Saturday, September 8, 2012

Latest Obama Administration Scandal: Tailgate

    You could certainly be forgiven for listing this post under the category "Someone Has Too Much Time on His Hands."  However, I just couldn't resist, especially in light of my recent post on new fuel efficiency standards.  Below is an image from BarackObama.com, the campaign website.  The campaign is offering free bumper stickers, but it wasn't the stickers that grabbed my attention, but rather the vehicle on which they are plastered:

    Having a relatively small piece of evidence to go on, and having exhausted Google's Image Search (see what I mean by "too much time on his hands"?), I decided it was a job for an expert.  Not being a car guy, I contacted a friend who is a car guy (you know who you are - thanks again) and pretty soon I had the answer (the tail light was the key, apparently.)  The vehicle is a late 1990s Ford Explorer.  Here is a wider shot of a 1998 Ford Explorer - note the distinctive tail lights:

    I must admit this was the sort of answer I was looking for.

    First of all, though you may not realize it with all the talk of Barack Obama as the savior of the domestic auto industry, Ford was the sole Big 3 automaker to reject a government bailout in 2008/2009.  One would have thought the Obama campaign would have chosen a Chrysler or GM bumper on which to display the stickers, perhaps with an "Obama Saved Detroit" sticker for good measure.

    Second, as I mentioned above in reference to my earlier post, the Obama administration recently announced new fuel efficiency standards to take effect in 2025 raising the required average gas mileage of new cars and light trucks (the Explorer is a "light truck", right, car guy?  I forgot to ask!) to 54.5 MPG.  So what's the fossil fuel/carbon footprint of the 1998 Ford Explorer?  According to a government website, the maximum you can squeeze out of this dinosaur is 20 MPG, and it can be as low as 12 MPG.  Is this really the image the Obama campaign wants to project?  (And by the way, what's with the light guard over the tail lights?  Where's this car from, Chicago?)

    It's not too late, however, to rectify this problem.  There are still two months until the election, more than enough time for a do-over.   This time, the campaign should give GM a call.  From what I understand, they've got a bunch of Chevy Volts sitting around, their aerodynamic bumpers just gathering dust.  The Obama campaign could get a more up-to-date vehicle on which to display their wares, and GM could get some free advertising!  After all, they are the ones who still owe us $25 billion - advertising a GM car would better serve the taxpayers than plugging old Fords.  Because according to Louis Woodhill in Forbes, we may want to get what we can from GM while there's still time:
   President Obama is proud of his bailout of General Motors.  That’s good, because, if he wins a second term, he is probably going to have to bail GM out again.  The company is once again losing market share, and it seems unable to develop products that are truly competitive in the U.S. market.
   Right now, the federal government owns 500,000,000 shares of GM, or about 26% of the company.  It would need to get about $53.00/share for these to break even on the bailout, but the stock closed at only $20.21/share on Tuesday.  This left the government holding $10.1 billion worth of stock, and sitting on an unrealized loss of $16.4 billion.
   Right now, the government’s GM stock is worth about 39% less than it was on November 17, 2010, when the company went public at $33.00/share.  However, during the intervening time, the Dow Jones Industrial Average has risen by almost 20%, so GM shares have lost 49% of their value relative to the Dow.
    Perhaps the Romney campaign could find a way to put that on a bumper sticker of their own.

NOTE:  Post revised to reflect that GM makes the Volt, not Chrysler.  I told you I was not a car guy.

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