Auto Industry Malaise Affects Everyone

By Brendan Moore

03.26.2009

going-out-of-business2I talk to a lot of people about cars, I talk to them about the industry, etc. Some of the people I talk to are hard-core auto enthusiasts, but most of the conversations are with regular people who are not aware of which new models are coming out, have no idea how much horsepower their car has, and are aware that the auto industry is in a bad spot, but only in the most peripheral way.

For the hard-core enthusiasts, these are certainly depressing times. I know a lot of enthusiasts that are just in a funk, and have been for some time. Every day seems to bring more bad news about some company’s financial health, more bad news about new models being cancelled, etc. The steady drip, drip, drip of negative news coverage is just wearing them down. And it’s wearing down their interest level in all things automotive and it’s wearing down whatever love they have for things automotive.

We’re no different here at Autosavant; we’re susceptible to the same feelings as any other enthusiast, except perhaps more so. We read everything, and when everything you read is awful, it’s tough to maintain an impartial view of the industry’s problems. There has been a lot to write about in the auto industry lately, but the steady drumbeat of bad news tends to tamp down a writer’s enthusiasm for reporting or commenting on it.

But you get through that, and you stay impartial and you don’t let yourself succumb to the impulse to just throw up your hands and start blasting everything in sight.

I’m here to tell you that the auto industry will get through this very rough patch, and so will the auto enthusiasts that love cars so much. The industry will look different going forward as it makes its way through this seismic shift, but there will still be an industry. There will still be great new cars and trucks, there will still be amazing power plants, there will still be beautiful designs, etc. Just hang in there.

For the people that are not auto enthusiasts, it is easy to dismiss the struggling auto industry in your respective country as an industrial dinosaur, an industry that just needs to be allowed to fail and then disappear silently beneath the waves.

But that’s not the way it will shake out. Many jobs will be lost, and the jobs lost will not be confined to the auto industry. In the countries where it exists, the auto industry is an important part of a country’s manufacturing base, and from a long-term strategic perspective, it is probably not a good idea to lose that part of your country’s manufacturing segment. In terms of consumer choice, having more choice is always better than having less choice. I have a lot of respect for the Japanese makes, but it would be a bleak world indeed if all we had to choose from were Toyotas, Nissans and Hondas. As much as I like the German makes, I feel the same way about them in regards to choice. And now that a couple of the American auto manufacturers are finally putting out good product, it would be a shame to not have their cars as a buying option.

I hope to see all of you on the other side of this mess. Until then, let’s keep moving towards the end of this catastrophe.

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Author: Brendan Moore

Brendan Moore is a Principal Consultant with Cedar Point Consulting , a management consulting practice based in the Washington, DC area. He also manages Autosavant Consulting, a separate practice within Cedar Point Consulting. where he advises businesses connected to the auto industry. Cedar Point Consulting can be found at http://www.cedarpointconsulting.com.

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