"I can’t give you a date certain for our plug-in hybrid today," Wagoner said. "But I can tell you that this is a top-priority program for GM, given the huge potential it offers for fuel- economy improvement."
But the plug-in hybrid and a commitment to fuel-cell vehicles such as the prototype Chevy Equinox were not enough for a group of environmentalists operating under the banner "Jumpstart Ford." As Wagoner finished his speech at the auto show Wednesday, the group confronted him with a poster that it wanted him to sign, pledging to make GM the most environmentally efficient automotive company in the world.
"I think my speech speaks for itself," Wagoner said. A heated exchange between the environmentalists and an automotive executive ensued.
Jumpstart Ford, which accuses Ford Motor Co. of doing the least to improve fuel economy and emissions, was created by the Rainforest Action Network, Global Exchange and the Ruckus Society in 2003. The group decided to crash the GM chief’s speech because it was the show’s keynote address.
To draw more attention to its cause, Jumpstart Ford sponsored an "Oil Addicts Anonymous" meeting in the lobby of the Los Angeles Convention Center, mocking President Bush’s claim that America is "addicted to oil." While Bush may have done little to break that addiction, the automakers say they are burning the midnight oil to come up with alternatives to the internal combustion engine.