This paper examines the automotive industry in the United States and the green awareness factor that has the country rethinking the ways it is handling the environmental impacts of automobiles. There are different ways that automobile companies are shouldering the responsibility of making environmentally-friendly “green cars’. It is because of this phenomenon of being able to realistically use PHEVs (plug-in hybrid electric vehicles) today that the idea is being investigated and diverse movements currently in place are making the move to cleaner alternatives.
The Green Awareness Factor
The terminology of green consumption and awareness has held a specific meaning for different people. In one particular context, it talks about the various alternative sources of energy or fuel which may not be harmful to the environment. For others, it pertains to the range of activities that are included in producing an environmentally sound product. The United States is currently exploring several initiatives regarding the green awareness campaign that it has now subscribed to. The ever-expanding slew of activities and awareness programs in the country have already given it much to start with. Now, the campaign is branching out to include the automobile industry since this field is responsible for the bulk of pollution in the atmosphere in the country and in the world in general. The United States has now been exploring options that will see different alternative forms of energy and fuel in order to make it more readily sustainable in the long run.
The Impending Need to Change
Jack Rosebro (2008) mentions that there is an ongoing debate regarding climate change and how this particular change has already spurred a shift from science to policy. Because of this, there is a new set of challenges and questions that are already being discussed by the various policy makers in different areas. The times now clamor for a change in the area of safer and greener cars. Currently there are different stands regarding this but one thing remains: the time to act is now.
The future of automobiles has now reached a level wherein drastic measures have to be done in order to effectively save the planet from further damage. The various global environmental concerns have birthed an impetus which seeks a green revolution in the automobile industry. Basically, they are looking for eco-friendly cars which have differing options such as bio fuels, hybrid electric cars with lower to zero emissions and having a lighter body. All of the technology in development is now pushing for a greener, safer and cleaner automobile in the future. These efforts are all in place so that the next generation of cars will consume less and less fuel and therefore will reduce greenhouse gas emissions. (Rosebro, 2008)
PHEVs (Plug-in Hybrid Electric Vehicles)
According to researchers John Axsen and Ken Kurani at the Institute of Transportation Studies at the University of California, the current automobile industry in the United States sees approximately one-third of the U.S. buying new vehicles more often. These patterns see the various infrastructures to push for a vehicle with plug-in capabilities. This is because of the fact that the nascent market has come across the realization that there are real-world options with regard to having a car that does not require the traditional fuel that we see in cars today.
The team that was led by Axsen and Kurani was composed of people who essentially observed a wide diversity of different interests that have been explored regarding the varying design options for plug-in hybrid electric vehicles (PHEVs). The most important was the fact that the improved fuel economy in charge-sustaining mode. (Axsen & Kuranis, 2008) These two researchers were able to find very little evidence regarding the inherent demand for an all-electric operation in charge depleting mode. They were able to essentially quantify the consumer behavior in the early US market for plug-in hybrid electric vehicles.
Some of the significant questions that the study addressed were very important ones. They delved into the awareness of consumers about electric-drive vehicles and how many households actually have regular access to vehicle recharging opportunities, what designs were considered to be appealing to the consumer base and finally the various energy impacts regarding gasoline and electricity that we can anticipate with the various significant PHEV sales. (Axsen & Kuranis, 2008)
The data that the research gathered was composed of 2,373 new vehicle buying households which were located from different geographical points across the country. The survey that they were able to send out was composed of different pieces which included questions about PHEV design preferences, driving and parking patterns and a sequence of PHEV design exercises. The researchers found out that the majority of new vehicle buyers did not have any familiarity with the idea of PHEV. This particular stigma essentially confused them with regard to the existing hybrids with those of a plug-in vehicle.
This particular lack of awareness as well as understanding in the market of PHEVs can be seen as both a constraint and an opportunity. This can be obviously seen as a constraint simply because consumers will fail to recognize the benefits of owning and operating a PHEV and therefore limits the market to those who are only aware of the capabilities of such a vehicle. The opportunity that is presented in this particular situation is that the United States can therefore become a blank market wherein different automobile manufacturers and stakeholders could influence the United States market to understand and eventually purchase their very own PHEV in the future. (Axsen & Kuranis, 2008)
Sustainability of a Greener Future
Mitra (2008) adds that the increase in research and development of renewable liquid fuesl made from different biological matters can be used as transportation fuels which effectively reduce air toxic emissions as well as greenhouse gas buildup. By combining the different factors such as the lack of knowledge in the market of PHEVs and the increase in the development of bio fuels, these will be very good indicators that the sustainability of green automobiles in the future is looking good.
The future of automobiles continues to be a very good breeding ground of technology which can be used as a way to introduce greener vehicles into the mainstream American culture. According to Debora Vannijnatten (1999) there is an increasing reliance on various voluntary initiatives which are identified by industry in order to reduce pollution. These can be seen in a number of environmental protection areas. She cites the Accelerated Reduction/Elimination of Toxics (ARET) as a program which challenges various industries to eliminate or reduce certain toxic substances over the long term. A recent green car show took place in Washington D.C. which highlighted national issues such as energy efficiency, energy security, CO2 emissions and air quality. (Kaho, 2008). Looking at where the green car plug-in hybrids are right now, it seems as if the economy of the United States is getting ready for a sustainable market for greener and safer cars for the future.
Jonn Axsen, Kenneth S. Kurani (2008) The Early US Market for PHEVs: Anticipating Consumer Awareness, Recharge Potential, Design Priorities and Energy Impacts (UCD-ITS-RR-08-22)
Rosebro, Jack. (2008). Devil in the Details: Three “Profoundly Disturbing” Carbon Scenarios. Press release for Carbon Scenarios: Blue Sky Thinking for a Green Future.
Mitra, Tanmoy. (2008). Green miles: The future of automobiles. Accessed on August 10, 2008 from Website: <http://www.domain-b.com/automotive/2008/20080201_automobiles.html>
Vannijnatten, Debora (1999). Participation and Environmental Policy in Canada and the United States: Trends over Time. Policy Studies Journal, Vol. 27.