Getting Bigger – But is it Better?

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FiatChrysler is now FiatChryslerPeugot . . . or something along those lines. But is it a good thing?

Or an ominous thing

The combine is now the world’s fourth largest automaker. Automakers, really, since the new brand subsumes many different brands.

That is good in terms of leveraging economies of scale, which makes it possible to manufacture cars for less and so make more money selling them.

But it’s not so good in terms of preserving the unique identity of the brands subsumed.

The danger – at least potentially – is that Chrysler/Dodge/Ram/Jeep will Room 101’d into loving Big Brother and made to sell cars more inline with the kinds of cars that Peugot sells, which are nothing like the cars Chrysler/Dodge/Ram/Jeep sells.

Peugot sells primarily smaller and front-wheel-drive-based cars; exactly the kinds of cars that Fiat hasn’t been able to sell here. And exactly the kinds of cars that Chrysler/Dodge/Ram/Jeep has had no trouble selling scads of here . . . in spite of the fact that they are almost all “old” designs, in some cases more than ten-year-old designs – which is ancient in terms of what’s called product cycle, in industry-speak.

The current Dodge Challenger dates back to 2007, which is thirteen years ago – and yet continues to sell smartly; also the Charger sedan (and Chrysler 300 sedan) which are kin and also fundamentally the same cars today – almost 2020 – as they were back in 2008).

But it is precisely because Chrysler/Dodge/Ram vehicles are ancient – or ancient in layout (e.g., Ram trucks, Jeeps) because almost all of them are unapologetically big and big-engined.

Americans buy them because they’re not small – and small-engined. You will not find a turbocharged four under the hood of a Charger, Challenger or 300. The smallest engine offered in these cars is a V6 that’s almost as big as some V8s.

And they are all rear-whee-drive, a layout which used to be almost a given for American cars (cheap, small foreign cars were FWD) but which is now almost exclusively the province of expensive (and foreign) luxury cars.

Because they haven’t got all the “latest” driver “assistance” (nanny) technology.

Chrysler/Dodge/Ram vehicles do offer some of this electronicized effrontery – but for the most part, it remains safely optional.

Even in the very latest models – such as the 2020 Jeep Gladiator (my review is here) you don’t have to buy the ssssssssssssaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaafety crap that almost everyone else de facto forces you to buy since the only way to not buy it is to not buy the vehicle.

It’s standard in virtually everything new that isn’t a Chrysler/Dodge/Jeep.

CDJR also didn’t back down when the chorus of acceptableness warbled its dirge about the danger and general awfulness of selling a car like the Hellcat Challenger, with its 707 horsepower supercharged V8 engine. Instead, CDJ doubled down – smearing molten rubber all over the backsides of the chorus – by adding 200 more horsepower. The Demon became the first street legal production car capable of lifting its front wheels off the ground when provoked – and running a 9 second quarter-mile.

Worst of all – as far as the chorus was concerned – anyone could buy it.

Literally.

No special license or “insider” connections. And though not cheap, the Demon – and Hellcat – aren’t exotic  . . . in price. They are not much more exotic in price than a loaded SUV (the Hellcat stickers for $58,995) which makes them accessible to the average person.

This is almost as heinous as VW selling a lineup (not just one model) of affordable diesel-powered cars. Which of course was quickly put a stop to – chiefly because VW’s management lost its nerve and did the one thing that assures a prolonged and torturous death these days.

It apologized.

The company’s management accepted the lie that what it had done – which was to “cheat” on illegitimate government certification tests, which is the equivalent of using a radar detector to “cheat” a speed trap – was some awful thing when it fact what it had done was a wonderful thing.

The testing rigmarole had become onerous for its own sake; it no longer bore any meaningful relationship to harmful exhaust emissions VW’s was crucified over pedantic technicalities – for affronting the Authority of the government – not because anyone was harmed.

In fact, hundreds of thousands if not millions of people were helped.

VW was the only car company making high-economy/low-cost and long-lived diesel-powered vehicles available to . . . average people. And they sold well, until VW agreed (under duress)  to take them off the market, to placate the chorus.

VW should have doubled down.

Made its case to the American people, directly – as the Orange Man has (and this, of course, is the reason for the hair-pulling, carpet-chewing fury directed at the OM by those who cannot abide anyone who stands up them).

So far, CDRJ hasn’t blinked.

Despite unprecedented pressure to stop selling big vehicles with big engines, CDRJ not only continues to sell them, they audaciously expand the number of them. You can now get the Hellcat drivetrain in Jeeps like the Grand Cherokee Trackhawk and – soon – you’ll be able to to get the same in Hellcatted versions of Ram trucks.

And there are new diesels on deck, too – including one for the Gladiator.

No signs of an Apology Tour.

If CDRJ can hold the line. Which may be hard to do under the aegis of Fiat and Peugot. They will be the boss of CDRJ and if they decide that big and big-engined cars must go, to placate the chorus, then they will – no matter how well they sell.

Much also depends on the Orange Man. if he stays, it will be easier to hold the line; if he is removed – and replaced – it will be much harder to avoid genuflection. The fatwas currently being held in abeyance and even being withdrawn will be applied, full force no matter which of the OM’s antagonists accedes to the purple.

