Alan Reynolds has a great op-ed in today’s Wall Street Journal. An excerpt
General Motors can survive bankruptcy far more easily than it can survive President Barack Obama’s ambitious fuel economy standards, which mandate that all new vehicles average 35.5 miles per gallon by 2016.
The actual Corporate Average Fuel Economy (CAFE) results will depend on the mixture of fuel-thrifty and fuel-thirsty vehicles consumers choose to buy from each manufacturer — not on what producers hope to sell. That means only those companies most successful in selling the smallest cars with the smallest engines will, in the future, be allowed to sell the more profitable larger pickups and SUVs and more powerful luxury and sports cars.
Sales of Toyota’s Prius, Yaris, Corolla and Scion, for example, allow and encourage Toyota to market more Lexus 460s, Sequoia SUVs and Tundra pickups in the U.S. without incurring fines. Hyundai’s success selling Accent and Elantra compacts allows it to sell 368-horsepower Genesis sedans.
Similarly, Ford has the Toyota-licensed hybrid Fusion and will soon produce the European Ford Fiesta in Mexico. Chrysler will soon have Fiats. But what does GM have?
No independent reviewer suggests that the Chevy Aveo and Cobalt are credible contenders in the small car field. Even the president’s auto task force finds the electric Chevy Volt “unviable,” since it will lose money unless priced above a Cadillac CTS. The Opel-engineered 2011 Chevy Cruze will face tough competition from Asian cars whose reliability is better established. Launching such new models will be even tougher in the future, now that GM has lost control of Opel.