Will That Be Paper or Silicon?
Auto companies look to use less paper
The Mazda press kit sealed the deal: a slim USB drive, shaped like a credit card, loaded with everything you’d ever want to know about Mazda’s 2010 lineup.
It was the fourth kit I’ve received in recent weeks that featured either no printed materials whatsoever, or a disc or memory stick in tandem with a pocket-sized pamphlet.
As with the paperless movement that’s making headway in the American office, the elimination of printed auto press kits is bad for the Dunder Miflins of the world. But for everyone else, trimming back on paper is a no-brainer to save money and cut pollution.
That movement has seen Chrysler, Dodge and Jeep eliminate traditional owner’s manuals for 2010 vehicles in favor of DVD-based manuals coupled with an abbreviated paper version. Chrysler says the move will save 930 tons of paper annually, the equivalent of 20,000 trees. Expect other automakers to follow suit, freeing glove boxes around the world to hold more important items like iPods, parking tickets and condiment packets.
In the annual autumn deluge of car-company press kits, I have yet to receive a single fat three-ring binder or full-color extravaganza of hype. That’s a welcome change from past years, which always sparked a guilty mental exercise: whether to file the voluminous materials or pitch them into the trash. Some kits were so over-the-top expensive -- with gimmicky, customized metal cases, or photography and printing worthy of coffee-table books -- that I was always struck by how much car-company money and resources were literally headed to a landfill.
Auto shows are also scaling back on the wasteful printed materials, though some journalists continue to grouse that paper has its place, especially for fast, simultaneous viewing of multiple documents. Those auto-show kits became notorious black-market eBay fodder as well, both for unethical journalists who tried to resell them, or from (equally unethical) people who posed as journos to acquire the kits at shows from Tokyo to Detroit. Now, perhaps, auto fanatics will be scouring eBay for memory sticks filled with insider data on the latest exotic sports cars.
Mazda says it’s been moving toward paperless press kits for some time, and finally decided to take the plunge this year. A company spokesman said the USB kits not only reduce paper waste, but cost less to produce and print -- a big deal in this recessionary market. Journalists, Mazda notes, can reuse the USB drives once the materials are outdated, and they’re a lot easier to fit into a briefcase or use on an airplane. Even the kits’ packaging material is recyclable, and the pamphlet is printed on paper certified by the Forest Stewardship Council.
Sure, digital press kits are a tiny blip in the big picture. But with car companies looking to save every penny and seize any competitive advantage, the little things can steadily add up.
EXPLORE NEW CARS
MORE ON MSN AUTOS
ABOUT EXHAUST NOTES
Cars are cool, and here at MSN Autos we love everything about them, but we also know they're more than simply speed and style: a car is an essential tool, a much-needed accessory to help you get through your day-to-day life. What you drive is also one of the most important investments you can make, so we'll help you navigate your way through the car buying and ownership experiences. We strive to be your daily destination for news, notes, tips and tricks from across the automotive world. So whether it's through original content from our world-class journalists or the latest buzz from the far corners of the Web, Exhaust Notes helps you make sense of your automotive world.
Have a story idea? Tip us off at email@example.com.