Politics, Government Ownership of Auto Companies and Your Next Car Purchase

With government ownership of GM and Chrysler, will readers be more or less likely to buy one of these cars? Will politics determine the content of management decisions? Readers express their views in these survey results.

Will the change in ownership of General Motors and Chrysler have an impact on the buying habits of our readers? Will significant government ownership will result in management decisions by these companies that reflect the administration’s political agenda?

According to last week’s survey, government ownership will have a substantial impact on the future buying decisions. In response to the initial question "Do you currently own a car manufactured by GM, Chrysler or Ford?", 66% of those responding indicated that they did own one of these cars.

Most of our readers work for the federal government or are retired from the federal government so they are often closer to the political process than most Americans.

Readers think that the future decisions made by the company will reflect the administration’s political agenda. 69.4% say that future company decisions will reflect a political agenda; 16% say that decisions made by GM and Chrysler will not reflect a political agenda; and 14.7% are undecided.

Government Ownership and Purchasing Your Next Car

It is the response to the second question that may indicate problems for the American automobile industry. In response to the question: " General Motors and Chrysler will have significant government ownership in the near future. Will this change influence your selection when you buy your next new car?" 47.65% said they would not consider buying a GM or Chrysler car. 5.6% say they are more likely to buy a GM or Chrysler and 37.2% are undecided.

Here is an interesting statistic. 1388 readers (66%) said they currently own a Ford, Chrysler or GM. Out of these people, 49.6% said they would be less likely to buy a Chrysler or GM car in the future as a result of government ownership.

Out of all readers who took the survey, including those who currently own an "American" brand of automobile, 47.7% of readers said they would be less likely to buy a Chrysler or GM car in the future.

In other words, fewer people who currently own a GM, Chrysler or Ford car will consider buying a Chrysler or GM in the future compared to those who do not own one now. Based on the comments sent in, the most common reason is that many readers think the quality of the cars will be impaired with government ownership. Some readers are also displeased with a political agenda intermingling with business decisions of the company–which some see as harming the future quality of these cars.

Here are a few of the comments send in by readers in response to this question. As the largest percentage of readers indicated they would not buy a GM or Chrysler, most of the comments reflected that sentiment. Here are samples of the reasons given for this response:

  • I will buy no product that I know is owned or controlled by the federal government.
  • I will not/never buy from GM or Chrysler exactly because of govt AND union ownership…in fact, bought my first Japanese car 5 days ago…a Toyota, never even looked at GM or Chrysler.
  • I will however buy from Ford again as I did in Feb of this year. Neither company will get my business.
  • If I start looking for something new, Ford is the only American car manufacturer I will even consider.
  • GM still is too beholding (sic) to the UAW and can’t or won’t make necessary changes that are needed in today’s competitive market. This is what caused their collapse in the first place.
  • The Govt should stay out of managing corporations. It should be looking to best manage the govt which it is not doing now.
  • I’ll NEVER buy a car built by a US government owned company.
  • I’ve seen the Soviet built Ladas. I will be much more likely to purchase a foreign owned vehicle even if it is built in the U.S. (Nissan, Toyota, etc.)
  • Obama and UAW running a company? I wouldn’t buy a water bucket from that bunch of Socialist thugs.
  • The government cannot run anything efficiently! Look at the post office, social security, medicare, and AmTrak!
  • I will not support socialism!
  • I’d buy a Yugo first.
  • I am definitely more inclined to buy a Ford if I decide to buy American.
  • Not supportive of Nationalizing Private Business…am also transferring banking to non-bailout Banking Institutions.
  • I feel Ford Mtr Co took a stand and refused bailout money. So I feel I should support the company with intergity first.
  • Have a VOLVO will keep a VOLVO. Toyota next choice. I will not support the Auto Workers Union, UAW, or an intrusive government.

But not all readers were so negative about their future car-buying experience from GM or Chrysler. While much fewer in number, here is a sample of these comments:

  • I will look for history of product quality, higher gas mileage and reasonable price (Value for the dollar) in making my next purchase.
  • I work for Uncle Same, no problem.
  • I have owned only American-made Chrysler or GM vehicles. If I should buy another vehicle it would very likely be GM or Chrysler. Government ownership in these companies has no effect on my choices.
  • A safe, stylish car would be attractive regardless of company ownership.
  • I’m going to buy what I need, when I need it, at the best price.
  • Quality will be the main criteria.
  • Personally I purchase vehicles based on my needs, customer service that is provided, and the identified dependability of a vehicle. I do not make decisions based upon the vehicle being American made, if I did I would not purchase a vehicle since most vehicles sold in America are made from non-American parts.
  • If there is no apparent change in quality, I’ll still buy a GM product.

