Detroit is having a bad millennium at the office. Too many badges on too few good vehicles. It’s not time to let them wither on the vine but it is time to rationalize the ranges, their manufacturing and their marketing. The marques above have history, integrity and purpose. It’s hard to feel the same about Pontiac, Saturn,Hummer, Mercury and the others.
Narrower ranges equate to greater focus in every regard; from R&D and production, to dealer organizations, to marketing and service. If we can learn one thing from the internet age it is that personalization and customization play well, that the consumer really does want it ‘their way’ and that buying high value goods needs to lead to a positive life of ownership rooted in a purchase experience summarized as ‘I got what a wanted’.
We also know that the most focused ‘ we get up in the morning to do X’ companies lead the world in design and technology because they are able to unite around a clear mission and because they really live their brands. From this flows conversation, reputation and partnership with the customer and a virtuous circle of innovation.
If the stars aligned above there is no question that the industry would contract from its current size and so would the ancillary industries that surround it yet many of these jobs would be replaced in other areas with a new age in dealership and service, new tools and technologies for the vehicles themselves (like Sync, On Star, digital entertainment, electric and hydrogen power stations and so on. The economic impact in the some places in the short term will be ugly but certainly no uglier and more painful than death by the wasting disease that seems certain to run its course.
As for a Federal bail-out, we should seek an exchange in value. Show us rational innovation, job creation and how you will create a new contract with labor and we will see how we can relieve your liabilities to those people who can’t or won’t contribute to that future.