This includes his Republican antagonists – such as Mittens, for instance. Or JEB! – sulkily waiting for his moment. All of them are just as bad as the rest of them, in terms of being predictable amen’ers of the chorus. Not one of them will stand up; they can be counted on to beg for forgiveness and toe-the-line, as VW tragically did.

So it might be best if CDRJ went its own way – and seceded from the Fiat-Peugot combine. Became the decider of its own fate. This is perfectly doable, because CDJR vehicles are selling.

The conventional wisdom is that the merger is necessary because CDRJ needs a cash infusion to update its aging mode lineup.

No! A thousand times, no.

This is precisely what will kill off CDRJ. If big and big-engined CDRJ vehicles are replaced by “updated” smaller and small-engined cars more in line with the cars that Fiat and Peugot specialize in there will no longer be a reason to buy CDRJ vehicles, beyond the fading memories associated with the brand – and what it used to mean, once upon a time, to own a Chrysler, Dodge, Ram or Jeep vehicle.

Don’t go changing.

Or apologizing.

. . .

Got a question about cars, Libertarian politics – or anything else? Click on the “ask Eric” link and send ’em in!

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69 COMMENTS

  1. Somehow, I just knew that Eric was going to turn this FCA post into yet another of his VW Diesel rants. 😉 So I’m only going halfway back on topic with this comment.

    There’s no arguing that FCA eventually needs to incorporate some modern, efficient cars into their lineup. But they’re digging their candidates out of the slimiest depths of the dumpster.

    If there is ANY brand that is a bigger POS than Fiat, it would have to be Peugot! Probably a big enough boat anchor to sink FCA to the bottom once and for all.

      • Could see it coming from a mile away. But I understand that you view the VW thing as a Watershed Event……..like an automotive 9/11.That’s true in a way, because it damaged the future of passenger car diesels forever. I view it more as an act of colossal idiocy by VW management. That diesel engine still would have been plenty sweet without cheating.

        The difference between the “heinous” acts of VW and FCA is that Mopar’s monster Hemis are merely “politically incorrect,” whereas what VW did was technically “illegal……” and really stupid.

  2. Leaving Jeep out of this (the only brand in the whole turducken that actually makes decent money), how do they expect there to be a profitable company afterwards? The French brands are bloated with too many employees, too many models, and propped up with government subsidies that may go away if Paris starts believing that it’s now a majority-US company. And let’s face it – I’m not sure who makes less-reliable cars, them or the Germans. [0]

    [0] Let’s not leave FCA out of the “least reliable” race – a friend has a Dodge/RAM pickup and he gets notified seemingly quarterly of new recalls.

  3. So here’s a contrarian view…Maybe they are going to use the profitability of CDRJ to prop up their gaia loving, tree hugging break even euro market…similar to the reason we pay astronomically higher prescription prices in this country, so everyone else gets cheap meds. The gas taxes, fuel fatwas and antifracking mentality of the left in this country, IMO makes them unelectable during this period in time…

    • At least at the presidental level…and in sane thinking portions of the interior…over here on the left coast the oligarchs, and trust fund commie antifa soy boys brought on GAVIN…never a tax, rule, or AGW idea he didn’t like or support.

  4. I wonder. If I were a betting man, I would bet that if FCA kept the current Charger/Challenger/300/Grand Cherokee, etc… going even longer and longer, and therefore could lower costs even more, that these models would see an increase in sales over time. Even as they grow older than they are. Of course a little refresh is probably warranted, but keeping the current architecture of older-school non-direct injection bigger engines, same frames, etc. How much could FCA save by not having to invest in everything new new all the time.
    Their last quarter numbers were some of the best in a long time. I am not smart enough to know if it’s because t hey dumped a bunch to the rental companies or not though.

  5. “VW’s was crucified over pedantic technicalities – for affronting the Authority of the government – not because anyone was harmed”.

    Dura lex, sed lex. I.e. the law is the law. In other words, the law isn’t about common sense, it is about the law. If you break it, then you may have to face the negative consequences that follow.

    • Hi Jone,

      Yes – but the law is often selectively applied. In this case, VW was subjected to an unprecedented criminal persecution over something that many other car companies have done but which was resolved very differently, without the criminal prosecution. I have come to the conclusion that VW was specifically given The Treatment because of the threat posed to the electric car agenda by its lineup of affordable diesel-powered cars. VW was the only car company selling inexpensive diesel-powered cars of all types and kinds – and that had to be stomped.

      Note, in particular, that VW had planned to bring out a small, diesel-powered commuter car capable of averaging 80 MPG and priced under $20k No sane person could object to this. It would have used half the fuel of the most fuel-sippy gas-engined car and produced a much lesser volume of exhaust gasses and byproducts than a hybrid car.

      It would have been affordable – and environmentally unobjectionable (by any reasonable standard).

      Which is exactly why it was kiboshed.

      • I agree with Eric, but I think it’s even worse than that. The ‘law’ being changed in small increments to eliminate specific competition is the worse kind of crony capitalism that is killing us.
        Make no mistake, tier 4 diesel regs became law to eliminate new diesel engine costs from Asia/India that had caught up to our old regs. They were about to flood our market with diesel engines that cost a fraction of ours. Can’t have that.
        We all pay dearly for this reg. expansion.

