Now that the reorganization of Chrysler LLC is chugging along in U.S. Bankruptcy Court in New York, the Obama administration should address two related issues.
First, the members of the automotive task force must not pretend to be experts on the size and location of Chrysler's distribution network and ram a counterproductive plan through the court.
Just because General Motors' management wants to eliminate 2,600 dealerships, that doesn't mean Chrysler ought to decimate its dealer body as well. That decision should be made by those with operational expertise -- namely, management.
Eliminating dealerships will reduce unit sales and revenue. That could undermine the Chrysler that emerges from bankruptcy. It also could cause hardships for consumers when they have their current vehicles serviced or shop for new ones.
In this case, doing nothing is better than doing the wrong thing. But in one area, the administration can and should act boldly to bring immediate and long-term relief.
In the spirit of not wasting a good crisis, President Barack Obama can help the global auto industry by directing NHTSA and the EPA to expedite the homologation of global safety and fuel economy standards.
It is long past time for government regulators around the world to agree on global standards. In the meantime, the Obama administration would make an important gesture by granting an emergency dispensation allowing automakers to sell cars in the United States that meet European standards.
That move might prompt reciprocity. It would be a boon to the Detroit 3, whose European subsidiaries or associates produce vehicles in Europe that American consumers would want. And it would fix regulations for a better, more efficient, safe and clean industry.