Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Yeah, Yeah, I'm not done yet defending the Big Three

Autoblog #6 - I realise that by this time I'm preaching to the choir, but this is just pissing me off. Especially when friends send "jokes" about how the Big 3 don't make cars you want to buy so now we'll just take your money in a bailout - which we all know is a LOAN!!!!

This article is copyright protected, so I don't want to post all of it, just the bits that say what needs to be said and you can click on the link to read all of it. Okay, I posted most of it, because it was too important to cut up.

Big Three battle comes down to party politics
Senators carping about tax subsidies should look at plants in their backyard
By Ed Wallace
Business Week

updated 3:34 p.m. ET, Mon., Dec. 15, 2008

... Somewhere along the way this debate seems to have overlooked the fact that Detroit, for all its blunders, is still a viable economic engine, providing jobs to millions and creating some of the world's best cars. For example, the best-selling vehicle in America, even in this downturn, is still Ford's F-Series truck, and second place goes to the Chevrolet Silverado. Even the Dodge Ram continues to hold a strong position in the Top 20 vehicle list, while sales of the Toyota Prius are down substantially with the fall-off in gasoline prices. (We assume that the Prius is the type of car the left wants Detroit to build.)

And speaking of Japanese cars, I hate to point out the obvious, but car sales in Japan are lower today than they were 15 years ago, down over 30 percent just last month. Yet you won't see the heads of the Japanese auto companies on the carpet in front of their government officials, being drilled with questions like, "Why don't you build cars the public wants to buy?"

What's amazing is that Senator Richard Shelby (R-Ala.) is such a huge critic of using taxpayer money to bail out Detroit. Amazing because the state of Alabama has provided hundreds of millions of taxpayer dollars to lure foreign auto companies to build factories on its soil.

... Again, these were considered wise investments because the promise was that they would create more jobs for the chronically underpaid Alabama workforce. However, in the summer of 2003, Mercedes brought in Polish workers on questionable B-1 work visas to expand the factory because they could be paid far less than the local workforce.

So you had Alabama gifting state tax dollars to Mercedes' factory, only to discover that some of the jobs it created went to much cheaper labor imported from Eastern Europe.

Look at Senator Bob Corker of (R-Tenn.). The former mayor of Chattanooga was one of those responsible for winning the new Volkswagen factory at a cost of $577 million in tax incentives. Moreover, Tennessee got that factory only because Alabama offered the Germans a mere $385 million.

Mississippi paid $284 million for a new Toyota plant; Kia got $324 million from Georgia. Texas had to fork over only $133 million for Toyota's Tundra plant in San Antonio, while Tennessee gave $197.6 million not for a new Nissan factory but simply so Nissan would move its American headquarters to Nashville. There are other factories — BMW in South Carolina, Nissan in Mississippi, and so on — but you get the point.

The Republican senators from these states see no problem whatsoever with paying to bring new automobile production to their states, and the media always quotes them gloating about how smart it is to spend that type of money because it creates jobs.

... The fact that many of these companies' brand-new, state-of-the-art American plants — nonunion plants, low cost-benefit plants — are also struggling seems to have escaped the notice of these same elected officials and the media.

Mercedes recently offered a buyout to its entire workforce in Alabama, and Hyundai has never gotten its Alabama factory up to full capacity. Toyota will not use its upcoming Mississippi factory to build its Highlander SUV, and Nissan is converting its factory in that state to build commercial vehicles. Toyota has been forced to shut its Texas truck plant because of scanty orders for the new Tundra, and so on. So Senator Shelby's statement that Detroit "doesn't innovate. They're a dinosaur," while his partner Senator Jeff Sessions (R-Ala.) brags about the "very large and vibrant automobile sector in Alabama," doesn't exactly ring true.

So we find that nonunion, low-cost, state-subsidized, state-of-the-art auto plants in America are having their fair share of problems, too. But according to Senate Republicans, the only part of the American car industry that isn't working is in Detroit.

Other governments aren't being so stingy — or mercenary. Sweden gave $3.5 billion to stabilize both Volvo and Saab on Dec. 10. Volkswagen has applied to tap into the bank bailout fund set up by Germany for that nation's troubled financial system — our Treasury and Fed may be compelled to offer similar help. And China just lent Chery Automotive $1.5 billion to continue operations.

