The auto industry, including Detroit manufacturers, reported strong sales numbers for the month of August. Sales for the industry rang in at pre-recession levels hitting over 16 million units on an annualized basis. While General Motors got its fair share of the wealth, one unusual tactic to drive sales stands out. That is the use of "stair-step" incentives which are paid to dealerships in the month following the reported sales.
For years the Obama Administration maintained that they had no significant involvement in the day to day operations at General Motors as the company was guided through a taxpayer-funded bankruptcy process. A report from the Special Inspector General for the Troubled Asset Relief Program (SIGTARP) now sheds light on the process and confirms that the Administration did, in fact, drive decisions at GM. One such decision saw GM provide taxpayer funds to "top-off" pensions for politically-favored UAW retirees at Delphi while non-union retirees lost the majority of their benefits. Treasury officials previously denied any involvement in the actions.
The Chevy Volt madness continued this week with General Motors announcing that consumers will see a $5,000 decrease in the price of President Obama's favorite green wonder-car. Sales of the Volt have been dismal, with most consumers refusing to be as smitten with the car as the President and the few enthusiastic green ideologues who seemed to believe that spending approximately $20,000 more for a car (over a gas-powered rival) that can save them about $3 a day in gas makes sense. What seems to go unrecognized is the fact that the price cut comes at the expense of GM shareholders, not to mention the costs to American taxpayers.
President Obama's former head of the Auto Task Force, Steven Rattner, helped orchestrate the auto bailouts that saw billions of taxpayer dollars spent to save General Motors and Chrysler in a rigged bankruptcy proceeding favorable to political allies (i.e., the UAW). Rattner is now calling for taxpayers to come to the rescue of Detroit as the city struggles to restructure through a bankruptcy process without federal handouts.
The US Chamber of Commerce's "On the Road with Free Enterprise" tour has quietly entered its second month. The main story currently on the "Free Enterprise" website is a piece titled "First Ever Sushi Tech Combats Fish Fraud." The fact that General Motors is hypocritically co-sponsoring a free enterprise tour might bring to mind the words fishy and fraud as well.
"Beneath the deep purple cuts of healthy tuna and the smell of fresh wasabi, there lies a sushi underbelly in America that will make your stomach turn," reads the first line of the all-important "fish fraud" story. Likewise, GM's anti-free enterprise bailout process exhibited an underbelly of political cronyism that turned the stomach of those (like GM bondholders and Delphi non-union retirees) who saw there rights subordinated to the politically-favored UAW.
It appears that there is no end in sight to the Obama Administration's costly quest to electrify America's auto fleet, despite the recent flurry of reports that continue to confirm that the benefits of electric vehicles (EVs) are practically nonexistent in comparison to the costs. One of these reports even came from Obama's own NHTSA (National Highway Traffic Safety Administration) panel which downplayed the importance of EVs and claimed that electric cars will only need to account for between one and three percent of car manufacturer's product portfolios by 2025 for lofty government EPA requirements to be met.
A recent Reuters article regarding the likelihood of a bankruptcy filing by the city of Detroit may come as a surprise to those who have heard nothing but positive spin on Motor City's resurgence since General Motors and Chrysler emerged from their Obama-manipulated bankruptcies. Who can forget Clint Eastwood's 2012 Super Bowl ad which gave a heartfelt tribute (paid for by Italian-owned Chrysler) trumpeting Detroit's comeback? It seems like the outlook is now not so rosy for Detroit as its emergency manager Kevyn Orr puts the odds of a bankruptcy for the city at 50/50.
General Motors has announced a $4,000 rebate (or $3,000 and a four year, zero interest loan from government-owned Ally Financial) on the slow-selling Chevy Volt. The company had a choice regarding how to deal with an excess supply of Volts that is growing faster than demand. GM could have, once again, temporarily halted production until inventory (currently at about a 6 month supply) came down to reasonable levels. It instead chooses to lose more millions of dollars by spending on incentives designed to manufacture demand that otherwise is practically nonexistent.