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Monday, November 17, 2008

A bailout for Detroit--who's for it, who's against it, and why? Rebecca Lindland, Director of the Auto Group at consulting firm IHS Global Insight, will help us understand the arguments on both sides.

Guests:

Rebecca Lindland

Comments [80]

Michael Walsh from Chelsea

I am coming late to this discussion and I don't even know if anyone is still reading this board. I listened to this segment and was very disappointed. This guest was not type of objective voice that is usually on the show to help understand a complicated issue. I didn't gain any insite in to the auto industry situation. Most of her comments were so obviously pro-industry it was almost comic. Please try to do an more reasonable segment about this important issue.

Nov. 19 2008 11:46 PM
J from Charlottesville, VA

Brian suggested that Detroit was selling better cars overseas, and Rebecca Lindland replied that it was okay because U.S. consumers were still buying what Detroit was slinging over here.

I lived in Ireland around the turn of the millennium, and Ford sold a small sub-compact over there called the Ka. It was perfect for a crowded city, sipped gas (over 40 mpg), and about as easy to park as a bicycle. I've never seen one over here.

Which is just to say "If you build it, they will come." Had Ford been selling Ka's alongside SUV's in the U.S., I wonder if that would have changed the marketplace some. But this comes down to a crazy supply-and-demand problem; Ford vomits out more SUV's, doesn't offer anything else except ridiculous incentives to buy those SUV's, so people buy them, and Ford turns around and says "See? People are buying them, so let's make more!"

It's a cop-out to say Americans won't buy the more efficient cars the big three sell abroad without giving us a freakin' choice.

Nov. 18 2008 04:33 PM
Andrew

Too blatantly self-interested a guest who needed to be challenged on her assertions. Is a consultant really going to recommend that her clients be allowed to go out of business?

Nov. 18 2008 01:05 PM
Alexander Hamilton from Manhattan

#3 (smokey is dead on) It reminds me of the new Mac ads how they show the Microsoft guy allocating money for PR and not using the money for fixing their problems.

These companies sold their futures for profits they made over the past 20 years: they promised ridiculous pensions to union workers while forcing them to forgo pay increases at the time, they focused on their singular most profit rich product at the expense of R&D, and they have fought change every step of the way.

If you don't innovate and adapt you die. Whether it is the companies, or the employees they should adapt to a new reality and a new business environment. It is that simple.

Do you want to bail out the music industry next as they have been slow to adapt to the whole internet effect?

AS for the comment on the show about how much dealerships provide as far as sponsorships and ads and baseball teams and what have you: other companies will fill the void. When i played little league we did not have cel phones, and internet companies like the ones that sponsor my nephews teams.

Free Enterprise and Progress should rule. Perhaps the age of many small car companies is back as when we had the first automotive breakthrough. I don't recall reading about bailing out the thousands of blacksmiths, horse & buggy makers, and stable owners, who no doubt made up a significant portion of the workforce at the time.

Nov. 18 2008 12:53 PM
Paul Landsbergis from Brooklyn

It was really disappointing to hear your guest scapegoat the "overpaid" autoworkers for the problems of the industry. Aren't we supposed to have middle-class incomes in this country? Would your guest reduce her income to that of the average autoworker? I doubt it. For an alternative view of the auto industry problem, see http://www.workinglife.org/blogs/view_post.php?content_id=10178, http://www.workinglife.org/blogs/view_post.php?content_id=10188

Nov. 18 2008 09:06 AM
b Lynd from NYC

Thank you Bob, from Huntington for your comment on advertising. No mention was made by the guest on how heavily marketed the SUV's have been. Unfortunately advertising does have an impact on what we buy, even though we'd like to believe it doesn't.

Nov. 17 2008 10:09 PM
mark Brown from sos-newdeal.blogspot.com AND markbnj.blogspot.com

last of 5
3)Just giving Detroit ca$h will do nothing
except buy them more time TO HANG THEMSELVES.
4)The infrastructure required, including
engineering, construction and manufacturing
will help bring the entire country OUT of this
recession/depression, without cutting major
sources of jobs.
5)This new infrastructure will help cities and
states with the unemployed and those needing training.

