The word on the street was that the auto industry was dead on its feet not so long ago, but I am not so sure that this is true. My brother has worked with the big automakers most of his career – he returned from Detroit last week saying that the old buzz is back. In the short term at least, the health of the auto industry has always been linked to the health of the economy and this should be good news. But increasing car sales is not always received as positive by the sustainability community.
If you stand back from Big Auto’s marketing messages over recent years, it’s clear how the world has changed. Before the financial crisis, it was business as usual and above-the-line advertising was focused on pushing high performance vehicles and heavy SUVs. Before 2009, respecting the environment remained the preserve of the tree huggers in San Francisco, flaunting their Toyota Prius in a ‘cloud of smug’ (for those of you who watched South Park). But those days are over.