There is a documentary on Netflix I am watching called “Revenge of the electric car”. It has some big names who were interviewed for it. Elon Musk, Bob Lutz and so on. It is fascinating their thought process and reasoning.
Now in case you didn’t know Bob Lutz was the guy who killed the electric car EV1 that everyone loved in the later 90’s. He forcibly took them from owners, and crushed them. This did not win him or GM any love. A decade later, GM starts to develop an electric car The Volt because of competition from Tesla.
You might remember that when the Chevy Volt was new the campaign to get respect was on. I remember hearing that Jay Leno supported it, and since Jay is a big “car guy” that makes it credible right? As you watch the documentary you can’t help but laugh at the irony and ignorance of the people you are watching.
For example, Bob Lutz says that because the US has offshored and outsourced everything, for the automotive industry to die domestically, it would deliver an economic disadvantage that the US could never recover from. Lets unpack this statement for a moment.
- Who has outsourced and caused this problem in the first place? Is it the lowly factory worker who decides that it would be better for society if his job were eliminated because of cheap steel from China? No, it is the CEO’s like Bob Lutz that argue that business can’t be competitive without this outsourcing. People want it both ways. They both want the benefit of cheap labor, while somehow maintaining an economic base domestically.
- How can you have people afford to buy cars if they don’t have jobs? Henry Ford said that he paid his workers enough so that they could buy his product if they wanted to. That is management. You have to pay the workers so they can afford your product and others. We will never have economic progress if we try to cut people off at the knees. You can’t work people and not pay them so they can’t afford to buy what you are selling.
- The domestic auto industry dying. What a joke this is. It has been dying for decades!! How many times have car manufactures been bailed out? Does the name Chrysler mean anything to anyone? Then GM almost died. I wish it did. We proclaim “free market” yet we protect business who made serious errors in judgement and kill US citizens. I think GM in hiding the product defect with the ignition switch killed at least 100 people and had to settle with them. Ford killed at least 50 with the Pinto. How many have died with foreign brands? I don’t recall anything like this for non domestic brands.
- If the domestic auto industry dies then it deserves death. People buy what they perceive as better. No domestic car has come close to anything the foreign companies have been able to make until Tesla. My next car will be a Tesla and I am saving up for however long it takes to do that. It is ignorant that car companies have kept the gas engine this long when they knew it was hurting the environment. Mr. Lutz I’m looking directly at your lack of leadership on this issue. The future belongs to the youth, and we won’t accept gas engines anymore nor companies who profited from them.
I have made it clear that my experience growing up with parents who only had domestic cars was a disaster. For them having a mechanic and seeing him regularly was just expected. It is not normal for cars to have constant problems, yet how many people accept this? I had a coworker tell me that her Jeep was in the shop 20 times in the 4 years she had it, and it was constantly broken. This was a new jeep not some used piece of junk. That is completely unacceptable. That is something to be embarrassed of, not something that is considered normal.
Tesla is the only US-based car company that has a chance. The other companies are dead they just don’t realize it yet.
Update: Tesla has had quality issues and was demoted from Consumer Reports list of recommended cars. Their innovative technologies are still not reliable. Perhaps this will change in time. Right now my favorite and most reliable car is now a Porsche.