Automotive execs fly in on private jets to beg for money.

You’d think a guy would have to be pretty smart to get a job running any of the Big Three automotive companies. You’d think they’d realize how awkward it would look to fly down to Washington D.C. in a private jet at a cost of $20,000 paid for by the company they head and then try and claim that their companies are flat out broke and need a government bail out. You’d think that, but you’d be wrong:

All three CEOs – Rick Wagoner of GM, Alan Mulally of Ford, and Robert Nardelli of Chrysler – exercised their perks Tuesday by flying in corporate jets to DC. Wagoner flew in GM’s $36 million luxury aircraft to tell members of Congress that the company is burning through cash, asking for $10-12 billion for GM alone.

“We want to continue the vital role we’ve played for Americans for the past 100 years, but we can’t do it alone,” Wagoner told the Senate Banking Committee.

While Wagoner testified, his G4 private jet was parked at Dulles airport. It is just one of a fleet of luxury jets owned by GM that continues to ferry executives around the world despite the company’s dire financial straits.

“This is a slap in the face of taxpayers,” said Tom Schatz, President of Citizens Against Government Waste. “To come to Washington on a corporate jet, and asking for a hand out is outrageous.”

Wagoner’s private jet trip to Washington cost his ailing company an estimated $20,000 roundtrip. In comparison, seats on Northwest Airlines flight 2364 from Detroit to Washington were going online for $288 coach and $837 first class.

After the hearing, Wagoner declined to answer questions about his travel.

I’m seriously torn over this whole situation. There’s a part of me that would love nothing more than to see these clueless pricks crash and burn in a major way. The Big Three created this mess and they should feel the impact of it. The other part of me also realizes that letting these companies crash and burn is going to hurt a lot of people everywhere, but especially here in Michigan. Being a life-long Michigan resident you’ll forgive me if I’m a little concerned about the damage a failure of that magnitude will have on my state. We’ve already suffered through the worst economy of the past eight years even while the rest of the country was doing pretty well, at least until recently. Of course you could argue that it’s our own fault for relying on the automotive industry as a major part of our economy for too long and that’s a valid argument. So I go back and forth between hoping a bailout happens and hoping it doesn’t.

One interesting story I cam across that could throw an interesting twist into how this all unfolds is word that China might buy out one or more of the Big Three:

Chinese carmakers SAIC and Dongfeng have plans to acquire GM and Chrysler, China’s 21st Century Business Herald reports today. [A National Enquirer the paper is not. It is one of China’s leading business newspapers, with a daily readership over three million.] The paper cites a senior official of China’s Ministry of Industry and Information Technology– the state regulator of China’s auto industry– who dropped the hint that “the auto manufacturing giants in China, such as Shanghai Automotive Industry Corporation (SAIC) and Dongfeng Motor Corporation, have the capability and intention to buy some assets of the two crisis-plagued American automakers.” These hints are very often followed with quick action in the Middle Kingdom. The hints were dropped just a few days after the same Chinese government gave its auto makers the go-ahead to invest abroad. And why would they do that?

A take-over of a large overseas auto maker would fit perfectly into China’s plans. As reported before, China has realized that its export chances are slim without unfettered access to foreign technology. The brand cachet of Chinese cars abroad is, shall we say, challenged. The Chinese could easily export Made-in-China VWs, Toyotas, Buicks. If their joint venture partner would let them. The solution: Buy the joint venture partner. Especially, when he’s in deep trouble…

Word has it that China has over $2 trillion in cash reserves that could be used for just such a purchase. It’ll be interesting to see how the Free Market Conservatives react if Chinese companies make a big to buy either Chrysler or GM, or both. Could they handle losing two major automotive companies to a foreign power? What happens if Ford goes belly up after such a sale? I’d bet you’d see a quick change of opinion if China starts waving some cash around.

32 thoughts on “Automotive execs fly in on private jets to beg for money.

  1. A good friend of mine likes to refer to America as the home of Capitalism for the poor and Corporate Socialism to protect the rich.

