The not-so-Big Three learned from their corporate travel mistake deciding to drive to D.C. this week for testimony before Congress. Thanks to our man on the scene, here's a look at the cars they chose and their meaning.
Ford: Escape Hybrid SUV
Ford CEO Alan Mulally started this trend by first claiming that he'd drive to D.C and, not surprisingly, showed up in a 2009 Ford Escape Hybrid. It shows to Congress and the world how Ford, which is in a better financial position than the other two, is making fuel efficient cars people want to buy and already has good hybrid technology. Ford also showed up with a 2009 Ford Flex to, we assume, move staff around.
Chrysler: Aspen Hybrid SUV
Chrysler's Bob Nardelli also drove to Washington, D.C. in a hybrid SUV: the 2009 Chrysler Aspen Hybrid. How does the Aspen Hybrid stack up against the Escape Hybrid? It gets worse gas mileage, it uses mediocre hybrid technology developed in conjunction with GM and is built into a car that's proven to be wildly unpopular.
But don't worry, they've already cancelled it — just four months after starting production. This not only demonstrates the company is unable to build attractive, efficient vehicles. It's another reminder parent company Cerberus is just waiting for Chrysler to get sold off to someone else.
He showed up to the hearing in a JEEP EV, a futuristic electric vehicle that will be a great halo vehicle for whichever company ends up owning Jeep.
General Motors: Chevrolet Volt Mule/Malibu Hybrid
General Motors' man at the helm Rick Wagoner drove to Washington, D.C. in a 2009 Chevy Malibu Hybrid but drove to the Senate hearing in a 2011 Chevy Volt test mule. There was also a Chevy Suburban and Cadillac CTS in the area, perhaps to shuttle executives around when not in front of the camera.
The fact that GM brought two different hybrid vehicles down shows the company is willing to work hard for the money, so hard for the money. The Volt prototype clearly demonstrates they're on the path to creating a mass production hybrid vehicle. The Malibu just shows they're not dumb enough to drive around Washington, D.C. in something unreliable.
Special thanks to STR8SIX for getting these live shots togther. His report below.
I made a short trip into downtown DC this afternoon. I was only able to spend about a half an hour snooping around the senate buildings. I found the Ford Flex and Escape hybrid from the Ford convoy. I also found an Aspen hybrid. Each of the vehicles had a driver sitting in it with the engine running. Unfortunately, I was unable to locate the Chevy Volt mule. One of the security officers said that GM was giving test drives in the Volt and did not know if it would reappear this afternoon. A dark red Cadillac CTS with the engine running was parked in front of the Ford vehicles. That may have been Wagoner's ride back to the hotel.
[Additional Photos From Win McNamee/Getty Images, Ford, Chrysler GM]