Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Automotive Option A or B

President Obama announced new policy that would raise Corporate Average Fuel Economy [CAFE] standards to 35.5mpg by 2016 [42mpg - cars, 26mpg - trucks]. The standards are meant to decrease fuel consumption, greenhouse gas emissions, and our dependence on foreign oil.

So, like before [in the '80's it was Trade Restrictions], the US Gov steps in to reset the bar on the US Auto Industry. In such scenarios, there is the opportunity to make the right move or....not.

Option A-
* Better more efficient cars [We have the technology and / or the brains to create it], that still perform [Don't need a honking 7.0L V8 to go fast. Any power source - electric or otherwise will work], still are fun to drive [It's really all about 'power to weight'], and still fit American needs [Interior space does NOT require Escalade-scale exterior footprints].

* Better buying, ownership, and service experiences. The auto dealer model is out of touch with the retailing options available to consumers in most other product / service categories. And when will the automakers figure out that their website can be a community-builder, not just an on-line brochure / info stop before consumers head everywhere else on the Internet to really do their purchase thinking?

* Better Marketing. Somewhere in the future the consumer connection will NOT be dependant on The Sales Event, The Deal, Incentives, The SuperBowl Ad and / or The Product Placement. 2 words for new marketing - Authentic. Relevant.

And then there is Option B-
* The 'Dinosaur-like Cling' to the status-quo, despite its inevitable path to extinction.

* Foot-stomping laments about the socialist destruction of 'great cars' like the 13mpg V10 Viper, the SUV-as-family-sedan, and anything with a curb weight over 2 tons!

* Working the
EPA loopholes on the new regs under the false nobility of "We're just giving the customers what THEY want".

Truth be told, some will step up, some will step out.
This IS a character test for ALL - the industry, consumers, our leadership. Time will tell.

But, I have faith.
I am looking forward to my 2016 hi-po fuel-cell-electric mid-engine sports car, sitting next to my 4dr 42mpg aero-sedan, both ordered / purchased On-line. Question is - Which brand will have the vision to have built them for me [And will it be one of the bailout brands from 2009]?