Payday Loans

27 vehicles (19 cars and 8 SUVs) earned the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety’s Top Safety Pick award for 2010, substantially lower than for 2009, the IIHS announced recently.  The main reason for the lower number of recipients is that the IIHS added a requirement that the vehicles must score a “good” in a roof strength test to measure protection in a rollover is required to win. 94 vehicles earned the Top Safety Pick for 2009.

Ford was the big winner for the 2nd year in a row, earning 6 Top Safety Picks, while Volkswagen and Subaru were next with 5 each.  Chrysler earned 4, and IIHS commented specifically on Chrysler’s efforts, saying, “… continuing a recent trend of improving the crashworthiness of its vehicles.”  Notable in their absence from the list are Toyota (which includes 28 Toyota, Lexus and Scion models), and BMW.

3 of the best selling midsize cars notably didn’t make the list. Honda Accord and Ford Fusion just missed scoring a “good” on the roof strength test or they would have earned the Top Safety Pick.  Toyota Camry would have qualified with good ratings, except for its rear crash evaluation.  Camry’s seats and head restraints are rated marginal for protection against whiplash injury.

Keep in mind that all cars and trucks have to pass certain safety standards to be for sale in the US; the IIHS evaluates vehicles to determine which are the safest, according to their own standards.  In some ways, the IIHS is at odds with the federal government, which promotes fuel economy.  In the IIHS press release, they say, “Keep in mind vehicle size and weight, because larger, heavier vehicles generally afford better protection in serious crashes than smaller, lighter ones.  Even with a Top Safety Pick, a small car isn’t as crashworthy as a bigger one.”  All things equal, a “larger, heavier vehicle” will get poorer fuel economy than a “smaller, lighter vehicle.”  The smaller, lighter one will also generally be more maneuverable, thus helping avoid the accident in the first place.  My point is simply to remind you that there is no one way to evaluate a potential vehicle purchase.  Use your common sense (if you have any) to look at how the vehicle scores on many different criteria.

Here is the IIHS’s complete list of Top Safety Picks for 2010:

Large cars
Buick LaCrosse
Ford Taurus
Lincoln MKS
Volvo S80

Midsize cars
Audi A3
Chevrolet Malibu
Chrysler Sebring 4-door with optional electronic stability control
Dodge Avenger with optional electronic stability control
Mercedes C class
Subaru Legacy
Subaru Outback
Volkswagen Jetta sedan
Volkswagen Passat sedan
Volvo C30

Small cars
Honda Civic 4-door models (except Si) with optional electronic stability control
Kia Soul
Nissan Cube
Subaru Impreza except WRX
Volkswagen Golf 4-door

Midsize SUVs
Dodge Journey
Subaru Tribeca
Volvo XC60
Volvo XC90

Small SUVs
Honda Element
Jeep Patriot with optional side torso airbags
Subaru Forester
Volkswagen Tiguan

That’s what I think – how about you?  Please leave your comments below.

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GM CEO Fritz Henderson Resigns

1st December 2009

Former GM CEO Fritz Henderson

Former GM CEO Fritz Henderson

Fritz Henderson, who took over as GM’s CEO when Rick Wagoner was relieved of his position in March, resigned effective today, following the monthly board of directors meeting.  GM Chairman Ed Whitacre will assume the title of CEO while GM conducts an international search for a permanent replacement.

Henderson, 51, was a GM lifer, who had been with GM for 25 years, and has been hurt by that image. The press and government have portrayed him as a competent manager and finance executive, but one who would not provide the kind of outside influence that GM needs. GM spokesman Chris Preuss denied any government involvement in the decision, calling it a “board decision.”

GM issued the following statement:

At its monthly meeting in Detroit today, the General Motors Board of Directors accepted the resignation of Fritz Henderson as Director, President and CEO of the company.

Fritz has done a remarkable job in leading the company through an unprecedented period of challenge and change.  While momentum has been building over the past several months, all involved agree that changes needed to be made.  To this end, I have taken over the role of Chairman and CEO while an international search for a new president and CEO begins immediately.  With these new duties, I will begin working in the Renaissance Center headquarters on a daily basis.  The leadership team – many who are with me today – are united and committed to the task at hand.

I want to assure all of our employees, dealers, suppliers, union partners and most of all, our customers, that GM’s daily business operations will continue as normal. I remain more convinced than ever that our company is on the right path and that we will continue to be a leader in offering the worldwide buying public the highest quality, highest value cars and trucks.  We now need to accelerate our progress toward that goal, which will also mean a return to profitability and repaying the American and Canadian tax payers as soon as possible.

