Volt Goes Cross-Country To Show Why It’s A True Paradigm Shift

September 30, 2010

GM announced today that a team of new Chevy Volts will go cross country to show the benefits of its plug-in hybrid. Actually, it is more of an exhibit why the Leaf and other battery-only vehicles are nothing more than toys requiring owners to have another car in the garage.

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again — the days of Prius rule for mileage-minded folks is over. More importantly, the era of gasoline (or diesel)-only travel is winding down. As Bob Lutz told me two years ago: “all of our front-wheel-drive cars will be standardized on Volt technology.”

The game changer is real — and going across America to prove it. Here’s the full release:

Power to the People – Chevrolet Unplugs Volt and Hits the Road
Cross-country drive brings the Chevrolet Volt directly to consumers
2010-09-29

DETROIT — A caravan of Chevrolet Volts will embark on a 3,400-mile, cross-country drive showcasing how easy it will be to live with the world’s first electric vehicle with extended-range capability.

The tour, dubbed “Volt Unplugged,” will give consumers an opportunity to test-drive the Volt, meet the people behind the development of the vehicles – Chevrolet engineers, designers and others – and participate in activities at each stop.

“The Volt Unplugged tour will give people a chance to get behind the wheel of the Volt and find out for themselves what makes this vehicle so special,” said Tony DiSalle, Chevrolet Volt product and marketing director. “This drive will demonstrate the one-of-a-kind capabilities of the Volt, the only electric vehicle able to drive such long distances under a variety of driving conditions and climates without having to stop to recharge.”

The tour is similar to July’s “Freedom Drive,” where the Volt completed a three-day 1,776-mile drive from Austin, Texas to New York City to demonstrate the Volt’s extended-range capability. Stops on the Volt Unplugged tour include:

Oct. 9 and 10 – Seattle
Oct. 13 and 14 – San Francisco
Oct. 16 – 18 – Los Angeles
Oct. 20 – San Diego
Oct. 22 and 23 – San Antonio
Oct. 24 and 25 – Houston
Oct. 28 and 29 – Miami
Oct. 30 – Orlando
Oct. 29 and 30 – Washington, D.C.
Nov. 1 – Raleigh, N.C.
Nov. 5 – 7 – New York City
Nov. 18 – 20 – Chicago
Along the drive, Chevrolet representatives will reach out to local community leaders, schools and consumers to educate each group about the one-of-a-kind characteristics of the Volt and discuss the progress of the nation’s electrical infrastructure. There will also be many opportunities to sit in and/or drive one of six Volts that will be on tour.

Marriott International and its Courtyard, Fairfield Inn & Suites, Residence Inn, SpringHill Suites and TownePlaces Suites hotels will serve as the hotel supplier of the Volt Unplugged Tour. Marriott has a long-standing commitment to protecting the environment, building greener hotels, minimizing energy and water use, reducing impacts along its supply chain and investing in conservation projects worldwide. For customers looking to travel in style with a lighter footprint, the Volt and Marriott offer a great solution.

Fans can follow the Volt’s journey and register for test-drive opportunities on the “Unplugged” tab located at ChevroletVoltAge.com, the Volt’s official social network or on the Chevrolet Volt Facebook page. Participants in the tour will share updates using the Volt’s many online platforms including the @ChevyVolt Twitter account, the Chevrolet Posterous page and the Chevrolet Volt Foursquare account. These platforms will feature photos, videos and text updates to keep consumers updated on the tour.

On a fully charged battery and tank of gas, the Volt has a driving range of hundreds of miles. Because the Volt can use gasoline to create its own electricity in extended-range mode, long trips are possible. The Volt is powered only from electricity stored in its 16-kWh lithium-ion battery for a typical range of 25 to 50 miles depending on terrain, driving technique, temperature and battery age. When the Volt’s battery runs low, a gas engine-generator seamlessly engages to extend the driving range

The Chevrolet Volt starts production at GM’s Detroit-Hamtramck facility this fall and will be sold in California, Texas, New York, New Jersey, Connecticut, Michigan and Washington D.C. Quantities will be limited. The Volt will be sold nationwide about 12-18 months after start of production.

The Volt’s Manufacturer’s Suggested Retail Price is $41,000 ($33,500 net of the full federal tax credit, which ranges from $0-$7,500) including a destination freight charge of $720. GM expects to offer qualified lessees a price as low as $350/month with $2,500 down at lease signing, including security deposit based on current conditions, which could vary at time of delivery. The benefit of the $7,500 tax credit is included in the reduced lease payment, with the tax credit going to the lessor. The lease term is 36 months with 12,000 miles per year.

