At Car Dealer, a Different Kind of Green

By Tomoeh Murakami Tse
Washington Post Staff Writer
Tuesday, June 6, 2006

First was zero-percent financing, then free gasoline. Now comes the latest car dealer giveaway: a bicycle, a dogwood tree and two tickets to former vice president Al Gore's environmental documentary, "An Inconvenient Truth."

Don Beyer, who sells Land Rovers, Subarus and Volvos at his Northern Virginia dealerships, has come up with the green promotion for car buyers. Called the "Whole Earth Sale," Beyer touts a "carbon neutral impact" and makes grand pronouncements of a "fight for a cooler planet."

Beyer, the former lieutenant governor of Virginia who unsuccessfully ran for governor in 1997, said seeing Gore's film in April gave him the idea for the promotion.

But he said he is under no illusion that "we're actually saving the world."

"Simply a car, a tree and a bike don't add up to zero . . . but at least it's moving in the right direction," Beyer said.

Although it's too soon to tell whether the giveaway will help car sales, Tracie Moulton of Vienna, for one, was happy to get the freebies when she bought a Volvo S40 for her daughter.

"I'm a big gardener," said Moulton, 48. But, she added, "to be quite honest with you, I'd rather get a lower price than free stuff."

© 2006 The Washington Post Company