Please forward this message (see sos-newdeal.blogspot) for better version of message) to ANYONE you think might help, especially in CONGRESS!
mark in westfield

Nov. 17 2008 09:36 PM
mark Brown from sos-newdeal.blogspot.com AND markbnj.blogspot.com

4/of 4

One of the two proposals of mine that have not
yet been discussed (by Obama) is a cross
between an infrastructure project and a energy
project, because it involves building NEW
rail lines down the center (or side) of EVERY
single major (interstate) highway in the
country. These new lines will move tractor
trailers (and cabs) from the beginning of the
road, to the end (or whatever exit they are going to). A great deal of traffic and gas can
be moved from the highways to these special
freight lines, and would save a great deal of
gas and time.

Again, the reason I am asking for your help is that there is NO time
to delay. Proposals to save Detroit will be coming in front of
congress in the next several weeks. Unlike my original belief in the
ability of "another" new deal to rescue the country, rescuing the car
companies as they are today will help NO ONE.

Some other reasons to help save the industry.

1)The downstream jobs will also change, but
they too will have a chance to survive and
actually grow new "Green" jobs.
2)Making Detroit change its 'evil ways' will
reduce our carbon emissions and give the
country a viable way to make better mass
transit available.

Nov. 17 2008 09:36 PM
mark Brown from sos-newdeal.blogspot.com AND markbnj.blogspot.com

part 3 of 4

Yes, the Government will save the big three
automobile makers, but they will essentially stop making gas guzzling
individual transportation machines, and instead become makers of mass
transit, similar to the ones that used to exist in every single city
and town in America until politics, intrigue, and perhaps collusion
destroyed or purchased and closed them.

I am talking about light rail or trolleys/streetcars. The big three
auto makers will become the new green mass transit for our new
century.

How? Very simple. The new government loan program must indicate that
the funds are to be used to retain workers, retrain and retool their
manufacturing and assembly lines to make efficient mass transit.

Nov. 17 2008 09:30 PM
mark Brown from sos-newdeal.blogspot.com AND markbnj.blogspot.com

What I realized the day after the election was
simply that the American auto industry is dead. Unfortunately, according to several different
estimates, there are between one and three MILLION jobs (and some say as many as 10% of our entire economy) directly and indirectly
related to the automobile industry in our country.

Can our country in its current economic
conditions allow Detroit to die? No.
But, and I believe this is my unique contribution and solution to this problem by
assisting the Detroit car companies to survive.

In the big picture, the automobile industry
in our country must die. Not because of the
inefficiencies of the car companies, or
because of poor management, or pushing inefficient models on us, but because it
is not a green industry, and must change, or more accurately BE FORCED TO CHANGE, for it's
own good.

Nov. 17 2008 09:29 PM
mark Brown from sos-newdeal.blogspot.com AND markbnj.blogspot.com

part 1 of 4 (due to 1500 character limit)
I realized
over two years ago that our country was about to head into another
"great" depression. I wondered what steps would Franklin Delano
Roosevelt take if he were in charge, to lead us out of this huge
morass. From this thinking I came up with the eleven points that are
discussed in my blog (http://sos-newdeal.blogspot.com).

Some of these steps have already been taken, and some have been
discussed by our next president as items he fervently believed in. I
believe of my eleven proposals, 9 or 10 have either been covered or
are in President Elect Obama's agenda.

My wife asked me the day after the election if I had any more
predictions and the next day I realized I did. Before I share this
with you, I want to talk about time frames. When I first realized that
a huge financial crisis was coming, I didn't have a time-frame for it,
and because of this, publicizing it wasn't critical. This is why I am
asking for your help. The crisis we face, and my current proposal to
deal with it is extremely time sensitive.

Nov. 17 2008 09:26 PM
Ted from Rego Park, NY

I was very disappointed with the show. Listening to the show I felt as if Detroit had sent its propaganda minions in to frame the debate.

The entire interview was conducted as if the only option was a liquidation of the automakers, resulting in job losses and factory shutdowns, therefore a bailout is as American as apple vie. The choices are total shutdown vs $25 billion bailout. But that ignores the most obvious and most likely alternative: bankruptcy reorganization.

