Cutting Off Their Noses to Spite Their Faces

The irony is so think you'd need the "jaws of life" to cut through it. On the same day that automakers reported their catastrophic sales slide for the month of June, the result of skyrocketing gasoline prices and inefficient product offerings, they also filed their objections to the government's new Corporate Average Fuel Economy (CAFE) standards, claiming that improving the fuel economy of the vehicles they manufacture would be disastrous to the auto industry, to consumers and to the nation's economy. Are they serious? Who writes their material? Don't they realize that their sales are nosediving precisely because Americans are rejecting low-mileage vehicles in the face of $4.00 a gallon gasoline? Remember a few months ago when a reporter asked President Bush if he was concerned about gasoline hitting $4 a gallon, and he replied, "Oh really? Four dollars a gallon? I hadn't heard that."? I didn't think it was possible for anyone to be any more clueless than that, but here come GM, Ford, Chrysler and Toyota to prove me wrong. The automakers complain that the new CAFE standards will cost 82,000 jobs and $29 million in economic activity, and will reduce industry output by 850,000 units. Guess what, guys? It's already happening, and it's not because of CAFE standards. You're losing customers, market share and stock value because you ramped up production of gas-guzzling trucks and SUVs and willfully ignored the nascent market for high-quality, high-mileage cars (not to mention the market for hybrids, flex-fuel vehicles and alternative fuel vehicles). How can you seriously look at what's happening in the marketplace today and complain that being forced to sell high-mileage vehicles will kill your business? How can you say you didn't see this coming?

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