No. 1009
August 14, 2019
 

About The Autoextremist

Peter M. DeLorenzo has been immersed in all things automotive since childhood. Privileged to be an up-close-and-personal witness to the glory days of the U.S. auto industry, DeLorenzo combines that historical legacy with his own 22-year career in automotive marketing and advertising to bring unmatched industry perspectives to the Internet with Autoextremist.com, which was founded on June 1, 1999. DeLorenzo is known for his incendiary commentaries and laser-accurate analysis of the automobile business, as well as racing and the business of motorsports. Author. Commentator. Influencer. The Consigliere. Minister of the High-Octane Truth. DeLorenzo is considered to be one of the most influential voices commenting on the business today.

DeLorenzo's latest book is Witch Hunt (Octane Press  witchhuntbook.com). It is available on Amazon in both hardcover and Kindle formats, as well as on iBookstore. DeLorenzo is also the author of The United States of Toyota.

Follow Autoextremist

 

Monday
Nov292010

THE AUTOEXTREMIST

December 1, 2010

 

In search of a lightning bolt of rational thought.

By Peter M. De Lorenzo

(Posted 11/29, 5:00 p.m.) Detroit. In the midst of the biggest green car push in automotive history – what with Chevrolet touting its extended-range electric Volt as the greatest thing since sliced bread while crossing green swords with Nissan, which is shouting similar missives from the rooftops about its all-electric Leaf – it has become readily apparent that the vast majority of the American consumer public couldn’t be bothered. As in they couldn’t care less. That is unless someone – i.e., Washington – is throwing money at them to care.

Hybrid sales in this market are going to finish the year down again, which will mark three straight years of decline, and this includes the $4.00+ per gallon spike in the late spring-summer of 2008, when fuel economy hysteria took hold in the U.S. for four solid months. It seems that the Shiny Happy Green Sensibilities Act – or whatever you want to call the ongoing “shove-it-down-the-American-consumer-public’s-throats-and-they-will-learn-to-lilke-it” mentality that pollutes the political brainiacs/stumblebums in Washington and Northern California – is going nowhere.

As a matter of fact our illustrious leaders in Washington used a considerable chunk of money from the 2009 economic stimulus package to buy up hybrids from various auto manufacturers to prop-up hybrid vehicle sales, couching it as a noble attempt at improving the overall fuel-efficiency of the government fleet, when in fact the real reason was to not only - hopefully - jump-start American consumer thinking into accepting these vehicles as being mainstream choices, but to help the vehicle manufacturers who were battered and bullied to build the vehicles in the first place to keep the production lines going.

But alas, this is the pattern we find ourselves in as a nation at the moment. A minority of the citizenry in an absolute lather about climate change – aided and abetted by maliciously clueless politicos with an axe to grind and an agenda that has more to do with their personal ambitions than it does with such quaint ideas as “being good for the country” – dictating to the majority of the American public how it’s going to be.

What’s wrong with this picture? Oh, just about everything from where I sit.

First of all, do we need to use the planet’s resources more efficiently? Of course we do. Are there ongoing issues with man’s intrusion into the ecological balance of the planet that will have ramifications for future generations? Absolutely. But are we going to get there by paying consumers to buy ultra-efficient vehicles they don’t want with big fat government subsidies?

The short answer? No.

Every time government gets in the consumer dictate business – at least in this country anyway – it usually goes badly. You only have to look as far as CAFE - the Corporate Average Fuel Economy standards - imposed on the U.S. auto industry to see how wrong – and wrong-headed – things can get.

Some people will vehemently argue that CAFE has been good for the industry and the country, because without it we would all be driving around in vehicles that get piss-poor mpg while being completely out of whack with the rest of the world in terms of energy responsibility.

Uh, and that would be different from today because…?

The government mandating of fuel economy in lieu of a properly considered national energy policy is a complete joke. We simply can’t get there from here, and I don’t care what the next CAFE standards are demanding. Without an energy policy that places a minimum price on a gallon of gasoline, and slowly but surely ramps that price up to the point that consumers will make more rational decisions – on their own – based on what’s best suited for them according to their individual transportation needs, we will perpetually be the country out of sync with the global energy reality.

The perfect living, breathing example of how wrong-headed CAFE is and continues to be? Four months of $4.00 per gallon gasoline in 2008 had more of an impact on consumer perception of the whole energy efficiency debate - and their role in it - than 25 years of CAFE ever did. Faced with a high price for fuel, consumers were forced to make choices based on their own personal transportation needs for basically only the second time in post World War American history.

So instead of understanding that lesson – and what a sustained higher price of gasoline could do for the overall efficiency of our nation’s fleet – what do our green-tinged political crusaders do? They go back to the well once more and concoct a new set of CAFE standards. It would be a crime if it weren’t already beyond pathetic.

As spectacular a technical achievement as the Chevrolet Volt is, and as much of a ballsy move that Carlos Ghosn’s “all-in” play with mass electrification and the Nissan Leaf is, the bottom line is that these new vehicles are bit players in the overall scheme of things when it comes to our nation’s fleet. And they will remain so as long as the status quo of artificially-mandated economy - as defined by CAFE - is perpetuated.

This country and its homegrown automobile industry simply cannot operate under the warped business case that begins and ends with government subsidies cajoling the citizenry to buy more fuel-efficient cars. It’s simply non-sustainable and flat-out nonsensical.

I’m still waiting – and obviously dreaming – that a lightning bolt of rational thought will somehow spread through the green “intelligentsia” in Washington and Northern California like a magnificently benign virus that causes clear-eyed thinking and common sense.

And that one day soon we’ll wake up to a national energy policy for the first time in our nation’s history.

Not likely, of course, but as daydreams go in early December it will have to do.

And that’s the High-Octane Truth for this week.

 

 

 

See another live episode of "Autoline After Hours" with hosts John McElroy, from Autoline Detroit, and Peter De Lorenzo, The Autoextremist, and guests this Thursday evening, at 7:00PM EDT at www.autolinedetroit.tv.

By the way, if you'd like to subscribe to the Autoline After Hours podcasts, click on the following links:

Subscribe via iTunes:

http://itunes.apple.com/WebObjects/MZStore.woa/wa/viewPodcast?id=311421319


Subscribe via RSS:

http://www.autolinedetroit.tv/podcasts/feeds/afterhours-audio.xml




If you would like to read previous Autoextremist issues, click on "Next Entry" below.

« THE AUTOEXTREMIST | Main | THE AUTOEXTREMIST »