A while ago, the world was anxiously awaiting the US government decision on bailing out three historical giants from the auto industry. We shall rhetorically label them as, giants.

Let us talk about history; history has learning we should be keen on drawing conclusions from. History repeats itself too.
There was a time where large fins, chromed bumper and extravagant designs encapsulated dreams. That was in the fifties. A Chrysler 300C or a Chevrolet Malibu made youngster fantasize about cars. Those were fond memories, and we all remember them as well the infamous Black Thursday and the oil embargo. Sounds familiar, does it not?

Then came the muscle cars era, with big blocks and outraging performance, after which a pause in time. The American automakers were quite satisfied of their enduring success, though limited to the American soil. Short on ambitions perhaps?
Other mortals in the rest of the world had a vision, but they were labeled all sorts of tags, fridges, dinky toys, just to name a few.

GM, Chrysler and Ford persisted with their prehistoric philosophies, ignoring the dynamic changes surrounding them. It is not a mere coincidence to see today’s soulless 300C’s and Malibu’s stockpiling alongside mammoth SUV’s at dealerships all over the world. Those same designs that crafted reveries half a century ago are now loathed by new generations of tech-savvy, demanding youth.
This is the price to pay when you do not listen, to your customers, and to market exigencies. This amounts to roughly 15 billion USD, the cost of survival. On a positive note, the auto industry avoided a 200 billion USD blasphemy.

American automakers ignored soaring oil prices, environmental concerns and sustainable development. They abandoned their original oath and got eroded by Japanese quality and the European understanding of sheer driving performance and pleasure. Comparing a Chevrolet Aveo (ex-Daewoo) to a Toyota Yaris is similar to buying your kid a Chinese plastic brick-set instead of an authentic Lego. Corvette and Porsche? Think gatling gun versus guided missile. Folks, the alarm has sounded, and you just got served your morning coffee to start a fresh brand new day.

The industry has exceeded the benchmark of optimism, this is more of a miracle. For over three decades, giants were resting on their laurels. It is now prime time to start a new era, look forward with much anticipation and predict what the future may hold. Alternative energies, ergonomics, contemporary design and features, this is the language to speak. Enough spurious replicas from your European subsidiaries, grab the winds of change and propel the industry forward. The Volt is a start, the Fusion reflects the will, yet there are many other areas to resurrect.

Look up to your future, GM, Ford and Chrysler, a brand new day announcing the era of change awaits.

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Comments ( 2 )

I lived in America during the first 3 oil calamaties. As Mr. Afyouni states the history of the large automobile is quite correct, he fails to denote that capitalist industry tries to meet what people will buy. In 1973, during our first calamity, America did have the Pinto, Vega, and Gremlin…but also the various imports. The American cars were either engined from other cars already in the inventory or built from existing’foreign’ owned industry. None gave the required MPG that any foreign made car gave…but Detroit learns quickly. (WWII)
By 1979, the USA was awash with automobiles made here that gave better than 20 MPG. By then, all of the huge behemoths built by Detroit had downsized by about 500 to 900 lbs and had smaller engines. However, history does not stay put. New generations of peopel, even my generation forgot about the oil problems. Suddenly, by 1990, the word SUV was coined an fuel stayed at it’s same price. Engines, autos got bigger and bigger. No longer was the small car the ‘rage’, auto companies now leased vehicles and credit was available for those who normally could not afford it. The big Suburban and Escalade were not needed by the masses, but wanted! Detroit still built smaller cars with good economy…but no one was buying them! In capitalism, they only build what the buyers dictate. Suddenly, people also got in over their heads with mortgages that expanded exponentially after the first year. The masses are not the most intelligent, especially when you would like to be better, or look better, than your neighbor.
Whether it be speculation in the market, India and China increasing their demands or some other reason, oil fell in price in August ’08…and the market for housing stalled. Those mortgages notes were comming to a head. Enter the fact that the population could no longer afford the SUV and the big house, but business could no longer afford its workforce. With oil at todays price of about $40 a barrel, the gas pump price fell accordingly, the SUV can still be filled..if you have a job and a home!
Don’t knock Detroit just yet, they have endured the first depression, two World Wars, and various other demands that they did not act upon in history. They may have to downsize on models or even name plates in industry…but it’s not over!

Michael Kowalski added these pithy words on Jan 12 09 at 7:12 pm

These three huge and gigantic automakers ignored outside aspects such as economic recession and most importantly environmental concerns for several decades. And now that auto-industry has been hit hard by the economic crisis today, at least environmental awareness and sustainability became a priority. That is why Crysler launched their new car model. The peapod car is an all electric vehicle made by Chrysler, which is lauded by some and lamented as a hyper expensive golf cart by others. It may not be the electric vehicle worth getting a payday loan to look into, however. It costs $12,500, has a range of 30 miles and can only go 25 mph. It also has a cool feature in that it can be unlocked by a downloadable software application on the iPhone or iPod of the owner, all along with a smiley face looking grill. Still, with such a limited range and speed, installment loans for the peapod car seem like a stretch.

Darian T. added these pithy words on Apr 30 09 at 4:56 am

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