  2. Word has it that China has over $2 trillion in cash reserves that could be used for just such a purchase. It’ll be interesting to see how the Free Market Conservatives react if Chinese companies make a big to buy either Chrysler or GM, or both. Could they handle losing two major automotive companies to a foreign power?

    Not just the free marketers…think of how the UAW is going to look at it. They’ve been bashing “foreign” cars for years, whether made overseas or made here under a foreign nameplate. Now they might get to join those ranks.

    Quite a dilemma: continued job security vs. “buy American” principles. The UAW will never live that one down if a Chinese deal goes through.

    The upside is that the Chinese couldn’t possibly do a worse job of managing those companies. And such a deal would save the taxpayers 25 Bil. and keep a lot of U.S. jobs intact.

  3. I have a friend from high school who, up until a couple years ago was an engineer for Chevy. The last time I talked to him (90’s) has was on a team of ten (yes 10) engineers tasked with developing the new trim moldings for the Camaro. It was a three year process! For TRIM molding. They’d come up with a design over 3 months, go to a ‘integration meeting’ with teams of process engineers, and cost control people and legal dept. and one of the other teams would say “do what you can to cut the cost by $.02 per and come back to us”. Three months later, new meeting…and then “we’ll need to get adhesives on a way to install these units” and three months later “adhesives says to use clips”, and now a team is working in conjunction with the molding team on designing clips…and the process starts again.

    he couldn’t take it and is now running a charter boat in Alabama.

    And in May there was an article in the Free Press that said “GM to have electric SUV by 2012

    2012???!!

    WTF?

    $30,000+ for a new truck?

    WTF?

    No wonder they are going under. Why enable that kind of crap?

    But also, if we had a national health care system costs would go down quite a bit.Prolly enough to give the big three a domestic chance.

    I say screw throwing money at them, lets cut their costs in a socially beneficial way and watch the ball roll.

  4. James:

    I am 100% in agreement. The US has lost the odd production location to Canada for precisely that reason – the lower value of the dollar at the time and the emergency health coverage lowered their costs.

    Nowadays, only the health care would be necessary to guarantee a return to “quality US production”. US car companies might mostly be shit, but that’s yet to put a dent in the quality of whole-cloth American engineering or manufacturing.

  5. I’ve thought about it some, and I think instead of a handout what would make more sense would be a subsidy from the government for ANYONE to make cars in the US. That way you’re not just throwing good money after bad, and no matter who the auto manufacturers were they’d be inclined to make more vehicles here employing American workers. If those companies turned out to Korean or Chinese? So be it – the major economic issue isn’t the UAW or GM shareholders, it’s the people at the bottom and their dependents who might go into economic crisis if the fall into unemployment. You could even tailor the subsidy for certain states to keep auto manufacturing in historical locations, and dictate terms and benchmarks for the companies to have met to keep earning money.

    I also think though, that probably the only way to make manufacturing viable in the US is for us to either stick it out and wait for the rest of the world to industrialize, or we’ve got to have nationalized health care so that that particular wind is taken out of union sails.

  6. If the pattern follows what happend in the UK with one buy out,the Chinese only want the designs to the cars, and the name.  They get made in China

  7. I suspect that any Chinese attempt to buy out one of the Big 3 will be treated much as the Dubai Ports World attempt to purchase control of various US ports a couple of years back was.

  8. I must agree with James above and add that the union is not innocent in the decline of the auto industry.  If there is a bailout, it only serves to postpone the inevitable.  It is not a cure.  The only semi good argument for a bailout is that this is just not a good time.  Prop them up and let them fail later after the economy recovers.  I could only support this if there are severe limits put on executive compensation and stolen parachutes.  Anyway, it might be a better use of resources to put $25 billion dollars into public works projects across the country.  I don’t know.

  9. I still don’t see how a bailout is going to stop layoffs and cutbacks that are coming. Furthermore I still haven’t seen an explanation of how this bailout will be different than the other times we have dragged them along. Why keep pushing back the inevitable? If we invest the $100 billion something it will take to bailout all three, what’s to keep them from going down again?

