Friday, April 01, 2011

“CARS: Having A Meltdown”

c. 2011 Rod Ice
All rights reserved

Note to Readers: What follows here is a one-act play about the evolving state of automobile manufacturing. The participants have chosen to meet far away from the glare of media attention in Washington, D.C. or Detroit. In another venue, the group would face much scrutiny from the public. But in northeastern Ohio, they remain anonymous, and safe.

THE SETTING – A conference room at the Perry Nuclear Power Plant.

THE PLAYERS – Lee Iacocca, former chairman of Chrysler Corporation; Reddy Kilowatt, cartoon spokesman for the electric power industry; General Motors; Henry Ford XVI; Antonio Chrysler.

LEE IACOCCA – “Friends, we are here today to discuss our future in the domestic automobile industry…”

GENERAL MOTORS – “Ten hut, Lee! I see you brought a friend.”

L. IACOCCA – “Yes, let me introduce our honored guest. This is Reddy Killowatt. You’ve all probably seen him in commercials and print ads about electric power.”

REDDY KILOWATT – “My friends call me Sparky.”

ANOTNIO CHRYSLER – “So, what the heck is a guy with a light-bulb head doin’ here at a meeting of carmakers? Heyy!”

HENRY FORD XVI – “Maybe he can shed some light on why you let Fiat partner with your company?”

A. CHRYSLER – “Watch your mouth, goofball. Them guys build great cars.”

EVERYONE – (Bursts into laughter)

L. IACOCCA – (Pounding his fist on the table) “Gentlemen, please!”

HENRY FORD XVI – “This one really is baffling, Lee. I haven’t seen Reddy out in public since I was a kid.”

L. IACOCCA – “President Obama has touted electric vehicles as the way to eliminate tailpipe emissions and free us from dependence on foreign oil. But… today there is a hitch in his plan. So he figured that Reddy could deliver the message with credibility.”

G. MOTORS – “At ease, soldier! The message is clear. My Chevy Volt is the marketplace champion! There’s no hitch.”

REDDY K. – “Sorry General. I’m afraid there’s a short circuit in our plans…”

G. MOTORS – “What? Show me the target, and I’ll blast it, pilgrim!”

REDDY K. – “Gentlemen, we have been depending on nuclear power as the way to generate more electricity for cars like the Volt. It seemed to be a solid plan. But then, earthquakes and a tsunami hit Japan. And the whole world was reminded of how dangerous it can be to generate electricity in that high-tech way…”

G. MOTORS – “Hah! There’s no danger in nukes, grunt! Show some backbone!”

FORD XVI – “I have to agree. What happened in Japan was an unpredictable calamity. You can’t judge the industry on something so outrageous.”

REDDY K. – “You fellows are correct. Nuclear power has proven to be very, very safe.”

A. CHRYSLER – “Heyy, maybe that’s true. But the public ain’t gonna fuggedaboutit.”

L. IACOCCA – “Tony is right, I’m afraid. Many of President Obama’s strongest supporters are now ditching his roadmap for tomorrow, and changing course.”

REDDY K. – “And that’s why I’m here. To help deliver this sobering news. Politics can overwhelm anything. Even a tsunami.”

G. MOTORS – “Stand at attention, soldier! We’ve built the Chevy Volt. I say go into battle!”

A. CHRYSLER – “Not so fast, paisano. Your dreams have come unplugged.”

FORD XVI – “Look, everyone… Reddy may be right. We won’t have enough power for all those electric cars without more nukes. But can we give up on zero-emission vehicles, just like that?”

G. MOTORS – “Yeah, pilgrim. What about Libya? Doesn’t that make you shiver in your boots? Oil ain’t a safe source of energy, either. We need to march in a different direction!”

L. IACOCCA – “We will support the Volt in public, of course. It’s all part of the political game. But I am afraid that our hands have been tied by Mother Nature.”

G. MOTORS – “Blast that! You big shots love to talk. Do you want my Volt or don’t you?”

REDDY K. – “Most people won’t, I’m afraid. It’s a matter of market forces and political trends… even with government support, the costs will be too high. The accident at Three Mile Island scared everyone in America. Then, Chernobyl shocked the world. Now, Fukushima has revived those fears, and made them more pervasive. That means I go back into hiding and you come up with a different plan.”

FORD XVI – “The mood will pass. Give it time.”

L. IACOCCA – “Yes, that’s what we need. Time. Eventually, alternative-fuel vehicles will overcome all of this… but until then…”

A. CHRYSLER – “Until then? Heyy, we do what?”

L. IACOCCA – “We keep selling cars… that run on gasoline!”

FORD XVI – “Didn’t we just drive in a big philosophical circle, Lee?”

L. IACOCCA – “Shut up Henry. You irritate me.”

G. MOTORS – “Oh well, as long as I sell cars, it don’t matter, pilgrim. Let the tanks roll on!”

EVERYONE – (cheering) “Gas-o-line! Gas-o-line! Gas-o-line!”

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