    • Have you ever exceeded a speed limit? I thought so. The law is the law and some laws are more stupid than others. The Tier 2 Bin 5 emissions standards fall into the ridiculous, stupid category and should have been disobeyed. Like the speed limit, it was selectively applied at VW. I don’t think that VW did anything wrong. You could make the same case that all automakers skirt CAFE standards as well, yet nothing is done about that… yet. There is no way that a lab test can simulate real world conditions.

      • VW was punished because they had programmed their diesel engines for minimum emissions during testing and for improved power and fuel economy during normal driving. The car’s computer would assume that the car was tested when only either the front or rear wheels were rotating. This is cheating and it is a breach of the law, regardless of how silly the law is. Besides from that I agree that a really harsh example was made with Volkswagen, but they were the only car manufacturer to perform the trick that they did.

        Thus, for the common people I recommend that they adhere to the law, even if it is stupid and despotic. The consequences of not doing so are too drastic in today’s draconian justice system, if you get caught.

        • Jone,

          “The law is the law”, the refrain of every tyrannical despot and mass murderer, including almost all US presidents. Demanding obedience to the law, because it’s the “law”, is the path to tyranny and death. Your assertion that we should blindly follow the law, no matter how evil or stupid, is despicable.

          “An unjust law is no law at all”.
          – Saint Augustine

          By your reasoning, anyone who harbored Jews in Nazi Germany, or blacks in the US during slavery, were criminals who deserved to be punished. Do you not see how loathsome this is? Please, don’t claim “that’s different”, it’s not. Of course one is an extreme case, the VW example is not. But, your “law is the law” mantra offers no room for nuance or justice; no mechanism for neutering the will of tyrants. Again, despicable.

          Also, what about the supreme law of the land, the Constitution? Does it give you any pause that the existence of the very agencies issuing these fatwas is illegal? Probably not, as a good Statist you accept the propaganda that only the latest, self serving proclamations of the Nazgul, determine the “law”. Your loathsome idea also precludes jury nullification, a long standing legal tradition in England and the early days of America.

          “The jury has a right to judge both the law as well as the fact in controversy.” – Chief Justice John Jay

          “The jury has the right to determine both the law and the facts.” – – Samuel Chase

          There is nothing in the Constitution that allows for the EPA, but there is something in the Constitution that forbids it.

          “The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people”.

          Perhaps you’ve heard of it?

          VW was crucified for affronting the ego’s of petty, narcissistic bureaucrats, enforcing an invalid law. The proper, and ethical, response from VW would have been to tell GovCo to pound sand. As for this,

          “I recommend that they adhere to the law, even if it is stupid and despotic”

          that guarantees expanding and perpetual tyranny. Screw your Statist boot licking.

          Jeremy

          • I fully agree with your opinions. Yet, for the common folks, I recommend that they not engage in a struggle that they cannot win yet, unless they in advance are prepared for negative personal consequences.

            • Good God Jone,

              What’s with the elitist “common folks” stuff? Have you ever heard the term, “politics is downstream of culture”? Politicians never do anything good unless dragged kicking and screaming by the changing views of the “common folk”. I’m not suggesting that people should pick fights that they can’t win. But, unless culture changes and rejects the loathsome “law is the law” mantra, “we” won’t be able to win any fights.

              You’re probably familiar with the fact that many States have legalized marijuana for medical and recreational use. This didn’t happen because a bunch of pols woke up and realized that the war on pot is insane and immoral. It happened because people refused to follow the law. Many prosecutors began dismissing, or refusing to press, charges against marijuana users. They did this because it’s become increasingly difficult to find a jury pool that the prosecutor can winnow down to a group consisting solely of obedient, mindless Statists.

              This put pressure on the pols to change the law in some States. Then those States had the temerity to ignore Federal law. This entire process began with law breaking, mostly by “common folk”.

              As for VW, I understand why they caved, but they didn’t have to, legally or ethically. VW was, and is, a hugely profitable corporation. They could have unleashed an army of attorneys in their defense. They could have launched a massive propaganda claim designed to inspire the long dormant spirit of freedom and individualism in the hearts of Americans. They could have exposed the obvious arbitrariness and crony capitalist collusion going on. Finally, they could have challenged the statute itself which, after all, is illegal. Forced the Nazgul to hear the case. Exposed the insanity of endlessly pursuing diminishing returns and the ignorance and vindictiveness of the unelected tyrants pushing this crap.

              But, they caved, which is a tragedy.

              Jeremy

              • Jeremy, I would suggest that money, money given to the pols(their favorite thing)and money scarfed up by the state in taxes were motives also.

                After all, how do the corporations control the US corporation other than spreading money to the scumbags in office. It’s easily seen and has been since I was a teen that nobody runs for public office to do good for the people, with maybe the exception of Ron Paul.

              • “I’m not suggesting that people should pick fights that they can’t win”.

                Neither do I. In fact the only thing that I am criticizing VW for, is that they challenged the system in a way that could not succeed. VW tried to cheat the system by manipulating their cars in obscurity and by trying to keep this a secret for everybody. By doing this, they actually became dishonest themselves, and the executives in VW should have known better that trying to cheat by sacrificing their own moral integrity.

                If VW had challenged the system in the open and honestly, then I would have supported their actions.

                Besides from this, I believe that we actually agree fairly well.