    With their corp jets we have seen the problem is behavior related more than cash flow. They can’t make a car the vast majority want to buy that gets decent gas mileage at a time when that is important to people. That is an issue not related to cash.

  10. And in May there was an article in the Free Press that said “GM to have electric SUV by 2012“

    2012???!!

    WTF?

    WTF?  People don’t realize that it takes a good half decade for a new gasoline powered vehicle to come to market, let alone something with an electric drivetrain?

    It’s not just GM where it takes this long, look at Toyota’s wide selection of trucks and SUVs.  The soon to be discontinued FJ Cruiser would probably never have been considered a viable product if gas prices had been at 07/early 08 levels back when it was envisioned in 2002.  It debuted as a concept at the 2003 Chicago Auto Show, and was released in late 2006.  That’s at least a 4 year development time, for a vehicle that used substantial existing components (engine, transmission, suspension all were adapted from existing products).

  11. It takes a LOT of arrogance to claim poverty after traveling there on a private jet.  Seriously.

    I don’t want to see them crash and burn either, but this kind of shows why they are having problems.  I can’t afford a private jet, so I don’t have one even though it would obviously be nice.  These companies asking for financial help need to live within their means, just like the rest of us.

  12. I’m really torn on the bailouts too. Something has gone horribly wrong with the US Automotive business model, probably on both sides of the fence: management and labor. If we want to keep the american auto industry around something has to change. Infusing money into the industry just forestalls the inevitable unless real change takes place within the industry to prevent such things from happening in the future. Unfortunately I’m not such an optimist to believe that would ever happen.

  13. WTF?  People don’t realize that it takes a good half decade for a new gasoline powered vehicle to come to market, let alone something with an electric drivetrain?

    It’s not just GM where it takes this long, look at Toyota’s wide selection of trucks and SUVs.  The soon to be discontinued FJ Cruiser would probably never have been considered a viable product if gas prices had been at 07/early 08 levels back when it was envisioned in 2002.  It debuted as a concept at the 2003 Chicago Auto Show, and was released in late 2006.  That’s at least a 4 year development time, for a vehicle that used substantial existing components (engine, transmission, suspension all were adapted from existing products).

    It isn’t like this is a radical new idea. And it is not like they are developing an entire platform..they were talking electric drive in a common body and they could do it by 2012?

    We engineered and built the SaturnV in less time -and with probably less staff than we waste on developing a new car. Granted it was built on a foundation that preceded it by years, but c’mon!

    Lockheed’s skunkworks spent 4 years from concept to flight trials on the SR71!….44 years ago

    And I am not saying that the japanese are a paradigm of efficiency, either. They’re already feeling the dent from Korean companies

  14. And I am not saying that the japanese are a paradigm of efficiency, either. They’re already feeling the dent from Korean companies

    A dent maybe, but the Japanese automakers are still turning a sizeable profit, despite the recession.

    But yes, you make a good point about the goals we can achieve if we have the collective vision to pursue them. Will market demands get us there? Hard to say with gas plunging below $2 in the U.S. right now. But fuel prices will go up again and that may create a heightened sense of urgency in developing new technologies.

    It will take a completely revamped vision on the part of U.S. automakers about how to achieve any form of success. I’m not confident that they possess that.

    Here’s a novel view on the matter. A pipe dream, perhaps, but interesting.

  15. It isn’t like this is a radical new idea. And it is not like they are developing an entire platform..they were talking electric drive in a common body and they could do it by 2012?

    We engineered and built the SaturnV in less time -and with probably less staff than we waste on developing a new car. Granted it was built on a foundation that preceded it by years, but c’mon!

    Lockheed’s skunkworks spent 4 years from concept to flight trials on the SR71!….44 years ago

    A market viable electric car isn’t a radical idea?  Really?  Perhaps we have different notions of radical, but I’d think the complete lack of electric cars that were able to compete with gasoline powered vehicles in convenience, performance, or price would make a mass market electric vehicle quite radical.

