What’s the Definition of False Advertising?

Is anyone else getting tired of the endless advertising touting vehicles that get, at best, 30 miles per gallon as being somehow amazingly fuel-efficient? Take this latest commercial from Mitsubishi, for example.

So, just how fuel efficient are these four “phenomenal” cars? Let’s see here:

  • Lancer mpg: 22 city/30 highway
  • Eclipse mpg: 20 city/28 highway
  • Galant mpg: 20 city/27 highway
  • Outlander mpg: 20 city/25 highway

Do I hear a round of applause?

If that doesn’t give you a headache, think on this: Only about 15% of the energy that goes into your gas tank is used to move your car. And, because of the weight of an average car, only about 1% is actually used to move you. Talk about efficiency.

But I guess Mitsubishi figures, “Hey, those other companies have been claiming their gas-guzzling beasts are saviors of the planet, with no cries of protest, so we might as well, too.” And I guess you can’t blame them. Unlike in the UK, there doesn’t seem to be any outcry or regulatory oversight in this country.

What’s the big deal, you ask? Well, language can be a surprisingly powerful thing. Those who want to maintain business as usual–even in the face of climate change and peak oil–are happy to appropriate words like “fuel efficiency” and redefine them. Whether knowingly or not, if we’re complicit in lowering the bar on what is and is not considered efficient, we’ll likely lower the bar on our expectations of what needs to be done to get out of this mess. And that’s a dangerous thing, indeed.

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