The long national nightmare called C.A.R.S. is finally over. And perspective is setting in.
I knew this program was going to be a train wreck when (A) the government talked about what a great deal it was for the American people and (2) when I saw the administrative manual. It was 136 pages long.
Any time the Federal Government talks about how great some program is for me I start guarding my backside.
And, to give you an example of how out of touch our government is with reality, the administrative manual devoted six pages--six--to instructions on how to disable the engine of the traded "clunker". Like I didn't know already how to destroy an engine.
Anyway...my dealership had its share of "clunkers" brought to our door. Normally in the mountains where I live we would call these vehicles "trades" but the government, in its infinite wisdom, classified them as "clunkers". They were drivable, but now we have to crush them and verify to the Department of Transportation's satisfaction that they have been destroyed. Thank God there were no Competition Yellow Mustangs or Flame Red Falcons out there. I would have had to break the law.
We entered our first deal at 6:00am on a Saturday morning since it was impossible then (and every time after that) to get into the federal computer system, powered by Oracle (another nightmare). We felt a sense of accomplishment when we submitted it and it was accepted for review.
Then it was rejected. As were the next three. So far we haven't heard on the other fourteen. I have a feeling, though.
I can take rejection. I sell cars for a living. However, it's hard to take a $72,000 rejection.
So now we wait for the government to reimburse our dealership.
Too bad we're not a GM (Government Motors) store. GM is taking your tax dollars, which bailed them out after bankruptcy, and reimbursing their dealers for the money the government owes them. Which, in a way, is the same thing.
I've never been prouder to sell Fords.
I grew up in a Ford store. My first car was a red Ford Falcon. There are five Fords in my family now, and I don't plan on owning any other brand.
I had to go to the parts store the other night to get some freon to charge my Explorer's air-conditioning system. The guy behind the counter saw my Ford shirt and told me he only drives imports. I told him he was part of what's wrong with this country.
After September 11, Ford gave ten million dollars to the American Red Cross, matching employee contributions of the same number, plus ten Excursions to the New York City Fire Department. They also provided Emergency Response team services and office space to displaced government employees.
Toyota? Nothing. Honda? Zip. Nissan, Audi, BMW, Mitsubishi, Porsche, Subaru, Suzuki, Isuzu? Zilch. Hyundai, in their defense, gave $300,000 to the American Red Cross.
I'm unapologetic-ally patriotic. I love my country and believe that American know-how and industrious hard work made us great and will continue to do so. I believe you ought to buy American whenever possible, not blindly but because most of the time products made in the USA are as good as, or better than, anything imported. As well as because of what I mentioned in the previous paragraphs.
A little over two years ago Ford Motor Company hired a new CEO, Alan Mulally. When he came in he sold off Volvo, Jaguar, and Land Rover in short order. He managed to obtain cash for Ford at a time when it didn't look like the company would need it. Then came $4-dollar-a-gallon gas and Ford, being primarily a truck company, looked like it would crash and burn in that market. That was before it became a "world-car" company again. Now, with vehicles like the Focus, Fusion, the new Taurus and Fiesta along with the mainstay F-150, Ford Motor Company has turned the corner and is positioned for the long-haul.
When Chrysler and GM were slumming around Washington looking for a bailout, Ford was building vehicles with proven quality on par with the best the imports had to offer.
In the last month or so, almost every person driving on our lot says just about the same thing. They won't buy anything Chrysler makes because of their lack of quality or they refuse to do business with GM because they took federal money. It's tragic, but as someone in government said, they brought it upon themselves. Were it not for some foresighted leadership, Ford might be in the same boat.
Henry Ford would be proud. Walter Chrysler, the Dodge brothers, and William Durant are turning over in their graves.