    1960s government programs that didn’t have to worry about cost overruns (NASA ate up close to 0.5% of the US GDP back then) or market concessions have little bearing on rushing an electric vehicle to market.

    And I don’t want to hear any nonsense about the EV1 either, which if sold at a profit standpoint, would have only appealed to people who didn’t want a Porsche 911 as their attention getter.

    Stormin Norman, innovation was wild in the early 1900s automotive market, but there were considerably fewer regulations back then, and considerably less complicated engineering to get the last bit of efficiency out of things.  That being said, there are smaller companies out there trying to do things differently.  Witness the weirdness of the Aptera, then there’s the Tesla Roadster, which is currently priced at $109,000.  The Tesla goes to show just how much innovation costs these days.  The platform is based on the Lotus Elise, which starts at $46k.

  16. A market viable electric car isn’t a radical idea?  Really?  Perhaps we have different notions of radical, but I’d think the complete lack of electric cars that were able to compete with gasoline powered vehicles in convenience, performance, or price would make a mass market electric vehicle quite radical.

    And, they been talking about it for how long now? As long as I’ve been alive at least(43yrs).

    The idea isn’t new.

    I live in a small town (6000 residents) and their are 5 of the electric ‘citycars’(korean manu) running around here on the streets.

    I don’t need power windows. I don’t need a rear wiper and defroster. I don’t need heated seats. I don’t need to go any faster than the speed limit. I don’t need to be able to make cross country trips in an electric car. It is 28 miles to my workplace. There- charge, home-charge would be enough for me. I suspect it would be enough for most people.

    Briggs and Stratton (for god’s sake!) has developod a 12hp three piece high performance DC electric motor (12hp-32 pounds). They are in use extensively. They capture regen on decel. 4 of those, a motor controller and a good battery package and you would have something that had more power than a VW bug. That’s ALL ‘off the shelf’ components. 

    And, it is the very mindset that it takes 6 years to spool up to production that has dug the grave for our automakers.

  17. I summarize the matter thus:

    Necessity is the mother of invention; we need a challenge to rise to.

    Automotive industries need to recognize that, perhaps, a major change of business model might be in order. Then… rise to the challenge. Everyone I know who has spent a lot of time in a business environment is quick to defend that business’ existing model.

    Maybe it’s more than a coincidence that forces from the outside, rather than inside, most profoundly shape business models.

  18. I believe that only people with a limited view of business would actually criticize the bosses of the Big Three for using their jets:
    Would you prefer the bosses of these huge multi-billion dollar companies to jetpool? If the jet crashed, the companies would be without their heads. Same as if your were putting all of your network security engineers in one single flight: It would compromise the safety of the company.

    Imagine a group of criminals figuring out how to kidnapp them, hold them for ransom and risking the life of the other passengers on the plane because these very powerful and wealthy men took a commercial flight. Far-fetched? Not really. Kidnappings at that level are more common than you think.

    It may sound apologetic but the threats are very real and many companies do think in these terms.

  19. Anon:

    Would you prefer the bosses of these huge multi-billion dollar companies to jetpool?

    No. We expect them to realize it looks absurd to take a $20K private flight that could have been done commercially for a fraction of the price.

    I would expect a strong background in finance, administration, and public relations, from a CEO. Their lack of attention to these matters does not inspire confidence in them.

    If the jet crashed, the companies would be without their heads

    Yep, and there’d be an internal shuffle to see who ends up in the position to take over. Unlike animals, a corporation with its head cut off will grow a new one. The market will move forward.

    Far-fetched? Not really. Kidnappings at that level are more common than you think.

    I imagine it’s more common for private flights than public flights, but that’s just me.

  20. You may have a point there but I’m not fully convinced yet. The last thing the three companies need right now is more insecurity. The market circumstances today are not ordinary, sorry to dwell on the obvious.
    Kidnappings occur in all type of settings, we just don’t read about them often. I’d like to not be personally involved if they happen in the flight I’m on, though.
    I’m also curious as to why you decided three bosses of three major companies are worth less than a group of network security engineers. Wouldn’t it be easier to replace a bunch of geeks rather than CEO’s? Why is the loss of one group less of a security threat than the other, is what I’m asking.

