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USAToday columnist backs government auto loans

Posted Monday, Feb 2, 2009, 9:08 am in Company News

In his weekly Test Drive column, USAToday auto writer James Healey responded to a question from a Boston reader about the need for government loans for Chrysler LLC.

“Is it just me or should the government let Chrysler go under and focus their efforts on Ford and GM,” the reader wrote. “I mean if Cerebrus won’t invest any money into products why should we help them?”

Healey responded: “Your sentiments are shared by many and were voiced often by members of the Senate Banking Committee in a bailout hearing I covered last month. But that would erase lots of jobs in an economy already very shaky, and would—let’s admit it—kill the only Detroit maker with real personality. Jeep® Wrangler? HEMI® V-8? Minivans with spin-around seats, card tables and kids’ TV shows? Big pickups with smooth-riding coil-spring rear suspension? You just ain’t gonna find that from the ‘other guys.’

“Would Ford have resumed developing the Hurricane 400-hp truck V-8 if it didn’t feel pressured to match the Ram’s HEMI? Would GM have fought so hard to get and keep the Hummer if there were no Jeep? Every time Chrysler showed a new minivan at an auto show, the most attentive people—the ones with tape measures and clipboards— were Japanese engineers from guess which companies? Kill Chrysler—however valid your reasoning—and you’d instantly bland-ize and water down America’s showrooms.”
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