Advertisements

It’s Always Been Chevrolet, So Just Relax!

June 10, 2010

As further evidence that Americans like to worry about insignificant things when there are much more important issues demanding of our time and attention, today General Motors backtracked from a memorandum that was leaked yesterday regarding the usage of “Chevy” versus “Chevrolet”. Apparently, the marketing department wanted to clarify that all official communications should refer to the brand as “Chevrolet”.

And then the shit-storm hit with a vengeance. From talking heads to Skeeter the toothless El Camino driver, a bunch of know-nothings started screaming about what a mistake it was for GM to instruct to minimize the official use of the Chevy name. I’m sure there are some out there who think that this is a big socialist plot by our Kenyan President at the helm of Government Motors to destroy all that is good and godly in ‘Merica.

Not surprisingly, GM issued a press release containing one part apology and another clarification in hopes of receiving forgiveness from all those die hard Chevy fans, which evidently are different from Chevrolet fans.

DETROIT — Today’s emotional debate over a poorly worded memo on our use of the Chevrolet brand is a good reminder of how passionately people feel about Chevrolet. It is a passion we share and one we do not take for granted.

We love Chevy. In no way are we discouraging customers or fans from using the name. We deeply appreciate the emotional connections that millions of people have for Chevrolet and its products.

In global markets, we are establishing a significant presence for Chevrolet, and need to move toward a consistent brand name for advertising and marketing purposes. The memo in question was one step in that process.

We hope people around the world will continue to fall in love with Chevrolets and smile when they call their favorite car, truck or crossover “Chevy.”

I’ve spent plenty of years doing marketing, branding, imaging, and the like. In the past I’ve taken GM to the woodshed for its piss-poor marketing efforts, but today I’m going to come to its rescue. The fact of the matter is that Branding 101 indicates that names need to be consistent. This is exactly what GM was doing: requiring that official materials and communication use the name “Chevrolet”, which is the very name put on all the products the company sells. While there have been “Chevy” badges here and there, “Chevrolet” has always been the primary name on its vehicles since 1911.

This doesn’t mean that the nickname Chevy becomes verboten. It just means that any mention of the car by the company, advertisers, promotional partners, and dealers needs to use the big-boy name, not the nickname. One might also speculate that since Chevrolet is more formal, it helps to imply a larger degree of sophistication or seriousness, which might be needed to prepare for the single most important and significant automotive product launch since the self-starting Cadillac: the Chevy Volt.

I can use the name Chevy…I don’t work for the company, and neither do car clubs, enthusiasts, NASCAR zealots, and other bowtie-tattooed true-believers who all can continue to use Chevy, even if GM requires Chevrolet to be the only name specified for official communications.

Let’s congratulate GM for doing something they should have done a long time ago…and then let’s focus on much more important issues, like how we’re going to get all that oil in the Gulf out, refined and into our cars.


So Long To Saturn — Its Rings Not Worth A Thing

October 1, 2009

As The Princess Bride’s Miracle Max would say, Saturn is “mostly dead”. Yesterday GM said Saturn will simply be retired, because after the deal between Penske and GM fell apart, it would take a miracle for anything else to happen.

When the Penske/GM deal for Saturn was announced many months ago, I was a tad surprised. Roger Penske has always had something of a Midas touch turning businesses into cash cows. The buyout of Saturn, however, seemed to be more of a pig than a bounty-producing bovine.

The main problem with the deal was that GM would only continue to build three models—the Aura, Vue and Outlook for Penske through 2011. At that point, Penske would need to find some other corporation to build the cars, which he thought he had (insiders claim it was Renault-Nissan). Unfortunately, that all fell through.

Or maybe it is actually fortunate. The value of a brand producing badge-engineered product lines is precisely the issue I brought up back when Saturn was put on the block. In the old days when a corporation bought out another automaker, it got the brand, one or two production facilities, the trademarks, the equipment, and workers. Now it simply isn’t that easy. Since Saturn produces not one single vehicle unique to its brand, Penske didn’t have the opportunity to buy anything that resembled a true going concern.

