Thomas Trimarco worked for the Department of Transportation in the 1970's and in a column in today's Boston Globe, he remembers attending a meeting with the Big Three representatives about the looming disconnect between US market share and impending dangers to our oil supply. The column is here.
The lesson he took away from that meeting was "these management misfits have created a big mess. They have created an unsustainable business model. And our current generation may yet witness the most tremendous failure any industry has experienced in US history. But it should come as little surprise. The arrogance of the Big Three is institutional, and historical."
What prompted his anger was an ad for the Cadillac Escalade hybrid, which if you drive it very, very carefully will eek out 20 mpg.
My 1966 Corvair Monza Coupe 110/4 speed achieves 27 mp on highway trips at 70 mph with 121,000 miles on the engine. A member of a national Corvair forum posted an issue of a 1965 Popular Mechanics, which also included a road test of a Fiat 1100D Station Wagon. That car, which would cruise at 65 mph all day, posted 37 mpg. My 1966 Land Rover, with an engine design created in the 1950's, gets 19 mpg at 70 mph. Oh yes, it has over 500,000 miles on the car, over 300,000 on its current engine. My 1980 Triumph TR-7 Spider, a twin carb car hardly built for mileage economy, gets 25 mpg at 75 mph.The car has 108,000 miles on the engine.
Meanwhile, Detroit based manufacturers seem to build cars in Europe that meet consumer needs and account for the decrease in sales due to the worldwide recession. Of course, they're not available in the US - even though they could actually be designed to meet both sets of EU and US certifications. Maybe the US ought to simply adopt the EU standards?
What's standing in the way? History and institutional patterns, encased in the Board of Directors at the Big 3.