Guest Blog: Alex Goy on eco cars

Time 2:20 am, August 28, 2010

230310-b-honIT WAS going to happen all along. Like the £10 gallon is looming and excessive CO2 taxation is in full swing, city cars are about to become even more offensively eco-friendly and therefore derided.

Honda has announced details of a new hybrid Jazz. All we really need to know is that it’s got most of an Insight… inside it.

It probably won’t breach the 100g/km barrier, so it won’t be Congestion Charge free. But it will get more than 65mpg. The sentiment is there – Honda wants to make a small, hyper economical car for people who want them. There’s no shame in that. In fact it’s almost honourable. Almost.

But they’re making two mistakes.

Firstly, it will be easily identifiable as the ‘eco model’. Why does that need to happen? Eco cars don’t need leaves painted on each wing. One of the things that people dislike so vehemently about other mpg-conscious cars is that they’re visually different from the rest of the range.

The eco-Jazz will apparently come with blue highlights around the rear lights, different bumpers, special badging – the list goes on (not much further though). We’ll all know it’s an eco car. It’s the same with the Prius – you know it’s an eco car.

The eco car image still has a certain stigma attached to it. Put it like this: You know the kid at school who used to boast about being best at everything?  You know the one; you hated him/her/it. Because they made it clear that they were ‘special’. It’s the same reason people have irrational dislike towards people who drive supercars. The public are indifferent to the average. Think about it, no one hates a Volvo DRIVe.

Secondly, they’ve gone hybrid. I’ll bet the engineers weren’t happy about it, either. Hybrid tech is heavy and complicated. While that’s fine in a family car, a hatch shouldn’t really weigh more than a bag of Quavers. So it’ll be heavy, therefore slower than its nearest rival: the VW Polo Bluemotion.

It may have a saving grace – it’ll be cheap. Well, it better be to beat the Polo. To get your bum in a Bluemotion car for the people you’ll need at least £14,445. If middle-of-the-road Honda is going to take on posh-ish VW it’ll have to be cheap.

It’s a shame that, much like celebrities, car manufacturers want us to know they love trees more than they love themselves. People will by the hybrid Jazz. They’ll be proud of themselves too. They’ll tell you about how great it is. And how brilliant they are for singlehandedly saving the planet.

You’ll roll your eyes and finger the key to your DRIVe, wishing they’d go away.


If you like this, check out Goy’s podisode podcasts. They’re his, Cameraman’s Phil and Jon Quirk’s irreverent take on the motor industry. And they’re rather good. Find them by clicking here or searching iTunes for ‘Gas Station Podisode’

Related: Did they have to call it the LEAF?

James Baggott's avatar

James is the founder and editor-in-chief of Car Dealer Magazine, and CEO of parent company Baize Group. James has been a motoring journalist for more than 20 years writing about cars and the car industry.

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