Big Three selling jets, but just inching toward efficiency

It looks like it's not just a buyer's market for automobiles, but for corporate jets.

After being soundly criticized for arriving in DC via private jets, hat-in-hand asking for $25B, CNN Money reports that Ford and GM now have plans to get rid of their corporate jets (all 5 in Ford's case, 4 of 7 in GM's case), with both CEO's driving to Washington in hybrid vehicles this time. No specifics were provided regarding Chrysler's jets or their CEO's travel plans.

Andrew Winston, author of Green to Gold: How Smart Companies Use Environmental Strategy to Innovate, Create Value, and Build Competitive Advantage, gave a keynote address recently at a statewide conference hosted by the Southwest Michigan Sustainable Business Forum. Winston made the compelling argument that the Big Three were in trouble long before the U.S. financial meltdown. In May '08, the overall car market was down 11% from the previous year, but Ford was down 16%, Chrysler was down 25%, and GM was down 28%. But...

"Toyota was also down after making some mistakes and trying to sell some big vehicles also, but only dropped 4%. Nissan was up 8% and Honda sales were up an astonishing 16%. Let's repeat that: Honda sold more cars this spring than the year before."

Winston argues in his blog that "the companies that sell smaller, more energy-efficient cars are doing ok."

So far, Ford seems to be the only one talking about efficiency, with pledges to boost fuel efficiency and calls for collaboration to develop high-tech batteries domestically. Detroit needs to convince the public that they recognize this sea change, and will be responsible with our tax dollars before they're likely to garner more support.

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