It’s obvious that Penske was placing the value on Saturn’s distribution network with which he had longer-range plans. Saturn’s current lineup of vehicles was no doubt a stop-gap until other foreign car lines from China, India and other countries could be imported and sold/serviced via Saturn dealers. Since importing cars is a tricky business, relying heavily on emissions and safety regulatory bodies, Penske needed some breathing room if certain brands needed more time to meet American standards.

I said it before and I’ll say it again – GM killed Saturn a long time ago by stripping its primary value proposition: autonomy. When the brand was introduced nearly twenty years ago, all of the company’s products were unique. If 1990’s Saturn were to have been shopped, it would have found a buyer.

Over the last two decades GM let Saturn lose its value. Initially it was by not replacing the original car models, and then they replaced it with badge-engineered crap. While some would argue that the current lineup of Aura, Outlook, Vue, and Sky are pretty good, there’s no escaping that all the vehicles were available with slightly altered sheet metal (actually, usually it was simply plastic) carrying other brand badges. Penske might as well have been buying the Chevy Malibu as the Saturn Aura!

Sure, there are other reasons people buy dying – or dead and buried, for that matter, automakers. It was popular in the 1980s for entrepreneurs to buy existing parts supplies of automakers leaving the US market…or the entire world, such as was case for companies like Maserati, Checker and DeLorean. Since the parts of Saturn are largely shared with other GM products, it makes this tactic a moot point.

And what about simply buying the Saturn name and brand logo for trademark value sake? C’mon – you’d be hard-pressed to find an automaker with a more ambivalent customer base less likely to buy logo apparel. I suppose Saturn is the modern brand image value equivalent of Essex or Frazer.

So Saturn will soon hit the junk bin. At the very least let’s hope that GM has figured out a better way to close-down a brand more efficiently than when it killed Oldsmobile at a cost of a BILLION dollars.

Tell you what – I’ll make GM stockholders a deal. I’ll buy Saturn…at the invoice price of a new Sky, which is the only Saturn product that (with enough development and bug fixing over a couple generations) I ever thought had any chance of being a really great car.

Come to think of it… GM is going to have to throw in an extended warranty.


Saturn will leave GM’s orbit and then probably fizzle-out

April 15, 2009

In these uncertain times, there are still those things that can be predicted with 100-percent certainty. One of those is that Saturn will be spinning out of GM’s orbit in the near future.

GM has admitted they want to either “wind down” or sell Saturn. Rumors have been swirling about a deal to sell Saturn to an ownership group led by Black Oak Partners, LLC. We don’t know much at all about Black Oak Partners, but our opinion is that it might as well be the Oak Ridge Boys, because Saturn has little chance of survival on its own.

There was a time and place when a stand-alone Saturn made sense. That time was about 1993 or 1994 when Saturn’s products were unique, and the buzz about the company was that it made great import-fighters.

GM management’s ego, greed, shortsightedness, and general strategic-ADD quickly made Saturn irrelevant. The new company with new products morphed into a young company with a stale product line. Almost fifteen years passed before the division actually received some decent products again. Unfortunately, the products Saturn received were all badge-engineered with other GM products.

So it begs the obvious question: why would anyone – Black Oak Ridge Boys Partners Blues Brothers Band or any of the other rumored “multiple suitors” want to buy a company that only produces products that are nearly identical to other products on the market? Even if Saturn’s offerings are in many ways better than its current platform- mates, that’s still a huge problem. Furthermore, with ultra-high CAFE standards staring manufacturers in the face, an independent Saturn would need some serious deep pockets for R+D.

It’s sad…the Sky roadster could have been a legend. It was prettier than the Solstice and a better size than competition like the Miata. Like all GM vehicles, it needed another generation to work out the cost-induced quality (meaning not-engineered-out) glitches. Similarly, the Aura could have evolved into a great Accord/Camry killer, instead of just an “alternative”.

And imagine had GM been more Johnny-on-the-spot and brought the Volt technology out quicker and put Saturn as the cutting-edge hybrid leader. Instead, if anyone buys Saturn, they’ll need to license the Volt technology from GM, rather than possibly buying the Saturn Volt technology and licensing it back to GM. (Yes, we know GM would have never let it happen, but as they say – “if the price was right!”)

Instead we’ll probably see Black Oak Partners or a bunch of dealers buy Saturn. And just like all the times it happened in the past (remember when Avanti was bought from Studebaker?) the company will quickly fall from relevance, but slowly fizzle out of existence.


If They Can’t Sell The Cars, How Do They Expect To Sell The Car Companies?

