Why I love the US auto industry

I’ve been watching a lot of the talk about the US Auto Industry lately and I don’t see many people sticking up for it. That’s partially because the execs in that industry are horribly clueless and are flying around private jets. Come on, you missed the chance to really pull some PR magic out of the air. If I were an exec there I would drive an American car down from Detroit. But, let’s leave the PR cluelessness aside.

When I was in China over the past few weeks I saw that the Chinese market LOVES American brands. You really need to go there to understand just how significant this is. On nearly every corner you saw an American brand. The world’s biggest bookstore there? It has a 7-11 on the first floor. And a KFC. And a Starbucks.

Everywhere I looked I saw Buicks and Chevy’s (both American car brands).

I saw Nike and Patagonia and many other American clothing brands. And lots of American technology brands were used at the BloggerCon there. Dell. Apple. Etc.

So, back to why I love the US auto industry and why I’m going to stick up for it.

I own a GM car. My producer owns a GM car and a Ford car. My wife owns a BMW, German. My dad owns a Toyota. My brother owns a GM truck. My other brother owns a Honda.

Funny thing, they are all great cars. The last two cars I’ve owned are American (I had a Ford Focus, now have a Saturn Aura).

So, why are American cars getting such horrible press? Well, they haven’t done two things:

1. They haven’t protected their brand from mediocrity. Apple, for instance, doesn’t put its brand on crappy things. At least not in the past nine years since Steve Jobs came back. But Ford and GM puts its brands on all sorts of second-rate crappy cars that are sold to taxi drivers and rental car industry. Every time I rent a car it’s usually a crappy car. It really bums me out. If I were at GM or Ford or Chrysler I would stop making these crappy cars.

2. They haven’t innovated. Three weeks ago Ford gave me a Flex SUV to borrow for a week. I put more than 500 miles on it, and it is a great SUV. It is a state-of-the-art SUV. Has Microsoft’s Sync technology in it so you can talk with it. The lift gate has a motor in it to lift the tailgate up for you, which I really appreciated when we had some heavy rains and it kept me from getting my hands wet. The SUV itself had a great ride, handling, and was a lot nicer to ride in than my BMW is (my producer Rocky, says so). But, really, these are minor innovations. They aren’t any that you’ll get credit for as an auto maker because other brands have similar things (aside from the Microsoft Sync, which isn’t that satisfying, truth be told — it often didn’t understand when I wanted to switch the radio from, say, CNBC, to NPR). The kind of innovation that American car companies WOULD get credit for? Going all electric all the time. Even GM here, with its Chevy Volt, is coming too late to the marketplace to get all that much credit.

Actually, I think it comes down to the executives PR gaffe. Why are they flying private jets around? They need to demonstrate that they are car enthusiasts and that the American industry is worth saving. Bob Lutz has gotten close when he drives around the Volt and shows it off, but it’s too far away still. We don’t understand why it takes so long for American industry to come up with a new idea and a new car.

When the executives come back to Congress they should demonstrate that American industry CAN come back and CAN do something innovative.

Here’s how.

1. GM should shut down many of its lines and many of its brands. Do a real house cleaning. Why do we need Saturn, Buick, Cadillac, GMC, Chevy? We don’t. Pick two, get rid of the rest. Work on the brand. Make sure that the American brand remains one that’s viable in places like China and India. If we screw up our brands, or, worse, let them go out of business, then we’ll see America drop in influence very quickly around the world. Right now Chinese young people think that being like an American is “cool.” What if they figure out that it’s not? Yeah, there goes any chance of interacting with a billion-person market.

2. Ford and Chrysler should shut down all lines that make substandard, crappy cars. Yes, this will put hundreds of thousands of people out of work and move tons of market share over to Korea, Singapore, and China. But, sorry, this needs to be done if you want Americans to be in the car business at all in a decade. If you don’t, then the people who can build quality low-cost cars will eat our lunch and will take away our oxygen anyway (and, they are coming).

3. GM or Ford should make a strategic deal with Tesla to turn 20% of its best dealerships into Tesla dealerships and should help Tesla get access to the American market. The same company should make Tesla a premier American brand.

4. GM or Ford should figure out why rock star Neil Young could turn his big-ass-American car into an electric car that regenerates its electricity with a liquid fuel generator that uses natural gas, not the stuff that comes from Alaska or Saudi Arabia. Why can a freaking rock star out innovate big old American car companies? GM and Ford should be ashamed. We should take away all executive perks until GM and Ford demonstrate they can innovate again.

