Like everybody else in the world I've been listening to the drama unfold around the Big Three automakers; Form, GM, and Chrysler. Chrysler has already traveled so far through bankruptcy that it's preparing to come back out as a "leaner" automotive company. GM has just started it's tortuous walk through the process, with GM's spin twisting reality so much they're claiming this "isn't about going out of business - this is about getting down to business."
GM had the EV-1 in the late 90's. They then worked to destroy the car and any ability to manufacture more, turning instead to SUVs and big trucks. My wife and I wanted an EV-1 in the worse way, regardless of the warts. And we lived in Florida, not California. For normal small cars (i.e. non-hybrid or pure EV), GM had not one but two high-mileage brands, the Geo Metro (via Suzuki) and the Saturn. The Geo Metro was an inexpensive car with gas mileage that stretched up to the mid-40's and beyond. For more up-scale buyers there were the original Saturns. But in the end GM let those wither away as well, preferring to sell the SUVs and big trucks that eventually killed them when $4/gallon gas along with the credit crisis killed the SUVs and big truck market.
But what galls me more than anything else beyond the billions poured into GM and Chrysler is the government's push to have a MPG fleet average of 35.5 MGP. By 2016. Why not now? My nearly-new 2009 Toyota Prius Hybrid gets a practical 48 MPG in usual driving around Orlando (surface streets and highways, rain or shine). When I drove to Tallahassee this weekend, the average MPG at 65MPH up I-75 and west on I-10 was 50MPG. The car this country needs for 2016 is already being manufactured and sold by Toyota in 2009. And the third-generation Prius, to be officially introduced in August, will do even better. Without government mandates and without money poured into the corrupt festering carcases of GM and Chrysler.
We've waited decades to get from the domestics what we can now purchase from the imports. And we'll have to wait another five years to get anywhere close to what we can get now. There is no "risk/reward" anymore in business. This bailout proves that you can do anything you want, including destroying a company, and all you have to do is hold an important sector hostage by your failure and the government will come and bail you out. To hell with citizens such as my wife and I making the right, responsible decision. And buying the Prius was such as right and responsible decision, on so many levels.
Yes, indeed. Say hello to the new president, same as the old president.