Obamateurism of the Day

William Amos and HA reader Xiphos send today’s entry, where President Barack Obama waxes nostalgic for the days when cars were truly fuel-efficient.  Both the San Francisco Chronicle and the Detroit Free Press reported this late last week:

In his first few months, President Barack Obama has proven an ardent booster of the U.S. auto industry’s future — but he keeps screwing up its history.

Last month, Obama mistakenly called the automobile an American invention, surprising the Germans who claim that mantle. And in a speech in California today, Obama revived an inaccurate jab against the industry that Ford Motor Co.’s original Model T burned less fuel than modern sport utility vehicles. …

“The 1908 Model T — think about this — the 1908 Model T earned better gas mileage than the typical SUV in 2008,” Obama told the crowd. “Think about that — a hundred years later and we’re getting less gas mileage, not better, on SUVs.”

Well, except it didn’t, as the Freep explains:

But according to Ford the first Model Ts built in 1908 could go 13 to 21 miles on a gallon, depending on the particular variation. The automaker and Model T clubs say typical Tin Lizzies averaged 15 m.p.g.

What remains unclear is how it makes sense to compare a fabric-roofed, four-seat car to a seven-passenger truck stuffed with high-tech accoutrements.

Those first Model Ts weighed about 1,200 pounds, lacked windows, rode on wood wheels and could ease up to a top speed of 45 miles per hour. A modern SUV tips the scales at 4,600 pounds, hits a top speed of 140 m.p.h. and has to meet a bevy of laws for crashworthiness.

The Chronicle includes this pithy quote from the CEO of the Model-T Ford Club of America, emphasis mine:

But with an array of modern regulations, he noted, “You couldn’t build a Model T today because the government wouldn’t let you put it on the road.”

Maybe Ford should check with Obama to start applying for waivers ….

Got an Obamateurism of the Day? If you see a foul-up by Barack Obama, e-mail it to me at [email protected] with the quote and the link to the Obamateurism. I’ll post the best Obamateurisms on a daily basis, depending on how many I receive. Include a link to your blog, and I’ll give some link love as well. And unlike Slate, I promise to end the feature when Barack Obama leaves office.

Illustrations by Chris Muir of Day by Day.  Be sure to read the adventures of Sam, Zed, Damon, and Jan every day!