February 26, 2013
A Hard-Earned Friendship with Global Green USA
At one point, they threatened to sue. Now they're our closest ally.

Last week marked four years since General Motors started partnering with Global Green on their annual Pre-Oscar Party in Hollywood, and about a decade since that very same organization threatened to take back our Millennium award. Strange bedfellows, right?

Yes, we’ve come a long way with Global Green in a rather remarkable song of redemption (cue the Bob Marley) that started, as quite a bit of GM’s current trajectory did, with the introduction of the EV1.

The EV1 was ahead of its time. It was the first mass-produced electric vehicle, and lessees who jumped on board with the EV1 adored the car and became loyal, steadfast advocates who took every opportunity to shout from the rooftops that the future would be electric!

Today we know that the future is, in fact, electric, but at the time it seemed the future only might be electric, so the EV1 faced a tough marketplace. With demand low, General Motors tabled electrification for another day, which didn’t sit well with EV1 fans.

Among them, Global Green. The organization had previously honored the EV1 with their Millennium back in the day, so having the model yanked from the leasing market felt like an affront. As I mentioned, they threatened to revoke the award. The situation was stormy between General Motors and Global Green.

But Global Green had not written us off entirely, just as we had not written off electrification.

We eventually worked things out and were able to find opportunities to collaborate. Closer to the 2010 release of the Chevy Volt, we were able to take Global Green under the hood and show off the direction GM was headed in terms of vehicle electrification. We got involved sponsoring their pre-Oscar party in 2009, and to-date—through efforts from General Motors and the GM Foundation dating back to 2000—we have donated more than $600,000 in funding to Global Green including $50,000 in support of Global Green’s “Greening the Rustbelt Initiative.”

I’m grateful that, in all the years between the death of the EV1 and the continuation of its legacy in the Volt, Global Green didn’t outright drop us in the evil bucket along with Darth Vader (I was known in some circles for a period as “Barth Vader”).

The lesson, for me, was never to give up on a good partnership based on one or two bad experiences. Behaviors and opinions can change when you have the perseverance to pursue a good relationship.

Each year our commitment to Global Green is bigger and better, and in turn our affiliation gives us access to an audience that is genuinely concerned with the environment and isn’t afraid to hold our feet to the fire.

Last week’s party ended with a performance by all-time great Willie Nelson, who was preceded by an auction that included, as its big ticket item, a guitar signed by Nelson and the opportunity to appear side-by-side with him in a PSA for Global Green. Now I don’t want to get into the nitty gritty, but bidding was tense and exciting and…let’s just say, you may see yours truly on the small screen in the near future.