Terry McAuliffe, the former head of the Democratic National Committee and political ally of Bill and Hillary Clinton, has bold and beautiful plans to hire U.S. workers to produce hybrids and electrics.
McAuliffe says he can develop hybrid powertrains, assemble highway-ready vehicles that meet all federal safety and emissions standards, and employ 5,000 U.S. workers. He even plans to export advanced parts to a planned joint-venture auto-assembly plant in China.
"The powertrains, batteries, will be made here and shipped" to China, McAuliffe said Aug. 8 on "The Daily Rundown," a talk show on MSNBC.
But even casual scrutiny of his vision reveals overwhelming obstacles. Let's be plain: His plan is dead on arrival.
He casts himself and his company as part of the solution for a country struggling with 9 percent unemployment, unsparing global competition and gridlocked politics.
But McAuliffe, a born promoter who set eye-popping records as the Democratic Party's fund-raiser in chief, glosses over the sheer magnitude of the task.
To understand the challenge, take General Motors. It invested more than $1 billion in the Chevrolet Volt plug-in hybrid and its technologies, which will be spread over other upcoming vehicles.
In recent years GM has added nearly 2,000 engineers to support its various hybrid and electric-vehicle technologies. And it has spent $700 million in Michigan alone to support vehicle electrification, including test facilities, a battery manufacturing lab and special equipment at its Detroit-Hamtramck assembly plant.
And what does McAuliffe's company, GreenTech Automotive, have? About 50 employees, says Alan Himelfarb, executive vice president for strategic planning. Not even 50 engineers. Fifty total employees.
What keeps the vision alive is McAuliffe's audacity. With confidence and verve, he spells out his job-creating optimism on friendly national cable shows such as "The Daily Rundown" and "The Ed Show," also on MSNBC.
And he wraps his goals in feel-good hot buttons: cleaning up the environment and taking on the growing economic might of China.
"We can achieve two important goals at once. We can provide China with clean technology and help reduce carbon emissions in the country," said McAuliffe, chairman of GreenTech, in an Aug. 6 press release about the China factory. The China project will create 2,000 jobs for Americans, he said.