March 31, 2006 4:12 PM PST

GM SUV spoofed by environmentalists

An online contest to promote Chevy trucks and the TV show "The Apprentice" has instead been used by environmentalists to condemn General Motors for building vehicles they believe contribute to global warming.

Last month, General Motors launched a contest to see which member of the public could craft the best commercial for the Chevy Tahoe, a sports utility vehicle. At, visitors could choose from a range of soundtracks and video clips of the Tahoe traveling through different terrains. They also had the option of writing their own text to accompany the video and music.

Click here to Play

Video: Chevy gets trashed in commercial contest
Chevrolet let users make ads for the Chevy Tahoe, but a couple slipped by depicting SUV as a gas-guzzling machine.

One of the videos circulating around the Web featured shots of the Tahoe zooming through snow, mountains and desert. Over the video appeared the words: "Global warming isn't a pretty SUV ad. It's a frightening reality."

Another commercial entry read: "Temperatures are rising. The polar ice caps are melting. Global warming is happening now. What will you tell your kids that you drove?"

Calls to General Motors were not immediately returned on Friday.

Video is rapidly becoming a powerful communication tool on the Web, thanks primarily to improved download speeds. In General Motors' case, an effort to generate customer-created content gave protesters the tools they needed to create their own messages.

Just how many similar ads were created and are spreading via the Internet is unclear. In one of the three protest commercials viewed by CNET, the text refers viewers to, the Web site created by environmental groups to fight proposed oil drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife refuge, according to Shawnee Hoover, campaign director for, a coalition that includes well-known advocacy groups such as Greenpeace and

She acknowledged that a member of the group is responsible for creating two of the commercials but itself had nothing to do with them.

"We have hundreds of thousands of people who are boycotting Exxon," Hoover said. "We had nothing to do with the commercials, but we thought it was a great idea."

See more CNET content tagged:
General Motors, Chevrolet, environmentalist, SUV, global warming


Join the conversation!
Add your comment
SUVs are...
... prosthetic pe*ises. There's no reason for anyone to drive a vehicle with 4x4 off-road capabilities in city environment!! No wonder GM is in financial troubles! Start building cars people can afford to drive and fill up.
Posted by SwissJay (115 comments )
Reply Link Flag
SUVs are... ???
It's amazing that there people so intelligent, that they know what everyone one else needs! Yes there are people who drive vehicles that are environmentally unfriendly unnecessarily. Do cities have snow? Do some people live in rural areas that come into the city near them. It's SAD some people have such a LIMITED point of view! Be careful when you use the words: anyone, no one, always & never.
Posted by michaelm316 (1 comment )
Link Flag
So these guys are assuming NO ONE needs a SUV?
I have to drive regularly to a far away ranch including 30 miles of unpaved road (often mud) carrying heavy loads. And these guys (the self proclaimed environmentalists) claim that Im not environmentally conscious? Should I be driving a Prius?
I know, their complaining is aimed at people that use an SUV to go to the supermarket, but I'm getting tired of people looking at me as anti environmental just because I drive the vehicle most appropriate for my needs, ignoring that not everyone has the same needs they have.
Posted by Hernys (744 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Bumper sticker
I think you could put a bumper stickers that makes that point clear, because I totally agree with you, but I also agree with the first comment, that claims that SUVs are prosthetic d*cks (when driving ONLY in the city).
Posted by julianrodriguez (13 comments )
Link Flag
the question is
do the city folk.. often tiny young women who drive alone need SUV's? most SUV's arent for people like yourself who actually may need it
Posted by volterwd (466 comments )
Link Flag
not you, the company!!
Its the company's fault for marketing the vehicles to soccer moms!!
If you have a real use for the vehicle then fine, but the company
needs to be more responsible. We can all clearly see that some
vehicles polutte more than others. They need to take more
responsibility for it!
Posted by Amber Miner (10 comments )
Link Flag
What if the city you live in happens to get a ton of snow in the
winter, so that driving is difficult, if not impossible without an SUV.
Or you need to tow a boat. I suppose boats are evil anyway.
Posted by SMC1987 (1 comment )
Reply Link Flag
Most canadians
get by without SUV's and from my understanding our winters are generally worse than yours.

i.e., lame excuse

in fact SUV's will likely be less safe in the winter due to drivers arrogance
Posted by volterwd (466 comments )
Link Flag
Do they have to be so big though...
Who needs to tow a boat around a city?
Posted by CagedAnimal (67 comments )
Link Flag
Snow tires
Save yourself some money if you get a lot of snow in a city.

