Tuesday, October 12, 2004

Buy Japanese

This is somewhat old news, but I think it's worth discussing anyway. California has recently passed a law that gives permit to drivers of cars that get over 45mpg to drive alone in carpool lanes and not have to pay tolls on some bridges. The only cars that get these mileage rates are Japanese hybrids. The response of the American auto industry--claim that this is a "Buy Japanese" law. Rather than actually produce a car that gets good mileage, the auto industry impinges the patriotism of the California legislature. The CEO of Ford, Bill Ford, is the one who actually said that this was a buy Japanese law because it doesn't support Ford's first hybrid--an SUV that will get 29-36 mpg. The direct quote from Ford:

"AB 2628 (the bill) puts our workers and shareholders at a competitive disadvantage precisely when Ford is entering the hybrid market with a family-oriented, no compromise SUV. Ford would not consider asking the California Legislature to support a 'Buy American law.' We are chagrined to see that AB 2628 amounts to a 'Buy Japanese' bill."

So clearly the California legislature is anti-family because they won't include SUVs in their bill. How did American families ever survive without SUVs anyway? They are pro-Japanese and anti-American as well.

Of course this letter is an excellent example of the problems with the American auto industry over the past 30 years. Rather than actually produce small, efficient cars, they are pushing ahead with ever larger SUVs. Their first hybrid--an SUV. What would a Taurus hybrid get, 50mpg or so? But hey, like our president, Ford is no compromise all the way. Regardless of the realities of oil prices or Iraq, real Americans don't compromise.

And of course the public wants SUVs. Fine, if you want to pay $50 to fill it up. But Ford should just produce hybrids that use alternative energy more efficiently rather than complain that their 30 mpg hybrid won't get to use the carpool lane.