  21. I think it would a be a great thing if all three execs died in the same flight. Maybe the companies could hire CEOs that know how to effectively run their respective companies.

    Jokes aside, Anonymous read the post Les wrote. The point still stands. The actions take show the CEOs are out of touch. At a time when they should be cutting costs to save the company they are spending money on themselves and other top level execs like mad.

    How many salaries does that private jet cover? How many salaries do extra benefits for top execs cover? If they don’t have the decency to make attempts to help the company and those that are going to hurt the most then they can go fuck themselves.

  22. Anon, thanks for the discussion:

    Why is the loss of one group less of a security threat than the other, is what I’m asking.

    It really isn’t that they’re worth less. However:

    When a CEO gets dropped, there are probably several members on the board who are at least as qualified (perhaps more) than the CEO was when the position was attained, and who are currently qualified for the job.

    When an entire IT team disappears, there’s no IT person to replace them, because rather than taking a person from a company, you’ve taken an entire field of expertise.

    That said, in neither case is the transition smooth: however, say you got a dozen associate CTOs left behind in the wake of that IT collapse, they definitely have the power to reform the IT section and pull things in. In six months time, they’ll be rolling again.

    I think this is a more apt comparison. This is not to say that CEOs are worthless people (heh – they’re worth more than I’ll probably ever be, fiscally). Just to say that, for a company, an injury is an injury, but nobody is irreplaceable.

  23. In times of crisis, americans are infamous for spending three times faster than usual smile because they know they won’t have it good for very long. It happens at an individual level as well as corporate, so who is the public, actually, to say anything? 20k for a company the size of Ford or Chrysler is but a little drop in the bucket. Most likely the bosses have made millions in deals while in their jets. And if they haven’t, the question beckons:
    Why is the government wishing to help a failed banking system and not the automotive industry?
    Why is it more permissible to use tax payer money to help CEO’s who obviously practiced fraud and mismanagement, and not the CEO’s who have inherited the american automotive problems – not created them?

    The jets are tools of business, same as dinners at expensive restaurants: that is where deals are made.
    Because they are multinational companies, the bosses have to move around, I have no delusions, which is not much different from Airforce One… Would you advise the President of the United States to not fly an expensive piece of equipment to save a few million to make you feel better about public spending?
    For a country that, comparing to european countries, pays little in taxes and then gets a good percentage back every year around February, it shouldn’t be talking hardly at all.

    Realistically speaking, I feel not a bit sorry for the workers at the american plants because they’ve helped bury themselves with abusive union practices and putting all their eggs in one basket (and they earn quite a lot more than I can possible expect to earn doing the same job at some other company.)
    The troubles of the Detroit auto industry were not caused by this batch of administrators.
    I’m sounding like the devils advocate, true, but if the bosses weren’t asking for a helping hand with their companies, especially in their situation, then I think they wouldn’t be doing a service to the people they make money for either, don’t you think?
    I’m not saying to give them money without something in return, either…
    just food for thought.

  24. In times of crisis, americans are infamous for spending three times faster than usual

    So that makes it okay? What argument are you trying to make?

    Most likely the bosses have made millions in deals while in their jets.

    Something they do not have to do in a plane. It’s a convenience. And in times of crisis sometimes you have to make sacrifices. Just tell me why a family of four making less than $80,000 a year has to be the one to sacrifice when that salary could easily be covered if the jet was dropped.

    I have no delusions, which is not much different from Airforce One… Would you advise the President of the United States to not fly an expensive piece of equipment to save a few million to make you feel better about public spending?

    You are actually comparing the leader of the United States to a CEO of Ford? Are you trying to say the CEO of Ford is just as important as the Prez of US? Uh… you are indeed delusional.

    Realistically speaking, I feel not a bit sorry for the workers at the american plants because they’ve helped bury themselves with abusive union practices and putting all their eggs in one basket (and they earn quite a lot more than I can possible expect to earn doing the same job at some other company.)

