Thursday, October 01, 2009

Was Cash For Clunkers a Success? Ask a Saturn Dealer...

An entire 37 days after "Cash for Clunkers" ends, Saturn shuts down:

General Motors is closing its Saturn business, ending the once-ballyhooed effort to build "a different kind of car company," as the implosion of auto sales that started last year continues to ravage the industry.

The decision Wednesday to abandon Saturn came after negotiations broke down to sell the brand to Penske Automotive.

The setback follows a massive bailout effort in which the government sought to rescue the industry with aid for GM, Chrysler, suppliers and financing companies, as well as the "Cash for Clunkers" incentive program.

I owned (well, leased) two Saturns - inexpensive, fuel-efficient cars that never failed to start up (even during three frigid Chicago winters), and never needed to be brought in for repairs.

Exactly the type of car the president keeps telling us is all America needs, right? So much so that he invested over $50 billion in taxpayer dollars into GM, Saturn's parent company, and another $3 billion into this summer's "cash for clunkers" program.

So how'd that work out? Ask the 350 Saturn dealerships that will close shortly, and the 13,000 employees that are about to be added to the unemployment line. Remember that, when whatever unemployment figure that is released tomorrow is touted as an "improvement".

Unfortunately, if any of these unemployed workers should need a car, and wishes to buy a cheap used automobile, well, he's sh*t out of luck there too. Blame "Cash for Clunkers" again:

....since the start of this year, a combination of tight supplies of both new and used vehicles and higher demand from a frugal public have pushed average used-car prices to the highest levels in years, industry watchers say.

Not to brag, but I predicted this negative effect on poorer and younger drivers back in the beginning of August.

And for those Democrats who touted this deranged government handout as a benefit to the environment, well - here's some more spittle in Nancy Pelosi's eye:

What kinds of used vehicles are selling? All kinds, but particularly "gas guzzlers," says Katharine Kenny , vice president of investor relations for CarMax ...

What really bugs the hell out of me is this - couldn't Saturn have gone bankrupt all by itself, even without us investing billions of dollars into it? What an incredible waste of cash, and of the human capital expended to manufacture it.

But that's what happens in a government-run economy. Favorites get paid, good projects die on the vine, and politicians keep seizing and spending other's people money with no conception of the labor it takes to create it.

Lunatic economics. That's what you get when the inmates are running the asylum...


Anonymous said...

my 97 SC2 still runs just fine with almost 190K miles on it. I finally had to replace the front brakes this summer. It still gets me 31mpg on the tank.

Damn shame about Saturn. First the unions killed them, then the government.

The JerseyNut said...

I had an 2001 SC2. I loved it - got it with a stick to get a little extra pep out of the engine, and re-invested some of the transmission savings into bigger wheels and leather/sunroof. It was a fun, reliable little car.

But you are right. The unions killed them - after all, if Saturn succeeded, why would they need to be paid double to do the same (or even lesser quality) work? And people wonder why American automotive companies cannot produce a small, MPG-efficent car...

Drew458 said...

Maybe I should go and splurge on a bunch of parts for mine now, while the dealerships still exist.