5. GM or Ford should make Shai Agassi’s car, Better Place. Why, again, is an executive from Silicon Valley out innovating the old-school US car industry? Give Shai one of those jet planes and let him get to work.

6. The congress should increase gas taxes to make all this happen. Obama should call for a “moon shot” for the US industry. One of replacing 50% of cars with electric cars by 2020. Can’t happen? Well, if you think that, then get ready for the Chinese. They are building their own car industry. Their citizens are getting tired of the pollution there. They are getting wealthy (I saw tons of Audis, BMWs, Ferraris, mixed in with those Chevys and Buicks) and they are building their own brand names too, that they will bring world-wide. We only have a couple of years of market window before someone else slams it shut.

These moves will not be easy. There is not a whole lot of love for the American car industry in the United States right now. Getting Congress to do ANYTHING for this industry will prove remarkably difficult (and will be impossible if American Car execs remain arrogant and out of touch and don’t sell all their jet planes and start riding in coach like the rest of us).

I’m hopeful, because I love my American car and I hope I can buy another one soon.

My experience with the Ford Flex demonstrates that we can build awesome cars here. The fact that the VW Beattle (and Tesla and many other great cars) were designed in Los Angeles demonstrates we still have the best car designers on our shores and that they build products that people want around the world.

What do you think? Am I off my rocker? Is there any hope? Or should we just shut down the whole industry and let the Chinese take over?

Oh, one other little data point. I met a former executive from Mercedes Benz (Daimler Chrysler). He said they built a car in Germany and built the same one in China and the one in China had fewer defects. Do NOT assume that the Chinese won’t take over the entire world in car production in the next 15 years. You will be proven horribly wrong if you assume that.

249 thoughts on “Why I love the US auto industry

  1. sorry Scoble, it’s too late. your suggestion last year about turning Saturn into the all hybrid brand would have been a great one, but Detroit doesn’t move like that, they buy the competition like Buick, Olds, Saab, Volvo etc. Detroit doesn’t know how to innovate. Finally backed into a corner, the big three are whimpering cowards, they won’t stand against the unions, they can’t stand against competition. As much as it pains me the big three need to die a painful death. Maybe Microsoft can buy GM and fix things…………oh the humanity.

  2. You make a good point about quality, and I 100% agree, but the problems go much deeper.

    These companies couldn’t get rid of the brands, but that won’t reduce costs, just make PR easier (which is still the least of their problems). These companies did such poor jobs negotiating union deals over the past 30 years that a few thousand dollars on every car goes towards pensions and paying people who should have been subject to layoffs and don’t even put in a days work anymore (but still get a paycheck and benefits). On top of that, the large number of dealers essentially being subsidized by the manufactures are strangling the companies.

    Assuming they work out these problems, they still need to figure out how to react to the American energy concerns. Foreign cars are becoming very efficient and affordable. US cars are not nearly as efficient and cost more.

    For China, this is really the perfect time to invade the US market. If they could produce a reliable, energy efficient car that still looked and performed well in the next 5-8 years, it’s over for US automakers unless large taxes were instituted against foreign cars.

    Their problems aren’t just the product, it’s also how it’s made. Fixing both at the same time is nearly impossible legally and technically. A bailout doesn’t fix these problems, it just lets them squander more time, and gives the foreign competitors more time to workout how to kill them off.

    What the US auto industry needs is exactly what it has right now, and ultimatum. Fix it or die. That simple. If it becomes any less dire, they aren’t going to suffer the necessary pain to resurrect these brands.

    I’m hoping they rebound… but I want a true rebound, one that creates a viable industry, not one like we have had for several years that despite records sales they hemorrhage money.

  3. You make a good point about quality, and I 100% agree, but the problems go much deeper.

    These companies couldn’t get rid of the brands, but that won’t reduce costs, just make PR easier (which is still the least of their problems). These companies did such poor jobs negotiating union deals over the past 30 years that a few thousand dollars on every car goes towards pensions and paying people who should have been subject to layoffs and don’t even put in a days work anymore (but still get a paycheck and benefits). On top of that, the large number of dealers essentially being subsidized by the manufactures are strangling the companies.

    Assuming they work out these problems, they still need to figure out how to react to the American energy concerns. Foreign cars are becoming very efficient and affordable. US cars are not nearly as efficient and cost more.

    For China, this is really the perfect time to invade the US market. If they could produce a reliable, energy efficient car that still looked and performed well in the next 5-8 years, it’s over for US automakers unless large taxes were instituted against foreign cars.

