Karma's a Bitch.

(cross posted at kickin it with cg and Clintonistas for Obama)

With last week GM reporting a $15.5 billion loss in the second quarter, it is quite clear that American car manufactures are getting their come-uppance.

Edmunds.com published a list of the top 10 most efficient 2008 sedans available.  They ranked the cars based on EPA fuel economy numbers.  And sweet moses would you guess that not one from an American manufacturer made the list!  Even the Wall Street Journal, not known for its criticism to big business, has sharp words about American car manufacturers.

Now we see the results of the myopia that has afflicted Detroit auto executives. These are the people who staked their companies' futures on gas-guzzling, heavyweight behemoths.

Auto execs claim they were giving Americans the products they wanted. Really? For proof to the contrary, look at their U.S. market shares, which are slumping to historically low levels as Japanese auto makers gain ground.

In lieu of GM's stunning losses, I was reminded of the complete and utter arrogance they displayed when they crushed its fleet of EV-1 electric vehicles in the Arizona desert.  The EV-1 was among the fastest, most efficient production cars ever built. It ran on electricity, produced no emissions and catapulted American technology to the forefront of the automotive industry.

The story of the EV-1 is documented in the amazing film Who Killed the Electric Car? It chronicles the life and mysterious death of the EV-1 and it examines the cultural and economic ripple effects caused by its conception and how they reverberated through the halls of government and big business.

A summary:

The film deals with the history of the electric car, its development and commercialization, mostly focusing on the General Motors EV1, which was made available for lease in Southern California, after the California Air Resources Board passed the ZEV mandate in 1990, as well as the implications of the events depicted for air pollution, environmentalism, Middle East politics, and global warming.

The film details the California Air Resources Board's reversal of the mandate after suits from automobile manufacturers, the oil industry, and the George W. Bush administration. It points out that Bush's chief influences, Dick Cheney, Condoleezza Rice, and Andrew Card, are all former executives and board members of oil and auto companies.

A large part of the film accounts for GM's efforts to demonstrate to California that there was no demand for their product, and then to take back every EV1 and dispose of them. A few were disabled and given to museums and universities, but almost all were found to have been crushed; GM never responded to the EV drivers' offer to pay the residual lease value ($1.9 million was offered for the remaining 78 cars in Burbank before they were crushed).

Embedded below, the film in its entirety:

If the above does not work, visit this LINK.

However its not all bad news.  In the same WSJ piece - it would seem that some have climbed aboard the bus.

In a recent meeting with Ford executives, CEO Alan Mulally dared to challenge the Detroit gospel that you can't make money on small, fuel-efficient cars.

At last Ford appears to be making bold moves to design and sell vehicles that people want. In Paris earlier this summer I spotted an unfamiliar car so attractive that I went over to see what it was. It was a Ford. Presumably this is one of the six European models that, as part of the "Drive One" campaign, Ford will introduce in the U.S. Ford is also boosting production of its fuel-efficient "EcoBoost" and four-cylinder engines, speeding up hybrid introductions and converting three truck plants to small-car production.

Even GM seems to be facing reality. It said it's planning for oil prices in a $120-$150 range for the foreseeable future, boosting light vehicle production, and suspending production at four truck plants. It, too, is accelerating production of efficient four-cylinder engines, and announced a global Chevrolet small-car initiative.

While promising, what pulls my chain about the above is that rather than take responsibility for the planet and in the role these car companies play in emissions, the American car manufacturers are only taking these steps because of the price of gas.  Let's hope their successful.  However as they say, karma's a bitch.

Tags: electric cars, Environment, green, hybrids, karma, losses, US car manufacturers (all tags)

Comments

67 Comments

let's hope it not.

by canadian gal 2008-08-06 08:23PM | 0 recs
I'm the local cumudgeon

I hope they fail. I hope the US auto industry goes down in flames -- so that we can have better, more agile companies.

by BlogSurrogate57 2008-08-07 05:38AM | 0 recs
Re: I'm the local cumudgeon

What about all the union members who will lose their job if the industry goes down in flames?

by dogman 2008-08-07 06:31AM | 0 recs
let 'em 'socialize' it

power to the people!