The question of political and building cars generated a strong response from many readers. A large majority (69.4%)think that the administration’s political agenda will be a factor in future decisions made by these companies. A few readers compared American to the Soviet Union and the quality of cars built by state-owned facilities there and in Eastern Europe during the Cold War.

Here is a small sample of the hundreds of comments sent in by readers on this issue.

  • I think Obama is pressuring all companies to build according to his agenda without regard as to it’s feasability. Cost doesn’t matter to him. Democrats think "we’ll pass the laws and manufacturers will just build "em". Technology isn’t there yet.
  • That has already happened. GM couldn’t close an unprofitable warehouse in Norton, Massachusetts because it was in Barney Frank’s district.
  • They are Obama motor’s, and he has already set down the law. They have lost their owner ship, and as usual anything our government runs will fail. Thank God for FORD!!!!!!!
  • Obama ought to be ashamed …
  • I’ve worked for the government long enough to know that whatever management (the primary owner) wants, management gets. How could the two be separated?
  • 6 of 10 people on the GM board are Obama Administration officials, how would decisions NOT reflect Obama’s political agenda?
  • Automobile company decisions have always been influenced by political agendas. The current administration is just more overt. For example: Expending valuable resources producing higher-mileage small cars that consumers don’t want in order to meet a government mandated fleet MPG value.
  • The GOP will get things straightened out 4 years from now. We went through this government nonsense with the Carter administration.
  • Of course. The govt is micro-managing every other business to whom tax-payer dollars have been given (ie, banks and insurance companies). Why would this be different?
  • The unions will have an inordinate influence on these companies due to the current political climate and the ties they have with Mr. Obama.
  • Yes, for some reason politicians believe they more about running a corporation then a CEO does, they will drive these companies into the ground attempting to get them to purchase parts made in their districts for certain models as a way of ensuring their reelection campaign coffers are filled.
  • I foresee the demise of the car companies who will now have to build "government committee" designed cars. I also see the "BIG 3" going the way of Medicare, Medicade and Social Security.
  • Obama’s idea of making cars people want is flawed. GMs best sellers were large trucks and SUVs not some death trap that will resemble a Smart car.
  • Does fascist state ring true here?
  • It will be impossible for the Gov’t to keep its politics out of a company that it is a majority stock holder. That is too bad that our capitalist society is turning into a socialist society over a historically short period of time.
  • I think GM and Chrysler will have to follow what the administration’s agenda is even if it does not make money. This is why the government then will have do force us to buy the cars that they make.
  • This is a bad situation where the government is taking over banks and want to control the nation. They are heading to outher countries like Russia who control the people. Everyone is saying the same also when you talk with them.
  • The Marxism has just begun.

Most surveys that we run result in several readers commenting that the way the comments are presented is unfavorable to the view held by those readers. To give a voice to all views, we searched through the 400 or more comments on this question and did find several that reflect the opinion of those that do not think the decisions made by GM and Chrysler will reflect a political agenda—or these readers are hopeful that the management decisions will reflect a political agenda. Here are those comments:

  • Primarily fuel economy improvements. But this should have happened years ago anyway as far as greater fuel economy.
  • And I hope that they do!
  • In olden times, yes. But today, as we see with the likes of Exon and countless other company agendas, bottom line management decisions are more and more about personal gain and greed.
  • Don’t know – but I hope so
  • I hope so.
  • "American" car companies need to get with it and go Green!!!! and focus on Quality!!!
  • If the administration does have an influence, it should be to make the whole industry as "green" as it can as fast as it can!
  • I think so, if they focus at right point such as Quality, consumers in mind, one day auto industry will reach in pinnacle, which will take time, and nation will be proud for their tireless efforts.
  • I think the only goal is to keep the state of Michigan from imploding. The economy is the only agenda.
  • I feel that there will be fewer models to select from and that in itself will cut development cost.
  • I think ultimately the new trends in government reflect and shape the new trends in business.

Our thanks to the thousands of readers who took the time to participate in this survey and a special thanks to those who were willing to send in their written opinions on these questions.