That's right, other industrialized countries around the world will be stepping in to ensure that their own automobile industries will still be working when whatever financial downturn we are looking at is finally over. Moreover, they understand that the world's economy is precarious right now, so they aren't demanding that corporate jets be sold, they aren't demanding new business plans to save the individual companies, and they aren't publicly embarrassing the heads of Honda, Toyota, Mercedes, BMW, VW, Nissan, Renault, and others by demanding that they explain why their profits and sales have dropped suddenly. In the rest of the world, elected officials understand serious downturns in the economy and that the automotive industry is cyclical in nature.

As for Congress, shame on you for playing politics when so many jobs and, in many ways, the future of American manufacturing is at stake. But then again politics is all you know. Maybe you should let American carmakers get on with what they know how to do: build cars.

Copyright © 2008 The McGraw-Hill Companies Inc. All rights reserved.

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Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Autoblog #5

I'm sorry, but I have to do it...I was just reading comments at the Freep from some exceptionally ignorant people (not my readers, of course), but just in case one of them wanders by...

Watch CBS Videos Online

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Tuesday, December 09, 2008

What Kind of Cat Are You?

Sorry, autoblog #4 - Thank you, Ben Stein.

You Are a Siamese Cat

You are a very communicative creature. You're eager to express yourself - and do so often.

You are very dependent and love attention. You will complain if you are not getting enough affection.

Even though you are very loving, you can seem aloof, unpredictable, and stubborn in relationships.

A relationship with you takes a lot of patience.

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Friday, December 05, 2008

Intermountain Letter to the Editor - Elkins Fordland

Incredible editorial from one of our Dealers in the Pittsburgh Region.

Attached is a well written "Letter to the Editor" from Elkins Fordland.


As I watch the coverage of the fate of the U.S. auto industry, one alarming and frustrating fact hits me right between the eyes. The fate of our nation's economic survival is in the hands of some congressmen who are completely out of touch and act without knowledge of an industry that affects almost every person in our nation. The same lack of knowledge is shared with many journalists whom are irresponsible when influencing the opinion of millions of viewers.

Sen. Richard Shelby of Alabama has doomed the industry, calling it a dinosaur. No Mr. Shelby, you are the dinosaur, with ideas stuck in the '70s, '80s and '90s. You and the uninformed journalist and senators that hold onto myths that are not relevant in today's world.

When you say that the Big Three build vehicles nobody wants to buy, you must have overlooked that GM outsold Toyota by about 1.2 million vehicles in the U.S. and Ford outsold Honda by 850,000 and Nissan by 1.2 million in the U.S. GM was the world's No. 1 automaker beating Toyota by 3,000 units.

When you claim inferior quality comes from the Big Three, did you realize that Chevy makes the Malibu and Ford makes the Fusion that were both rated over the Camry and Accord by J.D. Power independent survey on initial quality? Did you bother to read the Consumer Report that rated Ford on par with good Japanese automakers.

Did you realize Big Three's gas guzzlers include the 33 mpg Malibu that beats the Accord. And for '09 Ford introduces the Hybrid Fusion whose 39 mpg is the best midsize, beating the Camry Hybrid. Ford's Focus beats the Corolla and Chevy's Cobalt beats the Civic.

When you ask how many times are we going to bail them out you must be referring to 1980. The only Big Three bailout was Chrysler, who paid back $1 billion, plus interest. GM and Ford have never received government aid.

When you criticize the Big Three for building so many pickups, surely you've noticed the attempts Toyota and Nissan have made spending billions to try to get a piece of that pie. Perhaps it bothers you that for 31 straight years Ford's F-Series has been the best selling vehicle. Ford and GM have dominated this market and when you see the new '09 F-150 you'll agree this won't change soon.

Did you realize that both GM and Ford offer more hybrid models than Nissan or Honda. Between 2005 and 2007, Ford alone has invested more than $22 billion in research and development of technologies such as Eco Boost, flex fuel, clean diesel, hybrids, plug in hybrids and hydrogen cars.

It's 2008 and the quality of the vehicles coming out of Detroit are once again the best in the world.

