1. UNDERSTANDING WHERE WE ARE RIGHT NOW
The U.S. Auto Industry is in the process of reconstruction. Fresh off the heels of bankruptcy and near irrelevance, The Big Three is rising from the ashes and realizing that the consumer’s tastes and needs are more important than the bottom line. Car buyers are more discriminating and we want the cars we’ve seen in Europe and the features we see in Japan. Buyers have yet to be sold on new green technologies because Woodward Avenue is no place for a Prius. The industry and the country are optimistic but there is still work to be done
2. ALL AMERICAN CARS AREN’T AMERICAN
Our blocky “You can tell the brand” shapes have been replaced by fluid and more appealing designs. However the new Buick Regal was designed in Europe as a Vauxhall/Opel. Also, we finally get the Ford Focus that the rest of the world gets….the European one! This is indicative of many new designs coming down the pike. The Europeans have the edge on us as far as sensual design is concerned. Down beneath the sheet metal, platforms are shared across the seas. It may look like a Cadillac on top, but be part of a global, cost-effective product line-up
3. WE CAN ACTUALLY BUY THE CAR IN THE AD
I remember car commercials back in the day. The car you saw in the ad made you run out and go to the dealership with bated breath. Sadly, you were nickel-and-dimed in order to get the scoops and skirts that attracted you in the first place. Anyone remember when A/C was an option? Now it seems that features are the selling point. You, in your Dodge can have Air conditioning, a CD player with connectivity and ABS, just like the Lexus in the next lane (usually)….at a fraction of the cost.
4. ED, RALPH and BOB
Talents like Ed Welburn, Ralph Gilles, and J Mays have made American cars exciting again. Thank you, fellas for designing from the heart and not the Board room. You and many others deserve the recognition you are getting as well as promotions within your companies. We hope that Executive Car Guys like Bob Lutz have not all retired and continue to drive their companies forward with wise decisions and great product.
5. WE MAY GET UGLY TECHNOLOGY
Yes, American buyers love features (see #3) but at some point you will have to walk up to the car. I want a car that looks good. Please take the design process from the engineers to the designers with no interference in between.
There are a lot of questions about the reason for the Chevy Volt’s halted production. DUUUHH! It is ugly. Cadillac is producing a prettier design with the same technology. If you want to entice people to buy in to new technology, think more Fisker and less Edsel.
6. WE GOT “Top Gear”
Well, that isn’t really American, but it got your attention. Top Gear represents the “Biggest Motoring Show in the World”. Many networks don’t have the budget for such a show and those that do don’t want to pour money into a niche market like gear-heads. Somehow, the original show has opened the flood gates for car-oriented programming. This boom has brought fine American craftsmen like The Parker Brothers, Gas Monkey Garage, The Teutels, Boyd Codington, Troy Trepanier and many others to the attention of the masses. Many companies that we, otherwise may never have heard of, now have become prominent fixtures on the car guy landscape.
7. A LONGER WAIT FOR THE KIDS
Let’s face it; there is a recession in America. Whether the Government wants to admit it or not, there is less disposable income floating around. People, like you and I, are holding on to their cars longer. We are more apt to invest in wheels and aftermarket products to give us the new car feeling without the new car price. Sons and daughters will not get the hand-me-down car as fast as they would like. On the other hand, Parents will shop for cars for their children with scrutiny so that they will be economical and safe. Junior may get his own car as a result and it will probably have better features than his Dad’s first car. Mom’s first choice will probably be…..a Toyota!! (sigh)