Not Like Cigarettes?

ratcig This past week, Ford Motor Company scion Bill Ford hosted a dinner “for a small group of journalists at the Detroit auto show.”  The purpose?  To burnish Ford’s green claims, of course.

Highlights [via Automotive News]:

Ford has been thinking about “how we’re going to have mobility in a world of urbanization and 75 percent of the world’s population living in cities. We’re going to have 4 billion cars and 9 billion people by midcentury.

There are currently just over 1 billion automobiles, counting cars, trucks, and buses, on the planet, btw.

So, ROFL on that one.

Meanwhile, Bill Ford also told the assembled reporters that cars-first transportation isn’t like selling nicotine:

“I never wanted us to be like the tobacco [companies], where our employees would have to apologize to their family and friends for working there. If that happens, we are not going to get the best and brightest.”

It’s an interesting contrast, isn’t it? If Ford’s products are freedom vehicles and wonder machines, why this apparent slip into cigarette talk?

Perhaps it’s because Ford knows the numbers are rather comparably large and the deaths equally stupid. In the USA, lung cancer now kills about 160,000 people a year. If one assumes that tailpipe exhaust accounts for 25% percent of air pollution deaths and auto use accounts for 10% of deconditioning deaths, cars snuff out about half that amount every year.

And, of course, the era of war over access to tobacco-friendly climes has passed. Now, if there is to be a World War III, does anybody doubt it will instead have rather more to do with what goes into gas tanks?

Government Motors Indeed

rail_tear Politics in this plummeting empire would have to improve substantially to become merely surreal.  As it stands, they are wildly anti-real.

Consider the fact that Zerobama is in mildly warm water for leaning on the Ford Motor Company to yank a television ad bragging about Ford not taking government bailout money.  Zerobama, bailer-out of not just the automotive corporations but the whole array of for-profit medical operators, and self-conscious (and highly effective) pitchfork deflector, might or might not have sent a letter to Ford asking it to suppress its ad.

In response, the far-rightists are now trying to turn that possible act into political hay.

The issue at the heart of the matter, meanwhile, is how much validity resides in the pulled ad, which apparently ran as follows:

The Ford commercial was the first time an automaker had made the message part of a national ad campaign.

The ad is part of Ford’s “Drive One” campaign to win over consumers from other brands. In it, a Ford owner, identified only as Chris, says, “I wasn’t going to buy another car that was bailed out by our government. I was going to buy from a manufacturer that’s standing on their own: win, lose, or draw.”

The proposition here (and its amplification by the R wing of the ruling duopoly) is a moderately clever and completely typical move:  No mainstream politician, Ford and and the Rs know, is either permitted or inclined to mention the fact that cars-first transportation would not exist, were it not for huge annual flows of public preference and subsidy.  The annual cost of road-building alone is larger than the entire automotive bailout program was, and also far larger than the portion of the bailout loans that will not be recouped.

We won’t go into details about the portion of the nation’s police, court, and hospital costs caused by cars-first transportation.

Suffice it to say that the notion that any car-related capitalist is “standing on its own” is simply Orwellianly and petulantly deluded and dishonest.  Only in America, as they say!

$20,000 for a Ford Focus

cash_toilet Acccording to Automotive News, Ford will be asking $19,655 for its 2012 Focus SE model. No doubt, the deadly Sync system will be counted on to justify much of that amazingly elevated price for the modern version of the Model T.

The big question, of course, is how Joe and Jane Sixpack are ever going to come up with those 20 Gs, plus interest.

Straight From the Horse’s Mouth

fatal crashIn yesterday’s edition of The New York Times, Maureen Dowd reported on her visit to the Ford Motor Company. Dowd, it seems, had previously questioned the car capitalists’ plans to further heighten the inherent danger of operating their Earth-destroying waste machines by building more personal electronic gadgetry into dashboards. Invited to come to Detroit for a dose of propaganda, Dowd went and collected this amazing excuse:

Over lunch at Ford, Sue Cischke, a dynamic company executive, argued that even before cellphones and iPods, drivers were in danger of distraction from reaching for a briefcase or shooing away a bee.

“Telling younger people not to use a cellphone is almost like saying, ‘Don’t breathe,’ ” she said.

Given that Americans are addicted to Web access and tech toys, she said, it will never work to simply ban them. “So we’ve got to figure out how we make people safer,” she said, “and the more people can just talk to their car like they’re talking to a passenger, the more useful it would be.”

Yes, and making cellphoning while driving easier and cooler and more mechanically suggested is also a great way of ensuring that thousands upon thousands of young people will indeed stop breathing, for good.

All for a profit, of course, so onward they roll. They’ve got to, after all.

Old Wine, New Bottle

electric fire So, the diversionary pipedream of the electric car continues to roll out, as the tyranny of capitalist decision-making prevents all admission of its inherent idiocy.

Meanwhile, dig this new wrinkle:

The Chicago Tribune…reported that by the time Chicago’s 73 direct-current fast-charging stations are installed next January, they could be mostly obsolete. That’s because the Chicago system is using a Japanese-developed charging protocol and there’s a big effort in the U.S. to adopt a difference standard for rapid charging.

The charging stations are priced at $65,000 each, and the cost of a retrofit on top of that is unclear.

SAE is considering the Japanese protocol, but the group is under pressure from General Motors and other automakers to not use the outlet that is compatible with the Leaf and the i-MiEV in part to create a problem for their makers.