                • Hi Jone,

                  As I described earlier, VW had/has enormous resources. It is not clear at all that they couldn’t win. At the very least, done properly, they could have swayed a lot of opinion to their side. Keep in mind, shortly afterward Trump won the Presidency, largely because the “common folk” were tired of being called “deplorable” by an out of touch, condescending bunch of elitist tyrants. VW could have exploited this sentiment by exposing the truth about the EPA and other such agencies. At the very least, it would have launched a much needed challenge to the capricious and authoritarian actions of these illegal government agencies. VW should be criticized only because they caved.

                  As for your rigid, Kantian view of lying, it is inhuman, destructive and incompatible with any practical system of ethics. Lying is not, per se, immoral. We have discussed this before and I provided two examples, one deadly serious, one trivial, where the only proper moral action was to lie. In the first case, telling the truth would make that person a moral monster, in the second, doing so would make him a self righteous prick.

                  In the VW case, I am not claiming that the only proper moral action was to “lie”, just that doing so was not immoral. The EPA is an illegal agency, issuing illegal Fatwas that cause actual harm to people. It’s claimed purpose, with respect to automobiles, was completed at least 20 years ago. It is now a destructive, parasitical organization that exists solely to perpetuate itself, at the expense of others. Lying to such a group is not immoral but, as you say, it may be imprudent.

                  I recognize that most people don’t share my views. They have been brainwashed into believing that the decrees of the Nazgul are final and the only legitimate interpretation of the law. Court intellectuals have succeeded in convincing people that the actual meaning of the tenth, enumerated powers, etc… is the opposite of what was intended. In simple language the tenth says to the Federal Government, “if the Constitution doesn’t say you can do it, you can’t do it”. The new understanding of the tenth, if it’s acknowledged at all, is “if it doesn’t say you can’t do it, you can do it”. A few years ago, one of our brilliant and knowledgeable reps actually argued for this interpretation.

                  There was a time when most people believed that slavery was morally legitimate and properly legal. Those few who saw the truth, and acted on it, were considered criminals. The mob was wrong, the few were right.

                  Kind Regards,
                  Jeremy

                • It is not immoral to lie to a thief. If accosted by a mugger, after I gave him the $5 in my pocket I wouldn’t tell him about the $100 in my boot. If he asked I would tell him the 5 was all I had.

                  I see the VW situation in the same light.

                • Hi Jone,

                  Some inside baseball from a guy who has been covering the car business for 25-plus years now: All car companies “cheat” the system – which, by the way is the apotheosis of gaslighting. How does one “cheat” an abuser? And the system is abusive as the facts regarding the VW TDI situation richly illustrate (no actual human victims were brought forward; no evidence of actual harm caused to actual people adduced – just vague assertions about general harms never proved).

                  The point, though, is that every major car company routinely runs afoul of a reg – i.e., didn’t “comply” – and in numerous cases, the likelihood is this was deliberate. But only VW was subjected to the curb stomp treatment. It is very interesting to note the fact that, on the one hand, VW was never proved to have harmed anyone and practically run out of business while Tesla has killed numerous people and so far not so much as a gentle recall has been issued.

                  Ask yourself why…

                  • Hey Eric,

                    “…no actual human victims were brought forward; no evidence of actual harm caused to actual people adduced”.

                    Yet, the fatwas issued by these illegal agencies, along with idiotic policies like cash for clunkers, do cause harm. The regs drive up the cost of new cars, keeping older, less safe cars on the road longer. Hilariously, this probably more than negates the vanishingly small benefits of tighter emissions control. Cash for clunkers increased the cost of used parts, harming the poor. Safety regs have created modern cars with about the same visibility as this,

                    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pX71mALOPKs

                    That poor visibility has given rise to numerous safety features made necessary by previous interventions, and so on…

                    In previous conversations, Jone has made clear that he considers not lying to be an absolute moral imperative. This rigid, inhuman, Kantian understanding of honesty is anathema to considered, ethical behavior.

                    Interestingly this,

                    “They – the corporate-government nexus – is using technology to punish and eventually eliminate the use of individual judgment in favor of mindless obedience.”

                    is applicable to a discussion of morality. Kant’s categorical imperative is a moral formula that eliminates the possibility of meaningful moral judgement. It does not allow for ranking of moral assertions or consideration of consequences. Just a mindless application of, “would I wish that X action become a universal maxim”. No nuance, no thought, no ability to consider the consequences in any specific case. Kant was challenged on this while alive and confirmed this view in a letter to Proudhon, stating that it would still be wrong to lie, even if telling the truth caused harm to an innocent person.

                    Jone worries about a “slippery slope”. Well, I want that slippery slope. I want people to question their childish assumptions about honesty and recognize that it is not an absolute moral virtue, but rather a subordinate value in a broader system of ethics, which must consider motive, harm caused, justice and fairness. You know, a system that requires of us independent thought, self examination and judgement.

                    Cheers,
                    Jeremy

                    • Oops, I have the philosopher wrong that Kant corresponded with. I read it years ago and have been trying t find it.

                      Jeremy

                    • You are right, lying and cheating are a slippery slope. People who go down this road most often end up as criminals, lying and cheating to other people all the time, because they have lost control over their own behavior.

