CSI: Detroit, the Autopsy
Bob Brinker had an automotive journalist on his Saturday talk show. I found it quite illuminating to get the perspective of someone who knows cars, rather than folks like TMF and myself who pour over 10K’s. I heartily recommend you get ahold of this interview.
His guest was not optimistic: “humpty-dumpty” and “pretty bad”. A few of the more interesting points I heard:
* Management incompetence. They are the ones who said yes to the UAW and signed the contracts.
* The ones in charge are businessmen, not the engineers who know how to make a good car.
* Detroit ceded the car market to the imports, but continued to make pretty good trucks and SUV’s. A small car may make a bit less money, but if you make a good one, you will sell lots of them.
* Not only Detroit, but also Honda and Datsun and German cars are playing catch-up to Toyota’s hybrids
* Dumb electric car, GM’s EV1, should never have been made. Sadly, he did not elaborate as to why.
* Chevy Volt has a small gasoline engine (which kicks in when the rechargeable battery gets low), but the gasoline engine runs an electric generator, which, in turns, powers the electric motor. “Interesting”, but does not have enough range or versatility. Cost will be about $40K. Are Americans going to pay 40 grand for a car that goes 40 miles?
* Bio-diesel hybrid? Not in US or Japan. Maybe Europe. But environmental concerns and regulations?
* Not all parts for foreign cars are imported and just assembled domestically. Many parts for foreign cars are also manufactured right here in the US.
* Cafe standards are 30mph. But, you have to make people but these puny, lightweight cars, and the only way to do this is $5 per gallon gasoline. When gas goes this high, we roll our eyes and say: disaster, horror, bad oil company-bad oil company.