Autoextremist on Trade Policy

Sweet Peet D. You know, we agree with him somewhat. Other governments are more involved with growing their automotive industries than we are. And their manufacturing bases. And we don't think it's some sort of either/or case in a nation like ours where one can't do highfalutin' things like R&D and cost-benefit analyses and economies of scale and whatnot. We believe the gov't needs to step in at this juncture and allow our manufacturers the headroom to do better. At that point, the initiative is up to them.

Of course, they haven't in a lot of ways. Ford gives their new Focus platform to Mazda at a time when economy cars are coming into vogue here. GM builds an economical, rear-drive platform and puts it up against a decade-and-a-half segment-defining juggernaut instead of using it to hit the BMW 1-series where it isn't and define a segment that hasn't been visited since the Toyota Trueno/Corolla AE86 nearly twenty years ago.

Chrysler comes out with an E-Class-based, V8, rear-drive architecture that absolutely refines and redefines what it means to be an American car.

And yet. And yet despite the goodness of what we've got, and there's a lot of goodness if you actually look, when your average American driver gets into a Camry, everything falls neatly to hand, whether one's come out of a '70 Chevelle or an '83 Starlet.

We dare you to try that in say, oh, a new Impala. Plus, the bezel around the shifter doesn't come off with an errant touch of the hand, as it does in Chrysler's LX cars. Or at least both of them we've tested.

So what will this politicking stop? One, possibly an easy market for Chinese cars. Two? It might buy the manufacturers more time. But one only needs to watch a few episodes of Top Gear to see what the Euros think of American cars.

And that show has 250,00,000 viewers. So one can bitch about Clarkson being a Little-Englander all one wants, but the man's got an undeniable impact. And as car guys, we can sit back and giggle and catch the nuance in his insults, even when we disagree. Joe Schmuck? Most likely, not so much.

We recently handed Dubya a "fuck you" when he basically disowned Detroit's automakers to Michigan Governor Jennifer Granholm. And he deserves it.

But at this point, while a balance of trade incentives and a "level playing field" might help American automakers narrow the gap (something that they have done in myriad ways themselves), they're not ever going to be the class of the field without Sweet Peet's other mantra: "Product, product, product."

Free trade? How about fair trade? [Autoextremist]

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