According to the 11/19/02 Wall Street Journal ("Religious Leaders Are Pushing Fuel Economy as a Moral Issue"):
"Top executives of the world's two biggest auto makers plan to meet this week with religious leaders who are trying to make fuel economy of U.S. vehicles a religious as well as environmental issue.
"Among those leaders is an evangelical Christian group that plans to roll out a TV ad campaign arguing that gas-guzzlers are contrary to Christian moral teachings about protecting people and the earth. The tagline for the ads: "What Would Jesus Drive?"
"Ford Motor Co. Chairman Bill Ford Jr. and top officials of General Motors Corp. have agreed to meet Wednesday with representatives of the National Religious Partnership for the Environment, a group whose members include Christians and Jews. One of the leaders, the Rev. Jim Ball , plans to announce that his group, the Evangelical Environmental Network, which represents evangelical Christians, is launching TV ads in Indiana, Iowa, Missouri and North Carolina, urging Christians to buy the most fuel-efficient vehicle that they think suits their needs.
"For auto makers, who traditionally have regarded complaints about sport-utility vehicles as a cause for environmental activists on the coasts, the involvement of religious leaders in the fight could mark a worrisome escalation. The threat to the industry is that the religious campaign could persuade consumers across the country to forsake the industry's most-profitable products, its SUVs, in favor of less-profitable vehicles that go farther on a gallon of gas.
"SUVs have gotten increasingly popular, pushing down the average fuel economy of the U.S. fleet to its lowest point in two decades -- about 21 miles per gallon. Auto makers argue they build what Americans want. "The marketplace determines what vehicles are produced by manufacturers. It's that simple," says Chris Preuss, a GM spokesman.
[I just climb the walls whenever I hear that balderdash about the marketplace dictates the public's appetite for SUV's when, an evenings TV viewing will see 50 ads for Ford Explorers and none for Ford Escorts. Not that I blame them for pushing models with a $15,000 markup vs. a $200 markup, but don't tell me it's the market demanding them!]
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