Monday, January 25, 2010

LaHood Laughingstock of Detroit Auto Show

Obama's Transportation Secretary Ray Lahood forgot the golden rule ('tis better to remain silent and be thought a fool, than to speak and remove all doubt) while making a stop at the Detroit Auto Show last week.

Yes, Nancy Pelosi was there as well, shilling for the auto companies she purchased with your money. But it was LaHood's ignorance about the products and prospects of these companies that leads one to believe that maybe - just maybe - being owned and operated by DC politicians is not the panacea we were lead to believe...

The bonfire of the inanities:

The transportation secretary based his remarks, he said, on a visit he made to Detroit last fall when he spent “half a day” at each of the domestic automakers’ headquarters.

So he is an expert in automotives based on spending, you know, a few hours in each division's corporate headquarters. Normally it takes years of top-to-bottom work to have a good understanding of an industry's capabilities and liabilities; thank god we have men as bright as LaHood who can save the nation years of its time....

The smiles broadened when he referred to “new products” from Chrysler. Even people outside the auto industry know that Chrysler’s quiver is empty.

That was just too much for one reporter, who challenged the cabinet member:
In your opening remarks you mentioned new products by Chrysler, could you expand upon that?

LaHood’s reply:

Well, you know what? I’ll let Chrysler do that and I think as you all get around this massive showroom you’ll see what I mean, but they’re on the cutting edge of developing the kind of products that I think people in this country and also in other countries are really gonna feel very favorable towards.


Walk around Chrysler’s display on the show floor upstairs in Cobo Hall, and you will see exactly zero new products.

There was a Lancia rebadged as a Chrysler concept (dubbed “Guido” by the auto blogosphere), and a couple of cute little Fiat 500s to show that Chrysler was now under Fiat’s wing, but nothing at the Chrysler stand could be described as “new.” Chrysler did display a number of new trim and feature packages on its now aging stable of cars.

Maybe the die-cut decals are what LaHood meant by “cutting edge.”

More cluelessness from Lahood and Pelosi on "green vehicles":

In his remarks, Secretary LaHood referred to “the kind of green car that Americans are looking for.” Speaker Pelosi and Majority Leader Hoyer also stressed how government financial aid is helping the domestic automakers move to hybrids and electric vehicles, vehicles Pelosi and Hoyer claimed that consumers want.

The problem is that while hybrid sales in the U.S. indeed went up in 2009 as the overall market was flat or declining, they still represent less than 3% of light vehicles leased and sold in the U.S. Between LaHood’s praise for Chryslers “new” products and Pelosi’s fantasy that 3% of the market represents what consumers want, it appears that the people running our government know nothing about a major industry that employs, ultimately, one in twelve Americans.

Yup, exactly as I feared. Hybrids are great for the city driver; the suburban driver - which is most of them - needs something a bit meatier. That's why the biggest winner of the misguided "cash-for-clunkers" campaign was the Ford F150, and it's why SUVs are making a comeback in a big way. Yet the Obama administration insists on building cars that they want us to drive, and not what we want to drive.

It's part of the Obama administration's war on the suburbs, of course - the administration is filled with "smart planners" who want to yank your SUV and force you to move back into the city, where you will be pushed onto public transportation and your children into public schools, like it or not.

That's bad enough, but fortunately not too likely. What is likely is a second crash of the car companies due to management that believes that every single right-thinking American should want what they want, which is your ass planted in a tiny hybrid. When hybrid sales peak at 5%, and consumers turn to foreign automakers for SUVs, what then?

Laws restricting SUV usage; with special permits allowed as permitted by DC bureaucrats? Another huge taxpayer bailout? Or the collapse and free-market restructuring of the American automotive industry, which perhaps should have been allowed to occur a good $100 billion dollars ago...

Regardless, with Pelosi and Lahood sharing the wheel, you just know this car is heading right off the freakin' cliff....

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