Ruckus Updates

Ford Redoubles Greenwashing Efforts; Activists Double Over Laughing

OCTOBER 14, 2005
8:45 AM
CONTACT: Rainforest Action Network
Andrea Buffa, Global Exchange, (415) 575-5552

Ford Redoubles Greenwashing Efforts; Activists Double Over Laughing

Jumpstart Ford campaign announces Nov. 12 “Day of Intervention" and welcomes The Ruckus Society as new partner.

SAN FRANCISCO – Grassroots activists laughed at last week’s announcement that Ford Motor Company (NYSE: F)-the EPA’s longstanding last place US automaker on fuel efficiency-had launched “Fuel-Economy School” to teach Americans how to drive its gas-guzzlers more efficiently.

While Ford announced the details of its strange program to partner with police and give “citations” for free gasoline, Global Exchange and Rainforest Action Network welcomed The Ruckus Society as a new Jumpstart Ford campaign partner and announced that Ford’s 10-city fuel economy tour will be followed by a 100-city November 12th “Day of Intervention” at North American Ford dealers.

Human rights and environmental activists, who have been challenging Ford’s claims that it is an “innovative” and “environmental” car company, view these latest initiatives as little more than a new round of public relations-driven promises that will result in virtually no meaningful improvement of the company’s bottom-of-the-barrel fleet-wide fuel efficiency.

In an October 7 press release, Ford announced a “nationwide effort to teach consumers how to improve fuel economy” including a “Fuel-Economy School” and “10-city tour to bring fuel saving driving tips to local communities.” In a September 21 release, Ford promised to “increase global hybrid production ten-fold, to approximately 250,000 annually by 2010” by offering a limited lineup of optional gasoline-powered hybrid engines. Ford’s projected 2010 hybrid production numbers represent just half of the 500,000 units Toyota plans to produce in 2006 and less than 3.5 percent of the 7 million cars that Ford produces annually.

Every year since 1999, the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has ranked Ford cars, truck and SUVs as having the worst overall fuel economy of any American automaker. A recent report from the Union of Concerned Scientists ranks Ford as having “the absolute worst heat-trapping gas emissions performance of all the Big Six automakers.” From subcompacts to SUVs, Ford’s current line up gets fewer miles per gallon on average than the Model-T did over 80 years ago. According to the EPA’s 2006 Fuel Economy Guide, three Ford models are among the eight listed as having the “lowest fuel economy among popular 2006 vehicles.”

Citing lack of consumer demand for gas-guzzlers, both Moody’s Investment Service and Standard & Poor’s recently took Ford to the junkyard by rating its stock as non-investment grade. To compete with record sales of more fuel-efficient models by automakers like Toyota, North American Ford dealers were forced to sell the company’s gas-guzzlers at loss this summer by extending an employee discount program to consumers.

On September 2, 2004, Niel Golightly, director of environmental strategies for Ford Motor Company, told USA Today, “Clearly, the entire industry could build nothing but zero emissions cars today if it wanted to.”

Launched in 2003, the Jumpstart Ford campaign is an international grassroots movement compelling Ford Motor Company to improve its fleet-wide fuel efficiency to 50 miles per gallon by 2010 and eliminate tailpipe emissions by 2020. Global Exchange, Rainforest Action Network and The Ruckus Society played a central role in organizing the 1999 mass mobilization in Seattle protesting the World Trade Organization.

Supporting statements

"As a result of oil wars, super storms, asthma epidemics, job losses and record high prices at the pump, Americans are realizing that breaking our addiction to oil and achieving energy independence is necessary to protect our national security and public health" said Mike Hudema, a Jumpstart Ford campaigner with Global Exchange. "It’s time for Ford to start listening to Americans and declare its independence from oil."

“Ford has promised to do in five years what Toyota is doing today, and its new fuel economy school does nothing to change the fact that its cars, trucks and SUVs are the most wasteful vehicles in America,” said Jennifer Krill, director of the Zero Emissions Campaign at Rainforest Action Network. “For years Ford has irresponsibly blamed American consumers for its lack of action to improve its abysmal fleet-wide fuel efficiency. Now, Ford is following the lead of the gun lobby and big tobacco by saying that it’s not the car that guzzles gas, it’s the driver.”

Global Exchange is a membership-based international human rights organization dedicated to promoting social, economic and environmental justice around the world. Since its founding in 1988, Global Exchange has successfully increased public awareness of root causes of injustice while building international partnerships and mobilizing for change. For more information, visit

Rainforest Action Network campaigns for the forests, their inhabitants and the natural systems that sustain life by transforming the global marketplace through grassroots organizing, education and non-violent direct action. For more information, visit

The Ruckus Society provides environmental, human rights, and social justice organizers with the tools, training, and support needed to achieve their goals. For more information, visit