December 5, 2008

The Big Three CEOs are back in front of Congress to again ask for money. This time, the boys left their jets at home and drove in cars. They also brought the plans for returning to profitability that Members asked them to supply.

Pluck me bald and call me Telly, but what the executives are shoveling doesn’t seem to be nearly enough fertilizer to make this garden grow again.

Central in plans from each company is the sale of at least one brand. Ford wants to sell Volvo, GM admits Saturn, Saab and Hummer are on the block, and Chrysler is waving Jeep in the wind. Now I’m not an automotive executive…and I didn’t even stay at a Holiday Inn Express last night, but I’d like someone to explain to me how if none of these brands are successfully selling individual cars to consumers, then how do the Big Three execs expect to sell the freaking brands themselves?

Let’s break it down: Volvo is on track to sell roughly 72,000 cars. Ford sold-off Volvo trucks many years ago, so the value of the brand is based only on consumer vehicles. Over at the General’s place, Hummer is on pace for just under 45,000 vehicles, Saab at 90,000 and Saturn at 230,000 cars. Jeep is the largest contributor of any of the brands, looking to deliver in 2008 for Chrysler just under a half-million vehicles.

Nobody in their right mind will buy Hummer. Its place in a 2015 35 mpg CAFE America is non-existent. Some Arab prince might buy it on a whim, but no automaker wants that brand hanging on its CAFE results like an anchor.

Saturn is like Mazda, just not as sporty. It is possible that a BMW or Porsche could buy them for their mpg and stand-alone dealership network. Don’t expect them to pay too much.

Saab and Volvo might as well look to the Korea, Malaysia or India for a buyer. No German, French or Italian company will touch these quirky Swedes.

Jeep is a more interesting play, because it’s a respected niche brand without the horrible CAFE strain of Hummer. Some company will make a play for Jeep.

In the near term, though, selling these companies creates costs for the Big Three. GM, Ford and Chrysler have traditionally spent way too much money in concessions to dealers after selling or closing brands. Also, don’t expect any companies to pay much for these brands when it is well known that a) the brands are for sale and b) nobody else is bidding on them. Despite skipping all those economics lectures in college, I do remember the whole supply and demand concept.

Obviously there is much, much, much more the Big Three’s plans for profitability than just selling these brands. Labor union concessions, plant closings, pay reductions, job cuts, supplier contract renegotiations, and dealer closings (why is it when you ask about dealer quality, Big Three executives always are quick to point out that dealers are independent, and it’s impossible to better control service and sales capabilities, but when dealers are a part of larger plan for money, they are no longer seen as rogue entities?) are all part of the deal.

Maybe the Big Three will offer “Zero Down, Zero Percent Financing”, “Factory-to-Dealer Rebates” and “Employee Pricing” for any company interested in buying Saturn, Saab, Hummer, Jeep, or Volvo?

With now $34 billion in bailout (call it loans, investment, or whatever – it’s a bailout) requested, and now talks about “government managed restructuring” which sounds way too much like British Leyland version 2008, Americans should be screaming to let the companies sink or swim on their own. If it really is as easy to sell brands, lower labor and supplier costs, and most importantly – create new cars that people will actually buy over the competition as the Big Three claim it will be with the funds Congress provides, then certainly these companies should be able to do it without getting involved with inefficient government red tape that will come with any bailout money.


No More Wings With GM’s Prayers

December 2, 2008

General Motors finally has found things to sell that are harder to get rid of than its cars: its corporate jets. In a thinly-veiled attempt at wooing Congress and smoothing the public relations disaster from the last Congressional appearance, GM just announced that it is ending its aviation program:

GM Ceasing Corporate Aviation Operations

DETROIT — GM today announced that it is ceasing operations at General Motors Air Transportation Services (GMATS) at Detroit Metro Airport.
Due to significant cutbacks over the past months, GM travel volume no longer justifies a dedicated corporate aircraft operation.

GM is currently exploring options for transferring its aircraft to another operator. The company is pursuing sale of four of the aircraft so it can terminate the leases.

GM will shutter the facility at Metro Airport effective January 1, 2009. GM will work with the airport to seek a tenant for the balance of the lease, which expires in 2009.

I wonder if any of us can get factory-to-dealer incentives on these planes…Zero down, zero percent financing maybe? In any event, while GM will lose its shirt selling the planes, it probably won’t lose more money than it has selling its own vehicles through dealers.


Bail Out the Big Three? History Suggests “Don’t Do It”!

