The fact that the Chinese stand poised to attack the electric car market like Japan did Pearl Harbor, should have us all wondering what Americas role in the new economy will be pertaining to cars. After all, if we hold anything near and dear to our hearts it is our automobiles. And the idea of my six foot four frame fitting into a fuel efficient family Chinese car is a joke, my back isn’t going to be laughing at any time soon.
Sure the auto industry is greediest starting from the top on down. The fact that the big three all flew to Washington looking for bailout money, got it and promised to mend their ways, and didn’t will never sit well with the American people. Not so much that they flew, but that they flew in their own corporate private jets. And yes over the years some of those at the top have insulated themselves from their businesses; but show me a CEO’nista that hasn’t! But still, many an hourly workers in various places can only drool at what employees on car assembly lines receive for pay! Vacations, guaranteed wages, health insurance to live and die for. It has been a blessed industry for years, but all that is coming to a staggering end.
Washington’s love affair with Detroit has grown cold as of late. The firing of GM’s head man by the President of the United States as well as orders for Chrysler to find a running mate or get the same treatment has many wondering where did we go wrong.
For sure, product has suffered over the years because those at the helm were more concerned with garnering concessions from the employees than they were at addressing product quality. When old paradigms showed signs they needed to be rethunk-and thrown out, Detroit blamed others, rather than looking internally. In their eyes, corporate car making America had the market all sown up. Even flying the flag and selling guilt didn’t stop the mass exodus to buy cars that offered something the American auto makers were not giving; value! Fact one; foreign automakers produced cars that seemed to run and run with nothing more than oil changes and light maintenance. Fact two; go back to fact one! Eventfully in Detroit, quality become, “job one,” but unfortunately long after it was due.
To counter declining business, Detroit spread out its income sources to cover the losses; the after parts market, the finance and mortgage businesses all became major sources of income to Detroit, while the product continued to decline. And let us not forget, the fact that come September every year a brand new batch of new cars would suddenly drop out of the sky onto television screens everywhere. We were addicted and they knew it. Trying to keep up with the Joneses always started with buying a better car!
The future is not pretty for America’s car industry. The one caveat they have going in their favor however is that we do underneath still love American cars. Their sizes, though we hate to admit it, their colors, shapes and styles and if gas drops a bit we run right back to them, like junkies for a big car fix. And now summer in on the way, you just watch for those impromptu car shows you will see everywhere. There are thousands of antique cars just sitting in garages all around and we like em. We like to see em. Run em, rev em and remember when with them. Hard to believe fifty years from now, someone will be displaying their old Chinese Electric, the way we do a sixty eight mustang, but then again who ever thought an America without a Detroit automaker was possible. Whoever?