Sunday, September 09, 2007

Information + interpretation

All the current alternative fuels broken down for the layman. It's a little bit "butbutbut" in my opinion but still gives a nice broad, objective view.

If you will, pay attention to the "Pluses, minuses" section. How many of the minuses have to do simply with consumer acceptance? Now, I'm business-savvy enough to understand that it is impossible to shape consumers with altruistic products alone. I know that you can't offer an "inferior" (in terms of effectiveness) product and expect people to buy it en masse based on their big, gooey hearts overflowing with love for other people and the environment. Some people will (yours truly) but not the majority.

On the other hand, I also know that consumers as a group typically function like a herd of animals. You can point the group in a certain direction but it is not guaranteed they will go there. You also may find yourself confounded with why they are going some other direction. Examples? Why are girls buying $300 sunglasses and $500 purses when they work at Starbucks? Why are people spending $500 on an iPhone that does all this stuff they never needed before? Why do people spend more money to have a Yukon when they could spend less in general on a Subaru and get the same utility? Because consumers are cows and they will buy into "the cool," plain and simple.

Being energy savvy and CO2 conscious and recycle happy still isn't cool enough to drive people to cut back and do with less, but it's getting there. Who is going to grab this opportunity? Toyota is doing well but it's too conservative. When you watch the commercials, they are geared towards mom and dad, grandma and grandpa. The Prius and hybrid Camry are "safe" and "efficient" and "quiet." Where is the cool? Toyota can do cool - look at their Scion campaign. Scions are cool, period. They look cool, the billboards are cool, the TV spots are cool, they're cool. So what about a Prius-drive train powered Scion? You're out of your mind if you think you can't make this stuff cool. You're also out of your mind if you think that people who buy $15K cars aren't slightly frugal (and, in turn, MPG conscious).

Smart cars are cool. Priuses are cool. Bicycles are cool. Let's all just agree on this and we'll be fine.

Just listen to Josh and everything will be OK, I promise.

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