The Left likes having Big Industry straw men to bash whenever their socialist plans run aground, but the fact is, Big Industry is embracing the U.S.’s leftward lurch. Better to secure your place at the Rentseekers Roundtable, to lock out new competition and guarantee a never-ending stream of government welfare.
Take Nissan-Renault, that international Big Auto giant.
In introducing the company’s electric plug-in for the U.S. market — called the Leaf — to the automotive press for testing this week (the 22-city Nissan Leaf Zero-Emission Tour), CEO Carlos Ghosn sounded like the Goracle’s ventriloquist dummy.
“This has to happen,” said Ghosn, contending that gas-powered vehicles are dead since oil will never again drop below $70 a barrel. “When you look at what’s happening in the world, when you extrapolate that, it leads to absurd results. This is not about the electric car, this is about saving the planet.”
No, it’s about Nissan’s bottom line. “What’s happening in the world” is that governments from Washington to Paris to Tokyo are mandating high-mileage vehicles and extending generous subsidies to help manufacturers build cars consumers may or may not want.
Ghosn has placed his bet on Better Place, a massively government-subsidized plan to build city infrastructures to accommodate electric vehicles produced by Nissan-Renault like the Leaf. The French government, 15 percent owner of Renault, has already ponied up half-a-billion for Nissan-Renault’s electric car development, the governments of Israel and Denmark are partners with Better Place, and Washington is subsidizing each plug-in purchase with a $7,500 tax gift.
The Better Place model however, faces substantial market barriers. Which is why the players need taxpayer skin. Which is why when it comes to the auto industry these days, there’s little difference whether the spokesman is from Big Auto or Big Government.