One of the primary functions of a bankruptcy is to reorganize the capital base. A debtor-in-possession lender is found to provide ongoing financing, then the existing secured and unsecured debtholders litigate their claims, and the equity shareholders are wiped out. Typically the unsecured debt holders become the new shareholders. Meanwhile, the company continues operating as normal.

Isn’t it a little premature to be talking about factory shutdowns? The US government does not need to provide $25 billion in loans to prevent the shutdown of the company. All the company needs to do is file bankruptcy and commence the reorganization of its stakeholders in its capital base.

Nov. 17 2008 03:26 PM
Paul from Glen Cove, NY

If the people actually bailout Detroit and only if we do get a RESPONSIBLE administration to handle corporate finances, all board members, CEO's get replaced by the government to bring out much needed change [electric/hydrogen cars]. Otherwise we can kiss that money goodbye either way. It doesn't sound like a sure shot anyway you slice it.

Nov. 17 2008 12:53 PM
adsf

ha ha!

kevin -- miata's are 2 seaters. your friends w the suvs -- do they have families? do you? if so, how do you take a drive in that sportscar -- taking turns?

Nov. 17 2008 12:47 PM
kevin from park slope

I am a car guy. I have driven a 30 mpg Mazda Miata for the last 20 years. All of my liberal friends (I too am a liberal) have been driving big gas guzzling SUVs. They constantly lectured me that I shouldn't be driving a small car because it was too dangerous. I countered that if they all drove small economical cars it wouldn't be dangerous. Those are the same people who now rant about the car companies for being irresponsible in what they make. Like Pogo said- "we have me the enemy and he is us". The reason that the carmakers are going down the tubes is that other than SUVs which AMericans loved, they have made bd and undesirable cars. That's what caught up with them. Yes, we do need to have new technologies like electic cars but we also need educated, responsible consumers. And it's time for everyone to stop pointing fingers and take a look at the part they play.

Nov. 17 2008 12:04 PM
GusW from Rockland County

Ms. Lindland was sent out to "message" us today - and Brian caught it only at the very end. One of her aims was to have us swallow that Americans want big, wasteful cars and that automakers simply cater to their wishes. She stressed this again at the close of the segment at which point Brian countered her with an all-too-polite question about the role of advertising and marketing.

If you connect the following facts, you might question not only Lindlands claims but her motives. 1. American consumers have been bred from birth to be completely malleable and can be convinced of almost anything by 30-second commercials on purchases of any size 2. Carmakers make much more profit on large cars, trucks and SUV then economical, fuel efficient cars 3. Asian market leaders have been successful and profitable in offering smaller cars in the same exact landscape the big three moans about.

Nov. 17 2008 11:37 AM
hjs from 11211

step one STOP subsidizing oil & roads

Nov. 17 2008 11:25 AM
Dwayne

Paula!

I understand that Obama wants to bail them out with a LOT of stipulations that force them to CHANGE their production practices. In order for the loan to take place they need to implement new CAFE standards and natural gas vehicles as well as retool for extended range electric vehicles.

Not sure I agree with you about the depression, but I do think that it's a shame that the free market will only work in the environmental regard if the bottom falls out of the economy.

Nov. 17 2008 11:13 AM
Erik from Harrison, NY

Just to comment on some of the comments:

If the "Big 3" were allowed to go into Chapter 11 they might as well go into Chapter 7. First, Chapter 11 is designed for companies to operate on credit, but given the current credit crunch who is going to lend the auto makers money.

Secondly, are you going to buy a car from a manufacturer in bankruptcy, even if they can get funding? I think there will be a lot of reluctance on consumers' part.

As far as nobody buying American cars, look at the market share. Between GM, Ford and Chrysler, they have about 50% of the market. People are buying these cars so it would seem there is an industry there that can be saved.

Nov. 17 2008 11:11 AM
Paula

The Ford Fusion gets 30mpg, the hybrid suv I was in yesterday (a cab) gets 24mpg (I asked the driver). This is NOTHING. (even the Prius get 46 mpg. Better, but still not the answer)

Hybrids are greenwashing, they make us feel good but they are not the answer.

