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Global pile-up ahead as US auto industry loses its drive Ford, General Motors and Chrysler were once supreme; now with consumers rejecting gas-guzzlers and car loans drying up, the outlook is bleak for Detroit - and the rest of the world will soon feel the pain too. by Tim Webb; The Observer; November 2 2008
GM shares fall below $10 for first time since 1954 By Bree Fowler, Associated Press
For Detroit, Chapter 11 Would Be the Final Chapter By SPENCER ABRAHAM Published: November 24, 2008
Why Detroit Can't Keep Up By Bernard Avishai Sunday, November 23, 2008; Page B03
Two Bad Choices: Save Detroit or Let It Die; Can Someone Come Up With a Third?November 17, 2008 By Llewellyn King
No big sellers in sight to save troubled Chrysler By TOM KRISHER, AP Auto Writer; 11-1-08
GM Oct. sales fall nearly half; Ford drops 30 pct By TOM KRISHER and BREE FOWLER, 11-3-08, AP
Detroit must die American cars are still uniformly god-awful. Why save them? By Mark Morford, SF Gate Columnist; Friday, November 14, 2008
Consumers to suffer if GM goes under Higher car prices, the end of incentives and vehicle shortages could occur if GM and other Big Three automakers don't get a bailout, according to experts. By Chris Isidore, CNNMoney.com senior writer Last Updated: November 19, 2008
GOP to Detroit: Drop Dead Powerful Senate Republicans oppose a government bailout for automakers even if it means bankruptcy for General Motors By David Kiley November 14, 2008
Crash of US carmakers risks three million jobs by James Doran; November 16 2008
A Second Crisis in Detroit: Failing Suppliers? By AP / BREE FOWLER Sunday, Nov. 16, 2008
What if GM goes broke? Neither a bailout nor bankruptcy may save General Motors or the other Detroit automakers. So imagine the cost of losing GM, starting with millions of jobs. By Michael Brush; 11/19/2008
In Defense of Detroit The Big Three are a disgrace, but they still need our help. By Daniel Gross | Newsweek Web Exclusive; Nov 13, 2008
Nationalize GM The federal government should buy GM. We can run it, then sell it at a profit once it recovers. By Dan Neil December 2, 2008
Surprise: Japanese, Korean Carmakers Want a Detroit Bailout For Toyota, Honda, and Hyundai, a collapse of GM, Ford, or Chrysler would create more problems than opportunities By Ian Rowley and Moon Ihlwan November 19, 2008
Nissan Stealthily on Track for Electric Car World Domination Written by Nick Chambers Published on November 23rd, 2008
Toyota to develop $5,000 car Nov 12, 2008
Here's you a rescue plan for ALL THREE major US auto-makers: Ford, GM, and Chrysler. The plan will also accelerate our progress towards winning independence from foreign oil, make our economy leaner and more efficient, and fatten the wallets of average American consumers at the same time. The financial crisis has killed sales of those $25,000-$60,000 monsters all three car-makers currently sell. Plus, cash-strapped Americans need better gas mileage and lower maintenance cost vehicles in the (likely lengthy) recession that's now breaking upon us.
Here's what to do:
First off, remove much or all the burden of health insurance benefits off the car-makers (and other US businesses) by enacting universal healthcare in America. That will make it lots easier for US carmakers to earn a profit and turn around their operations (this is how most other developed nations already handle this). There's tons of other excellent reasons to do this (bring about universal healthcare) but for now let's keep our focus on the auto makers.
Detroit isn't dead yet As Washington clashes over a Big Three bailout, it's ignoring the best cure to the automakers' ills: Universal healthcare. By Edward McClelland Nov. 26, 2008
GM CEO: Serious Health Care Reform 'Undoubtedy Would Help Level The Playing Field'» By Ali Frick on Dec 5th, 2008
Set up a temporary emergency partnership between the companies and the US government to allow a vastly accelerated adoption/licensing of those highly innovative low cost car designs we've been hearing about being developed in India and other places. You know: those $3000-$6000 designs? Some among them essentially using bodies made of permanently inflated airbags sculpted into aerodynamic form, and can be shipped in crates about the size of a complete traditional bed, to be assembled by the buyer? License what's needed, work out some basic safety and environmental guidelines/mods to be be done, and then set up the manufacturing of these babies, in a plan meant to do them on a massive scale, for both domestic sales and exports. The ENTIRE WORLD would love to have these cars!
Saving Detroit: It's the Cars, Stupid By Robert X. Cringely; November 26, 2008
Insanely Great: What if Steve Jobs ran one of the Big Three auto companies? By Robert X. Cringely December 7, 2008
Note that far less bank financing would be necessary to purchase examples of this new line, compared to older models. So right there you reduce the drag on car sales that balky banks can have.
The Race To Build Really Cheap Cars The newest thing on four wheels is sturdy, inexpensive, and probably not made in the U.S. By Gail Edmondson, Ian Rowley, Nandini Lakshman, David Welch, and Dexter Roberts; APRIL 23, 2007; businessweek.com
"The engineers for the Whisper are confident you can drive it off a 25-foot cliff without serious injury to its passengers. They claim this is the safest car ever designed for drivers, passengers and pedestrians.