Perhaps Sen. Shelby isn't really that blind. Maybe he realizes the quality shift to American. Maybe it's the fact that his state of Alabama has given so much to land factories from Honda, Hyundai and Mercedes Benz that he is more concerned about their continued growth than he is about the people of our country. Sen. Shelby's disdain for "government subsidies" is very hypocritical. In the early '90s he was the driving force behind a $253 million incentive package to Mercedes. Plus, Alabama agreed to purchase 2,500 vehicles from Mercedes. While the bridge loan the Big Three is requesting will be paid back, Alabama's $180,000-plus per job was pure incentive. Sen. Shelby, not only are you out of touch, you are a self-serving hypocrite, who is prepared to ruin our nation because of lack of knowledge and lack of due diligence in making your opinions and decisions.

After 9/11, the Detroit Three and Harley Davidson gave $40 million-plus emergency vehicles to the recovery efforts. What was given to the 9/11 relief effort by the Asian and European Auto Manufactures? $0 Nada. Zip!

We live in a world of free trade, world economy and we have not been able to produce products as cost efficiently. While the governments of other auto producing nations subsidize their automakers, our government may be ready to force its demise. While our automakers have paid union wages, benefits and legacy debt, our Asian competitors employ cheap labor. We are at an extreme disadvantage in production cost. Although many UAW concessions begin in 2010, many lawmakers think it's not enough.

Some point the blame to corporate management. I would like to speak of Ford Motor Co. The company has streamlined by reducing our workforce by 51,000 since 2005, closing 17 plants and cutting expenses. Product and future product is excellent and the company is focused on one Ford. This is a company poised for success. Ford product quality and corporate management have improved light years since the nightmare of Jacques Nasser. Thank you Alan Mulally and the best auto company management team in the business.

The financial collapse caused by the secondary mortgage fiasco and the greed of Wall Street has led to a $700 billion bailout of the industry that created the problem. AIG spent nearly $1 million on three company excursions to lavish resorts and hunting destinations. Paulson is saying no to $250 billion foreclosure relief and the whole thing is a mess. So when the Big Three ask for 4 percent of that of the $700 billion, $25 billion to save the country's largest industry, there is obviously oppositions. But does it make sense to reward the culprits of the problem with $700 billion unconditionally, and ignore the victims?

As a Ford dealer, I feel our portion of the $25 billion will never be touched and is not necessary. Ford currently has $29 billion of liquidity. However, the effect of a bankruptcy by GM will hurt the suppliers we all do business with. A Chapter 11 bankruptcy by any manufacture would cost retirees their health care and retirements. Chances are GM would recover from Chapter 11 with a better business plan with much less expense. So who foots the bill if GM or all three go Chapter 11? All that extra health care, unemployment, loss of tax base and some forgiven debt goes back to the taxpayer, us. With no chance of repayment, this would be much worse than a loan with the intent of repayment.

So while it is debatable whether a loan or Chapter 11 is better for the Big Three, a $25 billion loan is definitely better for the taxpayers and the economy of our country.

So I'll end where I began on the quality of the products of Detroit. Before you, Mr. or Ms. Journalist continue to misinform the American public and turn them against one of the great industries that helped build this nation, I must ask you one question. Before you, Mr. or Madam Congressman vote to end health care and retirement benefits for 1 million retirees, eliminate 2.5 million of our nation's jobs, lose the technology that will lead us in the future and create an economic disaster including hundreds of billions of tax dollars lost, I ask this question not in the rhetorical sense. I ask it in the sincere, literal way. Can you tell me, have you driven a Ford lately?

Jim Jackson

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Wednesday, December 03, 2008

More Auto Industry Information

Loan vs. Bailout.

More on the domestic auto industry

This guy should be in Washington today instead of the execs. This is audio, so you'll need headphones or speakers.

If you have noticed all the bad news the last 3 years regarding the falling sales of the domestic auto industry, you might be interested in the following questions, possible answers are listed alphabetically.
The correct answers, along with source, are given below.

