President Barack Obama dropped by the Washington Auto Show on Tuesday afternoon, sitting in a handful of cars, reminiscing about his rides from before his days as president and – once again – beaming about the product coming out of Detroit and the turnaround in the American auto industry.
Eighteen Fords, Chevys and Chryslers were lined up for the chief executive to take in during a quick, 20-minue run through the annual auto show. Auto executives showed him around, vehicle by vehicle, explaining each.
He popped into a Ford Fusion plug-in, saying, “If you live in the city, you never have to fill up with this.” He got into a blue Ford Shelby GT 500 with a black racing stripe after being told it goes up to 200 miles per hour, saying, “this is what I needed in high school.”
“Not that anybody ever has to drive that fast”, the president noted.
Obama checked out a red Jeep Grand Cherokee with Dodge president andCEO Reid Bigland and recalled that the first new vehicle he ever bought was a Jeep. He looked at a Chevy Volt, lauded some high-mileage Ford vehicles and stepped up into red Chevy Silverado, declaring it “a classic.”
Also showing him cars were Sharif Marakby, director of electrification programs and engineering for Ford Motor Co, and Ed Welburn, vice president of global design for General Motors.
Obama stopped after to tout the industry, which his administration helped save by pumping taxpayers’ dollars into General Motors and Chrysler in 2009. Both have seen an upswing in sales and profits, and GM is back on top in worldwide sales.
“It is testimony to the outstanding work that’s being done by workers, by American workers,” Obama said after looking at the cars and trucks. He added, “The American auto industry is back.”
Expect to hear a lot of that going forward. The rescue of GM and Chrysler was unpopular in a lot of places but, unlike some parts of the president’s plans to stimulate the economy, it is one where he can point to sales, job hires and profits as suggestive of a measure of success.
The highlight from the quick tour, though, may have been when Obama got into a black Corvette.
“I had a friend,” he said, remembering a buddy who had driven one. “He let me drive it one time. One time.”