Speaking at Nissan’s Smyrna, TN electric car factory, Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood noted that his staff is working with Congress to make federal tax credits for plug-in car purchases available as a rebate on the dealer level, saying
We’d like for people to get a $7,500 rebate on the day they buy the Leaf. We’re doing a lot of talking about it. When you give people that incentive to buy a battery-powered car, they’ll do it. We know these incentives help.
Speaking to Automotive News [sub], LaHood even went as far as to argue that the new direction for the tax credits, which were previously only claimable when filing taxes, would be successful for the reason that it would make the credits more like the Cash For Clunkers program. Apparently LaHood has completely forgotten how riddled with waste, inefficiency, fraud, confusion, delays, unintended consequences and all-purpose madness that program was. And that’s just scraping the surface. Foolish as it is to subsidize vehicles during the “fleecing the early adopters” phase of a new technology rollout (perhaps we should be saving stimulus for the inevitable “trough of disappointment”?), making those credits available at the dealer level is even worse, increasing the hype and incurring C4C-like downsides along the way.
Vladimir Putin has announced that his government will spend $19.6b (584 billion rubles) on auto-sector stimulus, with spending planned on technology development, employee re-training, direct subsidies, and cash-for-clunker-style consumer stimulus. Another $20b of investment is expected from foreign automakers. These measures are aimed at a host of of ills besetting the Russian auto industry and market, ranging from what the government describes as a 4-7 year technological deficit, and a 50 percent drop in sales last year.
Not THIS HUMMER (that would be a bit of a stretch). But a HUMMER nonetheless. The Associated Press reports that “Data released late last week by the Department of Transportation shows that tens of thousands of trucks, minivans and SUVs with relatively low gas mileage were among the nearly 700,000 vehicles sold under the program in late July and August. It even included a handful of Hummers, a hulking vehicle not usually associated with fuel economy.” I guess the AP couldn’t say “including a big ass gas-guzzling military-themed HUMMER, the vehicle most reviled by people who thought (even for a second) that the $3 billion Cash for Clunkers program’s real goal was improving the fuel efficiency of America’s automotive fleet to help reverse the irreversible catastrophe of global warming.” Now, there’s a lot of parsing and wrangling and finger-pointing to be done here, as usual. But let’s not lose sight of the salient fact: A HUMMER! Why not? Lest we forget, “for buyers of SUVs, pickups and minivans, that difference [between the trade-in and the new vehicle’s mpgs] had to be only 2 mpg.”
In other news, the final sales numbers are out. The Chevy Silverado pipped the F-150 at the C4C post. The manly man’s pickup picked-up 16,330 sales, vs. 16,263 for the tuff enough [sic] F-150. What does that tell you? As the Silverado is a high profit vehicle for its nationalized manufacturer, the taxpayer-funded sales surge has certainly helped the taxpayer-funded automaker stay alive. How great is that? Oh, and HUMMER is still owned by GM, in case you (or GM’s management) forgot.