Give everyone in GM a stake in the whole thing, or as much as they can keep.

Workers aren't gonna be left idle for long, it's not like we won't see a resurrection.

or hell, they can go drill ;-)

by BlogSurrogate57 2008-08-07 07:03AM | 0 recs
Just in their current incarnation

The american auto industry is good for America, just not in its current incranation. It's also needed to increase competition in the field. I've driven American cars my whole life. I bought my first Toyota (hybrid) this spring.

by iohs2008 2008-08-07 10:16AM | 0 recs
Re: Just in their current incarnation

If you like hybrids and like to buy American, you should have bought a Ford Escape Hybrid. (And they still get tax credits that are no longer available on the Prius.)

by LakersFan 2008-08-07 11:51AM | 0 recs
Re: Just in their current incarnation

I don't need an SUV (and I live in a city), but I have ridden in them and trying to get my father to buy one :)

by iohs2008 2008-08-07 01:48PM | 0 recs
Re: Just in their current incarnation

And I love the Prius, but needed more space for a child and gigantic dog. With no rebates left on the Prius, I'm trying to convince my parents to buy a Nissan Altima Hybrid.

by LakersFan 2008-08-07 04:06PM | 0 recs
Re: Karma's a Bitch.

Great diary canada!

This is the kind of work that makes you one of MyDD's top diarists.

Keep em coming!

by spacemanspiff 2008-08-06 08:27PM | 0 recs
Re: Karma's a Bitch.

Yes and when is the Darfur diary that you were in the middle of writing coming out? Cheers

by Politicalslave 2008-08-06 08:29PM | 0 recs
what's up with the ratings abuse?

by canadian gal 2008-08-08 01:22AM | 0 recs
Re: Karma's a Bitch.

The dad of one of my good friends in law school was a petroleum industry spokesman for many years and is apparently in that movie - I haven't seen it.  As for my friend, he's a public defender and about as liberal as they come.  Strange how things work out.

by rfahey22 2008-08-06 08:27PM | 0 recs
Re: Karma's a Bitch.

Small world!

by Politicalslave 2008-08-06 08:35PM | 0 recs
you should really check out the movie.

its kinda small in the diary - but click the link or rent the dvd.  i also heard that they are making a sequel of sorts too.

by canadian gal 2008-08-06 08:45PM | 0 recs
Re: you should really check out the movie.

I definitely will.

by rfahey22 2008-08-06 08:51PM | 0 recs
Re: Karma's a Bitch.

Great piece on an actual issues.  I'm absolutely oozing gratitude.

Here's some additional, albeit anecdotal context.  My father-in-law is an engineer who took early retirement from Ford after running an R&D department and reporting directly to the chief executives.  From his perspective, the structural flaw in American auto manufacturing is the absolute lack of people with technical backgrounds on executive boards.  In Japanese and European companies, engineers are well represented at the highest levels.  Here, it's all people with business backgrounds, as if specialized knowledge is not required if you have a background in finance or marketing.  A candy bar or an automobile, a product is a product.  He considers it absolutely irresponsible and the cause of countless lost jobs here in MI.

I am all for the government supporting modernization of the auto industry.  I just hope Obama gets people who understand science involved at as many levels as possible.

by Strummerson 2008-08-06 08:33PM | 0 recs
Re: Karma's a Bitch.

Not that I totally disagree with you.  There definitely needs to be more expertise in the upper echelons of American business.  But engineers are notorious for designing things that only engineers find useful.

by shalca 2008-08-06 09:50PM | 0 recs
Re: Karma's a Bitch.

Yes,... those stupid engineers!

What gives them the idea that people might want IPods, or computers, or cars.... =)

by SevenStrings 2008-08-06 10:11PM | 0 recs
Re: Karma's a Bitch.

