WASHINGTON -- The vehicles owned by the Obama administration's auto team could reflect one reason why Detroit's Big Three automakers are in trouble: The list includes few new American cars.
Among the eight members named Friday to the Presidential Task Force on the Auto Industry and the 10 senior policy aides who will assist them in their work, two own American models. Add the Treasury Department's special adviser to the task force and the total jumps to three.
The Detroit News reviewed public records to discover what many of the task force and staff members drove, but information was not available on all of the officials, and records for some states were not complete.
At least two task force members don't own a car, and there are still two open slots on the 10-member panel that will be filled by the secretaries of labor and commerce, who have not yet been appointed.
Steve Rattner, the managing partner of a $6 billion New York hedge fund who will lead the Treasury Department's auto efforts, has three imports and one domestic vehicle.
He owns a 2008 Lexus LS 460 sedan, a 2007 Audi S4 convertible, a 2006 Mercedes-Benz R350 sport-utility vehicle and a 2005 Lincoln Town Car, according to public records.
The co-chairs of the task force -- Treasury Secretary Timothy F. Geithner and White House National Economic Council Director Lawrence Summers -- both own foreign automobiles.
Geithner owns a 2008 Acura TSX, registered in New York. He once owned a 1999 Honda Accord and a 2002 Acura MDX, according to public records.
Geithner is the president's designee for purposes of enforcing loan agreements with GM and Chrysler and must approve or reject any proposed transactions by either company that would cost $100 million or more.
His maternal grandfather, Charles Moore, was a vice president at Ford Motor Co. from 1952-63, according to Peter Geithner, the secretary's father. But Geithner wasn't very interested in cars growing up -- in part because he graduated from high school in Asia, his father said.
Summers owns a 1995 Mazda Protege that's registered in Massachusetts. He previously owned a 1996 Ford Taurus GL.
What other task force members drive:
Here's what task force policy aides drive:
The White House declined to comment.
President Barack Obama traded in his Chrysler 300C for a more fuel-efficient Ford Escape hybrid during the 2008 presidential campaign.
Joe Biden, the son of a car dealer, owns a 1967 Chevrolet Corvette -- a wedding present from his dad. He primarily commuted from Delaware to the Senate on Amtrak.
Ron Bloom, a special adviser to the Treasury Department who is also advising the task force, owns an aging Ford Taurus.