November 11, 2008

It would be catchy to lead with something like “I’ll give you fifty-billion reasons why the US government shouldn’t bail out the Big Three automakers.” Instead, I’ll just write: don’t do it.

I need to make something crystal clear here. My views are not ideologically-based. If you’d like some Republican versus Democrat, free market capitalism over big government socialism, Apple against Microsoft rants, you’re not going to find it here.

What you will find is a simple statement: history and common sense intersect at a point with a big marker titled “STOP”.

The Meat Of the Deal

Congress has already given General Motors, Ford and Chrysler around $25 billion so they can retool for production of more fuel-efficient cars. Last week the three CEOs returned to The Hill to ask for as much as $50 billion more to keep their companies floating while they hemorrhage cash in the down economy.

It is true that consumers are not buying new cars right now. That’s a huge problem for all automakers, not just the Big Three. When they start buying cars again, fuel-efficient vehicles like hybrids and compacts will be in demand. Actually, if we’re being truthful here, these vehicles are in demand right now. Just go try to find a Prius on a dealer lot.

So the Big Three CEOs have the audacity to go to Congress and say “give us money so we can ride out the bad economy and have what the consumers will want when they are ready to buy.” Audacity? Why did I choose that word?

Simple, because unless you’ve been living in cave for the last decade, you’ll know that even when GM, Ford and Chrysler were selling SUVs and trucks faster than a Ramones drum beat, they were largely losing money. Keep in mind that SUVs and trucks had a hell of a lot higher profit margin than compact and hybrid cars could ever hope to attain.

Imagine if the CEOs told Congress: “we need money, because we couldn’t make profits when we were selling high-profit vehicles. Since we pocketed that money in salaries, union deals, benefits, and executive bonuses, and got drunk on cheap gas (although in our hearts we knew it wouldn’t stay that way, but we hoped we’d be retired by the time it hit $4 per gallon), we never spent enough on R+D, so we didn’t have vehicle products ready to go for this current marketplace.” Unfortunately, that’s the truth.

Here is a scary reality
If Congress gave $50B directly to American consumers with the condition that we went out and bought new cars, here’s what would happen: $50B would buy 1,666,666 cars, based on the current average price of around $30,000 each. Given the current market share, GM at 22.4 percent would sell 373,333 vehicles, Ford (14.8%) would move 246,666 units, and Chrysler (11%) would sell 183,333 units. In other words, with fifty billion dollars going directly into the hands of consumers to buy a new car, the best any of the Big Three could do would be to sell a group of additional vehicles equating to less than one year’s worth of Honda Accord sales in America. (392,231 Accords were sold in the US in 2007.) Think that’s enough to keep them (or dealers) from failing? Nope!!!

Inevitably, there are those out there who will say the Big Three are “too big to fail”. Television news channels are already reporting huge job loss potentials if the companies go out of business—from a few hundred thousand to somewhere around 1.5 million. For every one job at GM, Ford and Chrysler, there are seven positions at vendors providing parts and services for domestic auto production. In other words: if they fail, we’re in a depression with millions of unemployed workers.

The logical conclusion, claim these folks, is to keep the government money flowing– no matter how long it takes, otherwise the companies will implode, everyone in the industry will be out a job, and a depression is unavoidable. To these people I have just two words:

BRITISH LEYLAND

Allow me to follow up those two words with a description of why this is critical history for every Member of Congress to know. England used to be tied with America as the automotive powerhouses in the world. We had Ford and Chevy, while they had Austin and Morris. Just like the contraction of companies in America that formed Ford-Lincoln-Mercury and General Motors, Austin joined Morris in BMC. Standard joined with Triumph, which was joined with Jaguar. Finally, by 1968 most British-owned brands were rolled into British Leyland.

Thanks to equal parts ineptitude, greed and lack of ethics, BL drove the British car industry into the ground. BL executives blamed the economy (including an oil crisis) and labor. Everyone else pointed the finger at products that were inferior to foreign competition, as well as short-sighted contracts and profiteering.

Despite selling forty percent of the vehicles in Great Britain, by 1975 British Leyland was broke. The British Government sank millions into the group and became the majority shareholder. The corporation was reorganized, and millions more went to cure production and labor problems.

The company was again reorganized into saleable units. Jaguar-Daimler was sold-off in 1984 (two years later it went to Ford). The Leyland truck and bus unit was merged with Dutch DAF in 1987, which later sold bus operations to Volvo. Just a year later the Rover Group (including most of the remaining car business) was sold to British Aerospace, which turned around and immediately sold this remaining part of Great Britain’s auto industry to German BMW.

