The Ford and Honda hybrids due out this month are among dozens planned for the coming years as automakers try to meet new fuel-efficiency standards and please politicians overseeing the industry's multibillion-dollar bailout.Unfortunately for the automakers, hybrids are a tough sell these days. http://www.latimes.com/business/la-fi-hybrid17-2009mar17,0,6682265.story
When a gallon of gasoline cost about the same as a pack of cigarettes and Americans were having their pockets remodeled to hold all the disposable income stuffed in them, buying a hybrid vehicle seemed hip, cool and smart. Now that Wahabi Regular is down around $2.00 per gallon and U.S. residents are treating quarters like they are manhole covers, buying a Prius or a Chevy Volt looks like obtuse posing or the hasty choice of an AIG exec flush with ill-gotten bonus, desperate to provide one last stimulus to his personal economy.
Despite consumer distaste for the pricey, modern-day Edsels, automakers are resigned to the continued production of unwanted, over-priced but tax subsidized http://autos.aol.com/article/green-cars/harnessing-hybrid-tax-credits/20080227172409990016 vehicles dictated by the fleet fuel-economy standards established by the marketing geniuses at the Environmental Protection Agency. Yes, the same tree-huggers sporting bad haircuts and ill-fitting pocket protectors who encourage the use of windmills and solar heating while discouraging the use of nuclear energy and drilling for our own oil are increasingly empowered to determine product development for American industries. Looks like the National Resources Defense Council has called in their chits for the $75 million in Democrat donations from the last campaign cycle and are assuming positions of influence at EPA and on important Congressional sub-committees http://spectator.org/archives/2009/03/23/its-not-about-the-money . This can only mean that fuel-economy guidelines will become increasingly disconnected from the personal tastes and finances of American consumers. The industries that have demonstrated incompetence (Auto, Banking, News Media) in the market place will come to resemble the very government bureaucracies in charge of regulating them. How do you suppose this will turn out?
"The automakers are in the situation of needing to pacify politicians that are in the position to bail them out with expensive fuel-efficient cars," said Rebecca Lindland, auto analyst with IHS Global Insight. "But shouldn't it be more about satisfying the needs of the American consumer?" (ibid)
Maybe in the real world, but Washington’s current crop of propeller-hat wearing daydreamers is racing the clock to dispose of out-dated notions like marketability and profit:
In January, President Obama called on the industry to "thrive by building the cars of tomorrow" and prepare for federal and state regulations that could push average fuel economy above 40 miles per gallon by 2020. (ibid)
Although President Obama’s college transcripts are unavailable, it appears that he majored in Soviet Factory Management with a minor in Zimbabwean Currency Stabilization http://mjperry.blogspot.com/2008/03/worlds-highest-inflation-rate-of-100000.html. PBO apparently doesn’t understand that the hybrids sitting unwanted on dealer lots today are the same cars that will be sitting there for many tomorrows. Nor does he understand the dynamnics of manufacturing and marketing automobiles. But he went ahead and fired GM CEO Rick Wagoner anyway. With Obama’s foot jammed firmly in the door, the government is re-assuring auto owners that their warranties will be honored http://wheels.blogs.nytimes.com/2009/03/30/understanding-obamas-auto-warranty-plan/?hp . You have to sell some of these Fedsels in order to activate the warranty, however.
AutoNation in January reported a 148 day supply of the Civic hybrid with the automakers gearing up to dump more unwanted “image” hybrid cars from across the manufacturing spectrum on dealer lots. Dealers will be discounting, rebating and trying to hype a path out from under these turgid political solutions to market problems.
Marketing experts hold the Edsel up as a supreme example of corporate America’s failure to understand the nature of the American consumer. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Edsel
Not only has corporate America not learned from the colossal failure of the Edsel, it has now abandoned the entire concept of a causal relationship between the proper implementation of its manufacturing capabilities and the needs, wants and desires of the end-users of its products. And the government auto-neophytes taking over the failing automakers have even fewer clues.
Do you think maybe the nouveau automotive PRO’s (Pelosi, Reid and Obama) will mandate the purchase of the cars they are mandating automakers to manufacture? When the federally owned banks are mandated to finance the mandatory purchase of autos designed by federal fiat, the lunatic loop will be complete. If the current interventionist trends continue, it won’t be long before letters like the one that follows will start to appear in taxpayer mailboxes
Please report to Federal Motors on Monday to accept delivery of your assigned Fedsel Hybrid. The payments will begin to be deducted from your paycheck beginning next week or you may elect to pay for it in full from what’s left of your 401k. Thanks for your hope and we know you will appreciate the change.
The Institutional Friends of Barry.