interview > white > clip: white 2
White 2 (2:17)
Topic(s): Auto Industry / Car Culture / Efficiency / Government
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I would say that a lot of people in the automotive
debate, the automotive energy debate, are talking past each other. I mean,
look, the car companies have not pushed technology, or many of them, certainly
the American companies, have not pushed technology as hard as they could have.
Why? Because there really wasn't any money in it until relatively
recently and maybe not even now.
has pushed it, partly because it's consistent with their corporate image
and corporate mission, partly because they have the money. They can afford to
take the loss on hybrid vehicles because they've got all the money in the
world. General Motors is a junk-rated credit. They can't afford to just
throw money at technology that the customer isn't willing to pay for. The
government- I think the government has enabled what certainly the green groups
would call bad behavior by not raising the cost of fuel to reflect its true
cost in the world economy. I don't detect a great groundswell of will on
the part of the government to raise gas taxes in order to sort of drive
consumer behavior, nor, by the way, do the car companies.
the consumers behaved completely rationally? Probably not. But on the other
hand, if you are a family of four or five, or you tow a boat, or you go on long
trips—and this is, after all, a very big country—and you have the
means to buy and finance the operation of a large, comfortable, not very fuel
efficient vehicle, it's a free country. Why shouldn't you do it?
There's no signal other than kind of the, you know, what you might call
sort of, you know, moral suasion coming from people like Al Gore, there's
no real signal to people that they shouldn't do that.
summer we get a little jolt, you know— oh, the gas goes up to three bucks
a gallon because of various factors that actually have a lot to do with the
structure of the oil industry, a certain percentage of the population.
including the media, freak out. And in the wintertime it goes back down and
people go back to their normal patterns. So to change that beyond the margin is
going to take a long time—it's going to take fundamental sort of
cultural change and it's really going to take economic change. Because at
the end of the day, buying a car is an economic choice and people do what's
in their best interest.