1. Which country can boast that their brands occupy 2 of the top 3 spots for long-term reliability?
a. Germany
b. Japan
c. Korea
d. United States

2. As of August 2007, which manufacturer had the most recalled vehicles in the U.S. for that year?
a. Chrysler
b. Ford
c. GM
d. Nissan
e. Toyota
f. Volkswagen

3. Pick the brand from each group that has the highest initial quality.
a. Acura, BMW, Cadillac (all luxury makes)
b. Honda, Mercury, Nissan (all non-luxury makes)
c. Acura (lux), Chevrolet (non-lux), BMW (lux), Mazda (non-lux)

4. Which midsize sedan has the highest initial quality?
a. Accord (Honda)
b. Altima (Nissan)
c. Camry (Toyota)
d. Malibu (Chevrolet)

5. Which large sedan has the highest initial quality?
a. Avalon (Toyota)
b. Grand Prix (Pontiac)
c. Sable (Mercury)

6. Which midsize pickup has the highest initial quality?
a. Dakota (Dodge)
b. Ranger (Ford)
c. Tacoma (Toyota)

7. Which car is the most economical overall?
a. Aveo (Chevrolet)
b. Fit (Honda)
c. Prius (Toyota)

8. Which car did the LA Times describe as "a better car than BMW or Mercedes or Lexus or Infiniti"?
a. A6 (Audi)
b. CTS (Cadillac)
c. RL (Acura)

9. Which company makes the winner of the 2008 "Green Car of the Year" award?
a. Chevrolet
b. Honda
c. Toyota

10. Which car was selected by the North American automotive press corps as the "North American Car of the Year" for 2007?
a. Aura (Saturn)
b. Camry (Toyota)
c. Fit (Honda)

11. Which car won the same award for 2008?
a. Accord (Honda)
b. Altima coupe (Nissan)
c. Malibu (Chevrolet)

12. Which company had a luxury vehicle, a midsize sedan, and a large truck removed from the Consumer Reports recommended vehicles list in October 2007 because of mounting quality problems?
a. Chrysler
b. Ford
c. General Motors
d. Hyundai
e. Toyota
f. Volkswagen


1. Which country can boast that their brands occupy 2 of the top 3 spots for long-term reliability?

Answer: United States - Per J.D. Power Vehicle Dependability Study, Mercury and Cadillac are in the top 3, along with Lexus. And in 2007, Buick was tied with Lexus for the top spot.

2. As of August 2007, which manufacturer had the most recalled vehicles in the U.S. for that year?

Answer: Volkswagen - According to Business Week, Volkswagen had the most recalls at this time a year ago. The second worst was Toyota.

3. Pick the brand from each group that has the highest initial quality.
a. Answer : Cadillac (better than both Acura and BMW)
b. Answer: Mercury (better than both Honda and Nissan)
c. Answer: Chevrolet (better than Acura, BMW, and Mazda)

This is according to J.D. Power's Initial Quality Survey.

4. Which midsize sedan has the highest initial quality?

Answer: The Chevrolet Malibu has better initial quality than any competitor, including the Honda Accord, Toyota Camry and Nissan Altima. The Ford Fusion also beat all 3 Japanese competitors.
This too is from the J.D. Power Initial Quality Survey, which also reveals that above average are American brands Mercury, Ford, Cadillac, Chevrolet, Pontiac, Lincoln, and Buick. Below average are import brands Acura, Kia, Nissan, BMW, Mazda, VW, Subaru, and Scion (and several others). Large-Cars

5. Which large sedan has the highest initial quality?

Answer: Again per J.D. Power, the highest quality large car is the Pontiac Grand Prix, beating the Toyota Avalon. Two other Detroit cars that beat the Avalon are the Mercury Sable and Mercury Grand Marquis. Large-Cars

6. Which midsize pickup has the highest initial quality?

Answer: The Dodge Dakota has the best quality for midsize pickups, proving that Chrysler too can beat the imports. Both the Dakota and the Ford Ranger beat the Toyota Tacoma.

7. Which car is the most economical overall?

Answer: Per, the premier automotive analysis site, the most economical car in America, taking into account not only mileage but all costs, is the Chevrolet Aveo. The Honda Fit is #3 and the Toyota Prius is a distant #34.

