I grew up watching those classic TV movies where the bad guys were defeated but boldly claimed; “I’ll be back!”, “You’ve not seen the last of me….” or perhaps the all-too-famous line; “I’ll get you for this!” Then they go careening of a cliff or get carted off to an asylum. I dismissed their claims; hailing my hero as the victor and looking forward to the next episode where I watched this plot unfold as it always did. Usually, it was an evil scientist or military strategist, but as far as the old shows were concerned, one of the World War propaganda criminals would suffice; Hirohito, Mussolini or Hitler, if you please, with a side of Bin Laden or Hussein recently added to the menu.
Stereotypical as it was, the goal was to rally support for the troops, relate to a common enemy and let the world know that we were a united front. I digress in saying that I have always believed that if you want to get a glimpse into the state of world commerce or foreign affairs, take a peek at what’s going on in the auto industry.
From what we now see, apparently, the villains have finally made good on their claims.
The British were given a blow when The Germans pulled apart the majesty or Rolls Royce like a wishbone all the while building a mighty juggernaut: Porsche, Audi, Seat, Lamborghini, Bentley, Ducati, Skoda, Bugatti, Suzuki, and Guigiaro Design. They put their power rings together to become The Volkswagen Group. Silently, this unstoppable force has saturated all segments of the world luxury and intermediate markets. They are bent on total world domination (insert evil laugh here).
The Indians have tamed Sir Lyon’s cat and overtaken what is left of Sweden’s safest company, lying in wait to pounce on any member of the herd that is weak or wounded. The Chinese, while working their iniquitous scheme to get manufacturers to build models specific to them, have launched an all-out assault on anyone they can ensnare. Trust me; they are assembling an armada of their own. If your car isn’t Chinese, some components are….and they will turn against you in the revolution! (…repeat evil laugh with fist raised).
Those romantic Italians; Ferrari and Maserati have remained a threat, whether government assisted or privately funded, for years with Lancia, Alfa Romeo and Fiat popping up in one form or another. Think of them as the manipulative Delilah, making sweet talk to the starry-eyed dupe (don’t fall for it, Chrysler).
Finally, there’s the Japanese, the original WWII scoundrel. They’ve been virtually undefeated on “10 Best” and J.D. Power lists almost since they first peddled their two-wheeled wares on our shores. Their tactic is to lull us into a false sense of security with features and quality until we are helpless minions.
It is amazing that the fastest, most innovative car in the world is from the same people who brought you the simplistic Polo. Companies are being rescued in the nick of time or aligning themselves to become part of some super alliance so quickly that, by the time you read this, Toyota and Subaru will have hooked up (again..) to create a fun car. The Nissan Pixso and a new MG will be made in India and China, respectively and both will be sold as British cars. The next Alfa Spider and Mazda Miata will be sisters. BMW and Toyota will get together to make one heck of a Supra (maybe M Powered). Where is our hero now, tied up in a dungeon of bureaucracy and indebtedness?
Could it be that the villains have accomplished their master plan to conquer the world and are now left to conquer themselves? It wouldn’t be surprising if there was a little bald headed man in thick glasses and a lab coat, standing at the entrance to your next auto show, rubbing his hands together and laughing. He’s just like the villains of old, only this time, he’s proclaiming “I Told You I’d Be Back!” (…you guessed it, evil laugh here…)