It has been days now (at least two of them) since General Motors has issued a recall on any of its cars. But then, the law of diminishing returns applies here. After the first 15 million, there aren’t that many GM vehicles left out there for recalling.
It is curious how the company could have gone through its recent bailout by the government without these problems coming to the attention of the people who made the deal. They were spending taxpayer money, after all, to buy a problematic asset. So were they not obliged to look under the hood and kick the tires?
Two former members of the U.S. auto task force that helped restructure General Motors Co in 2009 during its bankruptcy said they were not aware at the time of the defective ignition switches linked to at least 13 deaths.
The "task force” representing the tax payers had to take it more or less on faith when told by the seller that they were getting a good company. New tires. Oil change every 3,000 miles. Just needed a little body and fender work.
Steven Rattner, who headed the task force, said his group would not have learned about the problem unless someone at GM had told them.
"We were not forensic accountants. We were not FBI investigators. We had about 40 days to do all this due diligence. We're not going to find something like that out unless people tell you.”
So it is the fault of the people at a broken company that the people buying the company did not know it built a lousy product.
The bailout of GM – at a final cost to the Treasury of $10 billion and change – was a landmark event in evolution state capitalism, American-style. The company was saved, certain creditors were stiffed, the unions were protected, and the corporate culture, it seems, was not altered in any fundamental way.
The administration’s enthusiasm for GM extended to its electric car, the Chevy Volt. President Obama once said he’d like to drive one when he leaves office and no reason he couldn’t. There’s lots of inventory lying around.
The new CEO of the new General Motors testified yesterday before Congress and said that she is “deeply sorry” about the company’s negligence in selling cars that came standard with a flaw that could kill you. The company knew. A government regulatory agency knew. And if the administration of President Obama did not know, then one is inclined to wonder why not and go to the only possible explanation, which is incompetence. The administration rescued the company from bankruptcy, after all, using billions of taxpayer dollars. Should it not have taken a careful look at what the money was buying?
The script is familiar. General Motors’ top executive heading down to Washington to be grilled by Congress. As Joseph B. White of Market Watch reports, fifty years after the Corvair controversy that made Ralph Nader a household name:
Vice President Joe Biden thanked the executive chairman of Ford at today's North American International Auto Show for "saving our ass." The event took place in Detroit.
Via the pool report:
Vice President Joe Biden toured the North American International Auto Show for more than 30 minutes after making remarks in Detroit. The show remained open to invited people with tickets -- but it doesn't open to the general public until Saturday.
Although CO2 is considered a "greenhouse gas" that contributes to climate change, if the Energy Department (DOE) finds partners to capitalize on the research of one of its laboratories, someday cars might run on sunshine. Technically, cars would run on the product of sunlight, CO2, and water using a "two-step solar thermochemical cycle" developed by the Albuquerque, New Mexico government lab.
Late in the afternoon on New Year’s Eve, my wife Jill and I were driving through Vienna, Virginia, toward Tysons Corner when we found ourselves in front of, and then beside, and then right behind an old gray Volvo wagon. The car caught our eyes, and quickly we realized why, for it wasn’t just another car on the road but a car we’d once owned—from 1987, to be precise, when we bought it new, until December 2011. That’s not a misprint: The car was ours for more than 24 years.
The legislation to help those affected by Hurricane Sandy has been turned into something of a mini auto bailout, according to those familiar with the Obama administration's request. The request includes millions of dollars worth of cars, to be paid for by the federal government.
Obama's request, as detailed in a letter sent to Capitol Hill by the director of the White House's Office of Management and Budget, Jeffrey Zients, includes these requests:
Earlier today at an Obama rally in Chesapeake, Virginia, former President Bill Clinton said that American can't export Jeeps to China:
"They used to produce Jeeps in China and they were about to go broke so they had to quit," Clinton said. "You can’t make a Jeep in America and send it to China – it weighs too much, it costs too much to send over there. All they are going to do is reopen their operations there and try to sell Jeeps there too. We’re doing fine here."