So as a slightly more than casual observer to the auto industry… I see a number of things happening that don’t sound awesome… to me.
First is the increase in ‘collaboration’ and purchasing of one brand by another, or even just minority shares or controlling shares… and I am not sure I am thrilled with that. I feel we are leading up to a situation where there are only 3 or so brands on the planet… and with the current amount of rules, etc, it becomes increasingly more difficult for a new car company to come about. I do however, when compared to other industries, feel the auto industry DOES respond to consumers demands, where as I don’t feel that is true elsewhere. But I don’t want to digress… Sometimes the collaborations produce interesting products that are good for both brands. I would prefer to see those are mutually amicable (think VW/Porsche) and less purchase of another company…
Second is the dramatic increase in the weight of cars lately. It is insane. I look at the quest for MPG and the money that is being spent on increasing technology to support 40+mpg, etc, but it is done on cars that are getting fatter with each generation (like americans!). Look at the first gen US civic. That thing got 40+mpg, but it was much lighter weight. Think of how awesome the new toyota 4 cylinder would be in a car that weighed in at 2100lbs. It would rule. I am sure they need to increase the weight to maintain their claims of structural rigidity and safety… and not that I am against those things by any means, but man, can’t they be done and keep the car under 3,000lbs? I mean shit, we look at at 3100lb car and call it ‘tossable’. Reallly?
Third… car makers continue to overproduce, then have to have huge incentives to move cars. Hello big 3. It is dumb. But whatever, I am not too worried about the big three. Sure they are a major employer in the US, and I would love to see more US companies survive, but man, they continue to turn out shitty cars that they can’t sell. Don’t get me wrong, there have been some that are doing well, but as a whole, all of the domestics are looking at ’employee pricing’ again this year.
But good news… it APPEARS that there is finally being progress made on the MPG and lets conserve front… we are finally moving to low sulphur diesel… and more and more manufacturers are promising diesel cars, which rules. Ethanol is getting hype again, as is biodiesel. Once they get a diesel electric hybrid on the market, it is going to be awesome. The only problem is the US consumer-they still insist on purchasing vehicles they don’t need. As much as I hate the higher gas prices, if it forces consumers to use mass transit and/or more fuel efficient vehicles, it would be worth it. I would love to see us be more like europe in vehicle choices and mass transit usage. If only there were more mass transit alternatives….
the state of dealerships, inventory, etc