When I was first asked to moderate a question and answer session with California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger, I immediately thought, "What a delicious opportunity to talk to a man who has told Detroit to 'get off its butt' and start building the next generation of cars and trucks people want." A year or two ago, those comments made the Governor the object of scorn in Detroit. People in Motown would tell me, "How dare HE tell US what we should do!"
So a year later, when the Governor strolled on stage at the Society of Automotive Engineers World Congress he brought a similar, but changed opinion of Detroit.
Does he still think Detroit needs to get its act together a develop fuel efficient next generation vehicles? Absolutely. When I asked him who is to blame for the current auto crises he told me, the blame falls on Washington for going decades without a clear, consistent energy policy and it also falls on the auto industry in Detroit.
Governor Schwarzenegger says, "Detroit has been slow at the wheel, they have been asleep at the wheel and I think that while other car manufacturers from around the world have been progressive and have developed hydrogen cars and hybrid cars and all this, Detroit has been slow in doing that."
At first glance, you might think nothing's changed with the Govern-ator, but in some very important ways his opinion has changed.