Echo Booming: Is Green the New Plaid?

Green Car

by Dan Sherman

The Hippies intended to start an environmental revolution against The Man but it is  their children that are credited with reviving it in cooperation with corporate America. In the past decade, high fuel prices and growing awareness of global warming have given a whole new meaning to the word “green”: Green buildings, Green energy, Green factories, Green politics, and Green Cars.

The question we are tackling this week is “What really is a “Green Car” to an Echo Boomer, and how willing are we to pay for it?” Will my generation’s alleged obsession with Green determine the future of motoring? I tapped my network of Echo Boomers for insight.

My interviewees claim that fuel economy and emissions are, respectively, their number one and two biggest expectations of a Green Car – in that order but without equal weight.

My generation is more highly motivated by the kind of green associated with dead Presidents than by environmental concern. As much as my peers care to mitigate the depletion of the ozone, we are more strongly affected by reduced fuel costs. Fuel efficiency represents a tangible attribute and as a result is the most easily identifiable aspect of a “green” car.

While some Echo Boomers also deem lowered emissions necessary to qualify as “green”,  particularly due to increasing awareness of global warming, it isn’t as much of a consideration as the more measurable fuel efficiency. Other Green initiatives, such as recyclable materials in cars and zero-waste factories, are welcome bonuses but rarely considered.

Despite my generation’s lofty ideals, we are reluctant to put our [parents’] money where our mouth is. My peers revealed that being green would be a very low priority in buying a new car and that appearance, power, handling, and brand status are more important characteristics.

“Green” will continue to shape the future of the automobile, at least to an extent. Generation Y is very vocal about reducing greenhouse gases and slowing the depletion oil reserves. More importantly, this has spurred a semi-permanent shift in government-sponsored research into Green technology, which in turn will make it easier for automakers to develop Greener cars. Although my generation may not be mature enough to actually pay whopping price premiums for environmental friendliness, as this technology becomes cheaper it will be readily accepted my peers and most likely expected by them.

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