                      Therefore my recommendation to you and generally is that most of the time lying and cheating should be avoided, unless you want to become yourself what you hate.

                      With regard to VW their actions were stupid, because the risk of getting caught was high and the easily predictable consequences of getting caught were very negative.

                      A simple cost benefit analysis performed by VW would have shown that trying to cheat the authorities was stupid and an unnecessary risk to take. All the other car manufacturers were honest and wise enough not to attempt a stupid stunt like that.

                    • Hi Jone,

                      In re VW: Actually, the risk of “getting caught” (moral gaslighting) was very small; the cars passed all the tests, easily. It took a pedantic inquisition to suss out the “cheating” – which makes the point that under ordinary circumstances, it is doubtful it would ever have been discovered because the difference in emissions was so negligible that no one would have noticed, much less been harmed. But someone decided to purse an Inspector Javert-like dissection of VW’s diesels… to find something they could use to curb stomp VW’s diesels, which were simply too good for their own good.

                      Ask yourself: Why was VW looked into so aggressively?

                      And: Who benefits?

                    • Jone, I’d agree with lying and cheating making a criminal out of you.

                      So asking whether a politician is a criminal is a moot point.

                  • I have worked 35 years in the oil and gas industry, so I know something about the authorities, laws and regulations, as well. The fact is that when a system is being designed, it does not have to work and it does not even have to be safe.

                    The only thing that the authorities are interested in, is if the designer has broken the regulations or not. If he has broken the regulations, then he risks being punished, but if his system leads to a fatal accident, then he will not be punished as long as everything is designed within the regulations.

                    By this I am saying that I do not disagree with your common sense statements, I am just telling you how the authorities think and act and how common people should act to avoid the wrath of the authorities.

                    By the way, nobody has been punished even after lethal accidents with Tesla cars because of major flaws, because Elon Musk did not break any laws or regulations when designing them.

                    • “because Elon Musk did not break any laws or regulations when designing them”

                      There are criminal laws and then there is liability. It is clear even from the outside that TM failed to do basic FMEA or discarded the results for their products.

                      Ford not only broke no laws with the Pinto, but was media skewered for following them. To this day Ford is considered bad over a car that wasn’t great but perfectly acceptable for its class, price point, and era. The media took a calculation Ford was required to do by the Federal government and turned it into something damning. That is the cost of a mandate vs. the value of lives saved.

                      What’s odd is TM uses a similar calculation with nonsense estimated inputs in its own defense and gets away with it. The suck’s to be you argument that ‘X’ saves more lives than it takes.

                      Mr. Musk violated no laws, but if Ford, GM, Toyota, etc did what TM did, they would be skewered through the media cycle until they cried uncle and then some.

                  • Morning Eric,

                    Don’t forget this,

                    “All the other car manufacturers were honest and wise enough not to attempt a stupid stunt like that”.

                    Notice that, despite your oft repeated claims to the contrary, Jone studiously avoids addressing them.

                    Cheers,
                    Jeremy

                • Hi Jone,

                  The slippery slope I was talking about is losing the ability, or never gaining it, of making thoughtful, considered moral decisions. Because of the false and dangerous idea that honesty is an absolute moral virtue, many people never learn how to practice complex and just moral reasoning. People who insist that honesty is an absolute moral virtue tend to be intolerant, unkind and petty. Those who understand, correctly, that honesty is a subordinate component of a broader, complex system of ethics, tend to be tolerant, generous and kind.

                  I consider Kant to be the most destructive moral philosopher of all time. Kant’s crowning “achievement” is the categorical imperative that reduces all of morality to a simple formula: “act only according to that maxim whereby you can at the same time will that it should become a universal law.” Kant forbids consideration of circumstance or harm caused by pursuing the “correct” action. Each moral decision is an isolated act, where the “correct” answer is arrived at only by abstract consideration.

                  For Kant, one’s moral duty is to be consistent with an abstract principle, even if it causes harm to others. It is staggeringly selfish, not in the common sense, but in that each moral decision is an individual act, isolated from circumstance, other people or reality. It advocates a blind duty and offers no means of challenging tyrannical authority. As such Kant, not Nietzsche, laid the philosophical groundwork for National Socialism. Hegel seemed to see this.

                  “morality is reduced to empty formalism, and moral science is converted into mere rhetoric about duty for duty’s sake”.

                  So, why am I talking so much about Kant, and why is it relevant to a discussion about dieselgate? You, whether you realize it or not, are advocating the Kantian moral position. This position is inhuman and dangerous. You have yet to define “cheating” or concede that lying is sometimes the only morally correct position. Instead, without putting the terms in context, you insist that “lying and cheating” necessarily lead to moral decay. You never say, “I understand your larger point about honesty, I just don’t agree that it applies to VW”. Instead you insist that lying or “cheating” by anyone at any time leads to that dreaded slippery slope. This indicates that, like Kant, you value adherence to an abstract principle above consequences to other people.

                  So, I’ll try to make this simple. Lying is not per se immoral. Why one lies, not whether one lies, determines the moral status of the act. If I lie to harm another, gain unearned benefits, etc…, then I have acted immorally. If I lie to prevent harm to an innocent person, I have acted morally, to be honest would be immoral. Finally, if I lie to support my wife’s obvious happiness with her new haircut, I have acted properly. To insist on honesty, at the expense of your wife’s feelings, doesn’t make you virtuous, it makes you a self righteous, uncaring prick.

