Planet Gore

The Obamacar, By Fiat

President Obama is out of touch with the U.S., but he is very much in touch with Scotland (where I traveled last week). And that’s the point. Obama has made no secret of his goal to transform America to be more like Europe.

Exhibit A: As part of his administration’s demands to hand over bankrupt Chrysler to Fiat last year, the Italian company had to agree to bring a 40-mpg micro-compact to the States. Thus the tiny Fiat 500, which will be produced either in the U.S. or Mexico. In Scotland the little 500 was plentiful — along with other micro-compacts like the Ford Fiesta, Smart, Mercedes A-Class, and VW Polo. But there are reasons for such vehicles being rare in the States. Obama can exert his political will on beholden Chrysler and push through federal mpg mandates, but he can’t make Americans buy Fiats by fiat.

Why? Well, there’s basic geography to start. The U.S. is a bigger country with more room, bigger garages, longer commutes. But gas in Scotland is also $6.65 a gallon (I connected through Amsterdam. Petrol is $7.65 a gallon there). Of course the Fiat 500 sells there. In the U.K., the best-selling vehicle is the tiny Fiesta. In the U.S. — gas price: $3.05 — the average vehicle is a midsize, 23-mpg Toyota Camry. Big vehicles like Chevy Suburbans are common. The biggest vehicle I saw in a week in Scotland was the small Land Rover LR4 SUV.

Obama may want America to be more like Europe, but he doesn’t have the spine for it. He’d have to begin with a $4-a-gallon gas-tax hike.

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

Most Popular

Education

Our Bankrupt Elite

Every element of the college admissions scandal, a.k.a “Operation Varsity Blues,” is fascinating. There are the players: the Yale dad who, implicated in a securities-fraud case, tipped the feds off to the caper; a shady high-school counselor turned admissions consultant; the 36-year-old Harvard grad who ... Read More
Culture

Shibboleth Is a Fun Word

EDITOR’S NOTE: The following is Jonah Goldberg’s weekly “news”letter, the G-File. Subscribe here to get the G-File delivered to your inbox on Fridays. Estimado Lector (y todos mis amigos a través del Atlántico), Greetings from Barcelona. And it is Bar•ce•lona, not Barth•e•lona. That ... Read More
Health Care

David Brooks Forgets to Oppose Some Suicides

The well-meaning David Brooks urges us to prevent suicide in his most recent New York Times column. The crisis is certainly real. From "How to Fight Suicide:": You’ve probably seen the recent statistics about the suicide epidemic — that suicide rates over all have risen by over 30 percent this century; ... Read More