Posts Tagged ‘Barack Obama’
November 8th, 2012
What does President Obama’s reelection mean for the future of the automotive industry and you the car-buyer? Here’s a look at how some of the most pressing issues facing car companies and consumers will take shape in the next 4 years.
Corporate Average Fuel Economy (CAFE) Standards
Obama’s victory will help ensure that automakers stay on track toward meeting the 54.5 mpg by 2025 CAFE mandate the administration signed into law earlier this year, at least through 2016. Critics call the ambitious target bad for the auto industry and leading to increased new car prices, while supporters say such regulations help consumers, U.S. foreign policy interests and the planet in the long-term.
Electric and Alternative-Fuel Cars
President Obama has proposed raising the Federal government’s electric vehicle incentive from $7,500 to $10,000 as well as switching program’s nature from a tax credit, fully usable only by those with enough tax liability, to a cash incentive available to all consumers. With the election’s divisive politics behind us, expect a strong push to reach Obama’s target of 1 million EVs on U.S. roads by 2015 by way of consumer incentives and more Department of Energy loans given to green-minded auto companies.
Obama and fellow Democrats are staunch supporters of expanded auto safety regulations, including a requirement that all new cars be fitted with backup cameras by 2014. Legislation governing the functionality and use of complex touchscreen in-car navigation and infotainment systems is on the table, as distracted driving continues to lead to countless accidents.
GM and the Auto Bailouts
The U.S. Treasury Department still holds 500 million shares (or a 26.5% stake) in General Motors (NYSE:GM), and has rejected opportunities to sell that stake because it would lead to around $15 billion in losses at current share prices. For the Fed to break even on the $50 billion spent on GM as part of the Troubled Asset Relief Program, the share price, now hovering around $25, would need to reach $53. Capitol Hill is in no rush to offload its stake in GM, and Obama’s reelection stood as a voter endorsement of the bailouts, especially in States like Ohio and Michigan where the auto industry is so key to job growth.
November 4th, 2012
With election day drawing near, President Obama bit back against the Romney campaign’s claims that domestic automakers are in the process of shifting jobs away from the United States. A Romney statement that Jeep is “thinking of moving all production to China” and an ensuing ad campaign has drawn harsh criticism from Chrysler, GM and the Obama campaign.
To set the record straight: Jeep has no plans to shift American car manufacturing jobs to China, Fiat/Chrysler CEO Sergio Marchionne says. Quite the contrary, domestic Jeep production is up 185% since 2009, with Chrysler recently investing $1.8 billion in the Jefferson North Assembly Plant which produces the Grand Cherokee, with an additional $1.7 billion in renovations currently underway to retool the automaker’s Toledo Assembly Complex to produce the Jeep Liberty‘s upcoming successor. Jeep’s strong U.S. sales of late have directly led to thousands of new American jobs.
Romney’s claims originated from this Bloomberg article, reporting on Fiat and its mulling the idea of opening a new Chinese Jeep production facility to make additional SUVs to be sold in that country. Such a move would not involve shifting current production away from North America, Chrysler says. High shipping costs and Chinese tariffs on imported vehicles mean such a move may make good financial sense for Jeep China.
With major newspapers in Ohio and Michigan running headlines none too complimentary toward Romney’s position at this late juncture, it appears the former governor’s campaign critical of a job-creating American auto industry may backfire as he seeks Presidential office.
Regardless of where your own allegiances lie, don’t forget to vote on November 6!
August 29th, 2012
President Obama has signed into law the long-proposed official government mandate saying automakers doing business in the U.S. must achieve a 54.5 mpg Corporate Average Fuel Economy (CAFE) rating by 2025. Though the 54.5 mpg target has been all but decided for over a year, the negotiations are over and the mandate is now official.
With hybrid, electric, and alternative-fuel powertrain technologies leading the way, automakers will first be required to meet a CAFE standard of 35.5 mpg by 2016. Then from 2017 to 2025, annual increases of 5% for cars and 3.5% for light trucks will be required to meet the 54.5 mpg standard.
It’s worth noting that the CAFE standard uses a different method for calculating efficiency than the lower EPA number you see on the window sticker. With its 50 combined mpg EPA rating, the 2012 Toyota Prius easily already meets the 2025 CAFE target today.
The National Automobile Dealers Association estimates the new regulations will pass on increased costs of $3,000 per car to the consumer. Still, U.S. drivers are expected to save $1.7 trillion on gas as a result of the new law. The standards will be reviewed for feasibility in 2017.
February 29th, 2012
President Barack Obama gave his seal of approval to the Chevrolet Volt in a speech to a recent raucous United Auto Workers conference, pledging to become a Volt owner himself when his time in office is over. Obama rides in a bulletproof limo these days, but will need a vehicle as soon next January, or 4 years from then.
Said Obama to the UAW:
“I liked sitting in it. It was nice. I’ll bet it drives real good. And five years from now, when I’m not president any more, I’ll buy one and drive it myself. Yes, that’s right.”
President Obama, who has most recently owned a Ford Escape Hybrid and a Chrysler 300, gives his presidential endorsement of the innovative Chevy as the NHTSA recently closed its investigation into Volt battery fires. The agency determined the Volt does not pose greater than usual risk of fire. GM has made some key safety improvements to the Volt’s design with a retrofit available free of charge to current owners.
If Obama wins another term, hopefully his new Volt will be of the model’s second generation, improving on the pioneering plug-in hybrid with better electric range and gas-engine efficiency. We’re hoping he also opts for the 650-hp Ford Shelby GT500.
February 1st, 2012
President Barack Obama paid a visit to the Washington Auto Show, walking the halls flanked by execs from the Detroit Big 3 and taking the opportunity to check out some hot new American models. Obama spent some time in the new Corvette ZR1, Chevy Silverado and Ford C-Max Energi among others.
Like any real car guy, the President lingered the longest with Ford’s new sledgehammer 2013 Shelby GT500 Mustang, calling the car “sick” and “what I needed in high school.” Too bad it would not be… politically advantageous… for Obama to pick up a gas guzzler like the GT500, even if if it does make a pretty posterchild for a resurgent Ford.
The President couldn’t resist the opportunity to make a political statement, snubbing cars from foreign automakers (even those proudly being shown off as made in the U.S.) and lauding government-backed GM for its return as the world’s #1 automaker in 2011.
For the record, Mitt Romney opposed the Federal auto industry bailout packages: “It’s good to remember the fact that there were some folks who were willing to let this industry die,” the President said.