Honestly, the reason Ipods are so intuitive is because an engineer didn't design it (It was Jonathan Paul Ive and industrial designer).  And early computers were pretty poorly planned out.  Today a mouse is a necessity and makes casual computing quite simple.  That didn't happen instantly when personal computing first started.

Honestly, engineer, programmers and the like come up with amazing things.  And then people that are closer to artists than scientists make them more useful to the average person.

by shalca 2008-08-07 03:39AM | 0 recs
Re: Karma's a Bitch.

And early computers were pretty poorly planned out.  Today a mouse is a necessity and makes casual computing quite simple.  That didn't happen instantly when personal computing first started.

You can thank the engineers at Xerox PARC for that, and engineers-turned-businessmen Bill Gates and Steve Jobs for stealing the idea. :P

In order to have a successful company in a technological area, your leadership must be proficient in both business and the technology domain of the company.  One of the reasons GM is failing, Xerox PARC failed, and Microsoft and Apple are on top of the world.

by BishopRook 2008-08-07 04:26AM | 0 recs
Re: Karma's a Bitch.

well, it takes all kinds of skill sets to undertake a large project.  I seriously doubt that any one person "designed" an IPod...

No doubt you need designers and artists to come up with the design, but the design has to be fabbable (hence you need engineers) and has to be acceptabel to the market (hence you need people who do market surveys) and you need people who can build, and test, and a sales staff....

And then, once your project becomes sufficiently complex, you need "system engineering" to put it all together (this is what Steve Jobs provides).  The IPod (and the space shuttle, and the moon program) was all put together with system engineering.

But, if you promise not to go around denigrating engineers, I promise not to go around denigrating industrial designers.

Well, I promise not to go around denigrating industrial designers regardless =)

by SevenStrings 2008-08-07 05:07AM | 0 recs
Re: Karma's a Bitch.
I heard the exact same complaint from two friends of my parents who were engineers for GM and took early retirement about 5 years ago.
They wanted to design smaller, more fuel efficient cars and reduce the fleet of monster SUVs GM is famous for, the business execs were only worried about the bottom line and knew the profit margin was higher on SUVs.
So my single Chevy/GM dealership in town sits with a lot full of Yukons they literally cannot give away.
It's sad when you think of all the jobs lost over what boils down to stupid decisions.
by skohayes 2008-08-07 02:47AM | 0 recs
Re: Karma's a Bitch.

Having worked for executives in corporate for many years, I always noticed their steering committees and planning sessions never seemed to include the employees that were directly involved in actual day-to-day operations.  They left a valuable resource and wealth of knowledge untapped.

by cameoanne 2008-08-07 04:01AM | 0 recs
Re: Karma's a Bitch.

The auto companies generally have employee representation on the board because the unions are very strong.  Having engineers and technical experts on the board is a separate issue, unfortunately.

by Steve M 2008-08-07 05:19AM | 0 recs
Re: Karma's a Bitch.

wait a minute, that's not gratitude!!

by the mollusk 2008-08-07 05:54AM | 0 recs
Re: Karma's a Bitch.

Big business is disturbing.  They abandon what made them, and America, great, which is innovation.  They become stagnant, and resist change at all costs.    

If Ford, GM, or any American automaker had gone full steam into greener autos, that company would be doing a heluva lot better right now.

As for me...I plan to drive my families two vehicles into the ground until I can replace them with something that I feel confident is a major step in the right direction.  

by freedom78 2008-08-06 08:36PM | 0 recs
actually...

if the US car manufacturers were smart (and they havent proven to be) that's where they should focus their energy.  on green technology.

almost like starting from scratch - they are in the dumps anyway and here in canada where many of the vehicles are being built we would certainly welcome it!

by canadian gal 2008-08-06 08:41PM | 0 recs
Re: actually...

