Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Carmakers Plead for Money

The heads of the Big Three, chastened from their previous appearance in Congress that went over like the introduction of the latest Edsel, showed up with revised plans to put their pieces of the bailout pie to good use. General Motors says it needs $12 billion to stay in business while they cut brands (so long Hummer and Saab), jobs, and dealers. (The good news is that Pontiac will not be dropped but remain as a “niche” brand, so I won’t have an orphan in the garage after all.) Ford, the healthiest of the three, will cut costs and introduce new vehicles that they hope people will actually want to buy, and CEO Alan Mullaly is driving to D.C. in a hybrid to demonstrate that he gets it.

It’s easy to say let the auto companies take their lumps until you take into account that it’s not just Detroit that would suffer. The auto industry reaches into all parts of the economy and in places you normally don’t think of as being a suburb of Detroit. It’s clear there needs to be some restructuring in the industry, but a wholesale devastation of one of the last manufacturing base in the country, especially when competitors from overseas have government support, wouldn’t be a good idea.

But anything that gets the Hummers, aka Viagra on wheels, off the road is fine with me.