Where did this money go?

A quote from this article on the reliability problems with the Toyota Prius:

In 1993, the Clinton administration developed the Partnership for a New Generation of Vehicles, awarding federal funds to Chrysler, Ford, and General Motors and giving them access to federal research agencies. The goal was to develop a car that got more than three times the gas mileage of full-sized vehicles already on the road.

Toyota was left out of the New Generation program, but it responded in 1994 by officially starting Project G21, a program to develop an environmentally friendly car. Three years later, the first Prius was released in Japan.

Chrysler, Ford, and GM still hadn't shown any New Generation prototypes by the end of the decade, but an unveiling was scheduled for January 2000 at Detroit's North American International Auto Show.

Heralded in newspaper accounts as a possible breakthrough, some of the designs certainly were radical, but, as it turns out, actually were just for dreamers. Each company rolled out a New Generation car, but after the show the prototypes disappeared from public view.

The federal government had already fed more than $1 billion to the three automakers-at a time when the American manufacturers were still highly profitable-with few results. The New Generation program was a failure at best; Ralph Nader called it "corporate welfare at its worst."

The project was killed by the Bush administration in 2002.

Emphasis mine -- over one billion dollars with nothing to show for it. Wikipedia has a good entry stating in part:

GM, Ford, and Chrysler all created working concept vehicles of 5 passenger family cars that achieved at least 72 mpg. GM created the 80 mpg Precept, Ford created the 72 mpg Prodigy, and Chrysler created the 72 mpg ESX-3.

Sure -- show us these cars and then don't go into production. Nice. And Ralph Nader's take on the whole fiasco:

The House of Representatives, Committee on the Budget has publicly denounced the program as corporate welfare asserting that the auto industry does not need the money, the same research is already being conducted by the Big Three, any technologies that do emerge as a result of PNGV will mainly benefit foreign manufacturers and foreign consumers, and a "Supercar" is unlikely to ever be mass-produced. Members of Congress such as John Kasich, (R-OH), John E. Sununu (R-NH) and Robert E. Andrews (D-NJ) are taking a pro-taxpayer stand by opposing this boondoggle.

The PNGV initiative has served as a smokescreen behind which the automakers have hidden for nearly a decade to protect themselves from more stringent CAFE (Corporate Average Fuel Efficiency) standards.

It is hard to imagine an industry less in need of government support for research than the auto industry given that they raked in nearly $20 billion in profits in 1999. Through PNGV, the government is supporting research that the industry would or should do on its own in response to market competition, and should be mandated to undertake to meet tougher environmental standards. Instead, automakers insist that CAFE standards should not be raised since they are voluntarily participating in the PNGV initiative and are pursuing its long term goal of developing a "Supercar" capable of achieving up to three times the fuel efficiency of today's vehicles. In the meantime, the automakers choose not to deploy existing technologies that could dramatically enhance auto fuel efficiency and reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

I want my Republic back dammit!

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This page contains a single entry by DaveH published on April 27, 2009 2:44 PM.

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