a zero-emissions, hydrogen-powered fuel cell vehicle with a low-slung, sophisticated appearance. The FCX Clarity will be available in 2008 to a limited number of consumers.

'This is exactly the kind of innovation we need,' the governor said. “Imagine what we can accomplish if we improve efficiency and put more alternatives on the road, whether it is biofuels, electric cars, hydrogen or hybrids.'

'This will also help our families with fuel prices because it's all about supply and demand,' he said. 'By providing more alternatives, we can drive down oil prices from the $100 a barrel everyone is expecting.”

The selection of the 2008 Green Car of the Year® award winner has been narrowed to five nominees - all hybrids.

The mainstreaming of hybrid technology is reflected in the five nominees for the 2008 Green Car of the Year award - the 2008 Chevrolet Malibu Hybrid, Chevrolet Tahoe Hybrid, Mazda Tribute Hybrid, Nissan Altima Hybrid, and Saturn Aura Hybrid.

'The fact that all five Green Car of the Year nominees are hybrids this year is a clear indication that the auto industry's significant investment of time and resources into gasoline-electric hybrid technology is paying off,' explains Ron Cogan, editor and publisher of the Green Car Journal.

'Hybrids were not a specific focus during our nomination process,' he said. 'There are many pathways to achieving efficiency and emissions goals, and hybrids, while popular, represent just one of these.'

Jurors include Carl Pope, executive director of the Sierra Club; Christopher Flavin, president of Worldwatch Institute; Jean-Michel Cousteau, president of Ocean Futures Society; and Jonathan Lash, President of the World Resources Institute. Also, Jay Leno noted auto enthusiast and host of the 'Tonight Show' as well as automotive icon Carroll Shelby will adjudicate the selection of the greenest car.

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