In closing, I want to once again thank Fritz Henderson for his years of leadership and service to General Motors; we’re grateful for his many contributions.  I look forward to working with the entire GM team as we now begin the next chapter of this great company.

Henderson’s bio, according to Wikipedia:

Henderson was born in Detroit, Michigan. Henderson is a 1976 graduate of Lake Orion High School in Lake Orion, Michigan. He holds a Master of Business Administration degree from Harvard Business School and a bachelor’s degree in business administration from the University of Michigan’s Ross School of Business. During his time at Michigan, Henderson pitched for the University of Michigan Wolverines baseball team.

Since joining GM in 1984, he held a number of positions with the company until 1992 when he became GMAC group vice president of finance in Detroit.

From 1997 to 2000, Henderson became GM vice president and managing director of GM do Brasil covering GM operations in Brazil, Argentina, Paraguay, and Uruguay. Here he was successful in introducing small, inexpensive cars such as the Celta subcompact and the Meriva microvan, both produced in Brazil.

In June 2000, he was appointed group vice president and president of GM-LAAM (Latin America, Africa and Middle East) and in January 2002, he moved to Singapore as president of GM Asia Pacific where he was successful in expanding operations in Korea and China.

In 2004, Henderson was appointed chairman of GM Europe, based in Zurich, Switzerland, where he undertook substantial restructuring including significant reductions in jobs.

After becoming vice chairman and chief financial officer in January 2006, in March 2009, he became GM president and chief operating officer. At the time, the Financial Times quoted him as saying: “Being part of a turnround at GM when, frankly, many people don’t think it can be done, is exhilarating, if you like challenges. I have never had a dull day in my time at GM.”

When GM exited bankruptcy, Henderson said, “This is an exciting day for General Motors, one that will allow every employee, including me, to get back to the business of designing, building and selling great cars and trucks and serving the needs of our customers. We deeply appreciate the support we’ve received. We’ll work hard to repay the trust, and the money, that so many have invested in GM.”

In August 2009, Henderson refused to move the economically priced, rear wheel drive, Pontiac G8, to another GM marque after slashing the brand.

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Showing that they care much more about ratings and sensationalism that about actual facts, Fox “News” came out strongly criticizing the recent Department of Energy (DOE) loans to Fisker and Tesla.  Fisker was awarded $528 million and Tesla $465 million.  It is difficult to enumerate all of the false and misleading statements in the following video clips, but here is a sampling of the junk that they try to pass off as news:

  • Many times, the loans are derided as a handout to “foreign” companies “creating jobs in Finland” and “going to build a car in Finland for $89,000”.  In fact, both companies are American, based in California.  The confusion on the part of Fox and its guests is from the fact that presently, Tesla only produces one model, which is made in Great Britain. Fisker doesn’t produce anything yet, but its first model, the Karma, will be assembled in Finland. However, the loans are for the development and eventual manufacture of lower-priced models from both companies that will be made in the US.
  • Stating and strongly implying that the only reason that Fisker received the loan is because Al Gore is involved and was pulling the strings behind the scenes.  In fact, Al Gore is a partner in Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers, a major investor in Fisker.  However, another partner is Colin Powell, who once considered running for president as a Republican.  Fox offers no evidence of tampering by Gore or KPCB.  It just throws out the implication.
  • They have David Williams of “Citizens Against Government Waste” to discuss.  He rails against the loans as wasteful.  Fine.  Disagree with the program if you want, but Fox also asks him about the cars and whether they are worthy of the loans.  This guy doesn’t know any more that the hosts when he says the money will not help the average American.  See first point.
  • At the end of the first segment, almost as an after thought, the host mentions that Fisker says the money will be used to fund another model, but it isn’t even designed yet.  Great job on doing your homework.  Even for the best car companies, it takes years and millions (sometimes billions) of dollars to design and develop a vehicle to sell.  Fisker (and Tesla) are going to use these low interest loans to fund that very development, so of course the new vehicles aren’t developed yet.
  • The 2nd segment includes a writer from the Wall Street Journal, who is no better.  Several times, he refers to Fisker as a “Finland company” and Tesla as a “British company”.  Then he says 3-4 times, “I don’t agree with this type of government largess, but if you’re going to do this, at least give the money to an American company.”  I almost expect this type of bluster from Fox, but not the Wall Street Journal.  They are supposed to at least be knowledgeable about business.  If they’re not, what value are they to anybody?  He even tries to equate this to the US contracting out the moon program of the 1960s to the Russians.  Unbelievable.
  • They conveniently leave out the fact that 1 truly foreign company has already received over $1 billion in DOE loans – Nissan.  Ford and Nissan received funds in the first installment of the DOE program earlier this year.  As a US taxpayer, I would much rather my tax $ go to Fisker and Tesla than Nissan.  Nissan’s profits and intellectual property are in Japan, where the good jobs truly are located.

