January 27, 2009

Saving the auto industry in spite of itself

Making good on his campaign promises, President Obama… yes, let's savor that phrase, President Obama… yesterday ordered the government to reconsider letting California implement stricter emissions laws for cars. Automakers, as usual, set up a hue and cry insisting that, according to the NY Times, "rapid imposition of stricter emissions standards could force them to drastically cut production of larger, more profitable vehicles, adding to their financial duress."

Hold on. Dealers currently have thousands upon thousands of these larger, more profitable vehicles sitting in their lots, because customers don't want them. Meanwhile, the Big Three are closing their specially-designed SUV factories, or retooling them to make smaller cars. And let's not forget that their own lobbying for lower emissions standards helped make them noncompetitive in the first place.

Remember in the '90s, when baggy jeans went mainstream, and denim giants like the Gap and Levi's missed the boat? They'd failed to realize that the baggy look was a paradigm shift and not just a passing fancy. Message to car makers: learn your lesson, already!

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