Saturday, April 16, 2005

Cars

From that Drudge linked article on the 'Big Two' G.M. and Ford Stuck in Neutral:
G.M. and Ford are having such a hard time bringing in the real American consumer that about a third of their sales go to their own employees, their family and friends, or to rental companies and corporate fleets, at razor-thin margins.
Geez, it's like the people are making the cars, to make money, to buy the cars they make. The article makes the point that GM and Ford make unsexy cars. On the surface, that may be viewed as a poor motivator for a car purchase, but I'll relate two quick experiences.

A couple years ago I had rented a Ford escort and while driving around, I was struck by an idiotic teenager. Since the rental place didn't have any more escorts, they gave me a fancy Ford Explorer for the same amount. I got in the Explorer looked around and realized that many of the same aesthetics were the same as those that are in the Escort, a car that cost about a third as it's loaded behemoth of a cousin. I guess this happens with all auto manufacturers, but when your base car looks like crap, you hardly want to carry that look down your model line.

I currently own a Saturn, and I tend to believe that this may be one of the most underrated cars on the planet, but it has all the pizzaz of a can of generic veg-all. They could almost make them all white with a big, bold CAR written on the hood. It almost proves the point that American companies can't make a decent car unless they dumb it down to the point that it's impossible to screw up. Saturn does have a new SUV, but since it's made using the same techniques, it's exactly the same as it's sedan cousins, though GM feels obligated to charge ten grand more for the privilege since it's an SUV (or SVU or whatever they call it).

One more point I want to extract from the article:
Back then, Willow Run [GM plant] was "like a city that never stopped," said Joy, 48, a quality inspector. "It was just bustling, always bustling, everybody just worked, worked, worked, worked, worked. It was nothing like it is now."

"These kind of jobs, where could you find something like this anymore?"
Midwestern union goons have to realize the fact that the reason jobs like that are hard to come by is that they never really existed in the first place. Instead of having jobs that were exposed to market pressures, the unions (and the lazy management that accommodated them) distorted the marketplace and caused their labor, and as a result, the product they made, to be overpriced. Add this in to inept management and engineering on the cheap, and you have a recipe for a mediocre car company, which is exactly what Ford and G.M. are.

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