• Dec 11, 2008
If an emergency loan for the Detroit 3 makes it through Congress, part of the deal will be an overseer for the industry to make sure the money is spent wisely. Of course, the question is who will fill the car czar's slippers? MotorTrend editor Angus McKenzie has come out in favor of Roger Penske, an interesting choice particular considering his successful at the helm of various business endeavors, not to mention his racing teams. In the past, Penske has even been mentioned as a potential CEO of General Motors.
Naturally, since this makes so much sense, it'll never happen. Most likely, either some clueless bureaucrat or a crony of the current administration will get the job. But there's a distinct possibility that whoever fills the position will carry over to the Obama administration.

[Source: MotorTrend | Image: A. Messerschmidt/Getty]


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  • 29 Comments
      • 6 Years Ago
      Not a chance. Penske is probably a Republican and he's way too smart and experienced to be whatever a "Car Czar" is expected to be.

      Democrats will pick some nitwit hack to pressure GM and the others into making cars that are nice and green, but that few people will choose to buy unless gas prices rise above $4 per gallon or a new gas tax keeps prices near that level.

      As for cars designed with the government's help, anybody want to buy an American Trabant?
        • 6 Years Ago
        Actually, I believe the Car Czar is to be appointed by the current White House administration, which scares me quite a bit. The unfortunate situation with government always becomes that the person most perfect for the job, whoever that may be, typically wants to stay as far away as possible from the bureaucratic mess that politics has become.

        And yes, I would like to buy an American Trabant... just not with a 2-stroke diesel. Well, not really... but I would like to see something simple and affordable made available once again. Make it safe, have a small fuel injected 4-cylinder (perhaps even a turbo-diesel), sparse interior, manual everything, and sell it for under $10k. I know... I live in fantasy land, but I like it here.
      • 6 Years Ago
      shelby is just for breaking the unions, the unions that built this country and gave us the middle class. Chapter 11 will be the END of the automakers. period. then we will see a rise in unemployment jump from about 7% to about 20+%. the country will be in ruins, do to a few idiotic, backwards thinking good old boys. it's pathetic.
        • 6 Years Ago
        Unemployment is already over 20 percent in some areas of Michigan.
        • 6 Years Ago
        For your nightmare scenario to come true, the auto industry, including all supplier and spinoff industries, would have to account for 21 million American jobs. The most apocalyptic doom-mongering scenarios I've read, positing a complete and total shutdown of every US car plant (including foreign-owned ones, because of supplier shutdowns) and every related supplier AND spinoff job puts the number at 3 million jobs short term, 1.8 long term.

        Care to elaborate where you got your 20+% unemployment number and "country in ruins" estimate from?
      • 6 Years Ago

      I hope Ralph Nader does not get the job of car Czar.
        • 6 Years Ago
        amen to that...knowing bush and his use of cronyism in the past, i wouldn't put it past him. especially in his remaining lame duck days.

        i know the daily show isn't ever a fair example to use, but i loved that on tuesday nights episode it showed how the "two presidents" are handling the crisis. obama at a podium, and bush dancing w/ kids. that gave me a good laugh or two.
      • 6 Years Ago
      Another good choice would be Lee Iacocca.

      Well, I see that the site redesign hasn't fixed the posting issues. I'm still getting those idiotic "You did it!" messages, followed by the emails that never materialize.
      • 6 Years Ago
      Speaking of conflict of interests....

      The czar must be a person who has nothing to loose and nothing to gain from the position. A US drug czar is not a heroin addict and doesn't run a nationwide network of heroin distributors.
        • 6 Years Ago
        Penske bought Detroit Diesel when it had lost about $600 million in the previous few years. He turned around the company and it was very profitable when he sold it.

        Penske controlled companies do business with virtually every automaker and importer in North America. His dealer groups sell 41 different brands of cars. I suppose you can argue that he's too close to the auto industry, but unless you think he's going to show favoritism to one company at the risk of pissing off all the other companies with whom he does business I don't think that conflict of interest is a problem.

        The two logical choices are Penske and Mitt Romney. Romney made his fortune as a turnaround specialist.

        The only way that Pelosi and Reid would agree to Romney is if they think he's going to fail.
      • 6 Years Ago
      Penske,s "self interest" ( & extreme capability) would be the greatest assets one could bring to the job . After all , what,s best for Roger would be best for the country!
      • 6 Years Ago
      Only if Constanza gets to work on the Penske File
      • 6 Years Ago
      Shelby is probably taking money from those unAmerican auto companies with plants located in his state that he handed billions to in state incentives to build there. You know, if our Fathers & Grand Fathers had said World War II isn't worth the fight because our grand children will be paying for it......the world would be speaking Jap and German today. We did pay for it, as Americans always pull through and do the right thing. LOAN them the money and get on with it!
        • 6 Years Ago
        @flemming in TN...

        I believe it is worth saving...but in a reasonable responsible way.


        Am I in favor of the Big2 going under?

        NO

        But I do not think we should be rushed into a decision with doom and gloom which is precisely what happened with the financial bailout.

        These guys are supposedly smart enough to fix the problems?

        1. Why haven't they yet?
        2. Why didn't they see the issue coming?
        3. Why didn't they ask for help before they were "weeks" away from running out of money?


        It is all a shell game to get a piece of the pie and bailout money.

        They should have asked 2 months ago so that there could have been due diligence and construct a plan, and a reasonable bill and solution.

        the amount of money they are asking for will last them what 3-5 months? Then what?

        They really think they will be turned around in that time?

        I do not think they can be turned around in that amout of time...and if they are...well then someone should ask the really tough question...if it was that easy why did you not do it yourself 6 months ago??

        • 6 Years Ago
        Yes, Shelby favors Merc, Honda and Hyundai. I'm from Alabama, so I do know that's correct.

        I'm all for Lido to become car czar, or at least GM.
      • 6 Years Ago
      It's funny, but Penske is the first guy I thought of for car czar. It'll more likely be a bean counter, or some business school professor. Neither of which will know nothing more about a car than how to put gas in it.
      • 6 Years Ago
      Roger would be GREAT for the position!
        • 6 Years Ago
        Roger is a moron. He has a management style just like currently resides within the Big3, which is to say, "mismanagement". He ruined Detroit Diesel! Someone take a look at what he's done there. Detroit Diesel is about to close the doors on all of it's distributors because ol' Rog wasn't able to keep up with what was going on within the industry. After 2010 the Series 60 will no longer meet emissions and the only product they will have left is Mercedes engines. And ask Rog how he lost controlling interest in Detroit Diesel. He got it too tight with Mercedes due to racing interests and they ended up with control of Detroit.

        In short this guy is just wrong! Wrong, wrong, wrong!
      • 6 Years Ago
      A few alternatives:

      * A NASCAR owner like Rouch or Hendrick
      * Maximum Bob Lutz (he's got a job but look at what he's done for GM)
      * Peter DiLorenzo
      * The Cast of Top Gear
      • 6 Years Ago
      "interesting choice particular considering his successful at the helm of various business endeavors"

      ...sigh.

      Anyway, I do think Penske would be an interesting choice. He should keep his dealerships too, to align his interests with his job. It would be like incentive pay - rejuvenate US auto market, sell more cars. Just as long as he didn't directly favor his own interests unfairly, I see no problem here.
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