Posted by: mutantpoodle | June 22, 2007

The Detroit Death Wish

Cartoon by Jim Morin, Miami Herald

Cartoon by Jim Morin, Miami Herald

I mentioned in my first post on this site that I thought the choice between business and the environment was aq false one.

Actually, what I wrote was this:

I believe it is incoherently stupid to claim that protecting the environment is bad for business. It might be bad for your business, but if you have an imagination and courage, you can make doing the right thing pay off. Don’t believe me? Think how Detroit would be doing if the Big 3 automakers had embraced fuel economy and emissions reductions 25 years ago.

The Senate has, for the moment, approved raising the Corporate Average Fuel Economy (CAFE) standard to 35 MPG by 2020, and it includes SUVs and light trucks in the standard – a glaring loophole in the current system. It’s not clear whether this will survive final Senate deliberation or the conference with the house, or George Bush’s mighty veto pen, but predictably, auto companies have been fighting this change but hard.[more]

To which I say, why? Isn’t it clear that the winner in this is going to be the company that figures it out the best? The smart domestic automaker (no oxymoron jokes, please) would have been on this hard in the last few years, because there is an advantage (ask Toyota) to market leadership with an excellent product.

I find it amusing that the same arguments businesses make about free trade (that it may be individually disruptive but is overall more efficient) is lost when they are the individuals being disrupted.

I’m not saying it will be easy, but I think the energy spent bitching about the inevitable would be better spent preparing for it. Because even if Congress scales this back, it won’t be forever, and we’ll be listening to the same tired excuses next time around.

I do a little consulting here and there, and usually I charge, but I’ll give this morsel to the Big 3 for free: you might want to move some of your lobbying dollars into R&D.

Just a thought.

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