                  On to “cheating”, which you insist is what VW did, yet fail to address the oft repeated observation that one cannot cheat an illegitimate system. Every person who hid Jews from the Nazis, or blacks from the slave catchers, “cheated” the system. Obviously this is of much more importance than “dieselgate” but, the principle is the same. You have yet to describe any circumstance where lying or “cheating” is the right thing to do. If you believe there are none, you are beyond hope morally.

                  Jeremy

                  • Hi Jone,

                    The slippery slope I was talking about is losing the ability, or never gaining it, of making thoughtful, considered moral decisions. Because of the false and dangerous idea that honesty is an absolute moral virtue, many people never learn how to practice complex and just moral reasoning. People who insist that honesty is an absolute moral virtue tend to be intolerant, unkind and petty. Those who understand, correctly, that honesty is a subordinate component of a broader, complex system of ethics, tend to be tolerant, generous and kind.

                    I consider Kant to be the most destructive moral philosopher of all time. Kant’s crowning “achievement” is the categorical imperative that reduces all of morality to a simple formula: “act only according to that maxim whereby you can at the same time will that it should become a universal law.” Kant forbids consideration of circumstance or harm caused by pursuing the “correct” action. Each moral decision is an isolated act, where the “correct” answer is arrived at only by abstract consideration.

                    For Kant, one’s moral duty is to be consistent with an abstract principle, even if it causes harm to others. It is staggeringly selfish, not in the common sense, but in that each moral decision is an individual act, isolated from circumstance, other people or reality. It advocates a blind duty and offers no means of challenging tyrannical authority. As such Kant, not Nietzsche, laid the philosophical groundwork for National Socialism. Hegel seemed to see this.

                    “morality is reduced to empty formalism, and moral science is converted into mere rhetoric about duty for duty’s sake”.

                    So, why am I talking so much about Kant, and why is it relevant to a discussion about dieselgate? You, whether you realize it or not, are advocating the Kantian moral position. This position is inhuman and dangerous. You have yet to define “cheating” or concede that lying is sometimes the only morally correct position. Instead, without putting the terms in context, you insist that “lying and cheating” necessarily lead to moral decay. You never say, “I understand your larger point about honesty, I just don’t agree that it applies to VW”. Instead you insist that lying or “cheating” by anyone at any time leads to that dreaded slippery slope. This indicates that, like Kant, you value adherence to an abstract principle above consequences to other people.

                    So, I’ll try to make this simple. Lying is not per se immoral. Why one lies, not whether one lies, determines the moral status of the act. If I lie to harm another, gain unearned benefits, etc…, then I have acted immorally. If I lie to prevent harm to an innocent person, I have acted morally, to be honest would be immoral. Finally, if I lie to support my wife’s obvious happiness with her new haircut, I have acted properly. To insist on honesty, at the expense of your wife’s feelings, doesn’t make you virtuous, it makes you a self righteous, uncaring prick.

                    On to “cheating”, which you insist is what VW did, yet fail to address the oft repeated observation that one cannot cheat an illegitimate system. Every person who hid Jews from the Nazis, or blacks from the slave catchers, “cheated” the system. Obviously this is of much more importance than “dieselgate” but, the principle is the same. You have yet to describe any circumstance where lying or “cheating” is the right thing to do. If you believe there are none, you are beyond hope morally.

                    Jeremy

                    Note: I apologize for the double posting, but I wanted this to appear under my name. I don’t like posting as anonymous. Probably just vanity masquerading as virtue.

                  • Hi Jeremy,

                    I am not as categorical that you think I am. Neither am I a “kantian”. Also that one should not lie is a concept much older than kantianism. It is kind of a “christian thing” much older than Kant.

                    I actually appreciate your feedback and I am also happy that you show interest in ethical issues. Yet, I cannot reply to all of your comments, since this would be a discussion much more comprehensive than what belongs in a site mostly about cars.

                    Therefore, I think that we must close this discussion without agreeing fully. I think that this is an acceptable conclusion, because it it not always possible to agree 100 %.

                    I will just add one more comment about VW based on the below statement written by you:

                    “Every person who hid Jews from the Nazis, or blacks from the slave catchers, “cheated” the system. Obviously this is of much more importance than “dieselgate” but, the principle is the same”.

                    I agree that if the lives of innocent people are at stake, then it may be acceptable to lie or cheat. No disagreement there. Nonetheless, VW cheated not to save any innocent lives, but to possibly earn another fistful of dollars.

                    In my opinion lying or cheating merely for an economic gain hardly represents a morally acceptable reason for doing so. VW was not on the brink of going bankrupt and nobody’s lives were at stake, so why sacrifice one’s moral integrity for something with so little merit?

                    • Hi Jone!

                      In re this: “I agree that if the lives of innocent people are at stake, then it may be acceptable to lie or cheat. No disagreement there. Nonetheless, VW cheated not to save any innocent lives, but to possibly earn another fistful of dollars”

                      VW was trying to make money, all right – by selling high-efficiency/low-cost cars for which there was a market. How is this a bad thing? They were trying to avoid adding complex/expensive systems to their cars (e.g., DEF injection) and save their customers money. How is that a bad thing?

