If you lean green and you're looking for a new car, listen up: shoppers who purchase a 2013 Ford Fusion Hybrid, Fusion Energi plug-in hybrid or Focus Electric can boost contributions to four nonprofits that keep America beautiful.
In fact, you don't even have to buy a car to take part in the promotion -- just make a handful of clicks on the web.
The details are a little complicated, but the program appears to work something like this:
1. The 2013 Ford Fusion Hybrid, Fusion Energi plug-in hybrid, Focus Electric all make use of Repreve -- a unique, eco-friendly fabric constructed in part from recycled plastic bottles.
2. Repreve's manufacturer, Unifi, runs a charitable giving program called "Repreve Gives Back". Unifi donates a portion of all Repreve sales to that program. So, more Ford Fusion hybrid and Focus EV sales mean more money in the program. (Still with us?)
4. To help determine how Repreve doles out those dollars, Ford fans and supporters can vote at the Repreve website.
5. Here's where it gets complicated (and annoying): to vote, you'll need to "like" Repreve's Facebook page and get a code from the page's "Gives Back" tab (which isn't working, as of this writing). Once you have the code, you can go back to the Repreve website and cast your vote.
6. Relax. You've been through enough for one day.
We love the idea of charitable giving. Programs like this provide important resources for nonprofits, and they also help show consumers that companies care about their communities.
However, we have a few beefs with this one.
For starters, the program isn't run by Ford, it's run by Repreve's parent company, Unifi. That's fine -- heck, Ford's not under any obligation to make philanthropic gifts. (No one in America is, and yet we make them by the truckload, which is one of the amazing things about this country and one reason that other nations to us for leadership.)
However, the press release that we received came from Ford HQ. So basically, Ford is saying, "Look at this awesome thing that one of our suppliers is doing! You should support it by buying our cars!" Which is not quite the same thing as Ford making a contribution itself.
Frankly, if Ford wanted to do this kind of program right, it would follow Subaru's lead and let customers make a set donation to the charity of their choice when purchasing a vehicle.
Item number two: this nonsense with codes is WAY too complicated. The proper, easy way to run such a promotion would center around a voting page on the Repreve website or on Facebook. As it is, Repreve is just using this as a way to gain "likes", which is kind of lame.
Furthermore, Repreve didn't even bother to ensure that the "Give Back" tab was working before giving Ford the thumbs-up to send out the release. Maybe it's a glitch at Facebook, or maybe it's just sloppiness.
And last but not least, there's the question of the Ford Focus Electric.
Now, the 2013 Fusion hybrid and the Fusion Energi plug-in? Awesome cars. Bring 'em on.
The Focus Electric, though? Also impressive, but we have a feeling it's a bit like the chupacabra -- or its mythical West Coast equivalent. (Lindsay Lohan?) Rumor has it that the Focus Electric is a compliance car, built only to comply with California regulations by a grudging Ford that doesn't believe anyone wants to buy electric cars. If that's true, tying a charitable promo to Focus Electric sales is a bit like sending customers on a snipe hunt.
That said, if you've got nothing better to do and don't mind waiting for Repreve's Facebook page to get up and running, there are worse things to do than make a charitable donation with someone else's money.