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From the Ashes of General Motors Bankruptcy Rises a New Commitment for Fuel Efficiency

Posted Jun 17 2009 6:14pm

This time last year, I told you about the ridiculously inadequate requirements for automotive fuel efficiency imposed by the government of the United States, known as CAFE Standards. They were supposed to assure that the American automobile fleet was as fuel efficient as possible on average. However, since the early years of the program, the requirements themselves have been a political hot potato. The refusal of the political party in power to institute progressive stringency has allowed for automakers to feign an inability to produce modern vehicles capable of more than 30 miles per gallon of fuel.

In parallel, however, was the trend in Europe, where Ford and General Motors have lively sales forces. In Europe, automakers had no choice but to produce efficient vehicles because if they failed to do so, their prospective customers would patronize a competitor. In the end, a glaring contradiction took hold. We had auto executives in the United States telling the federal government and the people that efficient vehicles were impossible while selling impressively efficient models in Europe.

Luckily for them, their virtual market monopoly and the cultural isolation which Americans enjoy allowed for a diesel version of the Ford Fiesta widely available and advertised in Europe but denied to American consumers.

That situation is about to change. The bankruptcy of Chrysler and General Motors (and the many revenue woes of Ford Motor Company) have led to a sea chance during calendar year 2009. I, for one, believe that this change can’t come fast enough. So, if you read my blog post last year and were uncertain whether I exaggerated a bit, now you know how right I was. The efficient models existed all along but were denied from the American market and no bureaucrat or politician with enough power to change the situation did a thing about it. Only when the marketplace amplified the managerial dereliction of all 3 large American automakers which brought these once giants of industry to their knees was the truth revealed.

It is a desperately sad commentary on the power of energy companies to occlude the truth from millions of people for decades but at least now the truth rests comfortably in the sun! Specifically, look for new, high-efficiency models on Chrysler, Ford and General Motors lots next year.

Fomenting the Triple Bottom Line

Corbett Kroehler

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