Nov. 17 2008 11:00 AM
joe

Yes, consumers chose gas-guzzling SUVs for years, and the Big Three benefitted immensely from that--but now they are choosing hybrids and 4-cylinders, and all of a sudden the Big Three needs our help. How come government intervention in the market was such a bad thing when GM was making money but is the only thing between us and armaggeddon when GM is losing money?

I say we need a buyout, not a bailout. GM can either go into bankruptcy, or sell itself _at market value_ to either the government or a good private equity firm (what was wrong with Cerberus?). The new owner will strip the management of any obstacles to producing fuel-efficient vehicles (which is what the almighty _consumers_ are now _demanding_, to the extent that they are buying any cars at all nowadays) which will be necessary to turn any kind of a profit in the current financial environment. Detroit reaped the benefits of consumer choice during the SUV era, now they can taste the downside just like any other person in a capitalist system.

Nov. 17 2008 10:57 AM
Brian Ketcham from Brooklyn, NY

I agree with Tom Friedman. Let the auto industry go Chapter 11 and reorganize. Why should we bail out an industry that has fought progress for decades and given the store away to their workers and collected huge bonuses at the same time?
What I don’t get is the disconnect between the US auto industry and the rest of the world. I get the impression that no one goes to Europe and actually rents a car. Dozens of automakers are producing beautifully designed four and five passenger cars getting 40, 50 even 60 miles per gallon. And who is making these? Ford of Europe; GM subsidiaries; Fiat; and many many more companies. Yes, to get fuel efficient cars you need to keep weight low (2000-2500 pounds) and keep engines small (turbocharged diesel powered). And if you want slightly larger cars Audi, MB, BMW and many other manufacturers make fuel efficient cars we are familiar with. Last summer I spent a month in Italy; rented a 320d BMW diesel that got 38 miles per gallon and much of that cruising at 100 miles per hour. The technology and the products are there. We just need to look around the world for alternatives. I have asking these companies why they have not been importing these models for nearly four decades. The reason is that the profit margin is not as high as a pickup truck. We have to look beyond Detroit to get solutions to this latest energy problem.

Nov. 17 2008 10:57 AM
Megan from Westchester County

One of the main problems at the big three is the leadership - both management and board level. They don't have the vision necessary to develop the products that will be competitive both on a "green" level and a style level. The only answer for these companies is Chapter 11. Equity stake holders will be wiped out and the debt holders can impose strict requirements on the companies.

The Government should only get involved after the companies file Chapter 11 and encourage our bailed out financial institutions to provide liquidity to the car companies.

Nov. 17 2008 10:56 AM
andrew from pa

I like rebecca's assertion that only hummers get the irs 179 tax code, $25K corporate tax right off. there is quite a large list of these 6K lb vehicles.

http://www.habitablezone.com/offtopic/messages/417924.html

Nov. 17 2008 10:55 AM
krlp

Rebecca Lindland blaming on American consumers demand gas guzzlers the auto industry has been pedalling is like the pusher blaming the addict. What about holding the big 3 responsible for the business choices they made? Has she ever heard of Corporate Responsibility? Apparently she has heard of Corporate Welfare and is happy to help the auto industry as they line up at the bailout trough.

Nov. 17 2008 10:54 AM
Voter from Brooklyn

Let them die… Really, just let the “Big Three” die. It is not up to American ideals to continue to prop up mismanaged companies who make mediocre products. (Actually, it’s very American, because in America, it’s all about your ability to advertise and pay off politicians to make profit, not the ability to make a quality product.) This isn’t capitalism. Paying for retooling and encouraging hybrids is a joke. If Detroit gas-guzzlers are junk compared to Japanese and German gas-guzzlers, what makes you think more complex hybrids from Detroit won’t just litter the sides of our roads?

Nov. 17 2008 10:53 AM
Maggie from Brooklyn

If people were still so eager to buy the Big Three's products we wouldn't be considering a bailout now. The guest's logic is skewed by her ideology.

Nov. 17 2008 10:53 AM
Paula

Brian, please cover this story more, with a panel of people, not just one side of the story! We need more conversations like this.

Thanks for all you do, this show is great!

Nov. 17 2008 10:53 AM
bill from Upper West Side

Only one car company gets to survive. They have to compete for the subsidy.

Carbon tax! Carbon tax!

