UPDATE: 12may07 – the Senate has approved a bill which would require the total fleet average to rise to 35mpg by 2020. Golly gee, how exciting. I think we probably have the technology to do that, like, NOW… why do we have to wait until 2020?
Senator Barack Obama was criticized for taking the auto industry to task this week:
“For years, while foreign competitors were investing in more fuel-efficient technology for their vehicles, American automakers were spending their time investing in bigger, faster cars,” he said, according to a text of his remarks. “And whenever an attempt was made to raise our fuel efficiency standards, the auto companies would lobby furiously against it, spending millions to prevent the very reform that could’ve saved their industry.”
He’s in good company. Ah-nuld Schwarzenegger told the auto industry “Get off your butts” after Michigan congressjerk Joe Knollenberg whined about the Governator’s advocacy of higher fuel-economy standards.
“Now, there’s a billboard in Michigan that accuses me of costing the car industry $85 billion,” Schwarzenegger said at a speech in Washington. “The billboard says, ‘Arnold to Michigan: Drop dead.’ The fact of the matter is what I’m saying is, Arnold to Michigan: Get off your butt. Get off your butt and join us. What we are doing is we are pushing them to make changes, to make the changes so they can sell their cars in California,” he said. “And we all know—let’s be honest—that if they don’t change, someone will. The Japanese will. The Chinese will. The South Koreans will. The Germans will.”
In response to Obama, representatives of an industry group (that even included some Japanese car makers) complained:
[calling for increased fuel-efficiency] but only to “the maximum feasible level.” “Let’s get on with the show,” Stanton said in an interview Wednesday. “Congress should act, but not arbitrarily pick a number, because it could be the wrong number.”
My one request of the auto lobbyists? Shut the hell up. Your “maximum feasible level” will be a gnat’s eyelash above current levels. Your “right number” will be whatever allows you to sit on your butts, you corporate whiners.
Obama’s right that the American auto industry has done everything it can to keep strip-mining the auto market with high-profit, padded light trucks they promoted to evade auto regulations. They created and energized the SUV market and now people are driving 7,000 lb vehicles with “Support the troops” magnets on them. Every time someone proposes less pollution or better fuel economy they haul out their indignation and say the legislation is “anti auto-industry”.
Worried about Congress “picking the wrong number”? Fine, here’s a number: 35 mpg. Back in 1968 our family bought a 4-door Fiat 124g sedan. It was roomy and comfortable (my dad was 6’2”) and had an enormous trunk. It handled great and had 4-wheel disk brakes. When cruising at 75 mph it got 35 mpg. That was 39 years ago. Anyone think we should be making cars that get worse mileage now?
In 1973 I remember watching Henry Ford II on television, claiming with a straight face that “a practical 35mpg car is still ten years away.” Sure… ten years in the past. I am sick and tired of excuses from the American auto industry. I am tired of reading headlines about automakers laying off workers while Honda and Toyota and Hyundai build factories here.
I was really hoping Obama would have a shot at the presidency, too. But then he went and told the truth, so his chances are probably reduced. And we complain that our politicians lie and tell people what they want to hear. Obama went to Detroit to say this stuff! The man has cajones of chrome-vanadium tool steel.
The Chicago Tribune says gas will be $5 a gallon this summer.
- and the automakers have started another ad blitz to fight ever having to do the right thing.