8. Which car did the Los Angeles Times describe as "a better car than BMW or Mercedes or Lexus or Infiniti"?

Answer: "Cadillac makes a better car than BMW or Mercedes or Lexus or Infiniti, and that car is the 2008 CTS. No other car in the mass market dares so much as this expressive and audacious bit of automotive avant-gardism." Dan Neil, LA Times. pg,0,5427133.photogallery

9. Which company makes the winner of the 2008 "Green Car of the Year" award?

Answer: The Chevrolet Tahoe Hybrid is the winner of this award. How could a full-size SUV defeat the media darling Toyota Prius? Read the link below and you will discover.
"What's equally eye-opening is that the Tahoe's 21 mpg city fuel efficiency rating is the same as that of the city EPA rating for the four-cylinder Toyota Camry sedan." Did you catch that? A huge, full-size SUV from Chevrolet that gets the same city mileage as a 4-cylinder Toyota Camry!! Chevy obtained this remarkable achievement through the use of its 2-mode hybrid system, a technology that Toyota does not have.

10. Which car was selected by the North American automotive press corps as the "North American Car of the Year" for 2007?

Answer: Not only was the Saturn Aura picked by the automotive press corps as better than the Honda Fit and the Toyota Camry, when a panel of 47 journalists named the Saturn Aura the North American Car of the Year over the Toyota Camry, the vote wasn't even close, 205-89." Chicago Tribune, 1/15/07

11. Which car won the same award for 2008?

Answer: GM again crushed the Japanese competition in 2008 when the Malibu received 190 votes to the Honda Accord's 95. The Accord actually came in 3rd since GM's other finalist, the Cadillac CTS, received 165 votes.

12. Which company had a luxury vehicle, a midsize sedan, and a large truck removed from the Consumer Reports recommended vehicles list in October 2007 because of mounting quality problems?

Answer: Toyota's much publicized quality problems resulted in Consumer Reports actually removing from their recommended vehicles list the Lexus GS luxury car, Camry V6 sedan, and Tundra pickup. This demotion occurred in October 2007.

This Q&A list was put together by an employee of an American car company who just might lose his job because of public perceptions that do not match reality. If you are one of the many Americans who gave up on Detroit's cars because of a bad experience many years ago, it's time to rethink your position. Rethink Detroit.

Detroit automakers: 79 U.S. jobs per 2,500 cars sold in America.
Foreign automakers: 33 U.S. jobs per 2,500 cars sold in America.

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Monday, December 01, 2008

Defense of the Big 3

Happy December, first official month of winter which has already started here.

As many of you know, I work for one of the domestic automakers, for now. (I say "for now" because we've been threatened with 10% more lay-offs by the end of January – this after 25% lay-offs accomplished earlier this year.) I believe that there are a lot of misconceptions out there (hell, people here in Detroit don't know or care to know half this stuff either), so I want to help out.

First off, while I normally don't agree with Mr. McCotter on anything, he got this right!

Second is my pet peeve that the media (and apparently, everybody else) seems to forget the automotive companies are not made up just of union (blue-collar workers) and executives. There are those of us in the middle (or what I consider the middle), the white-collar non-executive types who design the cars for the executives to make decisions about and for the blue-collar workers to assemble. You'd think we might be considered to be relatively important, but obviously we're not. I've worked here for over 8 years and for the past five years we've been suffering through lay-off after lay-off after lay-off, not that you'd know about that, because it's not the big guys and it's not the union.

We're the easiest to cut because we don't have big ass compensation contracts that guarantee us millions if we don't leave of our free will (read: executives) and we don't have the union to protect us and keep us in our jobs. So, we've been regularly on the chopping block (more than once a year in those five years). I've watched friend after friend being laid off and the thing that pisses me off is that nobody gives a shit about us. The media swarms the plants when blue collars get laid off, but us? Who cares?

And two years ago we had "voluntary separations" where damn near everybody in the company was offered buy-outs. You probably heard about the blue-collar packages – it included things like $100,000 or a college education and it might have included more – Ours? 3 months pay and supposedly you had to sign something that said you wouldn't apply for unemployment. Now we all know you take a hit of 50% for taxes on something like that. Compare a month and a half's pay (very low four figures, i.e., barely four figures) vs. $100,000.

Now, I should explain that I actually support the unions – in their original iteration. If you have benefits, i.e., medical, dental, etc., you owe that to the unions, even if you're not in a union, because companies don't give those out of the goodness of their heart, but because they want to keep the unions out. Have the unions overstepped the boundaries of late? Yes, a good many of them have. When a company can't fire an employee for poor performance, then that's a problem, or if they institute a program where the employee gets paid 95% of their pay while "temporarily" laid off, that's a problem. But are they solely responsible for the problems of the Big 3? Hell no.