    Their problems aren’t just the product, it’s also how it’s made. Fixing both at the same time is nearly impossible legally and technically. A bailout doesn’t fix these problems, it just lets them squander more time, and gives the foreign competitors more time to workout how to kill them off.

    What the US auto industry needs is exactly what it has right now, and ultimatum. Fix it or die. That simple. If it becomes any less dire, they aren’t going to suffer the necessary pain to resurrect these brands.

    I’m hoping they rebound… but I want a true rebound, one that creates a viable industry, not one like we have had for several years that despite records sales they hemorrhage money.

  4. Since 1970s, the U.S. cosumer has steadily lost confidence in the U.S. auto industry to produce economical, reliable and eye appealing cars. It sold power, size and glitz, more interested in bragging about complex radios and tape players and other electronic gadgets in them rather than putting emphasis on quality, reliability and economy. In the 90s my new Ford spent half of the time at the dealer for repairs, that lasted for a week or two and back to the garage. It’s my time, grief, and many times very frustrating arguments with the dealer and zone managers about warranty coverage. Many of my friends have had and still have similar experience. On my recent trip to Chicago, my friend rented a Mercury from Hertz. Guess what. He got stopped by police and was ticketed at night for the car’s tail lights not working. On account of that he missed his flight.
    Since my fiasco with Ford, I bought 2 Toyotas and 3 Hondas. In the first five years I never never needed to go back for repairs. Besides, they deliver very good mileage, 26-28 mpg, and I experience very friendly and considered service when I need it.
    Do I need to go back to this kind of aggrevation again? GM, Ford and Chrysler lost almost deliberately through complacency two generations of consumers. They need to convince people that what they offer is more consumer appealing, friendly, more reilable and at a competitive price. The rescue plan is a band aid that would not solve anything, unless the corporations began to convince people and produce evidence to support their wishful dreams.

  5. Since 1970s, the U.S. cosumer has steadily lost confidence in the U.S. auto industry to produce economical, reliable and eye appealing cars. It sold power, size and glitz, more interested in bragging about complex radios and tape players and other electronic gadgets in them rather than putting emphasis on quality, reliability and economy. In the 90s my new Ford spent half of the time at the dealer for repairs, that lasted for a week or two and back to the garage. It’s my time, grief, and many times very frustrating arguments with the dealer and zone managers about warranty coverage. Many of my friends have had and still have similar experience. On my recent trip to Chicago, my friend rented a Mercury from Hertz. Guess what. He got stopped by police and was ticketed at night for the car’s tail lights not working. On account of that he missed his flight.
    Since my fiasco with Ford, I bought 2 Toyotas and 3 Hondas. In the first five years I never never needed to go back for repairs. Besides, they deliver very good mileage, 26-28 mpg, and I experience very friendly and considered service when I need it.
    Do I need to go back to this kind of aggrevation again? GM, Ford and Chrysler lost almost deliberately through complacency two generations of consumers. They need to convince people that what they offer is more consumer appealing, friendly, more reilable and at a competitive price. The rescue plan is a band aid that would not solve anything, unless the corporations began to convince people and produce evidence to support their wishful dreams.

  6. Robert, the thing that bugs me about calling for tons of new nuclear power plants to power all these electric cars is that hereby, the world just runs from one wall into another.

    The US never experienced something like “Tchernobyl” in their close neighborhood, but Europeans know what it means (and that wasn’t even the worst case, just an idea of it). Please note that nuclear power plant safety not just a problem of construction and maintenance. There have also been close to catastrophic incidents in Sweden and in France, among others. With every new nuclear power plant being built, the risk of having a catastrophic incident increases.

    Further, there’s the problem of the atomic waste (emitting radiation for thousands of years to come – our grand-grand-grand-sons and -daughters will love to care about OUR waste problem). And the problem that, like oil, suitable uranium is also a natural resource that isn’t renewable and very scarce (much scarcer than oil). There’s also a transportation problem (safety, again).

    Also think about the millions of batteries that will be required to drive all those electric or solar powered cars. They can be partly recycled, but there’s always some waste.

    I don’t prefer fuel driven cars over electric/solar cars, but I would love to see some initiatives that promote mitigation in regard to energy consumption per capita. We don’t need to become tree-huggers, but we should at least start thinking about our overall energy consumption and how we can lower it to a sane level while keeping our lives enjoyable. We should start thinking again about substituting as many of our business trips by teleconferencing. About reducing the space we need for living (world population increases every day). About how to live a less luxurious, yet happy life that is even healthier at the same time (e.g. by walking to the next corner store instead of driving to a huge shopping mall for shopping).