Watching "Who Killed..." just pisses me off.  The part where the guy invents an awesome car battery, and sells it to (I forget which) a company, and then it ends up being bought by an oil company, so they can shelve it...AAAAAARRRRGGGGHHHHHH!!!!!!!

by freedom78 2008-08-06 08:48PM | 0 recs
yeah.

the whole movie is pretty infuriating.  and our good bud bushy makes a few appearances.  and i read in researching this piece that a sequel is coming out soon.

by canadian gal 2008-08-06 08:50PM | 0 recs
Re: yeah.

I really liked (or was infuriated by, to be more specific) the facts in the movie.  They did a good job of making their case(s).

But the presentation was NOT for me.  It just seemed over the top and too melodramatic.  The "car funeral" and people crying...it kind of turned me off to the movie, and I really only made it through it because I felt an obligation to the facts.

by freedom78 2008-08-06 08:58PM | 0 recs
totally agree. a little um - histrionic.

but was that set up by the film?  or the owners?

by canadian gal 2008-08-06 09:01PM | 0 recs
Re: totally agree. a little um - histrionic.

No idea.  I didn't dislike all of it.  I liked when they stood outside of the place where the cars were held, and offered all that money to buy them.  I liked that Mel Gibson looked strikingly similar to Karl Marx.  

Just some of the weird drama...ugh.  But that's me.  

by freedom78 2008-08-06 09:08PM | 0 recs
Re: totally agree. a little um - histrionic.

I dont know about anyone else, but the assasination of the, an, EV by the big 3 and oil barons  is up there with the worst chapters in our history. And btw, props to the C4O peeps. As a whole, great work yall. Stay positive.

by Drewid 2008-08-07 02:27AM | 0 recs
Re: Karma's a Bitch.

But...but...but...the free market is supposed to fix everything!!!  Waaaaaaaaa.

-This message paid for and approved by asshole conservatives everywhere-

by ProgressiveDL 2008-08-07 07:15AM | 0 recs
Crazy!

This is crazy, isn't it?

I mean, it's not like the EXACT SAME THING didn't happen in the 70s, when the American companies were building behemoths and the Japanese companies came in and ate their lunch.

Detroit was on the skids for a long time after that, made a bunch of painful adjustments, and seemed to be doing better when they fell into the same damn trap all over again.

I'm sorry, but I really hope it's fatal this time. These companies are just too dumb to survive.

by Bush Bites 2008-08-06 08:40PM | 0 recs
great point.

although i was born in the 70's ;)

but i really think that US car companies could have a renaissance of sorts if they devoted the majority of their energies on green cars.  if they could become the de facto leaders of green technology, it certainly would improve the bottom line - and more importantly the earth!

by canadian gal 2008-08-06 09:15PM | 0 recs
Just dumb?

How about greedy, callous, shameless? Callous, as when they ganged up on the railroads with the oil companies. Greedy, as in their executives making ten times that of their Japanese counterparts. And shameless in that patriotism gets invoked to demand that struggling consumers continue to buy American.

by Sumo Vita 2008-08-06 09:15PM | 0 recs
wow.

just wow.  

in the vault as one of my favourite comments ever.  major mojo for you sumo.

by canadian gal 2008-08-06 09:18PM | 0 recs
Re: Crazy!

Back in the 70s we used jingoism to stay competitive.  Growing up in Detroit, if you drove a foreign car someone was likely to key it while you were inside the mall.  One of the biggest controversies was when Isiah Thomas, the town's biggest sports star, took an endorsement deal with Toyota.  Of course, these days Toyota actually builds cars in Michigan and it's all good.

That said, I'm still very much ingrained to "Buy American."  But have you tried to find a hybrid built in the U.S. with union labor?  It's not so easy!

by Steve M 2008-08-06 09:19PM | 0 recs
Re: Karma's a Bitch.

It was such a brilliant movie.  I still see some electric vehicles on the road (Most commonly the Toyota RAV electric car).  It is heartbreaking to see those cares destroyed because of pure greed.

I did a diary about the electric car as an issue way back in March called Help try to save the Electric Car, again....  California can lead the way and I'm proud to say I live here!

