Assigned Reading: Fuel Standards Are Killing G.M.
(FROM: The Wall Street Journal)
Driving my sexy half-dozen-year-old, V-6 minivan with the squeaky brakes into work yesterday, I was passed on I-95 heading northbound by a brand-new, dark blue Chevrolet Camaro.
Back in April, when it was announced that the venerable American automaker would be shuttering its Pontiac brand and I reacted by blathering on about my beloved 1984 Recaro Edition Trans-Am, I mentioned the “ear-splittingly loud” sound made by that beautiful car. It rumbled. It shook the ground around it. It just oozed power. It sounded fast. I still have dreams that I’m driving that car.
Yesterday, however, even though my windows were down and my sunroof was open (it saves money on gas, and we’re on a tight budget), I couldn’t hear the Camaro as it blew by me on the left side. As soon as I saw it closing the gap in my side-view mirror, I turned down the radio and perked up my ear, waiting to hear that gutteral roar. But there was none. It made me sad — even though I’ve always been a Trans-Am guy and condescendingly looked down my nose at the Chevy F-body counterpart, with the fresh absence of GM’s Pontiac “excitement” division, I would consider buying a new Camaro. (After I get some of that lawyer money, though, and pay off all of our debt. And after I buy my wife that Mustang she’s been pining for.) But with the new CAFE standards and Obama’s energy policy on the horizon, I just don’t see how GM will be able to offer the power and sound I’d eventually look for.
Yesterday, I took a cruise on General Motors’ cumbersome Web site for a little fantasy research, much in the same way I might look at a vacation resort we can’t quite yet afford, or that 1911 that’s just out of my reach. I was delighted to see that not only does the interior of the Camaro seem top-notch, but that the vehicle is offered with a 304-horsepower V-6 as well as a 426-horsepower V-8. So maybe some of the Camaros do rumble, but the question is: for how long?
Consider this from the Wall Street Journal piece:
The actual Corporate Average Fuel Economy (CAFE) results will depend on the mixture of fuel-thrifty and fuel-thirsty vehicles consumers choose to buy from each manufacturer — not on what producers hope to sell. That means only those companies most successful in selling the smallest cars with the smallest engines will, in the future, be allowed to sell the more profitable larger pickups and SUVs and more powerful luxury and sports cars.
Sales of Toyota’s Prius, Yaris, Corolla and Scion, for example, allow and encourage Toyota to market more Lexus 460s, Sequoia SUVs and Tundra pickups in the U.S. without incurring fines. Hyundai’s success selling Accent and Elantra compacts allows it to sell 368-horsepower Genesis sedans.
Right now, if someone is looking for an inexpensive, reliable vehicle made in America by American workers, many of the Japanese and Korean automakers offer entry-level vehicles for much less cost and much more value than similar offerings by General Motors, manufactured in Canada and Mexico. Where GM excels is in its sport utility vehicles and its trucks, and where the company will make an impression is in its sports cars — very few of which will be available to the public if the Democrats and president have their way. Look for interest in GM to dwindle even further, as taking away the option to buy the cars people want is just the liberals’ latest salvo in their War Against Success and Prosperity.
Heck, being passed by a new Camaro yesterday, as horribly silent as it may have been, was enough to get me–who is light years away from purchasing another vehicle, nonetheless one without a sliding door and recepticles for stray Cheerios–to tool around the GM Web site and wish I could afford to take one home.
Because of the interference of Barack Obama’s White House and the Democrat-controlled Congress, however, General Motors will likely soon be forced to remove perhaps its best arrow from its marketing quiver (much like Obama’s habit of hamstringing the American military and intelligence communities removes arrows from our national security quiver), and the automotive company owned by you and by me may truly go the way of the Tucker.
On the bright side, though, perhaps when everyone else is white-knuckling it down I-95 in some Congress-approved, glorified golf cart, my squeaky, rattling, six-year-old shaggin’ wagon might not seem that bad, after all.