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Thursday, May 5, 2016

BASIC BIITTNER - Sure, we'll bail you out ... here are the conditions

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Well, the "Big 3" auto makers have gotten on the Government bailout wagon, joining Wall Street and some select U.S. cities.

Well, that's all well and good, but ... if the government (which in a sense, of course, is you and me) is going to bail out every Tom, Dick and Harry (he's the unknown Smothers Brother), it seems to me that some expectations need to be set and met by those being bailed out.

In the case of the "Big Three," which everyone but them seems to know have not been the Big Three for several years now (anymore than the Big 3 TV networks are still the Big 3 in their field), I feel the government is in the perfect position to do what they should have done several years ago; e.g., insist that - as a condition of accepting the bail out money - GM, Ford and Chrysler immediately begin to step up the transformation of the American auto industry to meet the trends of the rest of the world, as evidenced by companies like Honda, Toyota, Mercedes, et al.

Produce more fuel efficient vehicles, including electric and hybrid, and make them safe as well. No more big, gas eating vehicles. with the recognition that there is still and probably will always be the need for trucks, etc., make them more streamlined and fuel efficient, too.

Part of the changes will, of course, perhaps involve training employees to do their jobs differently. But what I saw in a recent video of one of the Big 3 assembly plants, it looks like a lot of that is being done by automation now, anyway.

Bottom line is, the old American car is a thing of the past. If you go to the East or West coast, or to Europe, you'd be hard put to find a Chevy or Ford. When we were in Germany a few years ago, the "Smart Car" that Cherokean Jim Clabaugh drives, which still cause people here to gawk, was pretty much commonplace.

This doesn't mean that I think Chevy, Ford and Chrysler should close up shop. They are, after all, three of the great American companies,each with a long history. They just need to get with the times, and make the new Chevy, Ford and Chrysler products something that people will want to purchase. The area car dealers will profit, too, as customers who want to buy a Toyota or Honda won't have to go out of town to find one. They'll have the equivalent - or hopefully better, knowing the history of American know-how - available right here in the latest Chevy, Ford or Chrysler model. And customers loyal to one of those brands won't have to change their loyalties, either.

C'mon, Federal government. The ball's in your court.

Dan Whitney
Basic Biittner