Bush approves $17.4 billion for auto makers
While this may come as no surprise to anyone, we really have to wonder if these bailouts are in the best interest of the US. Yes, yes, I understand the argument about people losing their jobs, the trickle down issue of suppliers going out of business, etc etc. I do understand all of that. But, the one significant question is… When did it become the government’s responsibility to make sure businesses remain in business? Isn’t that the business’s responsibility?
Clearly, every company that has to extend credit is at risk during the credit meltdown, but the Detroit car makers were in trouble long before the credit meltdown. It’s just that now it is making it even harder for them to sell cars. But, is this because of the credit meltdown or is it the types of cars they are producing?
While I would love to say that their woes can be entirely blamed on the credit crisis, it can’t. Detroit has been lagging behind producing unappealing cars for many years now. Is it no wonder no one is going to the dealership and buying their cars? Sure, consumers may not be able to get the credit necessary to get a new car now, but even when credit was readily available, consumers still weren’t buying. If Detroit were making cars that people want, their business would have been booming all along. Just look at Apple. They make appealing technological products. Even in this economy, people are still buying iPhones that come with $90-120 a month plans! It’s an amazing feat when people, who probably cannot afford that amount per month, are shelling out that money just to get an iPhone!
Yet, the car makers can’t get their cars into consumer’s hands. So, the big question is.. why? Clearly, they aren’t providing high enough quality or appealing enough design, nor are they doing anything about becoming ecologically friendly. When gas prices hit almost $4 a gallon, they were still cranking out cars producing 20 mpg. Does this make sense?
The Detroit design teams need to rethink their ideas. They need to come out with some innovative approaches to vehicles. That means, trying things that haven’t been done before. I don’t usually like to give out free ideas, but I’ll make an exception here. For example, Toyota put into the Prius a touch screen control panel for pretty much all of the necessary comfort and convenience systems of the car. That’s a great first step. But, let’s take that one step further. Auto makers need to put in a touch screen system to control all aspects of the car including such things as controlling and viewing the engine tuning, tire pressure, and setting and releasing cruise control.
They should probably team up with Apple (or Microsoft) to add a mainstream operating system (embedded, of course) into their cars. Cars should offer WiFi or 3G connectivity. Cars should also have a full fledge computer as an optional built-in. But, the computer needs to be removable to take in during excessive heat or cold.
Fuel cells have been talked about for quite some time. But, this and other forms of innovation has not progressed. For example, when you’re driving the car along, there are other ways to recoup energy into the batteries. For example, wind and sun. As you’re driving, there is wind against the car. It should be a simple matter to add a wind turbine to recoup energy during driving. Adding solar panels in strategic places would also allow for additional energy.
Frankly, I’m surprised someone hasn’t come up with a photo conductive paint surface to use the entire vehicle’s painted surface as a giant solar panel. These are the kinds of innovations that make you go, “Hmm”. These are also the kinds of innovations that lead energy conscious consumers to buy into them. Regenerative breaking is a great first step, but we need to take it far beyond that.
The detroit car makers have become so distant from what people actually want, that they can’t consistently produce sellable products. When you’re putting a car together, which is not an insignificant task, you want to make sure that you produce the best product possible. Detroit seems to have lost that edge and, instead, is hiding in a cave producing things they feel are ‘safe’, but that don’t sell.
Government and Business
What it comes down to is that Government should not become (nor have to become) involved in the day to day operations of ANY business, let alone the car makers. So, if these companies can’t produce quality wanted products, perhaps it’s time we let them go. We don’t need to prop up industries that don’t deserve to be propped up… no matter how many employees or small companies that they may incidentally subsidize.