By the way, Fisker has issued a press release disputing the reports about the loan and about the company. Tesla has also attempted to calm the storm and get the facts out.  You can read the Fisker release here, and the Tesla release here.

That’s what I think – how about you?  Please leave your comments below.

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Toyota issued a “safety advisory” today regarding the risk that the accelerator pedal could be forced into the full open (“floored”) position if the driver side floor mats are unsecured or incompatible.  This condition could result in very high speeds and result in crashes with serious injury and/or death.  Toyota does not yet have a fix for the problem, and is instructing owners of all affected vehicles to remove the floor mats immediately and not replace them with another mat.  The affected vehicles are:

  • 2007 – 2010 Camry
  • 2005 – 2010 Avalon
  • 2004 – 2009 Prius
  • 2005 – 2010 Tacoma
  • 2007 – 2010 Tundra
Toyota is giving owners of the affected vehicles the following instructions if they find themselves in a vehicle that is accelerating unintentionally:
Should the vehicle continue to accelerate rapidly after releasing the accelerator pedal, this could be an indication of floor mat interference.  If this occurs, Toyota recommends the driver take the following actions:

First, if it is possible and safe to do so, pull back the floor mat and dislodge it from the accelerator pedal; then pull over and stop the vehicle.

If the floor mat cannot be dislodged, then firmly and steadily step on the brake pedal with both feet. Do NOT pump the brake pedal repeatedly as this will increase the effort required to slow the vehicle.

Shift the transmission gear selector to the Neutral (N) position and use the brakes to make a controlled stop at the side of the road and turn off the engine.
If unable to put the vehicle in Neutral, turn the engine OFF, or to ACC. This will not cause loss of steering or braking control, but the power assist to these systems will be lost.

-If the vehicle is equipped with an Engine Start/Stop button, firmly and steadily push the button for at least three seconds to turn off the engine. Do NOT tap the Engine Start/Stop button.

-If the vehicle is equipped with a conventional key-ignition, turn the ignition key to the ACC position to turn off the engine. Do NOT remove the key from the ignition as this will lock the steering wheel
.

“This is an urgent matter,” U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood said in a statement. “We strongly urge owners of these vehicles to remove mats or other obstacles that could lead to unintended acceleration.”

The recall was sparked by an Aug. 28 accident in San Diego during which four people were killed in a Lexus, said Irv Miller, a spokesman for Toyota.

This is the largest recall for Toyota and is more than 70% higher than their total 2008 sales in the US.  Toyota’s previous recall record was 900,000 vehicles recalled in 2005.

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GM announced today that their 2010 full-size pickups will achieve a higher EPA rating for 2010, giving the Chevrolet Silverado and GMC Sierra the highest fuel economy in the segment (previously, the highest economy versions tied with the best Ford F150).

Silverado and Sierra 5.3L V-8 engine EPA-estimated fuel economy improves for 2010 from 14 city / 20 highway to 15 city / 21 highway MPG, while Extra Fuel Economy (XFE) models move from 15 city / 21 highway to 15 city / 22 highway MPG. This development, combined with the fact that GM’s hybrid pickups achieve an EPA estimated 21 city / 22 highway, puts Silverado and Sierra at the top in fuel economy.  This fuel economy improvement comes with no compromise in capability. Horsepower, payload, and trailering specifications remain the same for Chevy and GMC full-size pickups.

For reference, the following information is the most recent available EPA-estimated comparable fuel economy data for GM’s main competitors in this segment.

  • Ford – 5.4L: 14 city / 20 hwy; 4.6L with 6-speed transmission: 15 city / 21 hwy
  • Dodge – 5.7L: 14 city / 20 hwy
  • Toyota – 5.7L: 14 city / 18 hwy; 4.6L: 15 city / 20 hwy
  • Nissan – 5.6L: 13 city / 18 hwy

To be fair, GM is comparing its 2010 models against 2009 models for all of the above except Toyota.  Ford, Dodge and Nissan may well have a fuel economy trick up their sleeves for 2010 also.  Nevertheless, GM is showing that it takes fuel economy seriously and will do what it can to make incremental improvements without resorting to smaller vehicles with less capability.  Nice work.