Here is an article that debunks 7 of the biggest myths about Detroit's auto companies.

And anybody who starts in on how the Big 3 only made SUVs, blah blah blah, what a load of shit that is. First off, we made them because people wanted them. I hate SUVs and prefer small cars, so I own a small car made right here in Michigan. I've been driving it for over 8.5 years and there is nothing wrong with it (save a few dents from shit in Michigan's roads getting thrown onto my hood). I'm close to 90,000 miles and that's with walking to work for the past 7 years (save that one year in Bldg. C for Crappy). People only decided this year that they didn't want SUVs because of the price of gas, but if it weren't for that, there would not be the clamor for smaller cars. At least, not this overwhelming sudden demand. The public can change their mind *this* quickly that they no longer want SUVs, but automotive companies can't stop on a dime and re-adjust that quickly.

Another take on the way Detroit was treated by Washington.

Were the executives stupid for flying to DC in the private jets? Probably, but the bigger crime was that they make all that money and weren't prepared in the least bit. Shit, I could have done a better job, especially when that jackass Senator or Representative from Alabama said he didn't care about the domestics because he has a Toyota plant in his state. Well, he'll care because if something happens to even one of the Big Three, it will affect Toyota and Honda because we share suppliers. That means that if GM goes under (or even files Chapter 11) the suppliers will take a huge hit and trust me, they're on the ragged edge as it is. And if a supplier fails that will affect that Toyota plant in the south because there will be no parts coming in to build those fabulous Japanese cars.

Sadly, I can't find one of the columns/op-ed pieces that I want you to read on-line. I got it in an e-mail and I'm going to post it here with all the information as I received it.

This letter from ex-Ford spokesman Jason Vines, found at was too good not to share.

Katrina on Wheels This Week's "Last Word" from Jason Vines

We may never know the financial burden of Hurricane Katrina on New Orleans directly and to other Americans indirectly. Some have pegged it at between 200 and 300 billion dollars. While we cannot stop hurricanes, almost everyone now agrees that more and better "things" should have been done prior to the storm and certainly in the days and weeks after the disaster.

What would those "things" have cost? Let's take a wild guess and say 100 billion dollars or half of what eventually was spent in a totally reactionary mode. Would we have spent it in advance? I believe the answer is yes and if that is the case, we have another disaster headed to our shores that will prove considerably more costly in a financial sense and impact far more communities than did Katrina. Like Katrina, we know this storm is coming and the question is do we do so me thing preemptive or in reaction to the disaster.

Unless the Federal Government comes to the aid of the U.S. auto manufacturers, the waves from the failure of these large employers and the core of our manufacturing base, will take a large and destructive path across America.

The U.S. auto makers are on the verge of collapse. When our economy, and other economies around the world recover and they will, someday there will still be millions of people who want and need new vehicles every year. Is it important that U.S. auto manufacturers are a part of that market? Yes for historical, contemporary and future reasons.

General Motors and Ford, both 100 plus years old, helped establish what sets America apart as the greatest nation on earth our strong middle class. The late historian Daniel Boorstein called the car the "great equalizer" of the 20th Century for Americans. It gave all of us mobility and an ability to further prosper.

When the world was threatened by Nazi tyranny and Japanese aggression in World War II, it was the U.S. auto manufacturers that turned their car factories into the Arsenal of Democracy. Without their support, well, it really is unthinkable to imagine where we -- Americans, French, Brits and, yes, Germans and Japanese -- would be today as a freedom loving people.

The demise of America's car companies, woefully short on cash as we speak, means the loss of millions of jobs directly from the assembly plant worker to the secretary to the dealership mechanic and indirectly from waitresses at local restaurants, to store owners, etc. It means not just a ripple effect through the economy, but a potential tsunami.

In 1994, while I worked for the then-American Automobile Manufacturers Association and its president Andrew Card, we embarked on a study of the true value of America's car companies to our economy. Our study found that the U.S. auto companies accounted for one of every 13 jobs in this country. I have seen new studies today that state the number at one in ten. That is an enormous figure and a key reason why all other major industrial countries that have an auto industry cherish and support it. That is also the reason that emerging markets put a lot of stock into developing a vibrant auto industry. Just look at China and Korea of late.