    And last but not least, we should think about whether cars really need to be that heavy and big, as even if they’re driven by environment friendly power sources, energy consumption of a car that weighs the double, will also be doubled, rest unchanged (blame the laws of physics).

    The strategic direction is thus pretty clear (also for China) and those car manufacturers who adapt to this mega trend the quickest will have the best outlook.

  7. Robert, the thing that bugs me about calling for tons of new nuclear power plants to power all these electric cars is that hereby, the world just runs from one wall into another.

    The US never experienced something like “Tchernobyl” in their close neighborhood, but Europeans know what it means (and that wasn’t even the worst case, just an idea of it). Please note that nuclear power plant safety not just a problem of construction and maintenance. There have also been close to catastrophic incidents in Sweden and in France, among others. With every new nuclear power plant being built, the risk of having a catastrophic incident increases.

    Further, there’s the problem of the atomic waste (emitting radiation for thousands of years to come – our grand-grand-grand-sons and -daughters will love to care about OUR waste problem). And the problem that, like oil, suitable uranium is also a natural resource that isn’t renewable and very scarce (much scarcer than oil). There’s also a transportation problem (safety, again).

    Also think about the millions of batteries that will be required to drive all those electric or solar powered cars. They can be partly recycled, but there’s always some waste.

    I don’t prefer fuel driven cars over electric/solar cars, but I would love to see some initiatives that promote mitigation in regard to energy consumption per capita. We don’t need to become tree-huggers, but we should at least start thinking about our overall energy consumption and how we can lower it to a sane level while keeping our lives enjoyable. We should start thinking again about substituting as many of our business trips by teleconferencing. About reducing the space we need for living (world population increases every day). About how to live a less luxurious, yet happy life that is even healthier at the same time (e.g. by walking to the next corner store instead of driving to a huge shopping mall for shopping).

    And last but not least, we should think about whether cars really need to be that heavy and big, as even if they’re driven by environment friendly power sources, energy consumption of a car that weighs the double, will also be doubled, rest unchanged (blame the laws of physics).

    The strategic direction is thus pretty clear (also for China) and those car manufacturers who adapt to this mega trend the quickest will have the best outlook.

  8. James and the others who’re talking about power. A recent study found that if we converted to plug-in electric vehicles (PEVs), or hybrid plug-ins (PHEVs), we CURRENTLY have the capacity to power over 70% of the light-duty car and truck fleet.

    IOW, we could convert 7 out of 10 cars to PEVs/PHEVs TODAY, and meet their needs using the existing grid.

    See: http://www.pnl.gov/news/release.asp?id=204

  9. James and the others who’re talking about power. A recent study found that if we converted to plug-in electric vehicles (PEVs), or hybrid plug-ins (PHEVs), we CURRENTLY have the capacity to power over 70% of the light-duty car and truck fleet.

    IOW, we could convert 7 out of 10 cars to PEVs/PHEVs TODAY, and meet their needs using the existing grid.

    See: http://www.pnl.gov/news/release.asp?id=204

  10. Hi Scott, out of interest, were you behind establishing the rather great Ford-sponsored “This Is Now” Flickr group that’s been advertised as of late?
    (Apologies for being slightly off topic here)

  11. Hi Scott, out of interest, were you behind establishing the rather great Ford-sponsored “This Is Now” Flickr group that’s been advertised as of late?
    (Apologies for being slightly off topic here)

  12. I agree on the point about car rentals. Avis has mostly GM cars and they are all terrible. Even when getting an upgrade.

    As for Tesla, I think they are a blip on the market and who knows if their cars are even quality? Given the issues they have had buying a car from them could be risky. The battery could blow up after a year of driving, no one knows. That is Silicon Valley bias coming in.

  13. I agree on the point about car rentals. Avis has mostly GM cars and they are all terrible. Even when getting an upgrade.

    As for Tesla, I think they are a blip on the market and who knows if their cars are even quality? Given the issues they have had buying a car from them could be risky. The battery could blow up after a year of driving, no one knows. That is Silicon Valley bias coming in.

  14. I agree that we would all love to see american car companies succeed, but not when the fight pollution reduction, CAFE standards at every opportunity. They still have to yet come up with THEIR OWN significant high efficiency low pollution solution… They have dragged their feet, thinking that they could survive with their gas guzzling vehicles. Be careful of the consistent “green washing” that is taking place… Look at their products and evaluate them on that.