Ah, false difference and phony obsolescence. Same as it ever was.

Ford Knows

heedless-horsepower Here at DbC, our view is that strategic top executives know full well that world petroleum supplies have peaked, and are simply planning to keep riding the cars-first arrangement until it dies of its own internal contradictions. There is, you see, still a huge amount of profit to be reaped in the downward spiral, and one can always shift one’s money back into CDOs and LBOs and etc. as the game tightens over time.

Some powerful evidence in this direction emerged recently, from none other than Henry Ford’s great-grandson:

“We do believe at Ford that the price of gasoline is going to march upward over time,” Ford Motor Co. Executive Chairman Bill Ford said on the sidelines of the Detroit auto show. “And we’ve built our whole entire strategy around that.”

The alternative, the course anybody who actually gave a genuine damn about either the public or the so-called country would obviously take? Stopping the production lines and issuing a call for the radical reconstruction of our towns and cities toward sustainable living.

Instead, Ford Motor Company, like its peers and the overclass it serves, will plow ahead, business as usual.

As Fredrick Douglass and Dr. King always said, power concedes nothing without a demand, and ending the capitalists’ cars-first cliff-drive is one hell of a demand.  If we are to save ourselves, we will have to pull our heads out, fully and soon.

The Original Car-Jack

trojan horse The automobile is the ultimate corporate capitalist product for a host of reasons. Among these is the fact that the car itself can serve as a Trojan Horse for duping prospects into making profoundly stupid but highly profitable extra purchases.

To wit, this report from Bloomberg Business Week, which elucidates one of the main reasons why Ford is about to post record profits in the middle of Great Depression III:

“Ford was among the first to recognize that making money is more important than moving the metal,” Johnson said. “There’s now a general level of pricing discipline across Detroit, which is leading to higher average transaction prices.”

The Fiesta subcompact, which went on sale in the U.S. in June, is fetching $3,000 to $4,000 above its $13,995 base price because buyers are ordering options such as leather seats, Pipas said. The Fiesta is commanding a higher average price than Honda Motor Co.’s Civic and Toyota Motor Corp.’s Corolla, Ford said.

Buyers are [also] paying more on average for Ford vehicles as the company introduces new…features such as voice-activated phone and stereo controls.

In other words, Ford finds itself enjoying renewed pricing power because it is using its automobiles as platforms to sell massively marked-up trivialities such as leather seats and (extremely dangerous) electronic toys.

And, in a hilarious note that speaks volumes about the myth that high social standing and academic credentials are signs of underlying intelligence and thriftiness, catch this explanation for it all:

George Pipas, Ford’s sales analyst, said in an interview. “People buying Fords today are generally more educated and affluent and they want and are willing to pay for nicer Fords.”


Craptastic, and Deadly, Too

This from Ford (via Automotive News):

DETROIT — Ford’s growing reputation as a technology-driven brand is helping the automaker wring more money out of every car it sells, the automaker’s vice president of product development, Derrick Kuzak, said today.

During a speech to an auto electronics show here, Kuzak said Ford’s average revenue per vehicle jumped 14 percent from 2008 to 2009, to $26,100. He attributed roughly one-third of the increase to new technologies such as the Sync in-car communication system.

Kuzak said one-third of people who bought a Ford, Lincoln or Mercury said the Sync system helped sway their decision.

In 2009, 5,474 people were killed in car crashes caused by distracted driving.

Death and doohickeys — great for business at Ford.

Now They Tell You

pigtrough After a century of maximizing profits by working in precisely the opposite direction, U.S. car capitalists are now saying this:

“There will be less than 30, on our way to 20 to 25,” Ford CEO Alan Mulally said in response to questions on the future lineup of nameplates after addressing the Confederation of British Industry in London. “Fewer brands means you can put more focus into improving the quality of engineering.”

All the while before this reversal, these creeps were spending scores of millions to propagandize you about “Quality is Job 1.”

[source: Bloomberg via Automotive News]

“Hitting the Mark”

earth v. money At this point, any sane society would be moving very aggressively to build its way back out of cars-first transportation.  Part of that effort would be steep taxes on gas guzzlers.

In the United States, where we not only don’t begrudge people getting rich, we don’t even allow them to be questioned, what are we getting?


DETROIT — It’s diet time for the once best-selling SUV in America.

The redesigned Ford Explorer has been slimmed down for 2011 and transferred to a car-based platform. And it no longer will be a gas-guzzling hulk with a V-8 under the hood.

Ford Motor Co. said today that the redesigned 2011 model — equipped with an optional, two-liter EcoBoost I4 engine — will achieve a 30 percent increase in fuel efficiency compared with the current V-6-equipped Explorer. EcoBoost has delivered similar fuel economy gains in other cars and trucks.

The current Explorer equipped with two-wheel drive and a four-liter V-6 is rated at 14 mpg city/20 highway. With a 30 percent increase in fuel economy, the EcoBoost-equipped Explorer should deliver 18/26.

Eighteen miles per gallon.

In the car-pushing trade, this is what’s called “hitting the mark”:

“We believe we’ve hit the mark with the next-generation Explorer,” Mark Fields, head of Ford’s Americas unit, said in statement. “It has the potential to change perceptions of what a modern SUV is all about.”

In honest language, this is the same old same old:  Capitalists selling the largest possible vehicles, the planet and its people be damned. “Hitting the mark” means figuring out how much waste you can get away with under new conditions.