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California Governor Tells Automakers to Get Off Their Butt

Bloomberg. California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger said Detroit’s carmakers must get off their “butt” on greenhouse gas reduction.

“I say, Arnold to Michigan: get off your butt and join us,” Schwarzenegger said today at an environmental conference in Washington. “California may be doing more to save US automakers than anyone else. We are pushing them to make changes. If they don’t change someone else will.”

Schwarzenegger is stepping up pressure on General Motors Corp., Ford Motor Co. and DaimlerChrysler AG as he seeks a waiver from US pollution rules to implement carbon-dioxide curbs he signed into law in 2004. The governor met today with Stephen Johnson, who leads the US Environmental Protection Agency.

“Only technology will ultimately save Detroit,” Schwarzenegger said at the Global Environment Conference at Washington’s Georgetown University. “If they don't change, someone else will, the Japanese will, the Chinese will, the South Koreans will.”

Comments

Kevin

I don't neccessarily agree with Arnie all of the time, but this is cool!

Harvey D.

It's about time for the Elected to speak out and send a clear message to Washington and the Big-Three. (while they are still around).

The little progress made on average mpg during the last 50 years is appalling.

A one tonne (1000 Kg) vehicle could be doing 100 mpg in 2007. Toyota and Honda may be selling this type of vehicle in 2009 while the average Big-Three may reach 25 mpg.

William

The Govenator has spoken, and The Big Three (soon to be
reduced to "Girly Men") better take heed. The first
three Asian manufacturers to standardize the PHEV while
being first to market and implement its capability, will be the ones to unseat those who now have been put on notice. Thanks
Arnie for clearing the air. Oh, by the way, where is the
"Hyrdogen Highway?". We can't afford any more mishaps in Washington, can you endorse legislation for different color codes for fuel recepticles. Lets say Red for hydrogen and
yellow for electricity and maybe add some lightning bolts for
those quick charge 220/440V outlets. Seems there has been a
little mix up recently on what goes where. After all, you
remember what happened the last time a "Richard" was Commander in Theif.

wintermane

Well as long as the average american car buyer refuses tochange its gona take alot of timr and arnie can stuff it.

You cant sell the high mpg wondercars gere for the samr trason you dont sell 3000 buck tiolets heree.We real just dony give enough of a crp to spend it.
And concidering the size of the used cr market...

gr

With respect to the Goovenor - he is rattling the cages and carries the clout of the world's 7th largest economy. He might take a swing at our darling Toyota for its gas swilling 12 MPG Tundra coming soon to a highway near you.

Gerald Shields

I hate to say this but the Govenator is arguably the only Republican I would vote for. He's one of the few politicians who is going after the Big Three to change their "spin & sue" stategy on fuel emission and efficiency standards. His celebrity status may be more convincing than the rantings of certain environmental and anti-war groups (Let's face it: Were in Iraq for THE OIL FOLKS!).

Cervus

You know, Arnie, if you'd tell CARB to relax some of those insane NOx emission standards, you'd get some very efficient diesels on the road. You have to choose which ecological problem you want the state to address: A local smog problem or a global climate change one.

Choose.

Gerald Shields

I hate to say this but the Govenator is arguably the only Republican I would vote for. He's one of the few politicians who is going after the Big Three to change their "spin & sue" stategy on fuel emission and efficiency standards. His celebrity status may be more convincing than the rantings of certain environmental and anti-war groups (Let's face it: Were in Iraq for THE OIL FOLKS!).

Richard

Cervus, sounds like you work for GM? Pick what? They both need to be adressed. Get off your high horse.

Cervus

Richard:

I own an '05 Toyota Corolla and ride a Honda Reflex scooter. Toyota does not have GM's legacy costs to deal with. They are a non-union automaker. Ergo, GM is going to focus on high-margin vehicles like big SUVs and muscle cars in order to subsidize small car sales. A friend of mine who is a GM line worker and a UAW member (and has been for over twenty years) has told me they lose money on small cars and I have no reason to disbelieve him.

For example, the plant he works at is retooling from building Saturn Ions to some kind of SUV. "We can't sell small cars" he's told me repeatedly.

Some automakers are trying to address both problems, but the solutions aren't cheap and when you're running at a huge loss like the Big 2.5 have been over the past few years, I would expect them to fight any legislation that would threaten their return to profitability. Losing those companies will cost the country dearly.

tim

READ NEWSWEEK!!!! great articles about him and what he's doing. i don't agree with his consumption-as-usual stance, because it puts all the responsibility on the automakers to save us. you mean to say consumers never make bad choices? you mean to say that parasitic overconsumption will become okay if we can neutralize it with cleaner technology? as long as the general populace grows up with commercials in place of consciences, and as long as those making the car commercials are bending to the will of the oil lobby, we'll keep on getting new subcompacts that fail to break the 40 mpg barrier, but that can haul our boats and compensate for our gender-identity issues.

