Felix Salmon

Cash for clunkers datapoint of the day

Good on the AP for FOIAing the details of how cash-for-clunkers played out:

The single most common swap — which occurred more than 8,200 times — involved Ford F-150 pickup owners who took advantage of a government rebate to trade their old trucks for new Ford F-150s. The fuel economy for the new trucks ranged from 15 mpg to 17 mpg based on engine size and other factors, an improvement of just 1 mpg to 3 mpg over the clunkers.

Chrysler: The view from the White House

Steven Rattner’s first-hand account of the automaker bailout is self-serving (of course), but still very much worth reading. He’s very much the office-bound technocrat: “we recognized the importance of a trip to Detroit,” he writes at one point, “so in March, several of us made the journey”. Well, yes, that would probably make sense.

Vehicle emissions datapoint of the day

Vehicle emissions are a major public health issue. We already know that the best thing you can do if you want to bring your crime rate down is to switch to unleaded gasoline and then wait for 20 years. Now we’re learning that if you want to improve the health of babies (and healthy babies become much more productive members of society when they grow up), simply installing an EZ-Pass tollbooth has a large and significant positive effect: the resulting improvements in congestion and emissions more than make up for any excess emissions from cars crawling through the toll plaza itself.

Dangerous hybrid datapoint of the day

These tables come from a study organized by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, and they’re sobering: they show that hybrid electric vehicles (HEVs) are in some times twice as likely to be involved in pedestrian and bicyclist crashes as their internal combustion engine (ICE) counterparts.

Auto lease datapoint of the day

From the WSJ:

Last month, Bill Wamsley, a commercial real estate broker in Mill Valley, Calif., hoped to replace his wife’s Lexus sedan with a 2009 Cadillac CTS.

The Opel saga

A team of seven Spiegel staffers has produced a spectacular account of the big M&A story you’re probably vaguely aware of and find far too complicated to understand — the attempted sale of GM’s European car division, Opel. There’s lots of great stuff here, such as the games of phone tag being played out at the highest levels of the German and US governments (including Angela Merkel, Tim Geithner, and even Hillary Clinton and Dmitry Medvedev); and the spectacular own-goals being scored by the German government (like appointing board members to the German-American trust overseeing the sale of Opel who disagreed fundamentally with the government’s own plans for the carmaker).

The end of Wendelin Wiedeking

Last year, I put together an interactive feature for Portfolio.com entitled “Watch Out Below”; it listed nine vulnerable “tall poppies” who were liable to be cut down to size over the coming year. There were three CEOs on the list: Shelly Adelson, Ken Lewis, and Wendelin Wiedeking. Maybe it’s to his credit that Wiedeking managed to hang on longer than the other two. But now he’s been fired, while the other two still have their jobs, even if their reputations are in tatters.

When TALF displaces TARP

Dealbook is making a big deal out of the fact that Chrysler Financial has repaid its TARP loan. But read down to the bottom of the press release, and you find this:

Hummer: Too dirty even for the Chinese

China is likely to block the acquisition of Hummer by Sichuan Tengzhong:

Hummer, as an expensive, gas-guzzling sports utility vehicle, would not fit in with the government’s policy of encouraging energy-efficient vehicles, the radio said.