Good news, bad news from American automotive front

— Albuquerque Journal

There’s mixed news for American taxpayers on the automotive front.

First the good news: Consumer Reports has ranked the 2014 Chevrolet Impala as the best full-size sedan.

It’s something to cheer about because it’s the first time in at least 20 years a domestic brand has overtaken German- and Japanese-made cars. If the ranking is followed by strong sales, that’s good for America.

When the Great Recession hit, the city’s Big Three automakers nearly went under. Chrysler and General Motors, which makes Chevrolets, together received an $85 billion bailout from Uncle Sam. Ford decided to go it alone.

Since the bailout, the Big Three have been clawing their way back — in part by making better and more competitive vehicles. GM has racked up $17.2 billion in profits since restructuring.

The U.S. government got 61 percent of GM’s stock in exchange for its $49.5 billion bailout to the automaker. That was cut to 33 percent in GM’s November 2010 initial public offering.

Now for the bad news: A government watchdog reported last week that GM stock would have to sell at $95.51 a share for taxpayers to break even on the bailout. That’s still about three times what it’s worth now after showing strong growth this year.

“There’s no question that Treasury, the taxpayers, are going to lose money on the GM investment,” Special Inspector General Christy Romero said.

And it’s still a sore point that the Obama administration structured the bailout to unfairly put more burden on investors in order to protect his union allies.

Still, there are few things more iconically American than the American car. The loss and unfairness of the deal both hurt, but as the new Impalas take to the road, it’s OK to cheer Made in America.