Rule change: we're playing corporate greenmail now

Canada is the first to offer a ransom. The government there will give GM money if GM will keep Canadians employed.
Written by Harry Fuller, Contributor on

Canada is the first to offer a ransom. The government there will give GM money if GM will keep Canadians employed. So the rush to subsidize what might be a viable efficient new car from GM...or might not be, is clearly on. It's not expected the current U.S. government will counter Canada's offer.

One of the plants GM announced it will close is in Canada, along with three in the U.S. These are plants that make trucks and SUVs that GM cannot sell in North America in the face of $4 per gallon gasoline prices. When GM does begin to make hybrid trucks, they're apparently going to comefrom Mexico.There's already civil disobedience in Canada over the planned closure. This won't happen in the US where workers now expect to be screwed over and no longer have the gumption to take any action other than look for a lower paying job.

Here's a statement from the Canadian Finance Minister about the Canadian car plant that makes two models already, including the full-size Impala, "We need a third vehicle. I've already spoken with General Motors about that. We're going to stay on that as the federal government, and if we can participate in funding that innovation, then we're certainly going to be there."

In Canada: worker action, government attempt to buy GM's favor. In the US: nada. Get the picture?


In China GM's doing well with luxury brands like Buick, but then MPG doesn't matter much there because the authoritarian/communist/capitalist regime in China sells gasoline for less than $1.60 per gallon. Meanwhile in our democratic/corporate/free enterprise system we're paying about $4 per gallon. The current socialist regime in Venezuela BTW really knows how to win friends, gas there is less than 20 cents per gallon, and it's just over $1 per gallon in Russia. Guess those socialists are just better at cooking the books than capitalists, huh? And you can bet they won't be going after any cleantech any time soon. 20-cent gasoline? I'm barely old enough to remember that.

Sure, GM's thinking of dumping the fuel inefficient HUMVEE brand. What have they got coming up? An electric car by 2010 and lots of smaller vehicles. That would be the Volt, GM's promise of a plug-in-to-recharge electric car. Here's a fan site on the Volt and other GM high-MPG cars, current and future.

Clearly any cleantech company that can produce a better and more efficient battery system for portable power...from cars to video cameras, is going to make a lot of money.


Here's what a Silicon Valley newspaper says about new electric car companies: "The electric vehicle start-up Tesla will open a dealership in Menlo Park this summer to sell its snazzy roadster. While it's not for the economy-minded at $100,000 a pop, it could be the breakthrough that makes electric cars cool. Kleiner Perkins also is working with a Norway firm to produce a cheaper, albeit slower, electric vehicle called Think City. It should launch in 2009 with a price under $25,000. GM won't roll out its plug-in vehicle, the Chevy Volt, until 2010. It has sold only 2,000 hybrids through April this year, while Honda and Toyota combined sold more than 125,000."


And those would be Japanese battery-makers, not Detroit. I get the feeling this globalized economy means American firms can't sleep-walk from one quarterly earnings report to the next. Fortunately there are energetic American start-ups dealing with crucial energy issues like storage of electricity.

Here's a quick look at what is public about the current state of battery research and development in the USA. Batteries for portable electricity storage along with cheaper solar panels are the two most precious goals in all of cleantech. Each holds the promise of great success and wealth for any company that can come up with a truly superior technology.

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