The Ethanol Papers - Paperturn manuscript - Flipbook - Page 56
public owes them; consumers have already paid for the vehicles produced and
sold by “Detroit.” The cars and trucks weren’t given away free. And if you factor
in the finance charges that most of the purchases accrued, then the public not
only paid for the vehicles once, it may be said that they paid for the vehicles two
or three times over. Using the fear of the demise of America as the reason for
granting $50 billion in aid is essentially asking consumers to pay for the cars
and trucks all over again, while the carmakers return to manufacturing relatively
uninteresting gasoline-powered vehicles.
The American people already bailed out the Big Three fifteen years ago during
the Clinton Administration by providing government loans, tax incentives/credits, and favorable environmental regulations. Instead of working in earnest to
fulfill their part of the deal, they chose to make and sell gasoline-guzzling vehicles that took advantage of semantic loopholes to shine us on. While these
actions resulted in Detroit experiencing several of the best financial years they
ever had, today we’re left waiting for a token alt-fuel vehicle effort from the Big
Three that isn’t really even worth considering, vis-à-vis the request for a taxpayer provided $50 billion aid package: GM will have one electric vehicle ready
for sale by late 2010 (the Volt), one electric Chrysler model ready for sale by
mid-2010, and no real commitment by Ford, except that they think they’ll be
ready to mass-market electric vehicles by 2020 to 2025 (twelve to seventeen
years from now).
These efforts aren’t enough. If GM has a good electric propulsion system, that
same propulsion system should be slated for use in every GM model, whether
it’s a Chevrolet, or a Buick, or a Saturn, or a Saab, or a Pontiac, or a Cadillac.
For example, the new gasoline-powered Camaro is also slated for 2010 delivery, why aren’t they planning for a Camaro Volt. Chrysler is looking at three
potential electric models but will only select one to actually manufacture. Sorry,
that is simply not good enough; every Chrysler model on sale should offer an
electric variant. If the best that Ford can promise is more than a decade away,
then they should do a ‘Willie Wonka’ and close up shop until they’re ready to
re-enter the auto business with relevant products.
And with all the misery, there’s still no discussion about the Big Three selling
energy-efficient, low polluting CNG and propane vehicles in the U.S., even
though they make and sell them in other parts of the world. The Auto Channel
has reported extensively on this issue. There is a great opportunity for the Big
Three to salvage what they can of existing models by converting them to use
these fuels. This might truly add some sizzle to their lackluster product line-ups.