You know the "green car" conversation has changed when a news release lands with the headline: Corvette Stingray Most Efficient Sports Car on the Market.
Does anyone really care that the 455 horsepower 2014 Chevrolet Corvette will get an EPA-estimated 29 miles per gallon (highway) in the United States or 8.1 litres/100 km converted to the metric system? That's better than a V-6 Toyota Sienna minivan.
General Motors wants you to know that its new Corvette sports car is not a completely outrageous gas guzzler. No, it's a trend-setter in the world of green super cars.
"We expect more and more performance cars will follow Corvette's example," says Tadge Juechter, chief engineer.
The new "Vette might actually do better than the posted number, too. Drivers with the seven-speed manual gearbox who choose to run in "Eco" mode – and most will, of course – will get a predicted 30 mpg highway, or 7.8 litres/100 km.
That's because the new 'Vette gets Active Fuel Management, which disables four of the cylinders during light loads to improve fuel economy. 'Vettes with the six-speed automatic have Active Fuel Manage engaged at all times, unless the driver goes into manual-shift mode using steering wheel paddles.
Here's the kicker: GM points out that the Porsche 911 Carrera S delivers 400 horsepower, and an EPA-estimated 27 mpg highway. The Jaguar F-Type S offers 495 hp and 23 mpg highway while the Audi R8 V-10 offers 510 hp and 19 mpg highway.
It's come to this. A major car maker is touting fuel economy for its hottest sports car.
This news from GM came at almost the same moment the company released its latest Sustainability Report. It's filled with GM touting its initiatives on energy use, emissions, waste reduction and other sustainability issues.
"Sustainability is not only a key part of how GM is shifting from a good to great company; it is about the leadership and innovation that can transform the auto industry," said GM CEO Dan Akerson
And so we learn that GM plans to put 500,000 electrified vehicles on the road in the U.S. by 2017. GM's electrified lineup today includes the extended-range electric Chevy Volt, the Spark EV (electric vehicle), and a list of vehicles with eAssist light hybrid technology: Buick LaCrosse, Buick Regal, Chevrolet Malibu and Chevrolet Impala. High-mileage vehicles include: the Volt, Chevy Sonic and Cruze Eco, the new Cadillac ELR, and the Cruze diesel.
Just as GM was going all green on us, Ford Motor was pointing out that the company's share of the U.S. electrified vehicle market grew to nearly 16 per cent during first half of 2013. The top trade-in for the new Ford C-MAX Hybrid is the Toyota Prius, which in the U.S. has seen a 5.0 per cent drop in sales.
Ford has been touting its electrified strategy for some time. Ford now says it is boosting its corps of electrification engineering jobs by nearly 50 per cent. Another $50-million (U.S) is going into electrified vehicle development centres, too.
Toyota, which until the last year or so had owned the green car company label, is touting tomorrow's July 18 "EV Day" in Toronto. Toyota Canada will have the Toyota Prius Plug-in Hybrid Vehicle (PHV) on hand. Admission is free to the event at Yonge-Dundas Square – running from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Want to know more? Visit www.evday.ca.
I could go on and on and on about the greening of the auto industry. What's interesting is how these heavily touted green initiatives are changing perceptions. Last month, the market consulting firm Interbrand announced research that shows car companies dominated a consumer survey looking at the "greenest" global brands. As Automotive News reports, Toyota, Ford and Honda are the world's top three greenest brands in that order. Other high finishers were Nissan (5), Volkswagen (7), BMW (13) and Mercedes-Benz (17).
Yes, the car business is focused on creating a green impression and yes, it's working.