Snow tires  knobbies  are easily better in snow.
Posted by ethernet76 (88 comments )
Link Flag
Hey do you think no one ever lived there till the SUV was invented?
and you know what else? Its more dangerouse to drive an SUV in
slippery/icy conditions because they are top heavy. As far as
hauling things such as boats go, trucks work fine too.
Posted by Amber Miner (10 comments )
Link Flag
Several issues
SUVs are bad for the environment; there's no doubt about that. Any lane-hogging landshark that gets only 13 mpg while it hauls a parent and their spoiled child five blocks to school and back is antisocial at the very least.

Sure, there are people who need the load-bearing capacity and terrain handling capabilities of SUVs (just like there are people who need tanks and APCs), but these people are a small proportion of the population. The vast majority of Americans (and Europeans for that matter) live in cities or suburbs and come no closer to mountainous terrain than the slope of their driveway.

The argument that inclement winter weather requires a 4x4 sounds appealing until you realise that such weather usually only blocks roads for a few days a year. Why screw up the environment for the other 360, just so you can get junior to a school that's probably been closed due to snow anyway? Anyway, companies like Audi and Subaru have shown that 4x4 sedan cars have all the bad-weather performance anyone needs, without needing to be the size of an apartment.

Another argument for huge SUVs is safety. Nervous drivers without the observational or motor skills to operate their vehicles safely instead rely on sheer size to survive. They reason that, since the fact that they're going to be spending most of their in-car time talking on their cellphone/doing their makeup/eating their Big Tasty/programming their SatNav/watching a DVC, means they'll be far too busy to pay attention to the road, they want to make sure their car is bigger than the one they're going to plow into. Its the traffic equivalent of the Cold War: "make sure your weapon is bigger than the other guy's and you'll be fine." The result is that accidents involving SUVs have far higher rates of death and serious injury than any other category of vehicle outside of Big Rigs. Far from being safe, SUVs are lethal.

Finally, since the invention of the automobile, virtually every component has been improved time and time again. A you can drive a car off the dealer's lot today that would outperform a $500,000 race-spec sports car from the early 1980's, which in turn were light years ahead of cars from the 1960. Only one thing hasn't improved: gas mileage. Model T's got 25 mpg. A Ford Explorer gets 16. Modern cars are actually less fuel efficient than the oil belching, cam rattling, ten mph smokers of 100 years ago.

So yes, SUVs are a bad thing. Outside of the 2% of the population that actually need an all-terrain vehicle because they live or work up the side of a mountain, they are unnecessary, wasteful and dangerous. The sooner we get these status symbol planet killers off the roads the better.
Posted by JFDMit (180 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Oh Man
You guys complaining about SUV's are a funny bunch. I bet if I were to pull up next to you in a Ford Taurus you wouldn't even think twice about my MPG. However, cars like this get very similar MPG as the SUV's in the world. Also, there is a comment above about Audi/Subaru vs. SUV. I did a quick check and the Audi A4 gets similar mileage as the Jeep Liberty (trying to compare apples-to-apples the best I can).

You think a Prius or other Hybrid car gets great mileage? Think again. They're only good going under 35 mph(which isn't the case for 99% of people that drive to work). If you want a car or suv that beats every thing else out there, get one with a deisel engine. You'll almost get double the mileage of any car. Don't complain about SUV's. They're great vehicles that let you load them to the gills, travel in snow/mud, and aren't a hazard to drive. Get off your kick. The earth warms and freezes all on its own. It will wipe us out just like it did the dinosaurs with or without SUV's.
Posted by snertagert (6 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Not quite
Believe me, when I see any overblown car, whether an SUV or a 'full sized' Taurus or whatever, I am well aware of the lousy gas mileage they get.

And while your SUV can be 'loaded to the gills' and 'travel(s) in snow/mud' how often do you need to do that? I'm sure you occasionally move house too, so why not drive around in an 18-wheeler, just so you'll have it available when you need it?

To be clear, I wasn't holding up Audi or Subaru as paragons of gas mileage, just saying that you don't need something the size of a barn to get the benefits of 4 wheel drive.

And your statements about the lousy gas mileage of all cars merely emphasises my point. Gas mileage for almost all cars is lousy. It has hardly improved since cars were invented. Diesels are better, but 30 or 40 mpg is still nothing to write home about. And I agree, hybrids are laughable (never mind the environmental damage disposing of all those batteries will cause).

But the fact remains that, if fuel efficiency had advanced at the same rate as all the other components, modern cars would get something like 300 mpg.