Which puts us back to GM, Ford and Chrysler

If Congress simply let nature take its course, there is a strong chance that all would fail. But we need to DEFINE “FAIL”. In this case, do we honestly think that if any of the Big Three “fail” everything the company owns would simply be auctioned off to the high bidder in front of the local courthouse? Of course not.

All three companies own valuable plant assets. All still have cash. All own products and technology that are profit centers. There is certainly a big financial value to Chevy’s Volt product, as well as Chrysler’s ultra-modern flexible plant locations, Ford’s Mustang brand, Corvette production, F150 fleet sales, the “Hemi” trademark…

Considering that Porsche just tried unsuccessfully to buy VW, it puts them back in the market for an entity that will enable them to meet 35-mpg CAFE standards. By the way, Porsche has also been one of the most profitable automakers of the last decade. (Turns out that selling overpriced sports-SUVs is a cash cow.) So even after the botched buyout, they have money to burn.

Hyundai is also a strong competitor without a good hybrid play, as is Mitsubishi. Both have money. Mitsubishi’s dedication to cars might be questionable, but Hyundai’s certainly is not. Honda could use a more diverse product range, especially upmarket. Even Toyota could make a case to buy one of the Big Three — Chrysler for flexible production facilities or GM for Volt plug-in technology (since it could take a big bite out of Hybrid Synergy Drive sales).

Then there’s BMW – the same company that at one time or another has purchased Rover, MG, Rolls-Royce, Bentley, Austin/Morris/Mini, and still retains the rights for Triumph. They have cash and good credit…not to mention a pretty good history of acquiring, absorbing, improving operations, and remarketing companies. (We’ll give them a pass on Rover, which was a debacle, only because nothing short of a neutron bomb could have solved that company’s issues.) Finally, BMW has banked way too much on hydrogen over plug-in hybrids, so they could benefit from buying the technology, rather than developing it in house.

Don’t count on Mercedes to get involved. The company is still sore from its marriage to Chrysler. It turns out Mercedes was ill prepared to deal with the complexities of a merger with such a dysfunctional corporation at a time when it was challenged with its own operational and technical issues. Consequently, Mercedes lost more money than a drunk billionaire trying to impress the hotties at the high roller baccarat tables.

Hyundai, BMW, Porsche…Any of these companies could benefit by buying GM, Ford, or even Chrysler.

All have experience designing, building, marketing, selling, and servicing in America already, and do so with high profit margins.

No doubt each and any foreign buyer would bust the unions and negotiate dumping retirement benefits on the US government. Then the companies would kill poor performing legacy products, as well as the people who continued to push losing strategies. Good niche brands and solid future technologies would be exploited, while albatrosses like Hummer would likely be closed down or sold to a greater fool.

In the end, America would have to let go the concept of the American Big Three. One could get caught up in buzzwords like “failure”, but the goal is to save money and jobs.

No matter how we look at it, American jobs will be lost. The difference is that if the US Congress pushes the Big Three to sell, more people will actually be able to keep jobs. Granted some will do so at reduced wages and most at decreased long-term benefits. Wouldn’t it be better, however, for these people to work for a competitive company again – one that isn’t in jeopardy of needing to make more layoffs or beg for more government money next year?

Congress might still decide to throw good money after bad at GM, Ford and Chrysler, just like the British did for BL, but the best course of action is to allow these dinosaurs implode under their own weight sooner rather than later, and work to convince German, Japanese and Korean automakers to bring them back to life as more efficient, better targeted and longer-reaching versions of their old selves using the American workers and suppliers who are willing to adapt to a new world with a view far beyond the self-interests of Michigan and D.C..

Editor’s Note: We here at the Four Wheel Drift realize that this whole bailout issue is far more complicated than can be summarized in one article. We expect that if Alan Mulally or Rick Wagoner read the above article, they’d accuse us of missing important details. (We’d expect that Bob Lutz would say we’ve got our heads up our asses if we thought it was that simple.) The fact is that it isn’t simple. It took nearly a century for GM, Ford and Chrysler to create the mess they’re in, and there are no easy answers. We simply are taking a stand unpopular with car folks, especially those emotionally tied to the long history of American auto producers, and suggesting that the only way to stay competitive is to admit that there is no way to stay competitive by just taking government money and tightening belts.