Thought I'd take just a brief time out from post-caucus mania to highlight this tidbit from today's WaPo "Business" section:
Ford was knocked from the No. 2 position in the U.S. auto market, outmaneuvered by Toyota's surging sales of small cars and gas-electric hybrids, according to year-end figures released yesterday.
Ford had been No. 2 for 75 years, behind GM (which, incidentally, saw its sales fall 6 percent last year). But as the Post notes:
U.S. automakers are under stiff pressure as the market shifts to more-fuel-efficient vehicles. Japanese companies gained market share in 2007 with improved sales of subcompacts like the Honda Fit and Toyota Yaris and gas-electric hybrids such as the Toyota Prius, which had sales growth of 69 percent.
For the year, Toyota's sales climbed 3.1 percent compared with 2006. Honda's sales grew 2.8 percent.
"The domestics over the past year have been late to the party--all the domestics--with fuel-efficient vehicles," said Mark Rikess, chief exectuive of the Rikess Group, an automotive consulting firm in Burbank, Califor. "You see market share improving for Toyota and Honda, and it's primarily among the fuel-efficient vehicles that they have marketed for years and are therefore at the top of the consideration list."
I'm sorry, but it so far past time for Detroit to start seriously focusing American ingenuity on producing the next generation of fuel-efficient vehicles. Discovering a way to slash not just this nation's but the entire world's dependence on oil would be a feat worthy of several dozen Nobel Prizes. Even right-wing nutters who hate all that global-warming talk should be scrambling to kick America's oil habit, considering the close correlation between oil exporting nations and unsavory political regimes. What could be better for our national security than to stop being held economic hostage by all those fabulous OPEC nations (Saudi Arabia, Iran, Iraq, Venezuela, Indonesia, Algeria, Libya...) not to mention Russia?
Sure, Americans love our cars. We like big cars. We like fast cars. But by not obsessing day and night about finding a better way to make those cars go--a way that doesn't dramatically compromise our national security--we look like a bunch of suckers.