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GM Declares Bankruptcy

1st June 2009

In a move unexpected only by some members of the Taliban, GM formally declared bankruptcy this morning in NY. Under its plan, GM will sell substantially all of its global assets to “New” GM. Because GM’s sale of assets to the New GM already has the support of the U.S. Treasury, the UAW and a substantial portion of GM’s unsecured bondholders, GM expects the sale to be approved and consummated quickly.

CEO Fritz Henderson made the following statement:

Today marks a defining moment in the reinvention of GM as a leaner, more customer-focused, and more cost-competitive company that, above all, can quickly generate winning bottom line results. The economic crisis has caused enormous disruption in the auto industry, but with it has come the opportunity for us to reinvent our business. We are going to do it once and do it right. The court-supervised process we are pursuing provides us with powerful tools to accelerate and complete our reinvention, as well as strong safeguards for our customers and our business. We are focused on the job at hand, for the benefit of our customers, employees, dealers, suppliers, retirees, taxpayers, investors and other stakeholders.

We recognize the sacrifices that so many have been asked to make as we have worked to reinvent GM and the automobile. GM deeply appreciates the support and the demonstration of confidence in our future by President Obama, the Presidential Task Force on Autos, the Canadian and Ontario governments, American and Canadian taxpayers, the unsecured bondholders who are supporting the proposed sale transaction, the UAW and CAW and their leadership, and the men and women of GM, including our retirees. You have enabled us to carry out this vital transformation for the good of GM, our customers and the economy, and we are working to validate your trust each day.

From day one, the New GM will be well-positioned to capitalize on the award-winning vehicles we have developed and launched during the past few years, and on our investments in exciting new technologies like the Chevy Volt, so that we can build and return value to our customers and to the millions who will have a stake in our success. The New GM will play a critical role in the future of the automobile, and assure that the U.S. has a strong stake in this rapidly changing global manufacturing industry.

The US taxpayers will now own 60% of GM and the UAW will own 17.5%. This creates many potential conflicts of interest, and it will be difficult or impossible for the government to do what it has said it will do: keep a hands-off approach to the running of General Motors.

  1. How will the government balance its desire for higher fuel efficiency with GM’s (and therefore, its biggest shareholder’s) need to turn a profit? President Obama has said he intends to be out of the auto business as soon as possible. That will require GM to make a profit so the Treasury can sell its shares to pay off the $50 billion it has invested in GM. It’s a fact of the auto industry – at least in the US – that the larger, less efficient vehicles make more profit. See the problem? For the US to break even on its “investment”, GM will need to have a market capitalization of at least $80 billion, but the recent high point was $56 billion in 2000.
  2. Will the government be able to resist giving GM (and Chrysler as well) preferential treatment in regulations, tax breaks, government contracts, etc? After all, won’t they have a fiduciary responsibility to the taxpayers to ensure the investment in GM is paid off as quickly as possible?
  3. How will the UAW balance the needs of its members (high pay and benefits, job security) with its need for GM to make a profit so the UAW can sell its shares to pay for the long-term needs of its members (retiree health care, etc.)?
  4. All of this applies to Chrysler as well, but to a lesser extent. That leaves one other big question: where does all this leave Ford? Ford, which is not exactly healthy, has been able to keep the Feds out of its boardroom. Will not Ford be in an unfavorable position with respect to the points above? If so, what does that say about our society, that we will put a company at a competitive disadvantage which has fought hard to keep itself solvent?

These are difficult questions to an unprecedented situation. I’m not smart enough to know the answers, but I sure hope the gods of the Potomac are.
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The Obama administration today announced the biggest and most expensive increase in fuel economy ever. Flanked by 10 auto executives, UAW President Ron Gettlefinger and others, Obama announced the plan in the Rose Garden.

The new standards will commonize the various regulations governing the sale of vehicles in the US into 1.  In return for the stricter standards, the state of California agreed to drop its attempt to institute its own fuel economy standards and the automakers agreed to drop lawsuits aimed at forcing them to drop the attempt.  This is the only good part of today’s announcement.  The threatened patchwork of regulations would have made doing business extremely difficult and MUCH more expensive.

