Monday, August 17, 2009

America, Deutschland- strike back!!

My heart aches everytime I see articles like these. Though I do like Randy Cohen's pieces, this one in particular is not entertaining for emotional motorists.

There's a lot of noise about how inefficient and wasteful the American trucks and European sedans are. I do not have much to say to counter that. True: Hummer, GM Tahoe, Masserati and Ford F-150's may be called something close to ecological disasters. On the other hand the Japanese and the Koreans are the heroes of the day coming up with more sane cars that saved the day with their miles per gallon/ kilometres per litre figures.

They say on that in the last decades, GM, Ford, Chrysler have been focused on the short term profits. Which is why they made big cars/ trucks for bigger profits. So being focused on a long term strategy and defining new markets (refer to Toyota Prius) is the thing to do eh? Learn from the Japs they say- the way they develop vehicles based on market requirement; sometimes even defining a new market.

I beg to differ here. I love the Jap production and management techniques: zero inventory, reduction of waste and the zeal to improve. My earlier post does tell you that I would buy a high performance Jap street car if I had the money.

However, I do not believe in the sustenance of this model for long. It lacks one big thing: Creativity..

Definitely, these guys have been creative coming up with high quality and high performance engines. They did use lot of their brains to 'kaizen' all waste.

Despite this, the Japanese have been unable to come out with a product that is 'Revolutionary and crazy'. Try this simple exercise:

1. Look at the Ford logo and think of their fantasy products:

Mustang, Ford F-150, Ford GT, Land Rover (once upon a time) are some you dream to have.

2. Clear your mind and start with GM or Chevrolet

Humvee, Corvette, GMC. Pontaic GTO might be there in your thought process.

3. BMW

The legendry M-5, the Z8, the 5 series

4. Chrysler

Dodge Viper (grab the life by its horns!!), Jeep Wrangler

5. VW

Who are we kidding??!! Any Porsche!! 911, Boxster: anything.. Audi R8, the Lamborghinis as well..

6. Mitsubishi

You'll come up with only the Lancer Evo/ Spyder

7. Toyota

Lexus?? Nah.. That’s a very good car but not exciting enough..

So in all- Nothing. The MR-2, Celica were considered to be failures by the great company itself.

Right: nothing. Though all their cars have been masterpieces and have redefined quality and performance, none have the 'wow/ oomph' factor. Practically built for practical people.

If you get my point, you'll see that these tough times have been good for ones who are sensible. Kindly note that there is some level of insanity that comes with creativity. It's difficult to expect a piece of art from Toyota, Isuzu, Honda. Difficult to realize today, but I assure you we do need some of that 'insanity' for a better future.

Historically, Japanese manufacturers have emulated and improvised whatever's been created on the other side of the world. For eg- GM and Ford were the leaders in hybrid engine development, but Toyota and Honda had the guts to develop and sell Prius and Insight respectively: at loss propelling the brands to unimaginable heights.

What about the rest? Should Arnold Schwarznegger swap his Hummer for a Toyota Yaris/ Nissan Micra?? Detriot big 3, German beauties: we need you guys to give us something crazy and spectacular to drool on!! Cleanse your insides and get back to what you have always done: defining the future of automobile..

With this, I wish all the best to the Chevy Volt, the 2010 Mustang and the Focus. Hope these products help the companies to restore their lost glory.

With Alan Mulally running Ford and Jim Press (former MD of Toyota America) hopping on to Chrysler, I pray for speedy recovery of the giants.

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