I’m not entirely convinced that the automobile industry is solely responsible for the sad condition it now finds itself in. Equally responsible are the Bush administration and the Republican lawmakers who stubbornly resisted setting higher efficiency standards over the past eight years. Without such mandates the car manufactures have been subject to the whims of American consumers, nearly always short-sighted and self-indulgent.
So long as oil prices were artificially low, the market was very strong for gas-guzzling trucks and “safe” SUVs, and very weak for smaller more efficient vehicles; and the automakers had little choice but to supply this self-destructive appetite.
In whatever shape the industry emerges from this crisis – and for the good of the economy I believe it should receive some help – let’s hope the new administration and Congress have the foresight and backbone to impose much higher fuel economy standards on all automobiles sold in the country.
This will give the industry the chance to use its great ingenuity (without the distraction of fluctuating oil prices) to retool, build and sell efficient cars to American drivers, and help the current imbalance of trade by exporting these efficient vehicles and the new technology to foreign markets.
This will help strengthen both the national economy and national security and will go a long way to slow an even greater threat – global warming.