I know, I know, it’s been a while. I don’t call, I don’t write… Well, actually I’ve been writing some, just not here. For the last couple months I’ve been posting periodically on Autoblog Green, and might make a few guest appearances in other spots. I’ll link to them here too, so my mother no one has to go searching elsewhere, and because each post seems to have turned into a story of its own that bears telling.
The first post was, I thought, a light little story centered around GM’s first tentative outreach to the EV1 drivers after several years of monologues by both sides that never quite met in the middle. Later the same week, GM invited me to do a webchat from their Voltage site- basically a q&a with anyone who felt like logging on. I did it on the condition that I got to pick the questions and answer them as I wished, with no censoring- which they readily agreed to. I didn’t get to all the questions in the allotted hour (a good sign of interest) but overall it seemed a good time was had by all.
Both the article and the chat got some very thoughtful comments, but there were also some incredibly nasty ones- so much so that they couldn’t be printed. Not new for me, but it’s been a while. Even on the tamer front, it’s clear that there’s still a tremendous amount of cynicism around GM. More, merely by doing the article, some assumed that I must’ve “sold out”. Or- and my favorite- that they’re just taking advantage of me and I’m too sweet to know better. Wow, ok.
The cynicism I expected- many people are still smarting over the EV1 program. I, of all people, get it- but let’s face it, all of the automakers involved in the EVs of the 1990’s behaved poorly. Some better or worse in different ways, but all poorly. Yet had I written the same story about any other automaker, it likely wouldn’t have gotten that reaction. But given that EVs have become not only a foregone conclusion, but a national imperative, it seems to me both more interesting and more productive to talk about what any automaker is doing (or not) now, rather than continuing to flog the past in spite of new evidence. There’s ground to make up and new mistakes being made here and there, yes- and I’m the first to be candid about those or to say “show me, don’t tell me”. But I’m watching several automakers get a lot more credit (to say nothing of funding) for doing a lot less than GM has- and I think it’s about time we judge them all on the same field. To some, the fact that I’ve been willing to hear them out – and acknowledge the good along with the bad- might be the same as selling out, and that’s unfortunate. But it doesn’t make it true…and I suspect that GM knows that better than anyone.