It is not clear whether Mrs. William Clinton, a Democratic presidential candidate and Senator who otherwise goes by the name “Hillary” has driven any car lately. Her husband once owned a Mustang and an El Camino, but that seems to be the extent of the Clinton family involvement with the automobile. Nontheless, the candidate is calling for a new corporate average fuel economy standard of 55 mpg by 2030. This standard would be much higher than the highest standard currently under consideration by Congress.
In her announcement, Mrs. Clinton said she’d offer the carmakers $20 billion in low interest loans to help retool factories to build these mileage marvels. She claims that automotive technology has “stagnated,” such that Henry Ford would immediately recognize today’s cars.
Mrs. Clinton’s remarks, though undoubtedly politically calculated, exhibit remarkable ignorance. In a global economy in which fuel economy is a world-wide selling point, there is no particular reason to believe that domestic automakers and foreign automakers are not all trying to gain an edge on the others by developing the most economical cars technologically possible. At the same time, $20 billion is a pittance in the development of new models, much less new technologies.
Mrs. Clinton apparently believes that simply mandating something can make it come true. She has declared war on the domestic auto industry and, in the process, on the members of the UAW that build cars in the United States. But she has, of course, shored up her credentials with a powerful force in her own party, a group who do not want Americans to have the freedom of individual transport and expression that cars daily deliver.
And people wonder why GM’s investing in China.