And today I got an email from Honda.  They are leasing 200 Hydrogen cell cars in Southern California.  I wish!


The FCX Clarity is Here
Honda's dream of producing a zero-emissions fuel cell-vehicle began back in 1986 followed by continuous advancements in technology and design. And thanks to our forward-thinking team of engineers, a fuel cell vehicle designed from the ground-up is now a reality. The first FCX Clarity fuel cell vehicle emerged from the production facility on June 16, 2008, and Honda plans to release about 200 in the first three years.

by Ellinorianne 2008-08-06 08:41PM | 0 recs
california is a leader in the US.

seriously they are waayy ahead of the curve on these issues.  and on another note - i got my 4 year old a t-shirt a few weeks ago that say ethanol is corny.

ps.  the honda sounds cool!

by canadian gal 2008-08-06 08:48PM | 0 recs
Re: Karma's a Bitch.

Here's one thing from the Honda site that I really like:

Q. How far can I drive it before I have to refuel?

A. The FCX Clarity has a driving range of approximately 280 miles*.

Also, this one looks better than some have in the past.  I always felt that they tried to make the things look goofy so that people wouldn't want to buy them.

Seemed to me that they could just take the technology and apply it to the usual models.  So instead of a "Prius," Toyota could just make a hybrid version of the Camry, for example.

by freedom78 2008-08-06 08:54PM | 0 recs
im pretty sure...

we have a hybrid camry here in canada - not in the US?

by canadian gal 2008-08-06 08:55PM | 0 recs
Re: im pretty sure...

Oh, beats me.  We may.

My point was that, instead of creating all new models for the greener cars, just apply the technology to most of the pre-existing models.  

For example, in the movie I saw an electric Ford Ranger (as a Ranger owner, this in particular made me see red, as I would have loved to have one).

I think people are much more likely to "go green" with their autos if they have a lot of choices.

by freedom78 2008-08-06 09:00PM | 0 recs
Re: im pretty sure...

You'd think but the problem is, the difference in price is so much higher that the savings in gas is not comparable, so why not get the original.  The technology has quite a ways to come to where the hybrid or more fuel efficient version is truly worth the extra money.  And then there are people who just want something different.

by Ellinorianne 2008-08-06 09:19PM | 0 recs
here in canada...

the federal govt instituted both green rebates and levies on cars last year - but you're right - they definitely need to work on reducing the price of hybrids.

by canadian gal 2008-08-06 09:25PM | 0 recs
Re: here in canada...

We get tax credits for buying hybrid cars in the U.S. too. For some reason, most people don't seem to be aware of them. You can't get them any more for a Prius (used up all their tax credtis) but their still available for other hybrids.

The tax credit I got on my Ford Escape Hybrid a few years ago was about 1/2 the difference in price between a standard and hybrid model. I bought it then because I wanted to purchase better, greener technology. With the increase in the price of gas, it's turned out to be a better purchase than I ever expected.

by LakersFan 2008-08-06 11:57PM | 0 recs
We looked at a Prius and a Hybrid Civic

but bought a regular Civic.  A huge imrovment over the Outlander (Outlandish) van we just got rid of.

You can get a great deal on a car these days, but you pay above-sticker for a hybrid...  Dealerships in FLA are adding up to $7K on top of sticker price for Priuses today.

Unless you have wads of cash floating around - and want to make a statement - the economics just aren't there.

Hybrid technology dropped into existing models is OK, it gives a marginal improvement in mileage, but hybrids really need better platforms designed for the purpose.

Baby steps are better than none, though.

by chrisblask 2008-08-07 04:20AM | 0 recs
Re: im pretty sure...

We do.  We have hybrid civics, etc.  Ford has some hyrbids!  

The cars aren't made to look goofy though, right?  Doesn't help with drag, aerodynamics and fuel economy? :)

Gary test drove the prius and his head touched the roof, he just couldn't handle that!

by Ellinorianne 2008-08-06 09:17PM | 0 recs
I'm on to you, cg.

