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Aug 29

Driven Crazy

Detroit Fights California Bid to Open Car Pool Lanes to Fuel-Conscious Import
By DEAN E. MURPHY

Aides to the governor say he will sign legislation approved on Thursday that could allow up to 75,000 hybrid drivers, mainly those behind the wheel of a gas-sipping Prius, to use car pool lanes even when taking to the road alone. The governor hopes the perk will encourage more people to buy the cleaner-burning cars, but by doing so, he will give the Japanese-made Prius vaunted status in a state where nearly 30 million registered vehicles compete for every inch of open asphalt.

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But Mr. Schwarzenegger might as well promote a “Buy Japanese” campaign, William C. Ford, Jr., chairman of the Ford Motor Company, said in a letter to the governor. An official with the United Auto Workers National Ford Department also wrote to Mr. Schwarzenegger, urging him to veto the legislation because no American-built vehicle would qualify. The combined offensive nearly killed the bill in the Legislature; it passed the 80-member State Assembly with the minimum 41 votes.

It’s great seeing how Ford is complaining of prejudice, whereas in fact this law will only prefer the Japanese incidentally, insofar as they’re the ones building hybrids rather than whining about technical and economic difficulties. You’d think that a company like GM, with a gross income greater than many countries’ GDPs, would be be able to do it, but nooo….

Needless to say, I consider only buying American to be utter bunk with cars, especially with so many foreign companies building plants here. It’s like our "Dream Team" in basketball. Taking a dive might be beneficial for them in the long run.

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