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The Zero-Emissions S.U.V.

So reads the headline from today’s New York Times Magazine piece on TerraPass in their annual Year in Ideas issue. Somewhat to our chagrin, this seems to be TerraPass’ irresistible news hook, the notion that an $80 decal will expiate guilty S.U.V. drivers of their sins.

The reality is that a comparatively small proportion of our sales go to S.U.V. owners. Our typical customers are people already concerned about the environment who are looking for additional ways to minimize their own impact. The indulgence theory is, quite simply, wrong.

Which is fine with us. Our goal has never been to provide an environmental fig leaf to gas guzzlers. Rather, we want to provide consumers with another way to help mitigate the environmental effects of their driving, an activity which, for most Americans, is more necessity than luxury.

Nor is our goal to vilify the much-maligned S.U.V. driver, however much we might wish that fuel efficiency played a larger role in her purchase decision. A quick spin of our carbon calculator shows that a driver who clocks 40,000 miles a year in a hybrid Prius puts just as much CO2 in the air as someone who drives 12,000 miles in a Ford Explorer.

Which is just to say, we’re all having an impact. There’s a TerraPass for everyone.

(And if conservation and TerraPass aren’t your cup of tea, the same edition of the New York Times Magazine also has some ideas about how to make global warming work for you. Hint: buy shares in the Dutch houseboat market.)

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