  15. I agree that we would all love to see american car companies succeed, but not when the fight pollution reduction, CAFE standards at every opportunity. They still have to yet come up with THEIR OWN significant high efficiency low pollution solution… They have dragged their feet, thinking that they could survive with their gas guzzling vehicles. Be careful of the consistent “green washing” that is taking place… Look at their products and evaluate them on that.

  16. Robert, although you say you haven’t seen much support for the US Auto industry, it does bear mentioning that there are several (many) voices that suggest that the best way to “love” the US (which should be North American, BTW) industry is through a highly structured Chapter 11 bankruptcy process. Andrew Ross Sorkin in the NYTimes is one of them (Charlie Rose interview and a link to his original piece on this here: http://dealbook.blogs.nytimes.com/2008/11/21/video-sorkin-on-rescuing-the-automakers/ ) and his proposal is pretty interesting.

    In any case, the important point is that there is a middle position between “let ‘em hang” and “bail em out” – neither of which position seems to be very good.

    No matter what kind of successes the North American industry has had recently, they’ve had 30 years to take into account the changes in the global industry. It’s not like all of this crept up on them. Instead of being truly innovative and moving the market along to where everyone knew it had to go – and the company presidents admitted this before the House committee last week – they chose quarterly numbers every single time. A bailout doesn’t seem right in that context – but you’re right, the industry is too important just to let it sink. So it seems to me that some kind of middle ground is the only real option.

  17. Robert, although you say you haven’t seen much support for the US Auto industry, it does bear mentioning that there are several (many) voices that suggest that the best way to “love” the US (which should be North American, BTW) industry is through a highly structured Chapter 11 bankruptcy process. Andrew Ross Sorkin in the NYTimes is one of them (Charlie Rose interview and a link to his original piece on this here: http://dealbook.blogs.nytimes.com/2008/11/21/video-sorkin-on-rescuing-the-automakers/ ) and his proposal is pretty interesting.

    In any case, the important point is that there is a middle position between “let ‘em hang” and “bail em out” – neither of which position seems to be very good.

    No matter what kind of successes the North American industry has had recently, they’ve had 30 years to take into account the changes in the global industry. It’s not like all of this crept up on them. Instead of being truly innovative and moving the market along to where everyone knew it had to go – and the company presidents admitted this before the House committee last week – they chose quarterly numbers every single time. A bailout doesn’t seem right in that context – but you’re right, the industry is too important just to let it sink. So it seems to me that some kind of middle ground is the only real option.

  18. Scott Monty: agree with Robert that’s it’s great to see you here on a Saturday engaging and informing and listening. I can’t imagine an American not rooting for Ford and the other auto makers. We WANT you to succeed.

  19. Scott Monty: agree with Robert that’s it’s great to see you here on a Saturday engaging and informing and listening. I can’t imagine an American not rooting for Ford and the other auto makers. We WANT you to succeed.

  20. I think we have to go further.

    The Big Three should consider bankruptcy and reorganization as a single car company. A leaner one. GM has the drivetrain of the near future with the Volt. Ford knows smaller cars from its European operations. It makes no sense to spend hundreds of millions in competing R&D. Cooperate and start over together.

    I’m with you on getting off gasoline. Prices are rock-bottom right now, but it won’t last.

  21. I think we have to go further.

    The Big Three should consider bankruptcy and reorganization as a single car company. A leaner one. GM has the drivetrain of the near future with the Volt. Ford knows smaller cars from its European operations. It makes no sense to spend hundreds of millions in competing R&D. Cooperate and start over together.

    I’m with you on getting off gasoline. Prices are rock-bottom right now, but it won’t last.

  22. Scott Monty: agree with Robert that’s it’s great to see you here on a Saturday engaging and informing and listening. I can’t imagine an American not rooting for Ford and the other auto makers. We WANT you to succeed.

  23. Scott Monty: agree with Robert that’s it’s great to see you here on a Saturday engaging and informing and listening. I can’t imagine an American not rooting for Ford and the other auto makers. We WANT you to succeed.

  24. I wish the Chinese would LOVE my videos more. I could use their traffic stats to wow clients. Maybe I’ll try a Marc Jacobs purse and a Slurpee for my next on-cam moment. Many things to ponder within this post!

  25. I wish the Chinese would LOVE my videos more. I could use their traffic stats to wow clients. Maybe I’ll try a Marc Jacobs purse and a Slurpee for my next on-cam moment. Many things to ponder within this post!

