Three years ago, at a groundbreaking ceremony for an LG Chem Battery plant in Holland, Michigan, President Obama promised that this and other pants will be “a boost to the economy in the entire region.” Instead, the plant has become an example for what is wrong with a state-directed command economy. It also is yet another chapter in the Chevrolet Volt debacle. (Read More…)
Those who watched the State of the Union address last night and have an interest in autos may have noticed a conspicuous absence; Barack Obama failed to mention his goal of putting 1 million EVs on the road by 2015.
As we come to yet another hiccup in the launch of the Dodge Dart, it’s worth taking a look backwards to examine how we got to this point; the elimination of a second shift at the Dundee, Michigan plant that builds the Dart’s 1.4L FIRE engine, as well as the firing or re-assignment of 58 workers.
As both Ronnie and Michael Karesh noted, the same 1.4T FIRE engine that’s so delightful in the Fiat 500 Abarth is weaksauce in the Dart. The 1.4T’s clunky dual-clutch auto doesn’t help matters either. If it weren’t for government mandated fuel economy targets imposed as a condition of the bailout, that engine – and possibly the Dart – wouldn’t even be here right now.
It’s the kind of mistake that only a blogger (said with a contemptuous sneer) would make. The Wall Street Journal reports that
“U.S. regulators rated a new Chrysler Group LLC compact car with highway fuel-economy of 41 miles a gallon, a move that fulfills a key element of the company’s 2009 federal bailout and cleared the way earlier this year for majority owner Fiat SpA to increase its stake in the Detroit auto maker.”
They got it wrong.
White House spokesman Dan Pfeiffer apologized to WaPo and Fox News commentator Charles Krauthammer for having “overshot the runway.” Pfeifer had accused Krauthammer of falsely claiming that a bust of former British Prime Minister Winston Churchill had been removed from the White House and sent back to the British Embassy. In a blog post on the White House Blog (yes, the White House blogs too) Pfeiffer produced a smoking gun: A Churchill bust that was still at the White House. The trouble was there had been two busts. Now there is only one. (See, and I would have sworn Bill Clinton took all available busts when he vacated the White House.)
What do busts have to do with cars? (Read More…)
Victor Muller could not save Saab.
Vladimir Antonov could not save Saab
Pang Qinghua could not save Saab.
Rachel Pang could not save Saab.
Now, Barack Obama is supposed to save Saab.
At least that’s how the Swedish metalworker union IF Metall sees it. (Read More…)
“The electric things have their life too. Paltry as those lives are.”
Phillip K. Dick, Do Androids Dream Of Electric Sheep?
At the High School I attended, progress reports were never a good thing. Halfway through each term, students who were averaging a D or lower would receive a print-out of their grade accompanied by a line from the teacher explaining how the miscreant in question was failing to live up to expectations. True to form, the White House’s just-released “One Year Progress Report” [PDF] on President Obama’s “Blueprint For A Secure Energy Agenda” includes some devastating evidence of abject failure. But unlike my post-progress report conversations with the parental stakeholders, Obama has a lot more to explain to voters than a simple “insufficient homework turned in.”
You heard it yourself. When Obama is out of office, he’ll buy a Chevrolet Volt and drive it himself. The Secret Service, which famously wouldn’t let Obama drive the Volt down the Hamtramck assembly line, generally protects the President for up to 10 years after they leave office – we’d assume that the “no driving” clause applies here. So Obama’s Volt may sit for a long time – hopefully it won’t brick.
Meanwhile, the DoE’s projection of 120,000 Volts produced in 2012 (let alone sold to consumers) still looks a little optimistic. GM just restarted production of the car a few days ago. Their sales target of 45,000 in 2012 has been abandoned after coming 2,300 units short of their 10,000 unit goal in 2011. GM now says that they will adjust “supply to meet demand”.
Last year, President Barack Obama declared that one of the “Apollo projects of our times” is the goal for the United States to be “the first country to have a million electric vehicles on the road by 2015.” Companies that made and people that bought those electric vehicles received generous government money. One holdout in the rush for EVs: The U.S. government. It did not do as its President said, and ended up with a drastic cut in purchases of electric and hybrid vehicles after the speech was delivered.
Foreign OEMs put on a dog and pony show at the Washington D.C. auto show in anticipation of President Obama’s visit, but were ultimately snubbed when the President decided to check out some American iron instead.
Starting in March, the Chevrolet Volt will be eligible to use the HOV lane on California highways. The catch? You have to buy a new Volt to use the carpool lane.
Obama! Socialism! Taxes! Jesus! Faith! Guns! Now that you’re paying attention, it’s time for our regularly scheduled programming. A Detroit News article claims that NHTSA is denying any interference on the part of the White House with respect to the Chevrolet Volt fires that resulted from government crash test procedures.
[UPDATE: Ford has restored the video to Youtube. More details here.]
Detroit News columnist Daniel Howes reports in a column that Ford has pulled its controversial “bailout ad” after the White House asked “questions” about it. And apparently the take-down decision makes this a threatened piece of footage: in addition to yanking the spot from the airwaves, the version of the video we posted two weeks ago has been taken down from YOutube as well [a home recording of it can still be found here]. So what happened that Ford would throw its most popular ad in ages down the memory hole? Howes is cryptic…
Ford pulled the ad after individuals inside the White House questioned whether the copy was publicly denigrating the controversial bailout policy CEO Alan Mulally repeatedly supported in the dark days of late 2008, in early ’09 and again when the ad flap arose…
With President Barack Obama tuning his re-election campaign amid dismal economic conditions and simmering antipathy toward his stimulus spending and associated bailouts, the Ford ad carried the makings of a political liability when Team Obama can least afford yet another one. Can’t have that.
In the past, when a sitting president has hit the campaign trail, they’ve leased their own campaign bus which the Secret Service would then retrofit with all the latest security features. But no longer, as Talking Points Memo reports that the presidential bodyguards are buying their own bespoke campaign bus, reportedly from Hemphill Brothers Coach Company. Secret Service spokesman Jim Mackin explains
We’ve never been fully comfortable with the security provided by a bus we lease and then try to retro-fit. This would be just like other vehicles we’re adding to our fleet. We’d use them for the campaign, but they’re not for campaign purposes. They would be part of our fleet — just like our limos, just like our follow-ups, just like our emergency vehicles.
And this isn’t just for President Obama: one of the two new buses will be made available to the Republican candidate as well. And because the buses are government property, they won’t be allowed to have campaign logos and both campaigns will have to reimburse the Secret Service for their use. There’s no word on what retrofits the new buses will receive, but we’d be disappointed to find there’s not at least one minigun turret. Because you can never have enough miniguns on the campaign trail… [Hat Tip: Dan Licht]