If you regularly spend time in the high wilderness or live in Alaska, then an SUV may make sense. For the rest of us, it is an extravagance the planet can't afford.
Posted by JFDMit (180 comments )
Link Flag
incorrect information about Prius
I own a Prius and average close to 50mpg in mixed city/highway
driving. When I drove it solely on the highway driving between
55-75mph I averaged more, usually between 54-56mpg. As
long as you drive a hybrid like a hybrid, speed doesn't matter
that much. A lot of sudden acceleration is what kills the gas

Regardless, check your "facts" before you post them.
Posted by dmaggio12 (4 comments )
Link Flag
"in fact SUV's will likely be less safe in the winter due to drivers arrogance"

Bad drivers are bad drivers, they'll cause accidents no matter what vehicle they're in.

Anyways... last time I was in Winnipeg I saw SUVs everywhere, but whatever
Posted by ebrandel (102 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Sierra Club uses SUVs
Maybe you saw it on Fox News a few years ago. They went where the Sierra Club was protesting and found nothing but SUVs. Environmentalists are a bunch of hypocrites anyway.
Posted by lingsun (482 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Sierra Club sends SUV to pick up Arianna Huffington for event.
Sierra Club sends SUV to pick up Arianna Huffington for event. Read about it here, among other places
<a class="jive-link-external" href="" target="_newWindow"></a>
Posted by lingsun (482 comments )
Reply Link Flag
So what?
Just because a bunch of self-righteous middle class save-the-planet wannabes use SUVs, that means the environment isn't in trouble?

Even our monkey-boy President has admitted that things are in bad shape, and when an oil company lackey like him starts wetting himself, you know the guano is perilously close to the fan.

When we're all choking on sulfides, dying in freak storms and going to war over fresh water, it won't be much comfort that the 'environmentalists' used to drive SUVs so 'we thought it was OK.'
Posted by JFDMit (180 comments )
Link Flag
Targeting SUV's
SUV could be more enviroment friendly. I would be willing to bet that they could put an engine in a Hummer that could get 20-25 MPG and still have lots of horse power. I bet they could make all SUV put out less emmisions.

I will say this I see more soccer moms driving the big SUV more than I see men. I also think that the majority of people who drive SUV don't need them except maybe 1% of the year at best. Most people would be better off to buy a good car or minivan and a have an old beater 4x4 for those times you need it.

The fact is that most human don't care about the planet until there is a problem they can't ignore anymore. Then for awhile they try real hard to help until it gets old. Someday the earth will get even with us all. Personally I just hope it's not before I'm dead and buried. :)
Posted by System Tyrant (1453 comments )
Reply Link Flag
More complex than most people realize
" will say this I see more soccer moms driving the big SUV more than I see men"

Part of the problem - which many people just dont understand - is that US safety regulations almost REQUIRE people to have SUVs or Minivans if they have more than 1 child. Back in the day, parents would just stuff as many kids as they could in the back of a station wagon. But nowadays, mandatory child-seat and other requirements necesitate that a person have a larger vehicle capable of meeting those requirements. Thus the rise of the minivan (particularly) and the SUV.
Posted by (402 comments )
Link Flag
I must say those were pretty good ads. Although the first was better then the second. :)
Posted by bobj123 (94 comments )
Reply Link Flag
necessity is the mother of invention
Let's burn all the oil. That will make us find alternatives. The fact that the environment is suffering (global warming?) is a by-product, but who says it isn't part of the global cycle of change? When the next asteroid/meteor slams into the earth, it won't matter anyway. It will simply start all over again. Perhaps the next generation of beings won't be so damn self-destructive or critical. People can drive what they want. If they can afford the gasoline, let them financially support all of the oil companies. If you want to drive a hybrid, more power to you. But quit assuming to know what I do with my truck, my car, my VW diesel bug, or my exploits into the wilderness when I'm pulling my canoe. I don't care if you're left or right. We all need to live together. We should be focusing our efforts on positive things.
Posted by DAL (17 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Positive thing numer one....
Stop depending on fossil fuels and come up with more environmentally friendly energy sources.
Posted by ddesy (4336 comments )
Link Flag
I agree
I agree. Which is why I have no fear for the future in this area. As oil gets more scarce and expensive, there will be alternatives a'plenty to show themselves. The problem is so many people think the correct course of action is to enforce via law their particular 'favorite' solution to the problem rather than allowing a free people to freely decide upon the solution themselves.
Posted by (402 comments )
Link Flag
What if we want global warming?
What about those of us who want a warmer planet? I was thinking of investing heavily in properties at about 100ft elevation. Ca-ching!
Posted by (402 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Probably dry....
,,, but what about the 130 degree temperatures? No ca-ching
Posted by Earl Benser (4310 comments )
Link Flag
yes they are!
Yes they are hypocrytes. Most large organizations are corrupt at
some level. Especially when politics become involved. In my
personal opinion I dont really care what they do or say. I have
the ability to think for myself and act on my own accord. Oh and
you know what else. I like to think ahead. I live near where I
work. Before I move I think hmmmm... Do I really want to save
100$ a month and drive 30 miles to work? No I dont think so. I
ride my bike or take the bus to work. I walk to the grocery store
and almost any where else I need to go and I share rides. And
when I did own a car, It did 38 miles/gallon . Which never got
driven with one passenger. Every one has to be responsible for
Posted by Amber Miner (10 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Said just like a...
So how do you get a 4x8 sheet home from Home Depot on your bike? Oh you dont? You let someone else in a gas guzzling truck do it for you. How noble. Probbaly a civil servant as well. Dont want to get your hands dirty.
Posted by gggg sssss (2285 comments )
Link Flag
If you need an SUV in a city...
you shouldn't be on the road in the winter in the first place.

