When U.S. Secretary of Transportation Ray LaHood opened the Detroit Auto Show last week and said that the Chevrolet Volt was, "obviously the kind of green car Americans are looking for," it was a slightly self-serving statement. After all, the government that LaHood works for owns a large share of General Motors (and Chrysler). Even though Ford didn't take a bailout from the government, Newsweek wanted to know just who's in charge of the Big Three these days. Their assessment? It's not anyone in Detroit. The problem? The government it pushing too hard for cleaner, more efficient vehicles, vehicles that Newsweek doesn't think Americans want.

The trouble is that Newsweek doesn't really make a convincing case that Obama is dictating what's happening in Detroit. GM began work on the Volt long before they took a bailout. Toyota has been cleaning the domestic automakers' hybrid clocks for years, and so it doesn't seem that absurd that they looking for assistance to get a leg up on the next generation of hybrids (plug-ins)? If the government can't voice its concerns – which are supposed to be, but aren't always, the concerns of the people – then why have it? A higher CAFE standard doesn't dictate product, it just puts into law the reality that there are costs to using so much gasoline. Well before Obama took office, President Bush and the automakers were saying we need to make cleaner cars. This is really a case of the tail wagging the dog that is wagging the tail, and it feels like Newsweek is trying a little too hard to make a point here.

[Source: Newsweek via MLive | Image: ~MVI~ (on food trip) - C.C. License 2.0]

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