Bailout Watch 241: ChryCo CEO Nardelli Drives Aspen Hybrid to DC

Edward Niedermeyer
by Edward Niedermeyer

The truth is out: as Chrysler CEO Bob Nardelli drove a Chrysler Aspen Hybrid to today’s Senate Banking Committee hearings. Confirmation comes from Jet-Gate Media Inc, formerly known as ABC News, which dedicates no fewer than four pages to the symbolism of CEO transportation choices. Of course Nardelli gets a good hosing for choosing a ride that will be canceled within less than a year of its introduction. ABC contrasts the high cost and marginal returns of hybrid vehicles with the currently low cost of gas, and concludes that (in the words of Kelly Blue Book’s Jack Nerad) “a hybrid alone will not save Detroit.” In short, the parade of Volt/Cruze mules, Chrysler vapoware and assorted hybrid and flex-fuel vehicles are a PR show to gain environmentalist support for a bailout. Shocking stuff, I know, but the disconnect between self-image and reality is key to this entire situation. Slate’s Daniel Gross explores this “Detroit Delusion,” arguing that “the markets are treating the auto companies as if they’re already in bankruptcy,” and “the federal funding they’re requesting is necessary to help manage failure, not to stave it off.” Luckily Senators seem to be focusing on these financial issues rather than taking the eco-future bait.

Edward Niedermeyer
Edward Niedermeyer

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  • Rpol35 Rpol35 on Dec 05, 2008

    Actually the Detroit Three, who were once the Big 3, have had a lot of financial success from '85 forward with CAFE in place. GM in particular rocked & rolled from '94 forward with trucks & SUV's, they sold well and GM made lot's of $$$, as did Ford. Chrysler saw the advantage of the mini-van and capitalized on it all within the realm of CAFE so I don't think it has been an impediment at all. $4 per gallon, gasoline, now there's an obstacle! And having had the fuel run-up occur as quickly as it did has driven a nail in the D3'S coffin. I question the need for CAFE actually, especially if oil returns to stratospheric heights. All it takes is a Honda or a Toyota, et al. that sees (continues to see) the value in fuel efficient cars to negate the value of the Big 3's gas guzzlers (Suburban, RAM, Expedition, etc.) and discard them to irrelevancy, which is what has happened anyway. Point is, that regardless of CAFE, most people are not going to go back to fuel suckers when they have options.

  • Richard Chen Richard Chen on Dec 05, 2008

    Food for thought: if CAFE wasn't implemented with the truck/SUV/minivan loophole, would we still be seeing a bunch of big (Panther-class) cars around?

  • Landcrusher Landcrusher on Dec 05, 2008

    CAFE was the reason (along with union contracts) that gl continued to spit out many money losers over the years rather than drop them. We have laws favoring the unions, we have laws forcing them to keep dealers, and we have laws forcing them to build small cars that they lose money on. Why does anyone with talent want to work there at all?

  • Mgraban Mgraban on Mar 18, 2013

    Was just reading the Charlie LeDuff book "Detroit: An American Autopsy." He claims that when Nardelli drove the Aspen to DC, that a car full of engineers and tools trailed a couple of miles behind in case (or when) the Aspen broke down. They distrusted the vehicle that much. After the testimony, Nardell hopped the corporate jet home. "But they had not even cleared the Lincoln Memorial when Nardelli, according to Carlisle, instructed him to drive to the airport, where the corporate jet was waiting."