                      VW’s diesels were a brilliant alternative to the EV tyranny being forced on us by the government. These EVs don’t “cheat” the government – but they sure as Hell cheat us!

                    • Hi Jone,

                      Thanks for the comment, I’m also glad that you enjoy discussing ethical issues. I agree that it’s time to move on, but I want to point out that you’re still not addressing my main point. You insist that VW “cheated”, I reject that for the simple reason that one cannot cheat, in a moral sense, an illegitimate or unlawful system. I have never claimed that cheating is OK, just that, morally, the concept is predicated on the legitimacy of the system one is “cheating”.

                      By continually claiming that VW “cheated”, and never addressing the numerous times you have been challenged on what cheating means, you are promoting a very broad definition of cheating that ignores the predicate condition described above.

                      You also don’t seem to understand the point of my Jew/slave example. My point is not that it’s OK to cheat in certain circumstances, it was that they WEREN’T CHEATING. Writing this, “I agree that if the lives of innocent people are at stake, then it may be acceptable to lie or cheat”, shows that you missed that point.

                      Kind Regards,
                      Jeremy

                    • Hi Jone,

                      Sorry, a little more.

                      “Also that one should not lie is a concept much older than kantianism. It is kind of a “christian thing” much older than Kant”.

                      Well of course, I never said, or even implied, otherwise. Kant argues that not lying is an absolute moral imperative. This is insane and morally destructive. You’re pretty close to that position because you don’t seem to understand that sometimes lying is the only moral option. At best, you grudgingly admit that sometimes it might be acceptable. In other words, your default moral position seems to be heavily biased toward reflexive honesty rather than the pursuit of justice.

                      Also, while this is a car blog, philosophical, political and cultural commentary are at least as important around here as car talk.

                      Kind Regards,
                      Jeremy

                    • I’ve cheated govt. every chance I got in my life. I haven’t had enough money to get a high payed lawyer to make my cheating legitimate. And probably the amount of cheating I’ve done in my entire life doesn’t even represent even a percent or a tenth of a percent of the money somebody like Trump has cheated on a single deal.

                      Corporations have bought off the politicians. The Koch Bros. make over $100B a year and don’t pay taxes getting bye’s and special rules and then do everything they can to get their bought pols to stop people from forming unions.

                      Unions have a bad name in Texas but it’s because people are scammed and don’t realize that it’s just pore people, often more poor than those who take offense that are trying to make a decent living doing some of the hardest jobs.

        • I am 100 percent familiar with what VW did and don’t care. They shouldn’t be punished and it is a stupid rule. It needs to be tossed.

          • Hey swamp,

            But, unless everyone blindly follows the law, no matter how DESPOTIC, including every dishonest instruction given to jurors, reverence for GovCo may slip a bit. If that happens, anarchy may be let loose upon the world! Can’t have that.

            Cheers,
            Jeremy

  6. I was on a trip with my wife and we rented a Chrysler 300. I was putting my foot into the right pedal all weekend as it rode nice and took off like a hot rod. I hope this isn’t the end of everything good in American cars.

  7. In my own mind, the Chrysler Corporation was no more after Robert Eaton flipped his lid and sold the company to Daimler Benz. The Chrysler I knew and loved as a kid was pretty much gone after that and is still gone 21 years after that disasterous “merger”.

    I appreciated Lee Iacocca’s willingness to play the role of the underdog to a “t” and never give up fighting. In a lot of ways, I think those days are gone, in spite of Eric’s well written and thought out article.

    • I’m of the opposite opinion. When that merger happened I saw Chrysler getting some of that Benz reliability. I’m still a fan of the vehicles that were developed with Benz. Peugeot on the other hand – I don’t see them bringing anything to the table for the US market, a small diesel to fill in the gap left by VW would be nice.

      • Hi Bin,

        Benz did rape Chrysler – but Chrysler got something in the tip jar; something very important: The RWD architecture which enabled Chrysler to revert to a RWD model lineup. It is doubtful the current Charger/Challenger/300 would exist had it not been for the DaimlerChrysler.

        • Heck yeah. I’m looking at a Magnum with the 5.7L right now. I love that car. I want to replace my Mustang Convertible, which has virtually no utility. I wish they still made that car. It was super sharp and useful. the only thing it’s missing is woodgrain vinyl adhesive

  8. Well, not quite only Peugeot, but Peugeot, Citroen, Opel, and Vauhaul. Sheesh, what a mess. All the weird and strange French cars (think Citroen DS19, Peugeot Fregate, etc.) with Opel (arguably a decent marque, Senators, Opel GT, etc.) with Vauxhaul (the original Chevette, amongst other wonders). I have no idea what to make of this mess. I hope Opel becomes the model for small cars, not Citroen or Peugeot.

    • Oh, I forgot a couple marques…Simca of France, and the Rootes Group of the UK, AKA CHRYSLER EUROPE. Simca gave us the original Horizon (yes, the L-Body, as it became in the US), and the Simca 1000 (ugh)…Rootes gave us the Sunbeam Tiger (with Ford V8 power) and the Imp (Coventry Climax aluminum OHC engine out back…quirky but fun). So, maybe it’s Chrysler coming back together with a bunch of miscellaneous crap thrown in 🙂

      • Yeah, strange world of automobile companies nowadays. I’m betting Mother MoPar never figured to reunite 40 or so years later with Chrysler Europe after selling to PSA for a symbolic $1, or especially with the remnants of GM Europe, as you point out. This steaming pile ‘o mess that will be PSA-FCA probably spells the end of MoPar as we knew it. Jim S nailed it, Eaton killed the old engineering driven MoPar by selling to Daimler. What was left was asset-stripped by those Cerberus vultures.