Hmm... This is either a highly insightful diary chronicling a serious issue that requires both political awareness and personal responsibility to solve...

Or it's the most subtle and insidious troll diary ever, comparing Obama to GM, the future of the automotive industry to the election, the EV-1 to Clinton, McCain to Big Oil and the main stream media to a Google video box (it may or may not work, so you have to always include an extra source to be careful).

So, "GM" will lose the "future of the automotive industry" because of the callous behavior towards "the EV-1", causing everyone to rely on "Big Oil" for the foreseeable future. Oh, and "Google Video boxes" are inherently unreliable.

I've cracked your code, McTroll.

by TCQuad 2008-08-06 08:55PM | 0 recs
Re: I'm on to you, cg.

It's like the Navajo code they used in WWII.

by rfahey22 2008-08-06 08:56PM | 0 recs
lol.

damn you're bright!

by canadian gal 2008-08-06 08:57PM | 0 recs
Re: lol.
HA!! There she goes again!
Next, she'll be calling you "articulate"!!!
;)
by skohayes 2008-08-07 02:52AM | 0 recs
Re: lol.

But but but, she said "bitch"!

That makes her misogynist!

by sab39 2008-08-07 11:15AM | 0 recs
Re: I'm on to you, cg.

the sad thing is that most of the purity patrol think just like that and will, at least at first, take your post seriously...

by zerosumgame 2008-08-07 04:59AM | 0 recs
I disagree somewhat...

Battery technology is still fairly unsafe.. that is why I have solar panels on my roof, but I dont drive a hybrid!

Battery technology in the EV-1 was even more unsafe.  GM did the prudent thing by destroying those cars once they realized the magnitude of the potential liability they had on their hands.

Technologies for making safer batter-packs, and battery packs with higher energy density, and battery packs with a friendlier environmental impact is in it's infancy right now.

by SevenStrings 2008-08-06 10:16PM | 0 recs
Re: I disagree somewhat...

new technology is great!

by canadian gal 2008-08-06 10:24PM | 0 recs
Re: I disagree somewhat...

Okay, look here people...this is why canadian gal is such a great blogger....

I disagree with her, and she mojo's my comment regardless =)

by SevenStrings 2008-08-07 04:58AM | 0 recs
Re: I disagree somewhat...

For the technologically uneducated, could you elaborate how/why battery technology in the EV-1 was unsafe?

by cameoanne 2008-08-07 04:12AM | 0 recs
Okay...

First a disclaimer:  I am not an expert on this, and I am merely repeating what a friend has told me.  I believe my friend...he has a PhD from a fairly decent school, and has spent the last 3 years working on battery safety technologies.  He drives a Prius.

In any case, the battery pack in the EV-1 (and in modern hybrids) consists of a large number of NiMH (nickel metal hydride) cells.  These cells are tied together in series, adn then in parallel.  They are also packed with about as much energy as you can (i.e., their energy density is as high as NiMH permits).  Because of this, the performance of individual cells fluctuates a lot, specially as the battery pack ages.  Therefore, you need some software to control how much current is being extracted from each cell.  

In the EV-1 era, this software ran open loop ~ there was no way of measuring the status of an individual cell.  Thus, the software was not very accurate ~ battery packs degraded rapidly over time.

Now, a cell that has degraded but continues to be driven will rapidly heat up (and explode).  In your household battery, this situation is prevented by the use of a shunt resistance.  In the EV-1, the shunt resistance was underdesigned... shunt resistances also happen to reduce the power output.

Thus, there was a concern of the EV-1 cell exploding.  The battery pack software could detect potential problems, but it was not very accurate or precise (because it was running open loop).  Thus, it would give a warning light ~ suggesting that you take the car to the dealer.  But that warning light was substantially ignored... resulting in a real potential of the battery packs exploding.

