Anytime you get a situation where President Obama lectures the American people on how the economy works, you know it’ll end in laughter and tears. Today was no different as Our Planmaker-In-Chief stood before a crowd in Minnesota and told them that automakers have no idea in the world what kind of vehicle people really want to drive.
The country’s automakers should ditch their focus on SUVs and trucks in favor of smaller, more fuel-efficient vehicles, President Obama said Monday.
“You can’t just make money on SUVs and trucks,” Obama said during a town hall forum in Cannon Falls, Minn. “There is a place for SUVs and trucks, but as gas prices keep on going up, you have got to understand the market. People are going to try to save money.”
Far be it from me to interrupt a Presidential fantasy with dirty, wicked facts, but the market did clear its throat fairly loudly regarding what kind of vehicles it wanted just a couple of years ago. You might remember a little experiment in progressive economic stimulus cooked up by the President called Cash for Clunkers. The idea behind the program was that the government would hand out money it didn’t exactly have so that people could trade in their old and busted rides for some new, expensive, high-MPG, ecologically-awesome, Obama-approved vehicles. Oh, and also the administration hoped that a quick infusion of cash would help the auto makers it had just bailed out with tens of billions of dollars it didn’t exactly have.
So, with a lot of cash in the “market” and all the cars in the world from which to choose, what did the market want?
SUVs and trucks.
Oh, the administration made a lot of noise about how America traded in its gas-guzzling vehicles and bought lean, mean compact cars and hybrids, but that turned out to be smoke and mirrors. Edmunds.com pulled the Cash for Clunkers information directly from the dealers and found that three of the top 5 types of vehicles sold under the program were trucks like the Ford F-150 (#5) of Chevrolet Silverado (#7) or SUVs like the Ford Escape (#1) and the Jeep Patriot (#3).
Looks to me like the market really does want SUVs and trucks, doesn’t it?
But you might be tempted to argue that gas prices were lower two years ago. You’d be right. Thanks to the administration’s ridiculous anti-drilling policies gasoline is about a dollar a gallon more expensive now it was in the Cash for Clunkers days. So maybe America really is clamoring for those high-mileage vehicles the President pushes on us like a vacuum-cleaner salesman who won’t take his armored boot our of our door.
Or maybe not.
In the battle for plug-in vehicle sales supremacy, the electric-only Nissan Leaf has emerged on top for the month of June, beating the Chevrolet Volt for three consecutive months (April, May and June).
Nissan is proud to make known that it sold 1,708 Leafs in the U.S. in June, a sizable increase over the 1,142 electric hatchbacks the Japanese automaker sold in May and nearly three times the 573 Leafs sold in April. Overall, 2011 sales of the Leaf now total 3,875 in the U.S., compared to 2,745 Chevy Volts.
On the flip side, General Motors has announced that U.S. sales of the plug-in hybrid Volt rang in at 561 in June.
There you go, folks. That’s “the market” speaking as clearly as it can. Despite the President’s best efforts — his constant hectoring, the campaign stops in battery factory after battery factory, tens of millions of dollars to prop up General Motors, tax incentives on the front and back end of the buying process — sales of his electric roller skates have barely cracked 7,000 for the entire year. On the other hand, “the market” bought almost one million trucks this year and just a little under 700,000 SUVs. And we’re not counting crossover models, either. Throw them in, and the entire “light truck” category — the kind of cars the President believes with all his heart “the market” doesn’t want — accounts for over 3 1/2 million sales in just this year alone.
And “the market” has bought more of them this year than last year, when gas prices were lower.
So maybe, and I know I run the risk of being labeled an extremist, racist terrorist Tea Partier here, President Obama doesn’t know nearly as much about “the market” as he thinks he does. And maybe he needs to stop lecturing people who do know “the market”, get himself back from the campaign trail that the White House swears he’s not on, and get to work on a real budget. It’s entirely possible that is President Downgrade spent more time peeling our government off the throat of “the market”, our economy will produce “the jobs”, our unemployment rate will get out of “the crapper”, and (if he’s very fortunate), it’ll all happen in time for him to get “the re-elected”.
Okay, I didn’t say this was a perfect plan. But I’d much rather have a good economy come the election next year, even if it makes President Lightbringer a little bit harder to beat, wouldn’t you?