Wednesday, June 10, 2009

On the perks of the auto sector crisis

On my bike ride to work today I saw a late model Dodge Charger with the province of Ontario government logo stenciled on the doors, being driven by someone who could not have been much more than twenty years old. Government fleet vehicles sure have changed over the years. And what I wouldn't have given to be cruising around town in a government muscle car when I was an undergrad (instead of sweating it out making parts for them, as I posted below). But of course, back in the 1980s I was not especially worried about things like greenhouse gas emissions. The current Charger gets about 26mpg on the highway, which is not especially good. Most Chrysler products, and certainly those assembled in Canada, are gas guzzlers.

I did a quick check, and the Charger is assembled in Brampton, Ontario, so at least the provincial government is spending money at home. It's one small symptom of a conundrum we face at the moment: do we buy fuel-inefficient vehicles assembled in Canada so as to keep our fellow citizens employed at a struggling company, or do we buy the most fuel efficient vehicles for government fleets, regardless of where they are made? Hopefully it will be a temporary situation, and that the provincial and federal governments will insist that in exchange for all the free cash they've been pouring into Chrysler and GM those companies stop assembling dopey niche-vehicles like the Charger and Camaro in Canada and start assembling affordable, fuel efficient sedans here (as does Ford, which hasn't been begging for handouts). Because there is no way on Earth those car companies will pay back those "loans" they're being given (just check their track records on repaying previous government "loans" they've been, like the one GM received from the Quebec government for its plant in Ste-Therese).


body kits said...

Manufacturers of construction equipment are being particularly hard hit by the current record prices of commodities, such as steel, oil, iron ore and rubber. We have a great industry though..

Robert McLeman said...

You're right - Canada does have excellent auto plants and auto workers, and I am quite optimistic that with a new direction forced upon North American automakers' leadership, things will be looking much improved.