  26. Hi Scott,

    It’s funny that you note the wind turbines at the Ford Dagenham plant East of London. It is instructive to look at what has happened to Dagenham plant which at one stage employed 40,000 people. Today, it’s a much smaller (a few thousand people) operation which manufactures engines only. The site itself is strange to look at as you drive through it on the A40 – deserted for the most part.

    In the end, Ford chose to close Dagenham (which at one stage was slated to build the new Ford Fiesta – a car which went to Spain in the end) for two reasons. First, it was an old plant which is fair enough and second because UK workers are easier to lay-off than their Euro brethren. The UK tends to get jobs first and lose them first but ultimately, we survive without a UK owned car industry.

    What is really interesting though is that today, with a workforce a tiny fraction of it’s 1970s size, the UK produces more cars than it produces in the 1970s. Honda for example has one of their most efficient plants in the world producing the Civic.

  27. Hi Scott,

    It’s funny that you note the wind turbines at the Ford Dagenham plant East of London. It is instructive to look at what has happened to Dagenham plant which at one stage employed 40,000 people. Today, it’s a much smaller (a few thousand people) operation which manufactures engines only. The site itself is strange to look at as you drive through it on the A40 – deserted for the most part.

    In the end, Ford chose to close Dagenham (which at one stage was slated to build the new Ford Fiesta – a car which went to Spain in the end) for two reasons. First, it was an old plant which is fair enough and second because UK workers are easier to lay-off than their Euro brethren. The UK tends to get jobs first and lose them first but ultimately, we survive without a UK owned car industry.

    What is really interesting though is that today, with a workforce a tiny fraction of it’s 1970s size, the UK produces more cars than it produces in the 1970s. Honda for example has one of their most efficient plants in the world producing the Civic.

  28. Robert, Big Three AutoMakers are not very smart. To arrive at the meetings in their corporate jets was a mistake.

    Yes, they have innovated in the past. But they are too slow to react to the changing marketplace. That is why Japanese and German carmakers are so successful. They ‘Get It’.

    Thank you for a well crafted post, and the Santa Cruz video was cool.

    Respectfully, Nicholas Chase – ‘the video guy’ at BlogWorld Expo 2008
    http://donotreadthisblogunless.blogspot.com/

  29. Robert, Big Three AutoMakers are not very smart. To arrive at the meetings in their corporate jets was a mistake.

    Yes, they have innovated in the past. But they are too slow to react to the changing marketplace. That is why Japanese and German carmakers are so successful. They ‘Get It’.

    Thank you for a well crafted post, and the Santa Cruz video was cool.

    Respectfully, Nicholas Chase – ‘the video guy’ at BlogWorld Expo 2008
    http://donotreadthisblogunless.blogspot.com/

  30. Pollution is one thing, Global Warming another. China’s a great example of non-regulation of industry crippling air quality. One of the reasons I chose Honda years ago: low emissions, in addition to knowing I could drive it 300,000 miles and get high gas mileage. Ultimately, the car cost less to drive (a wallet decision) and spew less pollutants (an air quality issue, but not a Global Warming decision). No one will convince me to make a purchase out of some feeling of Green Guilt. But when I can make a decision that first and foremost is based on safety, price and quality, and also is a good Green choice, great.

    I care deeply about the air I and others breathe, and get angry when a dump truck passes spewing a thousand times more than my car ever will. And does anyone know that inefficient shipping design (looking for article link, it expired on Yahoo/PR Newswire) is estimated to waste more than 4 million barrels of oil per day? 5% of the world’s daily consumption. All of those massive container ships and tankers are horribly inefficient, and the industry knows it.

    As far as Global Warming, since it’s been raised in this article and is a key driving force behind gas tax, anti-offshore drilling, anti-coal thinking, etc … I encourage you to read the abundance of material offering a different perspective on the causes (not all under our control) of environmental change, and that recent data shows we may actually be entering a long term period of Global ‘Cooling’:
    http://tinyurl.com/6x6k2j (one example)
    http://tinyurl.com/4pf8l3 (another)

    Making fuel efficient vehicles, especially plug-in hybrids powered by an electricity grid powered by Nuclear energy, should be a top priority. But let’s not forget the same focus on trucks, ships, etc., that pound for pound spew much more pollutants and get much worse mileage than cars.