No one in a North American city needs an SUV. I've been or
driven in plenty of northern cities full of snow in the dead of
winter with 6 feet of snow.

And if having an SUV would let you drive a little bit more easily
after a fresh snowfall, that still doesn't justify the waste of fuel
and the hazard you create for other people that have heard of
snow tires.

in Alaska... maybe.. just maybe... eh, no try a subaru first
Posted by mgreere (332 comments )
Reply Link Flag
You vill comply!
Personally, I prefer not to base other peoples' freedoms on what I or someone else thinks they 'need'. That is a slippery slope to oppression. If you want freedom, you have be willing to give it to other people, lest they decide some day that YOU are doing something they dont think you 'need' to do. Its sad that so many in America nowadays have been conditioned to think they have a right to decide what other people 'need'.
Posted by (402 comments )
Link Flag
six feet??
When? Where? Driving a what?
Posted by gggg sssss (2285 comments )
Link Flag
I'll give up my SUV when...
I'll give up my SUV when all non-essential, commercial air travel and private jets are banned. When I see smug euro's and 'worldly' american stop flying to Thailand or Marakesh 'on holiday' (and thus spewing more CO2 during the flight than my SUV will in a year) ...then, and only then, will I give up the SUV.

Until then, the environmentalist fruit-loops can bite me.

Besides, the notion of anthropogenic 'Global Warming' is a scam. Just another in a long line of doomsday scenarios that human-kind cant seem to live without.
Posted by (402 comments )
Reply Link Flag
and people who use computers stop
heck, you could tally the energy required to keep all of the computers, and internet connections required to deliver these environmentalistas rants and see how much that affects global warming. And the impact on the environment in China by the computer manufacturing industry. And the computer disposal issues. And the toxic chemicals used to make Amber's bike. desperately searching for clues here.
Posted by gggg sssss (2285 comments )
Link Flag
Many people need SUVs
From what I can tell, most of the people responding negatively to this article assume 2 things - 1) GM determines what vehicles people buy, and 2) That the majority of people who buy SUVs don't actually need them.

1) GM (and other vehicle makers) can only influence buyers so much. There is so much choice in the automotive market today, why would anyone be forced to buy a vehicle that they don't want?

2) Most people who buy SUVs are families. You might see Mom or Dad tooling around town with no one else in the vehicle quite often, but what about the times when you need to carry 7 kids to a soccer game? The only other option for these families are vans or mini-vans, and I would argue that many of the vans/mini-vans on the market today get only marginally better MPG than SUVs. And, of course, mini-vans aren't the best choice for hauling a boat, or 10 bags of topsoil.

The real issue is that carmakers and world governments refuse to stand up and come up with alternate fuel sources that are less harmful to the environment.

If you took the hundreds of billions of dollars that have been spent fighting the war on terror, and refocused that money on finding alternative fuel sources, we could fund scientific jobs for millions of Americans in search of more environmental friendly fuel sources.

The big problem with this scenario is that big oil lobbyists would never allow it. But its the only way we're going to be able to keep our nose out of the middle east (and lessening the likelihood for future terrorist attacks), and at the same time, save the global environment for our childrens's children.
Posted by davidsj (2 comments )
Reply Link Flag
All the arguments about 'needing' SUVs or their being 'practical' and 'safe' really disguise the real reason people buy them. SUVs are fashionable.

Suburbanites who want to 'keep up with the Jonses' buy SUVs as status symbols. The size of the vehicle makes them feel important. They are 'on top of the world,' looking down on all the little people, masters of all they survey.

