Sunday, November 16, 2008

Needing A Lift

As American lawmakers contemplate a 25 billion dollar bailout of the Big 3 automakers, and as Canada considers following suit, let's take a moment to consider the absurdity of this situation.

American automakers have for years been committed to producing poorly built gas guzzling monstrosities, and their total failure to anticipate a changing marketplace has finally caught up with them. This isn't rocket science folks, and it's not as though the writing wasn't on the walls for the past, oh, twenty-five years. And now, finally faced with the stark reality that people simply don't want their cars, these free market privateers have turned to the public sector to backstop their ineptitude.

On Friday, Ontario Premier Dalton McGuinty met with executives from the Big 3 to hear their pitch for a cash infusion.
The presidents of Honda Canada Inc. and Toyota Canada Inc. were also at the meeting. Mr. Bryant stressed that those companies are not facing a liquidity crisis but wanted to ensure that any aid provided to the Detroit Three does not leave Honda and Toyota at a competitive disadvantage.
The Japanese car makers are doing just fine, thank you very much. For decades they have been in the business of making smaller, high quality, fuel-efficient cars. And now, to no one's surprise (except, seemingly, Detroit's) they are on top.

If the prospect of using taxpayer money to bail out bloated dinosaurs like GM isn't frightening enough, ask yourself what our federal and provincial governments are doing to assist enterprising home grown electric automakers like Zenn Motor Cars and Dynasty Electric Vehicles. The answer - nothing.

With the exceptions of the province of Quebec and the municpalities of Vancouver and Oak Bay BC, Zenn electric cars are not even permitted to operate on Canadian streets. Likewise for Dynasty's IT electric cars, whose parent company is being forced to shift production from Delta BC to Pakistan. And if their cars seem a little too...pedestrian, check out California's Tesla Motors, which is now producing the impressive electric Roadster to backlogged demand, and promises to deliver a $60,000 luxury electric sedan by 2010.

Surely these are the automakers that deserve a slice of that 25 billion dollar pie. Let Exxon Mobil bail out GM. If public money is to be spent in the auto industry, let us invest it in the future, and not in the past.