Nov. 17 2008 10:52 AM
Erik from Harrison, NY

Don't other goverments support their car industries making it harder to compete against them? At the very least the Japanese goverment has kept the Yen artificially low, effectively resulting in a subsidy for the Japanese auto industry.

I don't see why the US government shouldn't help the US auto industry compete on a more level playing field, at least until we can establish that American cars are as good a value as Japanese cares. This has to be a mix of not only R&D but marketing as well.

Nov. 17 2008 10:49 AM
Linda Clark from West Orange, NJ

What has been missing all along regarding our ailing auto industry is national governmental leadership and standards. Yes, the foolish consumer, blind to or, more pessimistic, uncaring about the long term effects of buying gas-guzzlers, is partly responsible for the mess we're in. But if there had been national leadership from Congress and the White House about the true costs of gas-guzzlers and there had been high CAFE standards WAY back when it became apparent we were on an unsustainable path, we and the auto industry would be in much better shape today. To have those in Congress now showing righteous indignation towards those in the auto industry, I ask what were YOU doing to PREVENT this? Or were you one of those fighting higher CAFE standards perhaps?

Nov. 17 2008 10:47 AM
logan from east village

That lady was miserable. She was merely a spokesperson for the auto industry. I could have just turned on my TV and watched a GM ad for 30 seconds and gotten as much out of it.

Nov. 17 2008 10:47 AM
Paulo from Paterson, New Jersey


I think it's an immature worldview to suggest that what people WANT is what is actually RIGHT. There is a market for all sorts of things that have been deemed negative to the individual and the greater good. By her logic, because people like smoking cigarettes, cigarettes aren't goingt to cause health problems.

I'm not saying we ban gas guzzlers, but it is certainly possible to be unethical simply by supplying a particular demand.

Nov. 17 2008 10:47 AM
Michael Muchmore from Sunnyside, Qnz

Your guest noted that SUVs are technically classified as trucks. If they were not allowed to drive on no-truck highways and parkways de facto, I wonder how many families would want to buy one. Legally they're not, but there's no enforcement.

Nov. 17 2008 10:46 AM
LeoinNYC from Soho

I WANT!!! I WANT!!! I NEED!! I NEED!!! WAHHH!!!

Nov. 17 2008 10:46 AM
Smokey from LES

If we priced gasoline like European countries, we wouldn't have to worry about what kind of cars we make and buy - it would fix itself.

Nov. 17 2008 10:45 AM
Mary k. Sanford from New Rochelle NY

What about GM's Electric Car? They trashed their own innovation, as they colluded with the oil industry to bring down the Zero Emissions standard in California.
What goes around comes around.

Nov. 17 2008 10:45 AM
Gene from NY NY

I joined GM as a factory representative in the 90's and left them in the 2000's after realizing that despite my and many other
peers efforts to turn the ship, management would not listen to many appeals for a change in their business philosophy. When I tried
I was demoted for rocking the boat. It's unfortunate the the Losh, Waggoner, Reuter, and the rest of the GM executive suite were promoting reckless pursuit of truck sales and
lobbying to poo poo the electric direction and had nothing in their product back pocket when the energy situation changed.

I still own GM stock, it's not in my best interest for GM to die, but I've seen too many pleas made to GM to change that will probably never
happen unless they go out of business. It's so unfortunate that executives that justify their compensation by claiming all the value they
bring to their companies have run them into the ground in both the auto and banking industries. Employees who rock the boat do not have a chance.

Our citizens and economy are left to pick up the pieces .

Nov. 17 2008 10:45 AM
dsaf

Blah blah blah

we got china to shed their state supported businesses and ten years later they are doing better than ever.

let them eat rice.

Nov. 17 2008 10:44 AM
Kabir de Leeuw from White Plains

Blaming the victim or public is irresponsible. The problem with the market today vs. public interest is the same problem today as when Nader wrote unsafe at any speed. Policy had to change then as it does now.

Nov. 17 2008 10:44 AM
LeoinNYC from Soho

Yeah, this is a great idea-- look how well farm subsidies have worked out.

