Toyota and the 2010 Prius = Evil Government Conspiracy (according to Rush Limbaugh)
One of the most vocal political talk show hosts, shares his opinion of the hybrid movement, and doesn't stop there

When it comes to hybrids and fuel efficiencies it’s all a huge conspiracy -- at least according to Rush Limbaugh.  Mr. Limbaugh, famous for his controversial opinions on all sorts of issues, sounded off on Tuesday about what he sees as the evils of hybrids.

He launched into his speech, stating, "The Ford and Honda hybrids due out this month are among dozens planned for the coming years as automakers try to meet new fuel-efficiency standards and please politicians overseeing the industry's multibillion-dollar bailout."

While fuel efficiency standards are definitely a hot topic here at DailyTech, there's something strange about his comments -- perhaps the fact that Ford did not accept any bailouts and that Honda, a foreign automaker cannot qualify for them?  But never mind that little slip, according to Mr. Limbaugh, environmentalists and the president are in a big conspiracy to sell more efficient cars and "trick" consumers.

However, he says consumers aren't falling for this devious plot.  He states, "Nobody's buying 'em (hybrids)!  Nobody wants them!  The manufacturers are making them in droves to satisfy Obama!  Sorry for yelling. Nobody wants them!"

For the record, by nobody Rush Limbaugh actually means "only 1.3 million drivers" -- as that's how many have bought hybrid vehicles since they hit the U.S. market in 1999 with the Honda Insight.  However, Limbaugh does have the current market trend right -- industry wide hybrid sales have dropped 44 percent, slightly worse than the general industry drop of 37 percent in total vehicle sales.

Mr. Limbaugh says that Toyota, which recently finished work on the 2010 third-generation Prius, in particular, is among the most sinister of conspirators.  He states, "God bless Toyota, but Prius is a loss leader. They'll lose money on the Prius to keep Congress off their back, to have a good brand, to make 'em look like they're socially conscious citizens of the earth, but they're making the freight on the big cars and trucks they sell."

Despite Limbaugh’s claims, the Prius has actually been profitable since 2001.

While he fails to explain why "big car" sales -- like those of GM's Hummer brand -- are way down, he does explain what he thinks is wrong with the auto industry.  What "killed" the auto industry?  Limbaugh states, "Politics. Politics. Politics outta Washington and Sacramento and other state capitals, politics killed the auto industry. Politics is why you can't get a car you really, really like or why they don't make as many as you really, really like 'cause they're being forced to keep the Gestapo off their back."

New York Times columnist David Brooks offers a differing opinion, writing, "Some companies are in the steel business, some are in the cookie business, but General Motors is in the restructuring business. For 30 years, GM has been restructuring itself toward long-term viability. There are many experts who think that the whole restructuring strategy is misbegotten. These experts think that costs are not the real problem. The real problem is the product. The cars are not good enough. The management is insular. The reputation is fatally damaged. But if you are in the restructuring business, you can't let these stray thoughts get in the way of your restructuring."

So who's right?  Ultimately it’s a matter of opinion.  Did government interference sink GM?  Are big cars selling like hotcakes, while hybrids languish?  Are Ford and Honda fishing for a bailout? It really depends on who you ask.

"I f***ing cannot play Halo 2 multiplayer. I cannot do it." -- Bungie Technical Lead Chris Butcher

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