Wednesday, October 08, 2008

The Patriot Car - Solving the Energy Crisis

My wife and I were watching the presidential debates last night and I was struck with an idea. We have several different intertwined problems in the US right now which could be solved simultaneously. This would not require any particular party to succeed in the election and could in theory be funded by private money. But let's run down some truths:

  • American-made car companies are in trouble - With factory jobs on the line, we have seen many American jobs created in foreign car companies. While this has created jobs, and allowed us to create great machines - it doesn't help our pride in American made goods. Ford, and GMC are dying a slow, painful and agonizing death. They need something to pick themselves up before the Hondas and Toyotas of the world completely drive them under.
  • We are neck deep in an "energy crisis" - It seems silly to say that we are just now getting into a crisis when we long ago predicted that oil would run dry within 80 years (I heard those figures when I was in grade school). Everyone agrees about what needs done when it comes to gas consumption. We need to use less. So let's get serious about designing lightweight electric vehicles and stop with the enormous SUV hybrids.
  • Nobody can afford a new car - This is a really bad time to get folks to start spending money on cars. With the current financial crisis under way, we are all watching what little retirement money we had - roll out into thin air. The joke now is, "most of us will retire at 81, if we are unlucky enough to live that long". If anyone is going to spend money on a car, it would have to be cheap ... or free.

Here is how we win. The Patriot Car. The government goes to the American car companies and makes them a deal. Build a small, electric powered, and safe vehicle which can transport four average sized Americans (or at least 3 fat ones). If your car is a success, we will buy them by the millions.

The car will be funded by the government in the form of taxpayer money. That is, at the end of the first year of the program each family will receive a voucher for their new vehicle. The price and payment is government controlled, so there is nothing additional that the new owner will need to pay other than local registration fees. You go to the local car depot, pick out your favorite color, show some proof of insurance where applicable, and drive away. That' one less gas guzzler on the road.

Why would people drive this car?

  • It's the Patriot car, and it's AMERICAN MADE.
  • You are reducing gas emitions and foreign oil dependence.
  • It's a FREE car. Everyone has one. Go get YOURS.
  • You were spending $100 a week on gas. Now you spend only a few bucks a week for electricity.

So that's it. The Patriot Car. It could do for us, what the Volkswagen did for the Germans.

1 comment:

  1. Hey look, Obama is thinking the same way I am. Revitalize the American automobile industry by working with them to create the kinds of cars that our economy actually *needs*.

    And the last point I'll make, because we started on energy. When I talked about the automakers, they are obviously getting hammered right now. They were already having a tough time because of high gas prices. And now with the financial crisis, car dealerships are closing and people can't get car loans.

    That's why I think it's important for us to get loan guarantees to the automakers, but we do have to hold them responsible as well to start producing the highly fuel-efficient cars of the future.

    And Detroit had dragged its feet too long in terms of getting that done. It's going to be one of my highest priorities because transportation accounts for about 30 percent of our total energy consumption.

    If we can get that right, then we can move in a direction not only of energy independence, but we can create 5 million new jobs all across America, including in the heartland where we can retool some of these plants to make these highly fuel-efficient cars and also to make wind turbines and solar panels, the kinds of clean energy approaches that should be the driver of our economy for the next century.

    Source: October 15th Presidential Debate Transcripts