Nov. 17 2008 10:44 AM
Eric from B'klyn

Important to look at the auto industry in terms of a national energy plan going forward, that is the context of Friedman's comments on MTP. On 60 Minutes, Obama talked about our pattern of swinging between shock (at high gas) and trance when prices are low. Friedman quotes a lot CEOs as saying the most impostant thing is for the government to institute a carbon tax as a signal to the market and the big clean energy investors, who won't invest without price predictability.

Nov. 17 2008 10:43 AM
Bob Iverson from Cliffwood Beach, NJ

The domestic auto industry can and must be saved with targeted and controlled financial aid that reduces the cost of each unit and requires a shift to green technology.
1. Universal health care offloads a large portion of costs for the industry.
2. A prepackaged chapter 11 takes the market uncertainty out of bankruptcy and allows unilateral abrogation and reformatting of union contracts to make them comparable to those at Nissan and Honda in America. It also allows the government to dictate new technology in return for the investment.
It happens all the time in business where the new money calls the shots.

Nov. 17 2008 10:43 AM
Genji from LES

Americans are free to choose what they eat and are increasingly obese just like their cars.

Nov. 17 2008 10:43 AM
sheeeeeeeela from east village

Argh. This woman is talking the stupid American car line that got them into this mess. "Americans want big cars". So why do so many of us drive Toyotas, Mazdas, etc. I have a friend who is an engineer at GM who said that same stupid thing to me about 5 years ago when I was driving a toyota from 1987. And now he's no longer working on Cadillac engines and is happy to be working on a hybrid design (after turning the same job down a couple years ago).

This kind of stupid talk about Americans wanting V8s really makes me think GM should go under. When will they learn a little humility? But it would be so bad for so many people that I really think they can't go under.

But this woman is really bad PR for GM.

Nov. 17 2008 10:41 AM
Nick Lento from NJ

This is a quote from the tesla site..

"

Model S is Tesla’s zero-emission, five-passenger luxury sedan powered by a lithium-ion battery pack. It is expected to have a base price of about $60,000 and get about 240 miles per charge with exceptional performance. The first sedans will likely roll off the assembly line in late 2010."

This could be mass produced and subsidized to the point where the price is cut in half.

Tesla should be put in charge of GM!!!

The "expert" you have on the air is part of the existing establishment....

....if we don't go for big changes we'll get no changes.

The existing pols and CEO's would rather see the ship sink than give up their own power. It's that sick and that simple.

Nov. 17 2008 10:41 AM
Dylan from Astoria

I'd love the team at the Brian Lehrer show to do a fact check about the hybrid cars which are on the market. What has Detroit produced as hybrid cars which are available now? How do their specs compare to the Japanese cars? How many hybrids are actually out there for each producer - Toyota, Honda, GMC, Ford, etc. How many orders for hybrids are out there and how many have actually been delivered to customers.

I think it would really help to get clarity about this whole Detroit needs to go / should have gone green. It would also give a realistic picture of how well all auto manufacturers have performed with higher fuel efficiency cars.

Nov. 17 2008 10:41 AM
KC from NYC

I think it's safe to say that those people who "choose" American cars do so with plenty of encouragement from the US auto industry. The Big Three have been using cynical, pseudo-patriotic ad campaigns for years. It is "patriotic" to choose unwisely.

Nov. 17 2008 10:41 AM
logan from east village

Brian, your guest has an agenda. Friedman was correct, GM offered (still offers) $1.99 gas for 2 years for their autos.

Please correct her, but i'm sure she already knows she was wrong.

Nov. 17 2008 10:40 AM
Joe from Englewood, NJ

Would it be best to allocate "bailout" monies only for the automakers' hybrid/plugin hybrid divisions?

Nov. 17 2008 10:40 AM
Ruth

When consumers "wanted" an electric car, the auto makers & oil companies killed it. Those cars were sold out. Can you ask her about "Who Killed the Electric Car?" because as far as demand is concerned, it was there--I would buy an electric car--and the supply was throttled.

Nov. 17 2008 10:40 AM
Brian from Hoboken, NJ

Why is everyone acting like these jobs will simply vanish? If any of the Big 3 go bankrupt and lose market share, Toyota, Honda, and Nissan- all of whom manufacture a large oercentage of their products here in the US- will have to hire workers to pick up the slack in supply. While maybe not all 3 million workers might foind re-employment, most will.

