Columnist endorses message’: Get Feds out of car business
“Vision without the ability to execute is an hallucination.”
— Pierre Dupont, CEO of General Motors Corp., 1920.
Rev. William K. Christian furnished the quote. It is nice to have the clergy among our faithful readers.
Another dedicated reader, whose name is retained by the columnist, wrote the following regarding a recent column:
“Your comments today regarding high mileage, low safety are dead-on accurate but only hint at the true culprit: liberalism. The true goal of the far left is to force this country into tiny little cars and mass transit and President Obama is the chief cheerleader.
The sorry episode of Jenny Sanford and her black Labrador is just the reverse side of the same coin: the continuing advance of the Nanny State. At some future column I would like to read your views about getting the federal government out of the automobile business — once and for all.”
There is no question: our government is in THE car business, from bailouts to miles-per-gallon, to consumer subsidies for buying an electric car, support of the United Auto Workers … the list goes on and on.
Yes, even minor details are not overlooked by the Feds, as beautifully presented by Csaba Csere in Car and Driver:
“Ever wonder why cars are alike in so many ways? One reason is that they’re one of the most regulated consumer products on earth, with just about every aspect of their design dictated by FMVSS protocols.
“Those initials stand for “Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards,” and these regs are established by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.
“The FMVSS control everything from headlights protection and brightness to the words that appear on your car’s gauges when something has gone haywire with your engine.”
Here is a random sampling of federal safety standards that dictate vehicle design:
FMVSS #103: Defrosters — This regulation requires that a windshield be cleared in 30 minutes. That may not sound very tough, but the test takes place in a chamber where the car has sat for 10 hours at 0 degrees Fahrenheit. Then a guy sprays water on the outside of the windshield, coating it with a thin layer of ice. The engine cannot be revved past 1500 rpm.
FMVSS #104: Windshield wipers — This mandates at least two wiper speeds, and one has to be faster than 45 cycles per minute, which translates to a back-and-forth sweep in one and a third seconds.
FMVSS #105: Parking brakes — This regulation specifies braking performance that must hold a vehicle stationary on a 20 percent grade, 30 percent when the transmission is also in park. You might have to apply 125 pounds of force to a foot-activated parking brake or pull up a hand-brake lever with a force of 90 pounds.
FMVSS #113: Hood latches — Those sometimes-cantankerous secondary latches are only required on engine hoods that block the windshield when they are open.
FMVSS #114: Theft protection — It may sound odd for a “safety” agency to care about car theft, but its intent is to “reduce the incidence of crashes resulting from theft and accidental rollaway.” Stolen vehicles not involved in crashes presumably are not a concern. This regulation requires that each vehicle has at least 1,000 different lock sets; that an audible warning sounds if you open the door with the key in the ignition; and that the car can’t be shifted out of park without the ignition on and the driver’s foot on the brake.
One final thought: NHTSA stands for the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration … get that? “SAFETY.”
Yet, this same agency has contributed to more than 2,000 highway deaths yearly by mandating smaller, more dangerous, vehicles. This is a “safety” administration?
Thanks again to the April edition of Car and Driver for revealing our federal government doing its best at regulatory demands.
I’m George Spaulding ... and I approve this message.
Dr. George G. Spaulding is a retired General Motors executive and distinguished executive-in-residence emeritus at the School of Business at the College of Charleston. He can be reached at 2 Wharfside St. 2A Charleston SC 29401.