Feb 19, 2009

GM, Chrysler don't get it

After receiving billions of dollars in taxpayer-funded bailouts over the last few months, General Motors and Chrysler returned to Washington on Tuesday to shake their chrome-plated tin cups again.
But at a time when boldness is demanded, the plans lack innovation. They call for laying off more workers, cutting pay and benefits, and reducing the number of models that are manufactured. And GM even had the chutzpah to cut its projected fuel economy by 10% from what it promised in the survival plan it submitted to Congress in December.
What the automakers don't get is this: What's good for America is good for GM (and Chrysler), and not the other way around. With billions of dollars of taxpayer cash in their bank accounts and billions more coming, GM and Chrysler work for us now. And they have to start thinking about how to serve the country.
Americans need cars that go farther on a gallon of gasoline, pollute less and save money at the pump.
... automakers reacted to the law by launching an all-out attack on it. They successfully pressured the Bush administration not to grant an Environmental Protection Agency waiver necessary for states to enforce the (high MPG) law.
It was bad enough when automakers teamed up with dealers to fight laws that benefited the country. But now that the companies have bailout money from the taxpayers, their pursuit of legal and political challenges is abhorrent.
GM and Chrysler should forgo these credits and meet the law without them.
Automakers boast that they have improved the energy efficiency of their cars. But most of these gains have gone to making cars bigger and faster rather than less-polluting and cheaper to run.
According to a recent study presented to the Society of Automotive Engineers, if all the efficiency improvements developed since 1988 had been directed at getting more miles per gallon, cars would now average 45 mpg instead of 30.3 mpg.
Congress should require that in exchange for any new bailout, automakers raise their average fuel economy to 42 mpg by 2020, rather than the 35-mpg standard now set as a minimum for that year.
Detroit's survival depends on a change in mind-set.