If you want to see a region that has shut down its manufacturing base and is left with a services-based economy, look no further than the United Kingdom. It isn't pretty.

Jobs don't tell the whole story though. Hundreds, if not thousands, of communities across our country depend heavily on the auto plants and the auto supplier plants. The semiconductor and other parts of the computer industry enjoy these U.S. car companies and their suppliers as some of their best customers, as do steel companies, glass companies, plastics companies and chemical companies. All of these communities that depend on the auto industry and its partners will be devastated. Community charities, school programs, sports programs will be hit hard when that local go-to car dealer can't support the Little League or Girl Scouts or the breast cancer walkathon.

You say they've got it coming, right? They got themselves into this mess you know! How so? They supported communities with jobs and taxes. They provided employees and retirees with good wages and benefits for all their hard work. They provided excellent health care and pensions while their foreign counterparts (read the "smarter car companies") didn't have to worry about this as their federal governments paid for these benefits through higher taxes on all citizens. And when recent times got more difficult, all of America's car companies restructured with their union partners to limit benefits for employees and retirees for the good of the companies.

They should have seen this coming you say? Seen what? Gas jumping up to more than four bucks a gallon? No, they didn't see that, but neither did Toyota and Japan Inc. as they sold larger vehicles in the U.S. market into segments once dominated by Detroit automakers and are too paying for this bad bet today.

They didn't care about the environment? Really? Unquestionably, the most significant anti-pollution device in the history of the automobile industry (maybe all industries) is the catalytic converter. All automakers use one in every car or truck. So which Japanese or German company invented it? None, it was General Motors. And if you want to talk about clean manufacturing, America's car companies have facilities where the air and water that leaves the factory is cleaner than when it first came in.

The Detroit automakers don't care about fuel economy. Really? Get the facts. In the segments in which they compete, General Motors and Ford products in particular rate at or near the top in every one of them.

Insurance giant AIG's bailout has now grown to 150 billion dollars and Washington and New York didn't bat an eye. Meanwhile, America's car companies literally have to beg for a sum far south of those numbers.

And so, we see this storm getting closer by the day. The question is: do we do something about it before it hits the shores and devastates communities across our land; or do we say let 'em go broke and hope for the best. Ask the people of New Orleans what they wish had been done before the storm struck.

Jason Vines

Can someone please tell me why the banks get $700 billion BAILOUT (plus however much more) no strings attached (essentially) and no questions asked, but the domestic automotive companies are put through the wringer for a $25 billion LOAN? And being treated as if we caused this problem, instead of the banks?

I know it's popular to bash the Big 3 on their quality, but if you do that you're ignoring the facts. A year or so ago, Toyota had the LARGEST RECALL in history, not their history, all automotive history. J.D. Powers and Consumer Reports have both given Ford high marks (at least equal to Toyota) in the past few months. And I want to say that if you choose to believe those numbers when they're favorable to the Japanese automakers and unfavorable to the Big 3, then you have to believe those numbers when they're favorable to a domestic automaker.

One other thing on recalls, the Detroit automakers probably have more recalls historically, but one reason for that is that we err on the side of caution, while Toyota and Honda are well known within automotive circles for fixing their little recall problems when owners would bring in their cars for scheduled maintenance without the owners' knowledge. The Big 3 don't push for scheduled dealer maintenance, while Honda and Toyota do for that reason.

When it comes to Safety, just last week (or the week before), Ford had 16 vehicles with 5-Star Crash Ratings – the most of any automaker – including precious Toyotas and Hondas.

I have more articles to link to, but I'll save those for another day since I know this has become a shaggy dog of a story.

Just remember that when you buy a vehicle from Ford, General Motors or Chrysler, you're supporting tens of thousands of direct American jobs (not including suppliers, sub-suppliers, dealers, etc.) and the money stays here. If you buy a Japanese car, and if it happens to be built here, you've supported a few hundred workers and the money heads straight for Japan where we aren't allowed to sell ours in a free market manner as they can here.

I'm pretty sure this was not as well-written or organised as I would have liked, but I needed to get it off my chest. I'm just so tired of people bad-mouthing Detroit and the Big Three.

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