The plan:
• Requires yearly 5 percent increases in fuel efficiency from 2012 through 2016, resulting in an average fuel economy standard of 35.5 miles per gallon in 2016. The previous plan had the standard at 35 in 2020.
• Cuts oil consumption by an estimated 1.8 billion barrels over the life of the program.
• Cuts greenhouse gas emissions by a projected 900 million metric tons.
• Supported by 10 car companies and the UAW.
• Sets one clear, national policy for all automakers, instead of standards from the EPA, Transportation Department, and a California standard that would apply to 13 other states.
• Gives automakers clarity, predictability and certainty about the rules, as well as flexibility to meet the expected outcomes.

The oil savings and emissions cuts are spurious at best. CAFE has been on the books for about 30 years, and has not resulted in any fuel savings. Why? Because by forcing fuel economy gains without any increase in fuel price, CAFE encourages more driving. The increase in driving miles has more than offset the decrease in fuel consumption per mile. Also offsetting the increases in economy has been a shift towards pickups and SUVs, which has also been driven (pun intended) by CAFE & other government policies.

So why did 10 automakers, including the 2 divisions of Government Motors, say they are in favor of this? 2 reasons: the political winds are blowing in such a way that they risk significant negative PR if they are seen to be unsupportive and 2. the commonization of the standards is a real benefit of the plan, as discussed above. You can bet, though, that GM and Chrysler were told that they will be there and they will look happy.

Obama at least did one thing that has been noticeably absent in previous discussions on fuel economy: he admitted that this will increase the price of cars and trucks in the US.  He also stated that the price increase will be made up in 3 years of fuel savings.  The government numbers assume that gas prices will be $3.50/gallon for the life of the program (2012 – 2016). One thing about cost increases in a competitive market is that there is no certainty that the OEMs will be able to increase their prices to make it up. And with the current state of the economy, raising prices is anything but certain. The cost increase, however, is very certain.

With every major automaker losing money, now is about the worst time possible to be adding at least several hundred dollars to the cost of the average vehicle. This is where I would normally say, “I hope the government knows what it’s doing.” But clearly, they do not.
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RIP Pontiac

29th April 2009

General Motors announced this week that Pontiac will cease operations by next year.  This had been rumored for at least several days, and GM’s only comment was, “Contrary to media speculation, General Motors has not announced any changes to its long-term viability plan or to the future status of any of its brands…” This wasn’t a denial either.  With the announcement to kill Pontiac, it sure seems that the cynics who said GM now stands for “Government Motors” were right.  GM was under intense pressure from the feds to make drastic changes (cut more brands, cut dealerships, etc.), as the government needed to be able to show the public that they were playing hardball with GM, that they were doing everything they could to protect the taxpayers’ investment in GM.  In Washington, this means you need a headline, not necessarily a plan that will work.

Susan Docherty, VP of Buick-Pontiac-GMC, made the following statement:

“Anyone who has been associated with the Pontiac brand knows that this was a difficult decision. Pontiac has had a rich and storied history, but unfortunately, despite the efforts of all concerned, the brand has been unprofitable over the past several years. We had hoped in our February 17 Viability Plan to convert Pontiac to a niche brand within the Buick-Pontiac-GMC channel.

However, the Viability Plan as submitted was not acceptable. GM was further challenged to take more significant restructuring actions which would allow the company to be viable even in these unprecedented market conditions and in any future cyclical market downturns. These restructuring actions require further sacrifice by all stakeholders: GM employees, suppliers, investors and dealers.

As part of these renewed restructuring efforts, we spent considerable time formulating Pontiac portfolio scenarios that would allow the brand to be sustainable and profitable long term. Unfortunately after careful evaluation, none of these scenarios proved viable.

Therefore, GM is announcing the phase out of the Pontiac brand by year end 2010. This action will allow General Motors to devote its limited capital and other resources to GM’s four core brands: Chevrolet, Cadillac, Buick and GMC.”

GM’s plan for Pontiac from their February Viability Plan was to reduce the Pontiac product lineup and make Pontiac more of a niche brand.  This made perfect sense.  Pontiac was most successful when it was the “excitement” division within GM.  GTOs, Firebirds, Solstice and the G8 make sense for Pontiac; Trans Sports, Aztecs, Torrents and the G3 don’t.

Pontiac is no longer a stand-alone division, so it doesn’t need a full lineup of various types of vehicles to make the brand “viable.”  There are only 35 dealers in the US that sell only Pontiacs.  Pontiacs are now sold almost exclusively through Buick/Pontiac/GMC dealers.  This strategy made sense, as those 3 brands all have very different images and would have allowed all of the dealers to have a full line of cars and trucks without the General having to produce copy-cat cars to keep 3 sales channels viable.  Done properly, these 3 brands together would not overlap with Chevrolet or Cadillac either.

