The last-minute budget compromise that kept the federal government going will take its toll on the auto industry – among other things eliminating the “car czar” position that helped the White House manage the 2009 bailouts of General Motors and Chrysler.
The bipartisan budget agreement also will trim $408 million from the $2.3 billion originally set aside to help promote research on high-mileage technology, along with another $37 million earmarked to promote seatbelt usage.
There are actually four different “czar” posts being defunded. And the one overseeing the auto bailouts, held most recently by Ron Bloom, has been empty since he left the White House last February. It was originally intended to give oversight to bailouts that included $50 billion needed to keep General Motors in business.
While the elimination of that position might not draw too many tears in Detroit the industry is clearly less pleased to see the government take a sharp knife to a program that is helping fund the high-cost development of advanced powertrain systems. Funds have so far been dispersed to a wide range of manufacturers, domestic and foreign, as well as to start-up makers, including battery car manufacturer Tesla Motors and Fisker Automotive, which plans to launch production of a plug-in hybrid vehicle later this year.