Southern California environment news and trends

‘Star Wars’ characters sell Toyota’s plug-in Prius in Japan

Things seem to be looking up for electric and hybrid vehicles in America. The much-discussed Chevy Volt just recorded its second-best sales month yet, even besting the plug-in Toyota Prius and Nissan’s all-electric Leaf in U.S. numbers during May of this year.

Still, it’s the Prius that rules the overall roost, with the car becoming the third best-selling vehicle in the world over the first quarter of 2012, as reported by Bloomberg News.

Looking to boost sales of the new Prius plug-in hybrid in Japan, Toyota has recruited a couple of ringers for their latest TV commercial: "Star Wars" droids R2-D2 and C-3PO.

A translation of the new spot (which can be found on Green Car Reports) finds the droids getting a charge from the same plug that juices up the Prius while the announcer delivers the facts, like the car’s total EPA range being 540 miles, with overall efficiency of 50 mpg, and as much as 95 MPGe over the first 11 miles.


Hollywood stars to shine at “the only green pre-Oscar party in town”

Mercer 19989

Frederick M. Brown/Getty Images

(L-R) Actors Kevin Connolly, Adrian Grenier and Jerry Ferrara.

Environmentally minded celebrities like Rosario Dawson, Orlando Bloom and Adrian Grenier will stroll the green carpet (natch) in front of the Avalon Hollywood tonight to support the 9th annual pre-Oscar party for Global Green, the American affiliate of Green Cross International.

According to the event press release, general admission tickets to the bash are going for a very reasonable $50 (VIP packages start at $1000), and will be available at the door. Proceeds from the event are dedicated for Global Green’s national Green Schools initiative, as well as a campaign around the Rio Earth Summit this June, which they would very much like for President Obama to attend.

The much-discussed Chevy Volt will serve as the event’s automotive sponsor, with Chevy rolling out a “sneak preview” of the 2012 Volt that qualifies for the both the carpool lane sticker and the new $1500 CA Clean Vehicle Rebate.


GM, Chevy Volt owners fire back at Gingrich over gun rack jab

James Rojas/KPCC

It has been a hard year for GM’s plug-in hybrid car, the Chevy Volt. Despite a popular commercial during Super Bowl XLVI, sales have been sluggish. It even took a hit by not making the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy’s top 12 “greenest” cars of the year in a recent poll.

Now the Volt is suffering the ultimate injustice of being used as a political punch line. During recent campaign stops in Georgia and Oklahoma, Newt Gingrich (who recently found himself stranded in West Hollywood) has bashed the Volt as an instrument of “cultural warfare” on his way to deriding the car because “you cannot put a gun rack on it.”

GM has had enough. News comes out of Detroit that the automaker launched a new blog today to fire back at the Republican candidate, albeit humorously.

“That's like saying 'You can't put training wheels on a Harley.' Actually, you can. But the real question is 'Why would you?' In both examples: It looks weird,” replied GM spokesman Selim Bingol, according to the Detroit News. “It doesn't work very well, and, there are better places for gun racks and training wheels — pickup trucks and little Schwinns, respectively.”


Aliens (and Tim Allen) bring the Chevy Volt to Super Bowl XLVI

Ethan Miller/Getty Images

The Chevy Volt.

Even with the complete Super Bowl saturation of the media this week (you might’ve heard something about Madonna?), it’s still kind of jarring to think that the big game is a scant two days away. I feel like we’re approaching the Christmas of sports, and I just don’t want it to end.

In the run up to the Patriots-Giants showdown (yes, there is still a game to be played in there somewhere), the annual onslaught of over-the-top Super Bowl commercials have begun springing up across the interwebs. Among this year’s bombast, Chevy will be introducing their new much-ballyhooed EV the Volt, which is already taking hits for a drop in sales last month.

They’re surely hoping that this alien-themed Super Bowl ad will reverse that trend, especially with 30-second spots going for a cool $3.5 million this year. Featuring a simple breakdown of how the car works and a voiceover from Tim Allen, it’s an effective enough spot (and part of an overall Volt relaunch). We’ll have to wait and see how it shakes out in the game’s aftermath — and when those February sales numbers roll in.