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

White House

The Problem Isn’t Just the GOP, Mr. Comey

During a CNN town hall on Wednesday night, James Comey alleged that the Republican party allows President Trump to get away with making inappropriate statements without holding him accountable. “If the Republicans, if they just close their eyes and imagine Barack Obama waking up in the morning saying someone ... Read More
Law & the Courts

‘Judges for the #Resistance’

At Politico, I wrote today about the judiciary’s activism against Trump on immigration: There is a lawlessness rampant in the land, but it isn’t emanating from the Trump administration. The source is the federal judges who are making a mockery of their profession by twisting the law to block the Trump ... Read More
White House

Trump’s Friendships Are America’s Asset

The stale, clichéd conceptions of Donald Trump held by both Left and Right — a man either utterly useless or only rigidly, transactionally tolerable — conceal the fact that the president does possess redeeming talents that are uniquely his, and deserve praise on their own merit. One is personal friendliness ... Read More

Columbia 1968: Another Untold Story

Fifty years ago this week, Columbia students riding the combined wave of the civil-rights and anti-war movements went on strike, occupied buildings across campus, and shut the university down. As you revisit that episode of the larger drama that was the annus horribilis 1968, bear in mind that the past isn’t ... Read More

Only the Strident Survive

‘I am not prone to anxiety,” historian Niall Ferguson wrote in the Times of London on April 22. “Last week, however, for the first time since I went through the emotional trauma of divorce, I experienced an uncontrollable panic attack.” The cause? “A few intemperate emails, inadvertently forwarded ... Read More