I never used to follow the European green car news about all those choices Europeans have in fuel efficient vehicles, because that just made me mad: they have so many choices and we have so few.
But last week, startlingly, Big Auto itself revealed that it shared my fury, despite having created those blocks against imports in the first place, for protection: GM's Lutz last week demanded that we "Tear down this wall!". Well, not exactly. He said "Lets bring home our fuel efficient cars for our American consumers!"
Actually... I suspect a deal has been struck between GM and Washington to standardize NHTSA and ECE rules. Lutz just leaked it.
The desperation of an auto industry in its last throes coincides with the desperation of a Democratic congress unable to get clean energy bills past a Republican wall.
Think laterally. What would you do?
Simply change the NHTSA regulations so automakers can bring home the low carbon goodies they build elsewhere. Getting our huge smudgy carbon footprints 80% below 1990 by 2050 is easy once we drive like Europeans. This would be win, win, win.
So I think what Lutz said last week is a the inside dope. We will finally be opening up the American market to fuel efficient cars. And now as I hunt about for good news for wannabe low carbon drivers, I do click on the news from Europe, like Ford's Ka which comes in diesel and gasoline, both at under 120 g/km CO2.
Understandably, the original Ka is popular over there even used - after all, it got 46 mpg, and the new model cuts fuel consumption 20%, and the diesel version gets 56 mpg. When was the last time you got 56 mpg? There's even talk of a hybrid version at 60 mpg.
Both Ford and GM are among the best at building low carbon cars for Europe. The new Ka will be shown at the Paris show, and although no mention is made of American sales yet, I really can't see why not.