Nov. 17 2008 10:40 AM
LeoinNYC from Soho

If demand is a justification for supply, let's legalize crack, oui?

Nov. 17 2008 10:39 AM
Adrien Seybert from Brooklyn

Sometimes the government just needs to take the lead in doing what's right for American consumers. Huge tanks on the road are bad for our nation.

Nov. 17 2008 10:39 AM
Stephen from Boonton

Also keep in mind that the airline industry uses Bankrupcy to renegotiate labor contractrs to be more competitve.

Nov. 17 2008 10:39 AM
Chris Baratta from Upper West Side

Mrs. Lindland - you justified the actions of the automakers by saying that americans were buying the SUVs. But the crack users always buy the crack!! The point here is that the makers knowingly were not making vehicles that were sustainable, environmentally friendly, and (now) truly affordable.

Of course Americans were buying the vehicles- they were giant and shiny.

I believe that the real solution is hydrogen power. Hydrogen combustion engines will bring us greater power than fossil fuel combustion, ultimately opening up the possibility for giant SUVs running on hydrogen engines. I mean, obviously "Americans choosing what they want" will mean bigger vehicles- after all, doesn't it also mean bigger houses and bigger meals (other things we are notorious for).

Nov. 17 2008 10:38 AM
David Jenkins from Manhattan

Thomas Friedman in referring to Detroit gasoline subsidies was talking about the sales deals last summer where you got "$1.99 gas" for a year or two or three when you bought a gas guzzler...

(sorry poorly written first post!)

Nov. 17 2008 10:38 AM
michaelw from INWOOD

Let the auto industry die in this country.

I don't want my tax dollars to save another dying industry.

what is next the airline industry.

You don't just give people what they want.

when does it stop?

Unions take concessions?

What about auto execs? didn't they put themselves in this problem?

Nov. 17 2008 10:38 AM
andrea bonasera from Maplewood, NJ

Why did GM destroy the EV1 in the 90's? Why did they destroy the technology they are crying they don't have now?

Nov. 17 2008 10:38 AM
Joe from Englewood, NJ

Would it be best to provide "bailout" money to US car makers only for their Hybrid/Plugin Hybrid divisions?

Nov. 17 2008 10:38 AM
Jesse from nyc

Did your guest just say that the big 3 intentionally gave up market share to increase profitability? Ask her to explain how her math works.

Nov. 17 2008 10:38 AM
Stephen from Boonton

I haven't studied the auto industry bailout options yet but my first reaction has been that no way should we bail out an auto industry that has been so slow to innovate. If we bail out the auto industry we might as well just make them a governmental agency. I have been surprised that Toyota or others have not decided to buy GM at this time. The price is right.

Nov. 17 2008 10:37 AM
LeoinNYC from Soho

Overconsuming Americans don't have a right to melt MY polar ice caps with their hummers!!!!

Nov. 17 2008 10:37 AM
Magnus westergren from manhattan

Who is this lady? Is she a Detroit spokesperson? She's saying GM's introduction of a Tahoe Hybrid is a step in the right direction!? Please, she's absurd. This raises the issue of a need for higher fuel taxes, or taxes on vehicle weigt or engine size, only that will create the change needed.

Nov. 17 2008 10:37 AM
hjs from 11211

auto companies could make money if we had universal healthcare & executives weren't paid outrageous incomes

Nov. 17 2008 10:37 AM
Paula

Unfortunately this country may need a depression in order to remember what is really important - people, and the environment. In bailing out Detroit, we are supporting industry that is making us and our environment sick. It is time to take responsibility, and to regulate. We know too much not to.

Americans bought large vehicles out of ignorance. They need to be educated.

Nov. 17 2008 10:37 AM
Jen from Chatham, NJ

Does 1 in 10 include manufacturers like Toyota that employ large numbers of auto workers in the U.S.? Or is that statistic only for the "big Three" in Detroit?

Nov. 17 2008 10:36 AM
bob from huntington

the guest say the automakers haven't forced people
to buy their gas-guzzling SUVs. what about the millions the industry spends advertising them?

