Ford eats gas, Sierra Club, itself

Yesterday the environmental activists at Sierra Club announced they're partnering with Ford to promote the company's new hybrid SUV, the Mercury Mariner. In a press release, Dan Becker of the 113-year-old pro-environment org said, "If we can work with Ford to make its Mercury Hybrid a hit, Ford will be convinced that it can make clean vehicles and make money."

At first blush, this sounds all well and good: Ginormous gas-guzzling SUVs have been tearing up the streets, polluting the air, and taking over two parking spaces for years. Isn't it high time automotive companies, especially American ones that have been notoriously and egregiously late in creating more fuel-efficient vehicles, took responsibility for SUVs' environmental effects?

But then we noticed that this all smells a bit fishy (albeit with a tinge of mercury.) Ford's Web site boasts that the new Mercury Mariner is the "most fuel-efficient SUV on the road [33/29mpg]." But apparently Ford forgot about its own Ford Escape, which it too calls the "most-fuel efficient SUV on the road." That 2005-model hybrid gets better gas mileage, 35-40 mpg for a city drive, than the Mercury Mariner. So which actually is more efficient? And is either vehicle really all that "efficient?" It makes us wonder why the Sierra Club would be so quick to partner with Ford now, when for years the org has remained steadfast in its criticism of the company. It all smacks a bit of image redefining. Because apparently these days there's nothing more repellent than a passionate and committed activist.

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