Sunday, April 5, 2009

Will Ford Be Company One?

As the feds profess no interest in running GM while replacing its CEO, packing its board, and chiding it for making too many big cars, George Will, who seems especially sardonic lately, writes:
The stunning shift in consumer preferences that should make the White House's freshly minted auto experts feel vulnerable has been reported under headlines such as "Like a Rock: Hybrid Car Sales Plummet" (Wall Street Journal, Dec. 9) and "Hybrid Car Sales Go from 60 to 0 at Breakneck Speed" (Los Angeles Times, March 17). Absent $4 gasoline, customers, those nuisances with their insufferable preferences, do not want the vehicles the politicians want them to want, even with manufacturers now offering large rebates and other incentives.

The two best-selling vehicles in America this year are large pickup trucks (Ford F-Series and Chevy Silverado). In February, Toyota sold 13,600 Tundra and Tacoma pickups and 7,232 Priuses. It sells the Prius at a loss, which it can afford to do because it makes pots of money selling pickups. Has the Car Designer in Chief, aka the president, considered the possibility that what he calls "the cars of tomorrow" will forever be that?
If Ford can ride out the recession without government subsidy, it will be interesting to see how it fares in the long term, in comparison with its tw0 dole-full competitors, without Washington telling it what kinds of cars to build.

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