Nov. 17 2008 10:36 AM
Bill Israel from Dix Hills, NY

re: Tom Firedman's comment on MTP, I felt that Friedman's comment on GM & Chrysler offering $1.99 gas as a response to falling sales was a logical move towards saving whatever market share they had at that point in time. Any prudent business person would do the same-try and hold onto your customer base while re-tooling and developing more fuel efficient models. Would Friedman have preferred that GM take their SUVs off sale and shut down until next year, when they roll out the Chevy Volt?

Nov. 17 2008 10:36 AM
gary g from NYC

Robert Lutz,
Vice Chairman - Global Product Development
was interviewed only 3 weeks ago for 60 minutes,
STILL claiming there is no proof on global warming and that if it does exist no proven link to the auto industry,
NO way does an outdated industry run by pompous
out of touch, ignorant, self-serving wealthy white men
deserve any help.......
They must go before any assistance is given.....

Nov. 17 2008 10:36 AM
Jeff from NJ

Pertinent info:

University of Michigan professor Mark Perry compares average salaries for Big Three auto workers with industry peers and the market at large and asks pointedly: "Should U.S. taxpayers really be providing billions of dollars to bailout companies that compensate their workers 52.5% more than the market...54% more than management and professional workers, 132% more than the average manufacturing wage, and 157% more than the average compensation of all American workers?"

Always insightful Megan McArdle, blogging at The Atlantic, believes the money would be much better spent on other goods and services: "Bailing out the auto industry offers no net gain to society. It is a straight transfer of resources from one sector to another: we tax money, or borrow it from a finite pool of capital available to the nation, and spend it on auto workers.

Nov. 17 2008 10:36 AM
Joe from Englewood, NJ

With regard to the number of auto industry jobs. Is it true that many are supported by Asian and European makes that are built, sold and serviced in the US?

Nov. 17 2008 10:36 AM
David Jenkins from Manhattan

They're talking about the sales deals last summer where you got "$1.99 gas" for a year or two or three when you bought a gas guzzler...

Nov. 17 2008 10:34 AM
Nick Lento from NJ

How about loaning two billion bucks to Tesla Motors.

http://www.wnyc.org/shows/bl/episodes/2008/11/17/segments/115791

We need to leapfrog the Japanese, not just copy them!

The tech is HERE NOW to go all electric for 90% of all our driving needs.

Giving the existing incompetents more money to waste and steal is stupid. Tom Friedman is right.

Many of us have been saying this for years. The "big three" are their own (and our own) worst enemy. It's absolutely pervrese.

We've bought SUV's because they were aggressively marketed, that demand was CREATED!

This woman sounds like an apologists for the status quo....

Nov. 17 2008 10:34 AM
Susan from Kingston, New York

People need to stop buying SUVs, cars and trucks that are not fuel efficient! Many of us who have had fuel efficent cars for years should not have to pay for people who have consistently ignored the fact that oil is a limited resource.

Nov. 17 2008 10:34 AM
barry from Manhattan

Yes the whole "SUV is a truck" was such BS
Levin is the worst of the bunch.
Unlikly Obama can "change" that bunch>

Nov. 17 2008 10:33 AM
Susan

There is something genuinely repulsive about watching Paulson shovel money out of the taxpayers' pockets to his cronies to party with while pushing for the deindustrialization of America. We could much better do without the financial industry (they won't lend anyway, so treasury could do it directly) than without our manufacturing base.

Nov. 17 2008 10:33 AM
Smokey from LES

I don't want to see 1 in 10 thrown out of work, but it sickens me to bail out the worst corporate citizens in the country! The car industry would happily spend millions on lawyers and lobbyists to fight all the safety issue - seat belts, air bags, vapor capture gas tanks. They skirted the CAFE laws by calling SUVs trucks. Throw the bums out!

Nov. 17 2008 10:31 AM
hjs from 11211

free market RIP

Nov. 17 2008 10:30 AM
Paula

Hybrids are a joke. We need a real incentive for bailing out Detroit - they need to rebuild our electric trains, and we need electric cars. Unfortunately, it is in their best interest to use every last drop of the oil before they change.

I agree with the op-ed in yesterday's Times that said there should be a price floor on gas prices ($3.50 was proposed) in order to pay for the bailout.

Nov. 17 2008 10:28 AM

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