    Just so you know there are people just like the author of this blog, Les, that worked for auto comanies and got laid off that didn’t abuse any systems. Why are you lumping them all together?

    The troubles of the Detroit auto industry were not caused by this batch of administrators.

    You’ve already made this point but you still fail to explain. Unions may be a piece of the puzzle but they certainly do not explain the whole thing.

    I’m sounding like the devils advocate, true, but if the bosses weren’t asking for a helping hand with their companies, especially in their situation, then I think they wouldn’t be doing a service to the people they make money for either, don’t you think?

    Do I understand you correctly? You are saying that the bosses would not be doing a service to those they make money for if they did not ask for a helping hand. If that is indeed what you are saying than I disagree with you. I think a bailout is a terrible idea and will change nothing with these companies. If we bail them out like we did some 20 years ago I predict they will continue to limp on with few to no changes in behavior and eventually need to ask for another bailout down the road or go into bankruptcy. I fail to see how giving them money is going to change the fact they need to design more reliable, fuel efficient cars, at a lower price, and that people actually want to drive.

  25. so who is the public, actually, to say anything?

    the uninvested, because payouts come from taxpayer dollars; the invested, because of legal obligation.

    the CEO’s who have inherited the american automotive problems – not created them?

    A raindrop never blames itself for a flood.

    The jets are tools of business, same as dinners at expensive restaurants: that is where deals are made.

    No, deals are made on paper, through lawyers and negotiations – saying they need to happen on private jets is silly. Are said jets useful? Absolutely. So are commercial flights, except when timing is of the essence. Bad form to use a private flight when begging for money. A CEO would hand the matter to PR; a competent CEO wouldn’t have to.

    I feel not a bit sorry for the workers at the american plants because they’ve helped bury themselves with abusive union practices

    The pot calling the teakettle black. Without the unions regulating them, they’d be just as prickish back. Unions do a disservice to their members when they become too powerful; same with the business and its investors.

    and they earn quite a lot more than I can possible expect to earn doing the same job at some other company

    Interesting; I have to ask who you work for, or whether you meant to leave an veiled admission of oligarchy.

    My bottom line? These companies have spent lots of time making bad vehicles with low emissions standards that disable them from being sold in much of the industrialized world. They’ve been getting their asses kicked for doing bad business on an international scale. They should have been doing more to keep up with their competitors a decade ago.

    And yet, I agree that we should bail them out responsibly. We just need a plan that gives a payback to the taxpayers at large, and not just the invested members of the public.

  26. I feel no compassion, no loyalty, no respect, no sense of obligation to Ford and GM.  Certainly no sense of pride that they are American companies.  If anything, they are an embarrassment.  Anyone who speaks of bailing out the company because they’re worried what will happen to the middle-class workers employed there is missing the point.  Why in hell do we have to give the companies a single penny if all we’re concerned with is the people they employ?  If you want to help the workers, then help the workers.  It will cost less to give them all unemployment and foot the bill for retraining than it will cost to prop up the companies, and besides, no amount of money you give them is going to guarantee that there will be no layoffs.  The Ford/GM execs have run their companies into the ground.  Giving THEM money is stupid.  End! Of! Story!

  27. And, they been talking about it for how long now? As long as I’ve been alive at least(43yrs).

    The idea isn’t new.

    The idea may not be new (plenty of late 19th/early 20th century vehicles were electric), but how old an idea is has little do to with its feasibility.

    I don’t need power windows. I don’t need a rear wiper and defroster. I don’t need heated seats. I don’t need to go any faster than the speed limit. I don’t need to be able to make cross country trips in an electric car. It is 28 miles to my workplace. There- charge, home-charge would be enough for me. I suspect it would be enough for most people.

