What Happened to American Cars and what is the Future of American Automobiles
American complacency happened to American cars. The big three, no not Toyota, Honda, and Mitsubishi, got lazy, and cut expenditures, they built bad cars for 15 years (1975-1990) and now they are paying for it. This is not a good thing, but this is symptomatic of poorly managed businesses. American automakers also forgot who they were catering to, and just kept building what they envisioned as "American cars", not adjusting to forthcoming trends in consumer taste.
American autos have become so poor and so homogenized because they have not adjusted or responded to demographic and taste changes. People like the look of cars from the 30s and 40s, yet they keep pushing out these chrome coated bubbles, that look like Japaneese cars minus taste. When they actually strike a design nerve, and sell a carin good quantity like the most recent mustang, they start designing to replace it, hoping to modernize and update the design, rather than follow it up with other cars with the same design cues, which in the case of the mustang originate in the sixties. Imagine if they had gone back and brought sixties and other design eras' cues into their sedans, imagine how those might sell. They also fail to hit all market regions with their cars, in other words they are all priced in basically the same range, 15-35k, and thus target the same demographic,pricewise.
Also, American automakers overpay their line workes. GM was said to have an average line worker pay of more than 30 dollars an hour,with lifetime pensions! I know plenty of people who would happily work for 15 dollars an hour and the much more prevalent 401k retirement plan. GM also is deeply in the red, I cannot remember the last time the pulled a profit, all this with tariffs protecting them from the Japaneese and Koreans. GM is a perfect model for poorly managed business and I think that their financial and management woes restrain their ability to be really agile and responsive to the aforementioned consumer taste changed. I mean they do not build hatchbacks, a car type hugely successful for Honda, consistently for the past 20 years.Because I've covered the problems so extensively in other articles, I will propose how to bring back the American car, henceforth:
How would I save GM, if I am so smart? Well I'd close half of their plants and sell them, lay off all the workers, citing scaling changes, and rehire new ones at half the wage rate,with 401K retirement plans and the same healthcare as before. Shrewd, yes, but I am looking out for everyone who is depending on those pensions, and keeping everything as it is, with the company falling apart, is no way to do it. We must cut our losses and keep our promises, rather than continue to make new ones we can't keep. Then I'd sell off some stock, to get some money to refit the plants with an new, retro oriented car line. The cars would all harken back to the 30s-60s era of smooth curves and gleaming metal, with a little less chrome. I would strip out some base-model options to keep MSRPs low, which will draw customers in. I would sell more fuel efficent cars, and more compact cars to attact a more diverse feild of consumers. Also I would keep all my cars different, brand to brand, so that each brand would cater to different people, rather than sustain the blandness that we see between brands today(you know, they all look the same). Having cars look different decade to decade is extrodinarily important, having some models look the same over a span of 15 years, like some buick models, is simply infeasible. I would also build more utility vans and trucks for overseas sales. I would also build a car under 3 meters in length, and with an engine displacement of less than 1 liter, to capture some gas conscious people. I would also offer an electric motor option in some cars with a charging kit included. Maybe a compressed air engine in some cars, as those use in MDIs. All this will allow me to cater to a larger group of people, especially in offering more options as options, rather than making all cars come with everything, and in doing so raising the price of all of them. Affordable cars are cars people can buy. Look at KIA motors, they look Ok, the are fairly reliable, about as reliable as american cars, but not as reliable as hondas or toyotas,but they are so inexpensive and thus increasingly everywhere. Imagine how cheap theyd be without tariffs raising their prices artificially.
The american car is out there,it is in our hearts and minds and it runs in our dreams. All the american automakers have to do is listen and theyll see it, but they are off on their own, trying to design themselves a new niche that doesnt exist, and sooner or later they will realize that. I hope to some day start an auto company and bring back the american car,allowing me then to trade in my KIA for one. For now, I'll drive it in my dreams.