Initially designed for the Southeast and Western Asian markets, the car will float in an emergency such as a flood or tsunami and can be assembled by any two people of reasonable competence."
-- Inflatable, Affordable Electric Car Announced
If you'd like to include some good old American genius for consideration here, there's always Dean Kamen, too.
"The same day that Ford and General Motors announced catastrophic third-quarter losses, Dean Kamen was showing off his new electric car.
The prototype vehicle, a zippy two-seat hatchback designed with more than a passing resemblance to the Volkswagen Beetle, can go about 60 miles on a single charge of its lithium battery and with practically zero emissions.
"It's the world's first Stirling hybrid electric car," its inventor said with a flourish."
-- Revolutionary auto already on the road By SHAWNE K. WICKHAM New Hampshire Sunday News Staff; 11-9-08
Dean Kamen's Deka Revolt Electric Car Runs on Any Fuel Posted on November 18th, 2008 by Aaron Turpen
Keep in mind you wouldn't have to dump all the existing US car production lines, because some more well off folks would still prefer those. You'd just have to scale back the production on them (which you're having to do ANYWAY because of the recession and credit crunch).
"What might a shrunken GM look like?
First, it will slash the number of its brands from eight to three--maybe not all at once, but eventually. Pontiac, Saturn and Saab would go. Hummer is already on the block, and there's no reason to keep the GMC nameplate when Chevrolet already sells pickups and SUVs. GM could then focus on Chevy, Cadillac and Buick, the last of which is strong in China. The product lineup, currently 80 models, would shrink by a third."
"Merrill Lynch estimates that in North America, GM may need to close as many as five of its 12 car assembly plants, and 13 of its 19 truck assembly plants, resulting in 60,000 white- and blue-collar job cuts."
-- What GM Will Look Like, If It Survives Joann Muller, 12.02.08
Being far easier, quicker, and cheaper to build, the new designs could help our car makers 'bridge the gap' necessary to survive the current downturn, while they also did a revamp of their traditional designs and facilities.
To maximize American jobs related to these, all of the new design autos sold in the USA would have to be made here, as well. Period. Hopefully the same could be done in regards to most or all the component parts as well.
It's very possible you wouldn't need any additional enticements beyond the already existing features of these new designs to get customers to snap these things up. But if you did, how might we go about it? Especially in ways it'd be difficult for other nations' carmakers to match?
To give these new cars stellar word-of-mouth reputations for ease of maintenance and customization, design them expressly for do-it-your-selfers. That is, make them simple and straightforward designs which render repairs and replacements easy and quick to do. This will have the added benefit of making repairs on such cars fast and cheap for owners at local auto shops as well.
We could gain additional leverage off these particular features by giving tax breaks to US custom car builders and related businesses to create a vast new aftermarket for the new models, in terms of custom bodies and performance kits, during the first few years the new designs are available.
By jumpstarting such spin off innovation around a suitably well-designed chassis, we're likely to see mods come into being which the major makers will want to fold back into their own product offerings at some point-- thereby helping them to maintain their lead on foreign car makers, while also offering added incentive to small custom shops to advance the design (and thereby get bought up or licensed by the big three).
If the designs were sufficiently robust, we might even be able to sell these cars at a discount to those buyers willing to do some assembly themselves. I.e., they might buy the cars as 'kits' rather than finished products. This would help keep component costs low for both the factory and buyers of cars, kits, and replacement parts.
Note this fresh new avenue of sales would also help in reducing the need for financing in consumer purchases.
For super-charged marketing, we could put together some alliances with the best talents in Hollywood to create some blockbuster films (and possibly TV shows) starring the new models in ways which would strongly promote them both domestically and internationally.
But say we wanted to promote them still more heavily. How might we do it?
Build into all these new design cars as a standard feature basic cell phone services (fixed-in-place, not removable), which allow only 911 emergency calls or tow service calls. Also include as standard an onboard expert software package which can utilize the cell signal along with local mapping and data from steering and odometer to provide a low cost form of non-satellite dependent GPS directional help.
Enabling full phone service for this would be an extra cost option. As would be a remote tracker for parents wishing to keep tabs on their driving teenagers. The standard cell location mechanism would greatly aid the arrival of help for 911 and tow service calls.
Yes, this is a radical plan all right. But a radical plan will likely give us our best shot at success, based on past history:
"Oddly enough, 100 years ago Ford (F) and GM showed the world how to execute a Schumpeter-style creative response. Their pioneering innovations back then say a lot about what needs to happen now.
Packard, Wayne, Northern, Hudson, Willys-Overland, Lozier, Regal, King, Studebaker...these are just a few of the many early-20th-century automobile companies that disappeared because they didn't produce the cars people wanted. Back then the automobile industry was a high-risk venture dominated by the sons of Detroit's wealthiest families. They competed to make luxurious vehicles for their social set—at a financial loss.
It took Henry Ford, an anti-Establishment outsider who identified with the masses, to break out of that failing business model. He knew the farmers and shopkeepers who wanted cars too, but at a price they could afford."
-- The GM Solution: Life Boats, Not Life Support As the ship sinks, "creative destruction" is too simplistic. Only a "creative response" can rebuild a U.S. auto industry By Shoshana Zuboff November 18, 2008
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