Sunday, March 1, 2009

Presidential Task Force on the Auto Industry-GM, Chrysler need to build sought-after cars

Article from The Detroit Free Press

If the Presidential Task Force on the Auto Industry wants to ensure the U.S. auto industry's success, it should make sure every plan that GM and Chrysler present answers one simple question:

Why are people going to buy this car?"

Get a good answer to that, and declare mission accomplished.

The task force must, of course, deal with a host of other issues. It will oversee concessions from labor, bondholders and car dealers. It has to help the automakers craft a plan to broaden product lines and simultaneously reduce their production capacity to profitable levels.

Those are remedial measures, however. They stanch the arterial bleeding, but do not save the patient.

Survival flows from long-term profitability, and that can only come from a model line rich with vehicles that people desire.

The calculus of desire is an immensely complicated equation, as anyone who's ever been on a date knows.

In the case of a vehicle, certain things are givens: safety, fuel economy, reliability. They are the equivalent of showing up for a date at the right time and place: You have to get them right, but that's just the start.

Does she make you laugh? Does he like the same music and movies you do? Does the way she thinks surprise and interest you? Does he listen when you talk? Do you keep looking because you keep finding new things to like?

Those, and more, are the elements of attraction, whether it's a dinner that lasts three hours or a car you commit to paying for over the next five years....More

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