Keith Bradsher of the New York Times wrote a book a couple of years ago, collecting much of the available research on the SUV market and SUV drivers. What he found was:

"According to market research conducted by the country's leading automakers, SUV buyers tend to be insecure and vain. They are frequently nervous about their marriages and uncomfortable about parenthood. They often lack confidence in their driving skills. Above all, they are apt to be self-centered and self-absorbed, with little interest in their neighbors and communities. They are more restless, more sybaritic, and less social than most Americans are. SUV drivers generally don't care about anyone else's kids but their own, are very concerned with how other people see them rather than with what's practical, and they tend to want to control or have control over the people around them. According to David Bostwick, Chrysler's market research director, 'If you have a sport utility, you can have the smoked windows, put the children in the back and pretend you're still single.'"

According to a Ford market researcher, the SUV craze is "about not letting anything get in your way, and at the extreme, about intimidating others to get out of your way."

So its hardly surprising that the SUV drivers commenting in this thread don't really care about gas mileage or the environment and make boneheaded statements about global warming being 'a good thing.' They don't care one way or another. The story of their lives is caring about nothing but themselves and what they can control, so why should something as uncontrollable as the environment concern them at all?
Posted by JFDMit (180 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Hey, Bard,
I'm dying to hear your comment to this post. Bard?
Bard? Well, I guess he had to go get gas...
Posted by truks (12 comments )
Link Flag
While we're at it, let's debunk the 'SUVs are safe argument.'

According to the most recent Government statistics. The death rate for SUV passengers is 6.6% higher than it is for car passengers (the largest SUVs kill nearly 9% more people). The main reason for this is SUVs have a high rate of rollovers, and few have reinforced roofs. Nearly 65% of SUV deaths each year are due to rollovers.

SUV drivers also overestimate their safety. As a result, they are far less likely to wear seatbelts (80% of rollover fatalities in 2000 weren't wearing seat belts).

Those outside SUVs aren't any safer. A 2002 Government report demonstrated that the Chevy Tahoe caused 121 deaths for every million models on the road, compared to 21 deaths for every million Honda Accords.

The side-impact story is just as bad. A person whose car is hit side-on by another car runs a 7 to 1 chance of dying. If the car is hit by an SUV, however, the odds rise to 30 to 1. By the way, the answer is not to go and buy an SUV so that you will be safer if hit by another SUV; the rollover death rate cancels out any gain in safety.

Even more worrying is the fact that, before the SUV fad, road death figures were falling (even though we were driving more miles per year). Now, they're on the rise again.

Think about that next time you feel your 'freedom' is being taken away.
Posted by JFDMit (180 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Good points but...
(well, good assuming the data are from the NHTSA or the like)

... but... you're already an extreme lefty to anyone you're trying to

Black and white viewpoint; failure to evaluate and incorporate data.
Unfortunately, it's hard to get around those.
Posted by mgreere (332 comments )
Link Flag
Great ad campaign BACKFIRE
GM set itself up for this humiliation. Ha Ha. This is nothing
though. The big deal here is GM 's supposed "road to recovery",
(road to avoid bankruptcy), a recovery that relies on continued
high volume sales of these high markup, poorly engineered and
cheap to make, 6500 lb. truck framed vehicles that few people
need to be driving. With 3, 4, 5 dollar/gallon gas, I'm sorry...they
are doomed. And the responses to this story....well, I just want
to get out my violin and play "cry me a river". Like "many people
need SUV's" Pleeeease!!!!!!! Ten years ago nobody drove these
things. Its a fad pure and simple and one that will end up on the
scrapheap of automobile BAD IDEAS. I look forward to gas
rationing so I can laugh at the Mommies that drive, alone, in
their Suburbans, running errands all over town. They are going
to whine real loud when all they get is 10 gallons a week for
their "bubbamobile" I'm in hysterics just thinging about it!
Posted by kelly culpepper (2 comments )
Reply Link Flag
I was about to purchase a new car, but after seeing how many hippies/global warming fear mongers I can **** off, I think I'm going with an SUV.
Posted by hi-its-me-scott (1 comment )
Reply Link Flag
You work hard for your money, you should be able to buy what you want! Everyone who has a problem with that, ****. I drive a new Tahoe and I love it and guess what? Sometimes I fill up twice a week, the most was 3! Oh, snap!
Posted by kielu84 (3 comments )
Reply Link Flag

Join the conversation

Add your comment

The posting of advertisements, profanity, or personal attacks is prohibited. Click here to review our Terms of Use.

What's Hot



RSS Feeds

Add headlines from CNET News to your homepage or feedreader.