Here is one recall information


Recall date:     11-13-2000
Units potentially affected:     492
NHTSA campaign number:     00V374000
Defective part or component:     ELECTRICAL SYSTEM:BATTERY:OTHER PART
Description:     Vehicle Description: Electric passenger vehicles and pickup trucks containing a Nickel Metal Hydride (NiMH) battery pack. These vehicles contain software within the battery pack module intended to disable the vehicle from being driven if the electrical resistance with the battery pack exceeds a prescribed value. Affected vehicles will illuminate the ""Service Now"" and ""Reduced Performance"" telltales and continue to function in a reduced performance model instead of being disabled. If the telltales are ignored and the affected vehicle continues to be driven, heat could build up and a fire could result. Dealers will install revised software in the Battery Pack Module.

The dealers (or GM) did not have a revised software that was substantially better...thus they decided to pull the plug (pardon the pun) given the potential liability they faced, I believe this was the correct decision (that said, I do believe that GM has made a number of lousy decisions over the years, and it is only fair that they are being hammered by the markets now).

In the Prius, this problem is averted somewhat by using battery packs where individual cells are never discharged below 60% of their capacity, and they are never charged to more than 73% of their capacity....which makes them substantially safer (which is why my friend drives one).  However, there is still no good way to gauge what is happening within an individual cell (which is why I dont drive one =)

Hope that gobbledygook helps =)

by SevenStrings 2008-08-07 04:56AM | 0 recs
Re: Okay...

Interesting - thanks much!  Appreciate the reply.

by cameoanne 2008-08-07 05:28PM | 0 recs
Unfortunately....

The execs will bail out of the burning company with golden parachutes and the workers will crash with it.

I hear McDonald's is hiring.

by Glaurung 2008-08-06 10:33PM | 0 recs
too true.

part of the problem is the sick, sick executive culture the permeates  large conglomerates.

you lost little old ladies pensions - here's a $20 million dollar bonus. you show dramatic losses, before you leave the building - don't forget to cash in on those $120 stock options.  customers are bailing - let's blame them!

in my humble opinion - they are large part of the reason that the middle-class is disappearing.

by canadian gal 2008-08-06 10:45PM | 0 recs
Re: Karma's a Bitch.

I just watched that documentary last week, and I was truly stunned by GM's behavior about the EV-1. They had customers literally begging for the chance to buy the car, and GM just wouldn't have it. And now they're paying the price for their own stupidity, and it's quite likely that thousands and thousands of GM employees will end up on the unemployment lines.

by Denny Crane 2008-08-07 03:27AM | 0 recs
Seriously

They build shitty, gas guzzling cars and blame their workers and their benefits for losing money.

The ruling class and business class has seriously failed this county.  WAKE UP AMERICA!!!!

by psychodrew 2008-08-07 03:44AM | 0 recs
Re: Karma's a Bitch.

Holy crap, this is a superb diary! Highly recommended!

by sricki 2008-08-07 06:56AM | 0 recs
Tooling and healthcare

My ex was a "toolie" for over 20 years.  The hurt the American auto makers are in today is not too easily reversed.  

It takes at least three years to put a new vehicle into production, even longer if you are talking about reinvention from the tires up.  You close to two years to design the tooling and another year minimum to build the tools themselves or reconfigure the lines.  And you can't just shut one factory down because you built another: the capital investment there is ridiculous and the UAW goes into apoplexy.

The often ignore FACT about American car manufacturers -- unlike their competitors in Japan they shoulder the weight of HEALTH CARE not just for their workers but their retirees. Estimates put the cost of healthcare at around $2000 per vehicle sold.  That money Japan can put into inovation and better build standards.  

Ya'll also can't blame the American auto manufacturers for a market that has DEMANDED trucks and SUVs for the past fifteen years.  Any US manufacturer that didn't focus on bigger and badder gas hogs for the past decade would already be out of business.

Don't hang the manufacturers on this fence alone without the idiots who bought and drive their products.  

by mommaj 2008-08-08 07:52AM | 0 recs

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