Planet Gore

Barack Obama, Auto Expert

President Obama told automakers Monday they should focus on making smaller, more fuel-efficient vehicles. Another breathtaking show of arrogance from a Harvard Law-trained social activist? Call it a breathtaking show of ignorance.

“You can’t just make money on SUVs and trucks,” Obama said at a Minnesota town hall. “There is a place for SUVs and trucks, but as gas prices keep on going up, you have got to understand the market.”

Automakers know their market just fine. It is Obama who needs a lesson.

In claiming to have “turned around” the U.S. auto industry, Obama apparently has no idea that the industry has come back on the back of SUVs. Thanks to cheap gas and the resurgence of small trucks — which make profit margins of up to $5,000 per vehicle — taxpayer-assisted GM and Chrysler are in the black again.

They would not be as healthy if they had ignored their customer needs and sold only Obamacars like the Fiat 500. Indeed, even Sergio Marchionne, the Fiat executive handpicked by Obama’s Auto Task Force to run Chrysler is a convert to Obama’s hated “SUVs and trucks.” Unblinkered by Obama’s green zealotry, Marchionne has learned the U.S. market and has beefed up not only Chrysler’s truck offerings — but Maserati’s and Alfa’s SUV lineups as well.

The president is remarkably stubborn in his ignorance.

“Today, automakers . . . refuse to make the transition to fuel-efficient production because they say it’s too expensive,” candidate Obama lectured the Detroit Economic Club in May, 2007. “But expensive is no longer an excuse for inaction.”

He has clearly learned nothing as president. As radical then as he is today, he still insists on forcing vehicles the market doesn’t want. Indeed, vehicles he himself doesn’t want. At the time he lectured automakers in 2007 on making smaller, more fuel-efficient cars, Obama himself drove a gas-guzzling, hemi-powered Chrysler 300C – a car he quickly sold when he was found out.

Today, he patronizes automakers on fuel-efficiency from . . . a giant, diesel-powered bus.

Henry Payne — Henry Payne is the auto critic for the Detroit News.

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