Here's something about which the environmentalists and car czars planted inside the Obama administration can't be pleased: as a percentage of their U.S. sales, Multi-Government/General Motors and Chrysler are selling more "light trucks," consisting of pickups, SUVS, and "crossover" vehicles than any other major manufacturer. Further, the companies are clearly emphasizing light trucks at the expense of their car models.
I wonder how a government promise to accomplish this would have been received by the fossil-fuels-are-awful media at bankruptcy crunch time last year?
You can pretty much count on this inconvenient product mix not getting a great deal of establishment press attention while it drools over the underpowered, heavily subsidized electric lemon known as the Chevy Volt and whatever toy disguised as a useful vehicle Chrysler/Fiat plans on foisting onto the market.
The detail is at the Wall Street Journal's monthly report on vehicle sales (link will change in one month). Key items include these:
- In November, GM's November 2010 car sales trailed November 2009 by 1.4%; year-to-date, the shortfall is 5.8%. Meanwhile, GM's light truck sales in November beat last November by 20.7%.
- The changeover is even more radical at Chrysler, which posted a 9.1% decline in car sales from November 2009, while moving 24.2% more light trucks.
- GM's November product mix was 66-34 in favor of light trucks in November, up from 62-38 a year ago; Chrysler's was a stunning 82-18. By contrast, only Ford's November mix, at 64-36 (virtually identical to a year ago), was close to GM's. Cars make up the majority of sales at the three largest Japanese-headquartered companies.
- Chrysler's November car sales of 13,112 placed it 11th, behind GM, Ford, Toyota, Honda, Nissan, Kia, Hyundai, Subaru, Volkswagen, and BMW. This would seem to indirectly validate a suspicion that if it weren't for low-margin fleet sales, which as I understand it the company is no longer disclosing, the company's car business might as well be mothballed.
Wasn't one of the objectives of government ownership of GM and Chrysler supposed to be getting Americans to swear off those eeevil, gas-guzzling, global warming large vehicles? Why yes, according to an Economist item in April 2009:
The task-force identified six areas where it found GM to be over-optimistic or in denial ... (one of them being) a weakening product mix as consumer tastes and tighter fuel-economy rules eat into sales of high-margin trucks and sport-utility vehicles ...
... Chrysler’s only hope, Mr Obama said on March 30th, is to consummate the deal it has been discussing since January with Fiat. The Italian firm would supply it with “cutting-edge technology” in the form of fuel-efficient engines, small-car platforms and factory automation.
Roughly 20 months later, other than the overhyped Volt and the Chrysler/Fiat 500, what is there?
I guess we should be somewhat relieved that the companies have at least tried to follow drivers' wishes while one of the government's main justifications for taking ownership stakes in these companies slowly crumbles. But it would be nice if someone in the establishment media pointed to the difference between what the government promised its greenie friends vs. what it has delivered.
Cross-posted at BizzyBlog.com.