Toyota’s Harmony Prius commercial was hippie enough. In a logical next step, they are now planting flowers by Californian highways. Swarms of 20,000 flowers!
My first ride in a hybrid vehicle was on a cold and damp winter afternoon four years ago in Budapest traffic, returning from a photoshoot for my then-employer’s Christmas card, which depicted a twisted nativity scene (if you must, you can see yours truly in a skimpy lamb suit at this hyperlink). The then-new Lexus RX400h was the perfect vehicle for crawling along at 5 MPH: eerily silent, very comfortable and with the added touch of environmental relief. Nino Karotta and I watched in awe the cute tree icons we received from the car after every 50 kW or so produced, as if they were bonuses in a videogame.
It was not hard to imagine roaming the countryside in a Toyota hybrid and have trees sprouting in our wake, substituting biomass for a hybrid car’s actual emissions, which are made not of cellulose but of noxious smoke. Less smoke, but smoke nevertheless.
This was years before Toyota itself produced an advertisement for the Prius on this very theme, titled Harmony, which is by far the most hippy thing I’ve ever seen. YouTube’s robotic brain seems to agree: it’s throwing up all sorts of Woodstock footage as related video.
Toyota is now following up its ad with live flowerscapes made of 20,000 flowers each, planted by California’s freeways. I’m hoping they also plan on making a digital version of it, where a program in the Prius’s computer would light up a pixel representing a single flower after every 50 kW produced. Then, upon completion of the entire image of a thousand megawatts, you would get hit with an upgrade notice for a Lexus. You can’t re-plant the entire Amazon Basin with a single car, after all, can you?