Business & Technology Nexus

Dave Stephens on technology and business trends

Hoorah! More Cupholders for US Automakers

with one comment

Ford and GM announced they will be supporting an MP3 jack (for “less than $160”) on more of their vehicles soon. Now I love the iPod. But.. I’m afraid this is just more “lipstick on the pig” given that I can’t think of a single vehicle in their line-up that hasn’t been bested by Japanese or European automakers (the bigger the vehicle the better the chance the US still has a slight edge).

This kind of fake innovation should have a name – how about “cupholder innovation”?

Cupholder innovation is great unless your competition is delivering real innovation – like more fuel efficient, higher reliability engines for starters.

Is it any surprise Ford sales were down 34%, GM’s down 23%, and yet Toyota’s were up 12%? This isn’t new, it’s the result of decades of decisions. Oh, you say, but older workers and fixed costs are holding the US automakers back. Not so fast – keep in mind US cars still cost less than their Japanese equivalents – but even at a “Payless Shoe Source” price they’re not selling.

Bye bye Jaguar. Ford is running out of time to get its house in order. GM, in better shape, has a chance to take the noose from around its neck and start building competitive vehicles again. We’ll see if they can.

I’d love to see a new US automaker start-up. One with better management practices and a commitment to build great cars. But it would be a crazy endeavor with an insane amount of capital required to get in the game. So instead I’ll study my Kanji and also await China’s entrance into the US auto market. (apologies for linking to the obviously censored People’s Daily Online)


Written by Dave Stephens

08/3/06 7:05 AM at 7:05 am

Posted in Opinion

One Response

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  1. That would be interesting to see a new automaker enter the market, but at this stage of that industry, is it feasible? Wouldn’t a “new” automaker just be a semi-autonomous division of an existing one such as the whole Saturn division a dozen years ago?

    Matthew W. Grant

    08/15/06 11:56 PM at 11:56 pm

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