$300 million for Ford. New investment for Michigan. But do the Big 3 still get it?

Ford is getting $300 million from Michigan: approximately 1/2 in direct funds, and another 1/2 from abatements in local property taxes.

In return, Ford is investing $866 million in plant upgrades. Via the Detroit Free Press:

Here's how the investment package breaks down:

• $130 million for Wayne Stamping and Assembly Plant.
• $320 million for Van Dyke Transmission Plant in Sterling Heights.
• $88 million for Livonia Transmission Plant.
• $89 million for Woodhaven Stamping Plant.
• $31 million for Dearborn Stamping Plant.
• $208 million for Dearborn Truck Plant.

[Source: Ford's Millions for Michigan]

Good news for thousands of Ford employees and suppliers, and great news for Michigan. But do they get it?

The Big 3 are eager to point out their new commitment to "smaller" cars, with greater "fuel efficiency," and better for the "environment." If I were playing Family Fued with the Big 3, I'd get a very nice "Survey Says" score with these trigger words.

BBC has a few words:

Ford, although introducing new versions of the smaller cars like the Focus, is mainly focusing on trucks, where it is the market leader, and rebranded "muscle cars" like a new four-door Mustang.

Or how about this gem from DaimlerChrysler?

[Chrysler's chief economist Van Jolissaint] said that he had been surprised by how much support there had been in the Daimler office in Stuttgart for these "quasi-hysterical" policies that smacked of "Chicken Little" politics - referring to the US children's story in which Chicken Little runs around in circles saying "the sky is falling".

If nothing else, Mr Jolissaint's remarks illustrate the yawning gap between mainstream opinion on climate change among the educated elites of Europe and America.

But they are also consistent with the cynical view held by some in the US environmental lobby that announcements by car companies about the future development of green vehicles are nothing more than window dressing.


Neither Ford's chief economist Ellen Hughes-Cromwick, nor General Motors' chief economist Mustafa Mohatarem, who were on the panel with Mr Jolissaint, questioned his assertion.

[Source: Chrysler questions climate change]

We'll see. I'm very optimistic about the new investment, and glad that it is happening in Michigan. But the Big 3 have a lot to prove if they want to move the automotive industry into the 21st century. Talk about "green" isn't going to stop the Toyota juggernaut; after all, Toyota wants to put a hybrid version of every vehicle they produce.

So let's update those factories and put our Michigan minds to work, neh?

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