DETROIT (AP) – With an almost certain bankruptcy filing days away, General Motors is beginning its reinvention, planning to retool one factory to make its smallest vehicles ever in the U.S. and rid itself of the biggest.
The moves provided more clues about what a restructured GM might look like ahead of the expected Chapter 11 filing Monday. Taxpayers will eventually own nearly three-quarters of a leaner GM, with a total government commitment of nearly $50 billion.
GM said it plans to reopen a shuttered U.S. factory to build subcompact cars. The retooled factory would be able to build 160,000 cars a year and create 1,200 jobs, offsetting some of the 21,000 that will be lost when GM closes 14 factories by the end of next year.
GM is banking on more demand for smaller cars previously shunned by Americans. The government decided earlier this month to raise fuel economy standards for the entire U.S. fleet by 2016.
So what will the new car company that I own produce? Crap like this:
Setting aside the fact that I would never own a car painted that color, I can’t even fit into that car…
…hmm…actually I probably will be able to squeeze into that car soon because I’m sure the Obama administration’s brown shirts will mandate that I lose 50 lbs or I’ll be thrown in “fat prison”.
Politicians, journalists, financial analysts and other purveyors of banality have been looking at cars as if a convertible were a business. Fire the MBAs and hire a poet. The fate of Detroit isn’t a matter of financial crisis, foreign competition, corporate greed, union intransigence, energy costs or measuring the shoe size of the footprints in the carbon. It’s a tragic romance—unleashed passions, titanic clashes, lost love and wild horses.
Early witnesses to the automobile urged motorists to get a horse. But that, in effect, was what the automobile would do—get a horse for everybody. Once the Model T was introduced in 1908 we all became Sir Lancelot, gained a seat at the Round Table and were privileged to joust for the favors of fair maidens (at drive-in movies). The pride and prestige of a noble mount was vouchsafed to the common man. And woman, too. No one ever tried to persuade ladies to drive sidesaddle with both legs hanging out the car door.
Thus cars usurped the place of horses in our hearts. Once we’d caught a glimpse of a well-turned Goodyear, checked out the curves of the bodywork and gaped at that swell pair of headlights, well, the old gray mare was not what she used to be. We embarked upon life in the fast lane with our new paramour. It was a great love story of man and machine. The road to the future was paved with bliss.
Then we got married and moved to the suburbs. Being away from central cities meant Americans had to spend more of their time driving…
The car ceased to be object of desire and equipment for adventure and turned into office, rec room, communications hub, breakfast nook and recycling bin—a motorized cup holder. Americans, the richest people on Earth, were stuck in the confines of their crossover SUVs, squeezed into less space than tech-support call-center employees in a Mumbai cubicle farm. Never mind the six-bedroom, eight-bath, pseudo-Tudor with cathedral-ceilinged great room and 1,000-bottle controlled-climate wine cellar.
We became sick and tired of our cars and even angry at them. Pointy-headed busybodies of the environmentalist, new urbanist, utopian communitarian ilk blamed the victim…
…If we would all just get on our Schwinns or hop a trolley, they said, America could become an archipelago of cozy gulags on the Portland, Ore., model with everyone nestled together in the most sustainably carbon-neutral, diverse and ecologically unimpactful way.
I don’t believe the pointy-heads give a damn about climate change or gas mileage, much less about whether I survive a head-on with one of their tax-sucking mass-transit projects. All they want to is to make me hate my car.
Well…screw that. I own a big convertible with a big trunk. I love it and I love driving it. I plan on getting another big car with lots of room to put golf clubs, chilluns, ice chests…and a frame that can crush a Smart Car.
In fact, does anyone have one of these for sale?