  31. Pollution is one thing, Global Warming another. China’s a great example of non-regulation of industry crippling air quality. One of the reasons I chose Honda years ago: low emissions, in addition to knowing I could drive it 300,000 miles and get high gas mileage. Ultimately, the car cost less to drive (a wallet decision) and spew less pollutants (an air quality issue, but not a Global Warming decision). No one will convince me to make a purchase out of some feeling of Green Guilt. But when I can make a decision that first and foremost is based on safety, price and quality, and also is a good Green choice, great.

    I care deeply about the air I and others breathe, and get angry when a dump truck passes spewing a thousand times more than my car ever will. And does anyone know that inefficient shipping design (looking for article link, it expired on Yahoo/PR Newswire) is estimated to waste more than 4 million barrels of oil per day? 5% of the world’s daily consumption. All of those massive container ships and tankers are horribly inefficient, and the industry knows it.

    As far as Global Warming, since it’s been raised in this article and is a key driving force behind gas tax, anti-offshore drilling, anti-coal thinking, etc … I encourage you to read the abundance of material offering a different perspective on the causes (not all under our control) of environmental change, and that recent data shows we may actually be entering a long term period of Global ‘Cooling’:
    http://tinyurl.com/6x6k2j (one example)
    http://tinyurl.com/4pf8l3 (another)

    Making fuel efficient vehicles, especially plug-in hybrids powered by an electricity grid powered by Nuclear energy, should be a top priority. But let’s not forget the same focus on trucks, ships, etc., that pound for pound spew much more pollutants and get much worse mileage than cars.

  32. I believe in America! I believe in GM and American made cars. (I think my Cadillac was made in the US. Buying American insures jobs and a future for America. That is why I am buying American made this holiday!

  33. I believe in America! I believe in GM and American made cars. (I think my Cadillac was made in the US. Buying American insures jobs and a future for America. That is why I am buying American made this holiday!

  34. I find it interesting that the three men running these companies arrived on private jets with $20 million salaries and blame circumstances. It’s the hubris of a $20 million salary that creates the conditions for these sorts of problems. If any of there staff had the same excuse they’d say “your salary is paid for you to plan for these things and fix them”

    Contrast Toyota – no crazy salaries. They started the Camry say 25-30 years ago. While Ford were in medium cars then out of them, then in them the Camry got a little better every year. Now I understand it’s the best selling car in the USA. No wild innovation – Windows software – who cares, they roll out the first Hybrid, then another and now hybrids are really good. They have one good car in every category not 20 SUV’s because it’s fashionable.

    Toyota is staffed by a team of real people who work to a common set of principles and have over 100 years grown to be the worlds most respected car company. The senior executives fly commercial, they keep in touch with the real world, they have lives that are not totally removed from the lives of the staff and the buyers of their product.

    Interesting Toyota are not closing factories moving to China etc. In fact as I understand it they have increased their manufacturing in the USA over the past 10 years.

    The staff of GM and Ford are the ones that will suffer if these places close but it’s about time there was a new model. If you are on $20 million it’s human nature to think you are special, different, better. The belief money buys the best is clearly nonsense.

    A plan for these should be, get rid of the plethora of brands and stick with the performers, reduce the ranges to make sense, reduce costs starting with the CEO and start making good reliable products people want. Unfortunately for the staff the hubris of management will never deliver a pragmatic plan.

  35. I find it interesting that the three men running these companies arrived on private jets with $20 million salaries and blame circumstances. It’s the hubris of a $20 million salary that creates the conditions for these sorts of problems. If any of there staff had the same excuse they’d say “your salary is paid for you to plan for these things and fix them”

    Contrast Toyota – no crazy salaries. They started the Camry say 25-30 years ago. While Ford were in medium cars then out of them, then in them the Camry got a little better every year. Now I understand it’s the best selling car in the USA. No wild innovation – Windows software – who cares, they roll out the first Hybrid, then another and now hybrids are really good. They have one good car in every category not 20 SUV’s because it’s fashionable.

    Toyota is staffed by a team of real people who work to a common set of principles and have over 100 years grown to be the worlds most respected car company. The senior executives fly commercial, they keep in touch with the real world, they have lives that are not totally removed from the lives of the staff and the buyers of their product.

    Interesting Toyota are not closing factories moving to China etc. In fact as I understand it they have increased their manufacturing in the USA over the past 10 years.

    The staff of GM and Ford are the ones that will suffer if these places close but it’s about time there was a new model. If you are on $20 million it’s human nature to think you are special, different, better. The belief money buys the best is clearly nonsense.