        Oh yeah, remember that MoPar also absorbed American Motors, which had been doing joint ventures and was partially owned by…Renault! Remember the Renault Alliance, etc.? So, maybe this is the start of the automotive Unibrand…ugh.

  9. The way I see it – a hellcat is basically an Anti-Peugot. I dont know how many are familiar with the European lineup of Peugot cars but god they are depressing… they are basically cars for people who dont like cars, and can’t afford them either. Basically some time in the 90s, they changed their models to make crap they can easily flog on financing to people who couldn’t afford them…. that way they can sell more, and also book profit on financing (and all the wonderful opportunities to cook the books that brings).

    Eric, to your point to one of my earlier comments of say a spinoff – yes if we have a proper free market system where you sell for more than you buy, make a profit, invest and distribute to owners – it is exactly what should happen especially in a company like Chrysler which is now so different from other car companies.

    But today proper “profit” and “investors” are like curse words it seems. We have a crony capitalist system where most companies (including car companies) are run by the Ivy league MBA types who know more about “financial engineering” to inflate the share prices (and milk some subsidies along the way and get payoffs in the form of share options) than actual engineering behind the products they sell. Actual profitability matters little in this world, where in the end another bailout for doing the government approved thing is right around the corner…. And i suspect THAT is what this is really about….. When push comes to shove – they bigger they are – the more likely they will be to get that wonderful magical bailout…..

    • You’re right about the MBA thing- as near as I can tell the whole point of an MBA is to learn to rationalize away any ethics or morality you may have. Anybody can make it being crooked. A lot of us that easily could- won’t.

      • MBAs/Lawyers/Beancounters as CEO, see Boeing, and its current woes with the 737 Max. It wasn’t the old hardline Boeing engineering talent that let them down, it was the MBAs in Mahogany Row pushing for “shareholder value” and all that rot that did.

    • This is how the Boeing 737 MAX disaster happened as well, or at least a large part of it. After the McDonnell-Douglas merger and becoming a publicly-traded company, the “product people” (“plane guys”, just like “car guys” or “computer guys” or whatever) who, while certainly not perfect, had a long history of knowing and caring about what they were doing, got run out or marginalized, replaced by contractors in the “supply chain” and by the same sort of recycled finance types that ran GM into the ground. Financial engineering replaced aerospace engineering, newfangled metrics like RONA replaced old-fashioned profit and loss, and when the disasters started, they cared more about maintaining their stock value than fixing the problem.

      • The main requirement for air travel is trust. The pilot still has final say as to if we take off. If he doesn’t trust everyone, and I mean everyone, from the assembly line workers to the software coder to the ground crew to their flight crew the flight does’t happen. Of course there had better be a damn good reason why. When you add people who don’t bleed jet-A into the mix they won’t understand.

  10. A local dealer always says all 4 brands in its commercials. It is quite a list. Wonder if they’ll say “Come on down to Chrysler Dodge Jeep Ram Peugot !!”

    In other news, MillerCoors is laying off 500 people…

    • That’s because these pussy ass degenerate millenials can’t drink. They prefer to stare at their phones and talk about white man’s oppression of Indians and LGBTQXYZ rights and how bad the Orange man is than enjoy a goddamned beer. I wish I was 20 years older. I wouldn’t have to know what a mess things are.

      • They really can’t can they? We upper middle aged pre-codgers tried to keep our summer small town festival open- we were voted down by some of these DARE graduates. I wonder what kind of remorse they will feel in their late 30’s when they start to wake up to what they’ve been force fed?

      • Give me a Matt’s or even a Utica Club or Genny Cream and I’m a happy camper. It’s damn hard to be worked up about immaterial crap when you’ve got 16 oz of the brewer’s finest art in front of you!

        The soyboys are missing out on real manhood in the form of maltus fermentii and manly company. Where is the local Scone’s Bar sort of place, with pickled hardboiled eggs on the bar, and guys hanging out after work enjoying the cameraderie, and the brew? Feminists killed all that long ago.

        • Hey Crusty,

          I live in Santa Fe, the heart of SJW and TDS insanity. Still, we’ve still got a few pubs that fit the bill (no pickled eggs though.

          Cheers,
          Jeremy

          • Excellent Jeremy. I hear the call of Molly’s Pub now, as a matter of fact…since it’s the solemnity of All Saints, maybe hoist one to St. Arnold, the Patron of Brewers!

          • Jeremy, I was in my twenties when I got a load to Santa Fe with a few other truckers. We had to spend the night using day cabs so we had motel rooms.

            A few guys told me “Hey, this town is full of queers. It’s the best place to get a single woman you can find. Just wait, about 6-7 the women will pack the bars”. Damned if they didn’t too.

            It was always interesting to go to Santa Fe for a few reasons not to mention it was a nice looking town.

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