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Sunday 20 Aug 2017 | 01:33 | SYDNEY
Sunday 20 Aug 2017 | 01:33 | SYDNEY

General Motors sees the future

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4 June 2008 10:23

This seems like a pretty big deal. The world's biggest car maker, General Motors, has just announced a major shift away from large car production (it's closing four truck plants and reviewing its super SUV Hummer brand) and towards what Americans call 'compacts' (hatchbacks to us). The key line from GM boss Rick Wagoner was that this new direction was motivated by rises in oil prices that 'we believe are more structural than cyclical'. In other words, GM judges that higher fuel prices are here to stay.

Australians have tended to favour big six-cylinder saloons like the GM Holden Commodore and Ford Falcon. In America, they like their cars even bigger, and as I understand it, there has also been a very strong cultural prejudice against small cars, which we've never had here. But it seems market forces are changing preferences in both countries (see the latest issue of Open Road for their assessment of why the new Falcon might be the last), which is a win for the environment, at little or no cost to standards of living. Add it to our list of climate change 'low hanging fruit'.

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