The end of the 'American Car'

Do you remember your first car?

Mine was a Plymouth Fury - used of course - that literally purred when you turned the key. It rode like it was on air, could comfortably fit 6 people and when you put the pedal to the metal, it leapt forward like it was shot out of a gun.

It also spit out enough carbon monoxide to choke an elephant and got about 10 mpg in the city.

Life is a series of tradeoffs and the Fury's and other great cars of the past went the way of the Dodo bird because changing attitudes and the relentless rise in fuel prices caused us to rethink our modes of transportation.

Never letting opportunity slip by in a crisis, the Obama administration is about to once again revolutionize the auto industry. In fact, it will become so revolutionary that no one will be able to afford new cars nor will they like the cars that they will be forced to choose from.

The government is in the car business now and to that end, Obama released new fuel efficiency and emissions standards that are so draconian, so ruinously expensive, that it can truly be said that they represent the end of the American car.

Steven Mufson in the Washington Post, gives us the tragic news:

The cars of the near future will be lighter, more expensive and maybe smaller. Big engines will shrink. And more and more cars will be hybrids or diesel-powered vehicles like those common in Europe.

Those aren't qualities that American consumers have rushed to embrace in the past. But the new fuel-efficiency and tailpipe-emissions standards unveiled yesterday at the White House will push automakers and motorists in a direction aimed at reducing U.S. oil dependence and the emissions of greenhouse gases, just part of the administration's program for remaking the ailing American car industry.

[snip]

It's just a question of time and money," he said. A senior administration official said on Monday that the new standards would add $600 to the price of the average car, on top of the $700 of added costs that would have resulted from more modestly increased targets permitted under the 2007 energy bill.

"Yes, it costs money to develop these vehicles," President Obama said yesterday in a Rose Garden ceremony that included governors, members of Congress, auto executives and the head of the United Auto Workers. "But even as the price to build these cars and trucks goes up, the cost of driving these vehicles will go down as drivers save money at the pump."

That's a lie and the administration knows it. Most consumers will not see those kinds of savings at the pump - epecially if gasoline spikes again which most analysts fully expect it to do.

And the estimated $1300 in additional cost is a piple dream. In order to meet the new emission standards (which will be measured at the tailpipe) and reach the mandate of 39 mpg, many experts predict that engines are going to have to be drastically redesigned with the car itself being downsized dramatically. This will make them less safe and less attractive to an American consumer who has a whole different idea of what constitutes a "family car" than government.

And what do the auto companies say about this? They grovelled at the feet of their new master and wagged their tails in appreciation. A year ago, the Big Three would have hired every lobbyist in Washington to fight these standards. But now that Obama has them by the short hairs, they have little choice but to get on board.

In 20 years, we will watch movies from the 1960's and 70's and laugh at those huge, gas guzzling, pollution spewing cars. But there will be some of us who remember when it was fun to drive a car. Detroit will try to forget that as quickly as possible.


Do you remember your first car?

Mine was a Plymouth Fury - used of course - that literally purred when you turned the key. It rode like it was on air, could comfortably fit 6 people and when you put the pedal to the metal, it leapt forward like it was shot out of a gun.

It also spit out enough carbon monoxide to choke an elephant and got about 10 mpg in the city.

Life is a series of tradeoffs and the Fury's and other great cars of the past went the way of the Dodo bird because changing attitudes and the relentless rise in fuel prices caused us to rethink our modes of transportation.

Never letting opportunity slip by in a crisis, the Obama administration is about to once again revolutionize the auto industry. In fact, it will become so revolutionary that no one will be able to afford new cars nor will they like the cars that they will be forced to choose from.

The government is in the car business now and to that end, Obama released new fuel efficiency and emissions standards that are so draconian, so ruinously expensive, that it can truly be said that they represent the end of the American car.

Steven Mufson in the Washington Post, gives us the tragic news:

The cars of the near future will be lighter, more expensive and maybe smaller. Big engines will shrink. And more and more cars will be hybrids or diesel-powered vehicles like those common in Europe.

Those aren't qualities that American consumers have rushed to embrace in the past. But the new fuel-efficiency and tailpipe-emissions standards unveiled yesterday at the White House will push automakers and motorists in a direction aimed at reducing U.S. oil dependence and the emissions of greenhouse gases, just part of the administration's program for remaking the ailing American car industry.

[snip]

It's just a question of time and money," he said. A senior administration official said on Monday that the new standards would add $600 to the price of the average car, on top of the $700 of added costs that would have resulted from more modestly increased targets permitted under the 2007 energy bill.

"Yes, it costs money to develop these vehicles," President Obama said yesterday in a Rose Garden ceremony that included governors, members of Congress, auto executives and the head of the United Auto Workers. "But even as the price to build these cars and trucks goes up, the cost of driving these vehicles will go down as drivers save money at the pump."

That's a lie and the administration knows it. Most consumers will not see those kinds of savings at the pump - epecially if gasoline spikes again which most analysts fully expect it to do.

And the estimated $1300 in additional cost is a piple dream. In order to meet the new emission standards (which will be measured at the tailpipe) and reach the mandate of 39 mpg, many experts predict that engines are going to have to be drastically redesigned with the car itself being downsized dramatically. This will make them less safe and less attractive to an American consumer who has a whole different idea of what constitutes a "family car" than government.

And what do the auto companies say about this? They grovelled at the feet of their new master and wagged their tails in appreciation. A year ago, the Big Three would have hired every lobbyist in Washington to fight these standards. But now that Obama has them by the short hairs, they have little choice but to get on board.

In 20 years, we will watch movies from the 1960's and 70's and laugh at those huge, gas guzzling, pollution spewing cars. But there will be some of us who remember when it was fun to drive a car. Detroit will try to forget that as quickly as possible.