Seemingly absent from Mitt Romney's discussion of his father's, George Romney's, business expertise is his passion and support for "sensible cars". As George Romney put it in 1994,
I concluded way back then that you didn't need a great big car for going to the market to get bobby pins.Thus, the Rambler as the lowest cost convertible on the market ... a 'sensible car'.
In Romney's perspective, failure to aggressively pursue the Rambler left American Motors Corporation without a future.
The Rambler [was] the car of the future. ... He's right who is most in league with the future. ... The Rambler was the first successful economical compact car on the American market.
There is some reason to believe that George Romney merits praiseas a business strategist and energy policy conceiver well ahead of his time.
While the "Big Three" introduced ever-larger cars, AMC followed a "dinosaur-fighter" strategy. George W. Romney's leadership focused the company on the compact car, a fuel-efficient vehicle 20 years before there was a real need for them. This gave Romney a high profile in the media. ... A letter to shareholders in 1959 claimed that the introduction of new compact cars by AMC's large domestic competitors (for the 1960 model year) "signals the end of big-car domination in the U.S." and that AMC predicts small-car sales in the U.S. may reach 3 million units by 1963.In face of ever greater behemoths, even back then, Romney signaled a vision for energy smart transportation options with a basic understanding that size (weight) translates very quickly into increased fuel use.
And, Romney's strategy worked.
sales were strong, thanks in no small part to the company's history of building small cars, which came into vogue in 1961. In both 1960 and 1961, Ramblers ranked in third place among domestic automobile salesAnd, paid off for the shareholders
Romney's strategic focus was very successful as reflected in the firm's healthy profits year after year. The company became completely debt-free.And, for the workforce.
The financial success allowed the company to reach an agreement on August 26, 1961 with the United Auto Workers for a profit sharing plan that was new in the automobile industry. Its new three-year labor contract also included generous annual improvement pay increases, as well as automatic cost-of-living raisesGeorge Romney's energy smart business leadership didn't stop with the 'sensible' Rambler:
American Motors was also beginning to experiment in non-gasoline powered automobiles. On April 1, 1959, AMC and Sonotone Corporation announced a joint research effort to consider producing an electric car that was to be powered by a "self-charging" battery. Sonotone had the technology for making sintered plate nickel–cadmium batteries that can be recharged very rapidly and are lighter than a typical automobile lead–acid battery.Thus, over 50 years ago, George Romney looked to the pomise of marrying small 'sensible' automobiles with electric propulsion to take the nation off the oil addiction path.
Sadly -- for AMC shareholders, employees, and the general move forward in the U.S. transportation/energy sectors -- George Romney resigned from AMC to run for Governor and his successor decided to chase AMC's competitors into the larger car markets rather than dominate (and grow) the small car market.
Mitt Romney once saw his father's vision as key to deal with the nation's 'addiction to oil'.
Look, if we could somehow magically wave a wand over our automobile fleetand replace all of our cars with the current best technology, 35 mpg-type technology, we'd be saving an extraordinary amount of oil.In any event, George Romney's focus on the 'sensible' and economical (both at purchase price and operations cost) small car might just be his greatest achievement and one that Mitt Romney is conveniently ignoring while pandering to the 'Drill, Baby, Drill' McSUV crowd.
Hat tip to FatherFlot for calling this to my attention.