Who's the owner?
Some commentators and bloggers assume that ownership explains what goes on in the auto industry. They argue that GM and Chrysler management have repeatedly bowed to the desires of their government and union owners over the last two years, and that government ownership has perverted the market in other ways as well.
Well, if that's so, it's fair to ask the same question about the latest fuel-economy rules -- and the companies that oppose them.
One objective of raising mandated fuel economy is to reduce America's dependence on foreign oil. If you think that's a minor consideration, consider who's hollering the loudest -- which is usually a good indication of whose ox is being gored.
VW and Daimler, maker of Mercedes-Benz vehicles, are complaining loudly about today's corporate average fuel economy announcement. They say they object to how the rules treat pickups and SUVs, segments where their lineups are limited.
But consider who owns them.
The Emirate of Abu Dhabi, through Aabar Investments, owns 9 percent of Daimler.
Qatar owns 17 percent of the voting rights at Volkswagen.
If you claim GM's management only supports the new CAFÉ numbers because its owners, one of whom is the U.S. government, tell it to, then answer me this:
Who's telling Daimler and VW to oppose higher CAFÉ targets? And why might two companies with ties to oil-exporting powers have a problem with the United States taking steps to trim its oil imports?
If we're going to raise suspicions about impartiality, let's be sure to look under everyone's bed.