Sunday, October 26, 2008

The End of the SUV?

General Motors, Driven to the Brink

Now, there's a headline.

Not too long ago, the SUV was the biggest single profit centre a car company ever had.

It is now, thank god, toast.

"What is clear is that Detroit, among its other miscues in recent years, particularly overindulged its romance with S.U.V.’s, leaving it tethered to a product line that may prove to be the industry’s undoing."

Read the whole story here and then bless your Smart Car, scooter or 2-door hatchback and keep lobbying for real transit in Vancouver.

Who knows?

Maybe someday it will arrive.


Anonymous said...

I saw a fascinating documentary a few days ago, part of PBS's Frontline series. A fair amount of time was spent covering how the American auto makers, like GM, squandered opportunities to be at the forefront of fuel efficiency and low emissions. The CEOs of the big three made an agreement with the Clinton administration in 1993 to cars that would get 80 miles to the gallon. It was a Clinton-Gore initiative to get the auto makers to agree to act without the being forced to do things through regulation. Look at how successful that was.

Then, with tough low-emissions and fuel-economy standards about to be put in place by California, GM built a successful electric car, the EV1. When those standards were killed, so was the electric car. GM sent almost all EV1s to be scrapped. Toyota and Honda, however, took the standards seriously, and created gas-electric hybrids like the Prius, expecting the standards would be put in place, and not wanting to be technologically behind the big three. When the standards never materialized, they went ahead and continued to develop and sell the hybrids anyways. Now Toyota and Honda are ahead, and GM, squandering its technological lead is playing catch up. Ten years after the EV1, it is developing the Volt from scratch. (The difference between the Volt and the EV1 is that the Volt can run on pure electricity, and on fuel. The EV1 was purely an electric car.) But as this Frontline documentary revealed, the Volt can't even get up a hill right now, runs at 10 mph at most on level road, and will have a long way to go before it is ready for the marketplace.

It is ironic to think that the big three even took California to court to have new standards overturned. Litigation rather than innovation seems to have been their forte. To their detriment.

Craig Y.

Grandpa said...

California certainly gets good press for its stand on vehicle pollution, but your "SUV" photo looks an awful lot like a Hummer. Didn't Arnold S. own a stable of Hummers?