    Here’s the thing.  Most people would expect an electric car to replicate the functions of their gasoline car.  Don’t forget that with a statement like that, you’re part of a lunatic fringe market.  I am too, except I’m part of the performance lunatic fringe.  I’d like a compact, sporty, rear-drive car at a reasonable price, a modern Datsun 510.  The fun of my Miata with the practicality of my Mazda 3.  Is it going to happen?  Probably not.  Most people would rather have the added space, weight savings (thus better fuel economy) and winter traction that a FWD platform provides, and could care less about steering feel and torque steer.

    And, it is the very mindset that it takes 6 years to spool up to production that has dug the grave for our automakers.

    Our automakers?  These same development times affect other automakers as well, who aren’t in the same danger of collapsing.

    My bottom line? These companies have spent lots of time making bad vehicles with low emissions standards that disable them from being sold in much of the industrialized world.

    Uh, CARB passenger car emissions standards (in use by CA and 6 other states) are considerably tougher than any other country’s emissions standards.  That’s why, until recent technological innovations, diesel passenger cars couldn’t be sold in CARB emissions states.

    As for the execs flying in, it’s not good PR, but it’s not as if they didn’t already have the jets, and they sure as hell can’t sell them in this market.

    Chrysler is pretty much fucked no matter what.  The split with Daimler left them with no cash reserves, and because of this product development has stopped when they need it more than ever.

    GM will never be competitive so long as they have to pay for healthcare for their retirees.  Hell, American auto manufacturing will never be as competitive as Japanese or European automaking due to the United States’ lack of national health care.  Bankruptcy could allow them to get out of their obligations to the UAW retirees, though who would want to buy a car from an automaker that may not be around to honor your warranty?  Ironically, GM has more competitive products than ever (Chevy Malibu, Cadillac CTS, Pontiac G8, Saturn Astra) but times may be too bad for that to matter.

    Ford is probably the best positioned of the Big 3.  Biggest cash reserves, fewer retirees to take care of than GM since they never had the market share of GM, fewer redundant brands (nix Mercury and they’re set) than GM, and a stake in Mazda that leads to excellent small and midsize car platforms.

  28. Uh, CARB passenger car emissions standards (in use by CA and 6 other states) are considerably tougher than any other country’s emissions standards.

    That only leaves 43 states that are behind the curve… Wow.. and I was worried.  Detroit fights that (so far successfully) every time someone wants to make CARB (or something like it) the national standard.  Talk about backwards.

    Besides pickup trucks which have some utility no matter how shitty the mpg is, Ford and GM make pretty shitty cars.  They want to continue to make shitty cars, no matter how much people want to buy something better.  They thought that hybrids were a fad, they choose power over fuel efficiency every time, even when they don’t have to.  It’s not health care regulations that’s putting them out of business.  If that was their only problem, then maybe I could be convinced to give them some money (with a short leash) so that they could compensate or more to the point, stepping in and dealing with the Unions.  On the other hand, they are already subsidized.  What happened to all THAT money?

    Anyway, that isn’t their only problem.  They’re the ones who didn’t mobilize for hybrid manufacture and expected hybrids to go away, never mind that other companies couldn’t build them fast enough to keep up with demand (and still can’t).  They don’t have a clue why they are circling the drain (or they aren’t admitting it) and they want to do anything they can to continue to do what they’re doing.  Giving people like that more money after they’ve already pissed away a staggering amount is a BAD MOVE.

    GM used to be on top of things.  They were the first people to come up with a workable concept for an EV and they were right behind Toyota in announcing their own hybrid.  After that, they shit-canned the EV, even though everyone who drove one said they’d buy it, and they told anyone who would listen that SUV’s were still king when you couldn’t give one away.  Now that gas prices are down, both Ford and GM want to go right back to SUVs, even though next year, oil (and gas) prices are going to go right back up to what they were last Summer, possibly even higher, and this time, there won’t be a economic crash to bring them back down.

    They’re idiots, and they want to suck up more money from the government (ie all of us) so that they can do what they want rather than what they should, apparently even if no one buys their cars.

  29. I’ll double-check on the CARB standards; I’m pretty sure Japanese standards for domestic vehicles are still higher by a factor of maybe 4%. A 40-something number comes to mind.

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