    A plan for these should be, get rid of the plethora of brands and stick with the performers, reduce the ranges to make sense, reduce costs starting with the CEO and start making good reliable products people want. Unfortunately for the staff the hubris of management will never deliver a pragmatic plan.

  36. Some good points, the american car biz is fragmented across far too many brands. They need to kill at least half of them.

    It may help but well probably never buy american cars again, we are now a two audi fam, mostly because im very big on quality and performance. We did own a saturn for many years as well though and were very happy with it. Sure it wasnt the fastest car but it was reliable and looked half decent.

  37. Some good points, the american car biz is fragmented across far too many brands. They need to kill at least half of them.

    It may help but well probably never buy american cars again, we are now a two audi fam, mostly because im very big on quality and performance. We did own a saturn for many years as well though and were very happy with it. Sure it wasnt the fastest car but it was reliable and looked half decent.

  38. I believe that providing some sort of bridge capital to the US auto industry is as important as the financial bailout of the banks. Ford $F and $GM are as iconic to the United States as Coca Cola. If they go bankrupt, the entire country will be perceived as being bankrupt by the rest of the world.

    I like your idea of Obama calling for a “moon shot” (ala Kennedy) to get the country to have 50% electric car usage by 2020.

    Regardless of where we get the money, the trickledown effect of a bankrupt US auto industry would be disastrous. “One job in Detroit affects seven others elsewhere.”

    We are all in this together.

    Shannon Norrell
    http://twitter.com/thewebdood

    ps – By my calculations, imposing a nationwide tax of $0.298 per gallon of gas consumed would produce $25 billion in one year alone.

  39. On the Taxis… Sure, a big V8 isn’t the most economical choice for driving in a city. This is the only place a hybrid really shines.

    Diff between Crossover and SUVs is: SUVs are build on a ladder oder perimeter frame which makes them really heavy, while the crossover uses a unibody like a regular passenger car.

    On the milage… according to my onboard computer my old BMW 320d made about 43 MPG. I could have gotten it to about 48 if I weren’t driving so fast ;)

  40. On the Taxis… Sure, a big V8 isn’t the most economical choice for driving in a city. This is the only place a hybrid really shines.

    Diff between Crossover and SUVs is: SUVs are build on a ladder oder perimeter frame which makes them really heavy, while the crossover uses a unibody like a regular passenger car.

    On the milage… according to my onboard computer my old BMW 320d made about 43 MPG. I could have gotten it to about 48 if I weren’t driving so fast ;)

  41. I believe that providing some sort of bridge capital to the US auto industry is as important as the financial bailout of the banks. Ford $F and $GM are as iconic to the United States as Coca Cola. If they go bankrupt, the entire country will be perceived as being bankrupt by the rest of the world.

    I like your idea of Obama calling for a “moon shot” (ala Kennedy) to get the country to have 50% electric car usage by 2020.

    Regardless of where we get the money, the trickledown effect of a bankrupt US auto industry would be disastrous. “One job in Detroit affects seven others elsewhere.”

    We are all in this together.

    Shannon Norrell
    http://twitter.com/thewebdood

    ps – By my calculations, imposing a nationwide tax of $0.298 per gallon of gas consumed would produce $25 billion in one year alone.

  42. Thinking about US auto worker benefits, especially heath and pension and the similarities to those received by members of Congress, especially health care. I am not sure the story is all about cars anymore, but more to do with the nature of our political economy and loss of US manufacturing base due to tax structure and the political power of 20% financial sector in all things made in America. Every time I bought a US auto industry car, I bought someone healthcare and contributed to their pension as it was a fixed cost. Cheap money financial policies made it work without much transparency. Now there is a realignment in play and unfortunately the issue is more than bail or not bail. We are all connected by the fact we drive more than walk. What happens next has to be in a new direction with out-of-the-box initiatives, not a fix to the same old auto/highway path that got us here today.

  43. Thinking about US auto worker benefits, especially heath and pension and the similarities to those received by members of Congress, especially health care. I am not sure the story is all about cars anymore, but more to do with the nature of our political economy and loss of US manufacturing base due to tax structure and the political power of 20% financial sector in all things made in America. Every time I bought a US auto industry car, I bought someone healthcare and contributed to their pension as it was a fixed cost. Cheap money financial policies made it work without much transparency. Now there is a realignment in play and unfortunately the issue is more than bail or not bail. We are all connected by the fact we drive more than walk. What happens next has to be in a new direction with out-of-the-box initiatives, not a fix to the same old auto/highway path that got us here today.

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