Ed Montgomery, the gentleman who helped usher General Motors and Chrysler through some of the most difficult times in both companies' histories, has stepped down from his position as the Auto Recovery Czar for the Obama Administration. Montgomery had been at his post for just 15 months, during which time he managed to shell out an unprecedented amount of aid for two of America's ailing auto manufacturers. The move kept the lights on, the factories humming and workers paid as both GM and Chrysler
While there have been rumors and suggested candidates floated for the so-called federal "car czar" post, it now no longer looks like that position will be filled. That's because President Barack Obama has apparently gone cold on the idea. Instead, new reports suggest that he will look to a select group of senior economic advisers for guidance.
To be fair, the new president faces a lot of immediate challenges. But when it comes to the auto industry, the biggest four challenges could be the bridge loans, fuel economy mandates, the EPA vs The California 14, and the board of czars that will oversee the fortunes of GM and Chrysler. The similarity between these challenges and others on the domestic and global agenda: he doesn't have a lot of time to get them right.
Now that General Motors and Chrysler have accepted Federal assistance in the form of low-interest bridge loans, the two companies may not have many choices available to them if a Fed-appointed individual were to make product recommendations to senior management. In fact, that's exactly what the so-called car czar would likely do, under the guise of keeping an eye on the interests of the taxpayers who funded the automakers' revival. Ford, though, has not accepted any assistance yet, and it hopes
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
The House of Representatives and the Senate will discuss and likely vote on the Automaker Bailout Bill (we know, it's not technically a bailout, but rather loans that will be paid back) tomorrow, and the first discussion draft of the bill has hit the internet. The discussion bill is 31 pages long, and like you we're not about to spend our Monday evening reading through the whole thing. Thankfully, some real auto journalists over at The Detroit Free Press have done that for us.
Soon after President-elect Obama and still-President Bush sat down on Monday, reports began to surface that the Obama camp was considering the appointment of a "Car Czar." The position would provide the new administration with analysis and advice on the auto industry and the financial (and product?) perils faced by Detroit Big 3(ish).
When Bob Lutz became GM's car czar last year, he kept telling workers that they couldn't keep doing things the same way if they wanted different results. Seems obvious, and that philosophy is considered one of the litmus tests for being sane. Although there's still a long way to go, and GM might slip to the #2 spot in global production before it gets sorted, it seems the message is getting through.
By now we're all aware what a good Car Czar can do for an automaker. Bob Lutz is often referred to as the Car Czar at General Motors who banned body cladding on Pontiacs, brought over the Aussie-sourced GTO (that really opened the door for the upcoming Chevy Camaro revival) and pushed Cadillac further upmarket where it belongs. Last year Lutz officially became GM's global product Czar, no doubt on account of Saturn's transformation into an imported brand with the addition of rebadged versions of