Posted by: David Welch on December 1, 2008
After being pilloried for flying corporate jets to Washington to beg for public funds to keep their companies afloat, Detroit executives are making the second trip to the capitol a big do-over. No more corporate jets for Detroit executives on a hat-in-hand trips. GM Chairman and CEO Rick Wagoner will drive a Chevrolet Malibu hybrid to Washington for Thursday’s Congressional hearings on bridge loans for the auto industry. Some of Wagoner’s staff may fly down, but the embattled chairman plans to take the wheel.
Likewise for Ford CEO Alan Mulally. He will drive a Ford Escape hybrid with a few staffers. They will take turns behind the wheel just like any other family on a road trip. Chrysler says that its CEO Robert Nardelli hasn’t finalized his plans, but he’s not flying a corporate jet. That’s for sure.
Last month, the three Detroit bosses went before Congress seeking $25 billion in loans to tide them over through the recession and credit crunch. But when they got there, the reception was colder than Michigan’s Upper Peninsula in January. Members of Congress lambasted them for flying their company planes, as well as having been unprepared for a recession and for ostensibly selling gas guzzling suvs to a generation of Americans.
That not only explains their more Spartan transportation choices this time around. Plus, they will be able to show that they actually do make hybrid-electric vehicles. Wagoner’s Malibu hybrid is rated at 29 mpg and Mulally’s Escape—assuming he drives the all-wheel drive version—gets 28 mpg. They’ll need more than that to convince Washington that they’re on the right track. But we’ll see what they say at the hearings.