Is the American Auto Industry finally “getting it”?

With tens of billions now invested in the Detroit industrial machine, many Americans have been wondering if the “new detroit” gets it.

Reading this article with comments from GM’s former Vice Chair, it appears that at least some of the people who were formerly involved, as monday morning quarterbacks, are commenting wisely (imho) on what Detroit needs to do, and it would seem that many in Detroit are listening.

I do not necessarily subscribe to Lutz’ comments in totality, yet there remains an unquestionable truth: The foreign car makers have consistently taken more and more market share, have grown their american manufacturing capacity, and have done so profitably. So if the foreign makers can do it, there stands no reasonable excuse for “American” car makers to do the same.

And from what I am seeing, I believe that there is a continuous shift and realignment with market realities that is occurring in Detroit which gives hope that things are moving ahead in a manner in which they didn’t before.

Marketing is now leading product development it would seem. Hallelujah! Not all companies that are successful live by this mantra, yet most do. To ask an engineer “where is the market going” is like asking a marketing executive “is this solar deposition chamber safe to run now?”. We all have our specialties and unique abilities, yet the ones who foresee the market are the ones who speak most often to the customers, or who are able to vet the unique technologies created by their labs which are “forward thinking”. You can create the best technology-based car, you can manufacture it as wisely as anyone, yet if there is no market for it, it will die right where it started.

By the reading of this article about GM, I am very optimistic that the Detroit culture is shifting to a place of recognition of the value of intellectual property, and the place that “change agents” will have in shifting the culture. With investments in renewable energy growing amongst car makers of all stripes, increased focus on hybrid and pure electric vehicles, I believe the solid infrastructure that remains from the ashes of past can help America once again participate in the leadership of the global automotive industry.


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