So Pontiac doesn’t have its own sales channel to support, doesn’t have its own engineering staff (that went away 25+ years ago) or its own manufacturing facilities (ditto).  It doesn’t even have its own management, as Susan Docherty is the VP of Buick-Pontiac-GMC.  Maybe I’m just being dense, but where is the benefit of killing off Pontiac? Pontiac is a brand that has had some trouble remembering its identity, but so have others.  It has a great history, and if properly nurtured as a niche brand, it could have not only survived, it could have thrived.

RIP Pontiac.  Some of us will miss you.
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Cash for clunkers…the phrase is gaining prominence by the day. There are several proposals that fall under this heading, and while they differ in some significant ways, they all have the same goal and premise.  Trade in your old, gas-guzzler for a voucher or tax credit towards the purchase of a new, more fuel-efficient model. There are THREE basic points that differ between the proposals: amount of the voucher/tax credit, how old/guzzling the old car must be and where/by which company the new car was built.

Rep. Betty Sutton (D-OH) has drafted legislation that would give buyers vouchers of $3000 to $5000 if they turn in cars that are eight years old or older and buy new cars that get at least 24 miles per gallon on the highway or trucks that get 27 mpg. The money could also be used for mass transit. Sen. Dianne Feinstein’s (D-CA) bill, which provides incentives of $2500 to $4500, the “clunker” could get no more than 18 miles per gallon. The new car would have to exceed fuel-efficiency standards for its class by at least 25%. Feinstein’s places a price ceiling of the new vehicle at $45,000, while Sutton’s has a cap of $35,000.

Some argue over the amount of the voucher/credit. I have no opinion here. I would leave that up to some economist with elbow patches on their tweed jacket.  It just needs to be enough to have its intended effect – getting enough clunkers off the road to make a difference in emissions and spur the economy.

I think that specific numbers for the fuel economy part don’t make sense.  The new vehicle simply needs to be much more fuel-efficient than the clunker.  What if your present vehicle is a 1978 Chevy pickup that gets 11 MPG and you need to have a pickup for whatever reason. Wouldn’t a Chevy Silverado hybrid that gets 20 MPG in the city and 20 on the highway be a great choice and one that is worthy of the subsidy? I think Feinstein’s bill comes closer to my point here, but wouldn’t trading a 20 MPG car for a 35 MPG car still be a great idea?

The last point is the one that really gets peoples’ blood boiling.  To exclude or not to exclude – that is the question. Some proposals only include US-made vehicles; others include all points of origin. Say you want to include only “American” products. OK, but what does that mean? These days, that is a pretty ambiguous term. Should a Toyota Camry, made in Kentucky, be included? What about a Honda Accord made in Ohio? On the other hand, how about a Chevrolet Aveo, made in Korea? I think that the reason for this proposed legislation is to help spur the US economy. Therefore, all US-made cars and trucks should be eligible for the incentive. Another wrench in the works are cars like the Ford Fusion and Chevrolet HHR, both made in Mexico. Should these qualify? I think so, because Mexico is only their final assembly point. The design, engineering and all other related activities are in the US. So my final answer is that all brands if US-made or US brand if made in North America should be eligible for the incentive. Foreign brands will not like this, but let’s be honest here. These bills propose to clean up the environment a little while spurring the US ECONOMY. Vehicles designed, engineered and manufactured elsewhere quite simply do not spur the US economy. We should not be subsidizing the sale of those vehicles.

That’s my story, and I’m sticking to it.  Comments? Feel free to leave them. I might even respond.
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Mercedes has plans to expand its Vance, Alabama plant with a $290 million investment which will increase its capacity and allow it to add another vehicle to the plant.  They have not formally announced these plans, but some details emerged when they requested and received property, sales and use tax abatements from the Tuscaloosa County Industrial Development Authority.

Senator Shelby, are you paying attention to this? I fully expect you to get on TV and tell us all about the evils of corporate welfare! How dare Daimler request the government to give them your state’s taxpayers’ hard-earned money. I demand a hearing!

We all know that Senator Richard “Dick” Shelby, R-AL will not hold any hearing, nor will he speak out against this tax abatement.  Why?  1. Because he knows that car manaufacturing is good for the national and his local economies. 2. He is a hypocritical, two-faced “person” who was only trying to help out the (foreign) auto manufacturing of his home state when he blasted the Detroit 3 in the Senate hearings last fall.  He cares nothing about the country as a whole, nor about doing what’s right.  Only about what will help his own state.  He and Nick Saban deserve each other.
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