Tina K. Russell

October 26, 2008

A new raison d’Êtroit

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tags: , , , , , — Tina Russell @ 12:11 pm

General Motors, Driven to the Brink – NYTimes.com
What is clear is that Detroit, among its other miscues in recent years, particularly overindulged its romance with S.U.V.’s, leaving it tethered to a product line that may prove to be the industry’s undoing.

Pa-haa! Who could have guessed that the success of the SUV was entirely predicated on a glut of cheap oil that would not last?

The sad thing about fuel-efficiency standards is that conservatives opposed to it are partly right. They say that if the public really wants fuel-efficient cars, companies will make them. Ideally, that will happen, but the automakers in Detroit coveered their ears, sang “la la la,” and kept pushing out gas-guzzlers (and a few efficient PR pieces) when customers were clearly willing to pay more for a car to forego the expense and inconvenience of having to refuel practically every few meters. Now that the Japanese (again! Damn their ability to make our inventions better) have beaten us to the punch with the Prius, Detroit is left with a black eye, with America losing its title and facing the bloody consequences. It’s depressing when the government has to force companies to do what will make them money, but it happens.

(I should note, here, blasphemy of blasphemies, that $4 gas finally sparking interest in the electric car is evidence that we should have been taxing gasoline into that range all this time. Cheaper gas following the Carter era’s highs meant we forgot all about the kind of investments that could have spared us our energy crisis. Wow, we’ve been putting off an energy crisis, a healthcare crisis, an economic crisis, various foreign-policy crises… we’re in a mess…)

(I also made a promise to myself, as a kid, not to buy a car that isn’t electric. Now that I’ve been diagnosed with ADD, the government—at least in Portland—subsidizes my bus passes, which is perhaps a sign that I should stay off the road entirely save for public transportation. But, I do promise that I won’t consider buying a car until I can find one that runs on a force first discovered by the ancient Greeks and named for their word for amber.)

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