for National Geographic News
The newest addition to the limousine fleet of Los Angeles-based Evo Limo is a tricked-out Chevy Suburban monster ride that gets about 15 miles (24 kilometers) a gallon in gas mileage.
Your basic environmental nightmare, right?
Think again. This beast doesn't guzzle gasoline. Like the company's two other SUV limousines, it runs on natural gas, emitting 80 percent less smog-forming emissions than its gasoline-powered counterparts.
No wonder the swanky sport utility vehicles are a hit with the rich and eco-friendly Hollywood set. Cameron Diaz is a client. So is Woody Harrelson.
"There's no reason why people should have to choose between going green and going in luxury," said David Young, who founded Environmental Vehicle Outfitters (EVO) together with his partner, Seth Seaberg.
EVO is the firstand, its founders claim, onlyenvironmentally friendly luxury car service in the United States.
Now it's expanding into its next, and potentially much bigger, business: converting SUVs into natural gas-powered vehicles. It's all part of an effort to tap into the alternative-fuels movement.
"It's not just about being an environmentalist," Seaberg said in an interview at the company's offices near Los Angeles International Airport. "It's about seeing the market economy's biggest shift ever. The oil will run out, and someone has to be there when it happens."
When Young, a former music-industry talent manager, and Seth Seaberg, who worked in magazine publishing, started EVO a year ago, they knew which customers they had to attract: rich Hollywood celebrities with an environmental bent.
"These are people who are trendsetters," Seaberg said.
Hollywood's eagerness to show its eco-friendly side was on display at this year's Academy Awards, where the hybrid cars delivering the stars to the show at times seemed to outnumber the stretch limousines.
SOURCES AND RELATED WEB SITES