Detroit Fumbles

I am a hopeless  Detroit Lions football fan. This tortured allegiance goes way back to before  Barry Sanders and even the Bobby Layne eras. So in time it twinkles back to the high-fin Detroit cars of the 1950’s. Now any of you who know football, know that I have chosen the-patience-of-Job challenging loyalty. The Lions and  hapless and hopeless are interchangeable.

Unfortunately, corporate Detroit and its automotive industry appear to be borrowing too much  from its football team. Now Detroit and its founding fathers like Henry Ford were definitely not hapless – they made their luck. For example, Henry Ford was substantially an untutored inventive genius. He and other Detroiters delivered both automobile designs, features and manufacturing methods that launched the auto industry. So now, whenever you hear Detroit’s big car execs squealing they can’t possibly make the proposed 35 mpg new gas standards – you get a sense of the nature of the downward draft in Detroit.

For a contrast on what innovation should be coming from Detroit read this story about Jonathan Goodwin in Fast Company; and see in how many ways he is like Henry Ford and the early Detroit. Goodwin can get 50-110 mpg gallon out of various gas guzzlers such as a Hummer, a Lincoln Continental, and a Cadillac Escalade. And his methods of diesel, bio-diesel, and hybrid rig-ups are being applied now while providing 0-60 in 6 second get up and GO.  Mass production is practically there because Goodwin uses 90% GM parts for most of his rig ups.

But most indicting of all – this technology could be easily adopted by Detroit. Saith Goodwin – “Detroit could do all this stuff overnight if it wanted to. And Mercedes Benz is already doing so. So expect the great American car inventions of Goodwin and others to come to you from a foreign car producer. <a href=”http://www.amazon.com/Harvard-Business-Review-Strategy-Paperback/dp/1422121089″>Harvard Business Review has said it loud and clear</a> -> the green revolution is all about opportunity – but given Globalization, that means World opportunity.

Detroit and GM obviously has a big, unforeseen lead courtesy of Mr. Goodwin.  Despite all GM’s new energy-saving  line-up of cars … maybe  because of their new diverse energy-saving line up and its missing links, I still would not bet on GM nor Detroit to lead the way to energy efficiency automobiles invented in America – just not manufactured and delivered effectively in America.  The Management and Financial ZeitGeist in America is against Manufacturing in America. And so Detroit may well find a way to fumble again in the future of auto’s made in America

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