Gerald Shields

Cervus, just saying that GM's going to lose money in making more fuel efficient cars? That's not a good excuse anymore. Their losing money anyway in lost sales to Toyota, Nissan and Honda. And your "union" friend? Heck, they are closing plants and laying off folks like him by droves anyway and those jobs get outsourced to either Mexico or Canada. Moreover, as those companies start building plants in the U.S. to sell more hybrids, The Big Three loses more market share. All of what's being asked is that they start making 40mpg or higher vehicles that folks will buy . . . or people are going to start buying Priuses and America LOSES!

Cervus

Gerald:

I'm sorry, I just don't see where you're coming from. You don't seem to think that these very real problems the domestic automakers face are a big deal. You're wrong. GM employed a significant percentage of the workforce in the 50s and 60s. Those people are retired and taking pensions and health care from the company right now, to the tune of two thousand dollars per vehicle when you count their current workforce. That's more than ten percent of the cost of a new Cobalt.

"All of what's being asked is that they start making 40mpg or higher vehicles that folks will buy"

Developing a new vehicle for mass production is not cheap or simple. It costs billions in development, testing, and factory tooling costs. It amounts to a huge risk for the company for a vehicle that will have a very low profit margin, if any, in an already-crowded market segment. It amounts to a huge risk. There's no way to guarantee people will actually buy what you're selling

There's a reason why the Chevy Aveo is built in South Korea. It's why that if any of the minicar concepts GM recently showed go into production, they won't be built here.

Maybe the domestics don't really know how to make smaller, efficient cars. American tastes in vehicles have historically trended towards larger, more powerful engines and body styles. We also have larger families than Europeans, which means minvans (though that particular segment is a dying breed because it's "uncool") or large station wagons. Or SUVs.

But all you have to do is look at the sales figures to know what consumers are choosing: More Honda, Toyota. Less GM, Ford, DCX. I see quite a few Yaris on the road, and my Corolla is one of thousands. San Diego's climate is perfect for motorcycles and scooters, and I see more of those also.

What Arnie is asking of the automakers may not be possible, given the challenges they face on other fronts. Old companies like these have decades of baggage that younger ones do not. And the choices they've made over that time are coming back to bite them. If they're now too large to adapt to changing market conditions, then they will pay that price and go out of business.

George

Cervus writes: What Arnie is asking of the automakers may not be possible, given the challenges they face on other fronts. Old companies like these have decades of baggage that younger ones do not. And the choices they've made over that time are coming back to bite them. If they're now too large to adapt to changing market conditions, then they will pay that price and go out of business.

Cervus, you're right about that. Maybe they are trying to go chapter 11 in order to offload their pension liabilities to the taxpayers. It sure looks like they are trying to go out of business.

Gerald Shields

Cervus: Excuses, excuses. On the subject of smaller cars: If GM has to “outsource” their small car manufacturing, then the company’s done for! Though it does take a lot of money to develop a care and GM does have to deal with worker’s costs, which are not the reason why they aren't producing better fuel efficient vehicles. Take the Chevrolet Volt. Although GM insists the concept car would be shipped in 2010, somehow I get the feeling that they are praying they never have to ship or/and market it. Imagine what the Volt would do to their “conventional” car sales or to our dependence on foreign oil: Since it’s a plug-in hybrid, your house is essentially the “gas station” and you won’t end up going to a “7-Eleven” type gas station a lot. Also, lesser motor oil and lubricant changes, thereby lessening the immediate need for auto parts. Moreover, the car could be set up to run on either E85 or E100. In short, the only way that the Volt would be shipped is if Congress and the President sign off on law bumping fuel-efficiency to 40mpg. The Volt is simply tomorrow’s EV-1, a 150mpg "vapor car".

Cervus

Whatever, Gerald. I'm not defending GM's choices. I 'm merely trying to explain, using facts, why they act the way they do.

wintermane

In the end gm and gang will keep only the us factories that produce high margin cars and trucks. Everything rlse will br made elsewhere. Eventualy they will come back but most likely with only totaly new plant designs that are massively atomated.

What has skiwed this process down is not the car makers but congress avoiding as much as possible the catacysmic job losses and union anialation that would result.
From massive factories in mexico and china they are ptrpping fir that time to come SOON.

gr

GM knows it can no longer carry the big oil torch in the face of PHEV competition. In the end US auto manufacturers and their unions will have to agree to make the Volt and likes or lose ever greater market share.

A serial hybrid is one third the mechanical complexity of a typical ICE. So they sell less parts and maintenance and sell more cosmetic aftermarket junk (smart chargers, supercap boosters, EMF dice etc.) If the automakers and UAW pension funds were thinking they might look into alternative energy investment. The Volt will need biofuel and electric power - quick charge stations will replace outdated petro.

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