America’s obsession with cars is alive and well!

Yesterday I attended the 2010 Chicago Auto Show with my brother Mark and nephew Eli. All three of us were intrigued by the size of the crowd. Every row was packed with patrons eager to view the new automobile models. This was evidence that: a) America’s appetite for cars is alive and well despite the recession and b) the Obama administration’s three bets on our national pastime have been successful.

First, the bailouts of the Big 3 have shown recent promise. For example, December auto sales rose almost 15%. Furthermore, many executives are predicting a gradual recovery this year.

Second, the indirect incentives to buyers (e.g. Cash for Clunker’s program) drove many on the sidelines to quickly purchase.

Finally and most importantly, selective investments in new technologies have shown a lot of promise. For example, the administration provided almost $500 million to Fisker Motors to build a gas/electric hybrid that can plug into your home outlet! One of the two on display was the 2010 Fisker Karma, which was widely admired by attendees. Truly amazing was how a smartly priced, high performance sports car could compete against its gas-guzzling brethren. Ingenuity is alive and well!

To truly appreciate the investment in Fisker and it’s potential for other such investments, one needs to view the history of this remarkable man. Henrik Fisker has designed some of the most amazing cars including: 1) BMW Z8 2) Aston Marin DB9 and 3) Aston Martin V8 Vantage. He is known for designs that are fresh as well as classic. Therefore, his winning pedigree helped him secure a $528.7 million U.S. Department of Energy loan despite being only a two-year-old company. The Obama administration should follow the same game plan with other successful small business owners.

Statistics from the Small Business Administration (SBA) show that almost 64% of the net new jobs created over the last 15 years were produced by small companies. Fisker is only one example of how a nimble, entrepreneurial company can quickly produce new jobs and technologies. However, there are many others with such promise. Small nanotechnology, alternative energy and even conventional manufacturing companies all are well positioned to pull our economy out of the malaise. Now President Obama should apply the same formula to other key, small companies instead of focusing most of his efforts and American’s money on what Big Brother should do directly.