What to Do About the Big Three?
We have a new president-elect, and he (with his predecessor) is facing an old problem: what to do about the Big Three automakers? These companies haven't been innovative or competitive in the marketplace in a generation or more. Now General Motors is looking to the federal government to offer a big aid package to keep the company in business and keep its many thousands of employees working. There is little doubt Ford and Chrysler will follow suit.
This poses a conundrum for anyone committed to bringing about a new Clean Energy System like the one I describe in Hot, Flat, and Crowded. Is it a good idea for the government to rescue GM with a financial package like the ones offered to Wall Street earlier this year, or is such a rescue a way of stimulating ignorance and rewarding the worst offenders, the foes of energy innovation?
If Washington does offer a rescue plan, what terms should the government ask for to hold the Big Three accountable in the new era we are in? Can we really expect the automakers to finally try in earnest to produce plug-in hybrids and other vehicles that use fuel in cleaner, more efficient ways? Is there a good way for the government to extend the rescue to the more competitive, innovative automakers—Honda and Toyota—so that they can take roles in leading the auto business into the Energy-Climate Era at last?
I am eager for your thoughts. Thanks for taking an interest in Chapter 18.