Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Perhaps auto shows aren't the best idea right now

Image from PK Kool under a Creative Commons license

I recently learned that our local auto show has been "postponed" becuase most of the automakers decided not to exhibit. While the economy was cited as the reason for them not showing up, perhaps there's another reason:

Now that the government has helped General Motors and Chrysler stave off bankruptcy with billions of dollars in loans, these companies are finding somewhat hostile crowds at their exhibits. Which leads to scenes like the one on Friday at the New York auto show, where a blond woman in a tight black dress stood on a rotating platform and pitched the sporty Dodge Circuit, one of five electric cars that Chrysler is developing.

Donald Han, an accountant from Queens, sounded unmoved. “Why now?” he asked the woman, rather curtly, once she had finished her patter. “How come you’ve got to nearly go bankrupt before you come out with a car like this?”

And it's a case of shooting the messenger, even though the messengers themselves don't actually work for the car companies in question. (If they did, perhaps more men would be applying for jobs at auto companies, bankruptcy or no.)

“I try to explain that we’re not involved in corporate decisions, so complaining to us doesn’t really make a lot of sense,” said Kerri Moss, standing on a large turntable next to a Jeep 4X4 Laredo, a Chrysler product. Recently laid off from her job as a teacher, she is trying to earn some money on the car show circuit, which runs from September to May. “And if that doesn’t work, I tell them we’re doing the best we can.”

And desperate times call for desperate leaps in logic:

One G.M. presenter said a woman told her the company was responsible for the death of American soldiers in Iraq. The logic went like this: if G.M. made more fuel-efficient cars, the country would not need so much oil, and if the country did not need oil, United States troops would never have invaded.

More here.
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