Sunday, February 8, 2009

AutoRevu Car Predictions

An abandoned dealership sign sits alone against the sky.
[AUTOREVU - Feb 8/09 by Stoneman]
These are tough times indeed for all auto manufacturers, parts distributors, and dealerships. I am going to list out some strategies that I believe Detroit and Japan may need to adapt in order to survive during the next tumultuous few years ahead. Keep in mind that although the future appears very bleak, we will survive and we will get through this deep, spiraling recession.
Think Small. Car makers have been relying on huge SUV's and Pickup trucks for too many decades now. In order to adapt to the changing market, North American auto makers need to begin bringing over the small, efficient cars that are found in Europe. I'm talking about the Fiat 500, the Fiat Panada, the Ford KA, and perhaps even the tiny Japanese KEI cars. Cars should be much cheaper than they are now and have a higher level of quality. I'm talking about cars costing between $8000 to $14000 Canadian. I know the South Korean manufacturers are already building cars like these - but honestly, they are crap. While KIA and Hyundai have come up in quality, they are not an auto brand that I am willing to reccomened to anyone. Their quality is not high enough, their longevity is questionable, as is the reliability. 

Be Innovative. I heard in the news that Honda is going to be building a hybrid micro car in Europe. Why don't they bring that over here? And why isn't there more diesel engine powered vehicles? Our infrastructure has enough stations to support this fuel - why not use it? Governments should be sponsoring or giving money to help build alternative fuel - such as used deep fryer waste oil in diesel engines. Electric vehicles are still too expensive to build and sell to the general public. Lithium batteries are very expensive. Lead acid batteries are very heavy and inefficient. We need more innovation in design and sparkling new ideas. Whoever decided on fender holes should have been fired immediately. Same goes for obnoxious wings and useless deep tint windows.

Downsize Operations. GM, Ford, and Chrysler need to reduce the size of their global operations. Unfortunately this means job losses and brand reductions. These companies should be merging with other companies and cutting down on their losing brands. While GM has announced the demise of Saturn and Hummer, we need more. Cut wages of all unionized employees to a reality and get rid of your crippling healthcare costs.

Increase Quality Dramatically. I've had many domestic vehicles in my 39 years on this earth. Each vehicle had a rattle, clank, or squeak that really annoyed me. Or the plastic gaps were huge. Or there was plastic flashing left over on the molds. Or things weren't aligned up very well. Since I purchased my Subaru Impreza, I"ve notced NONE of this. Domestic automakers need to dramatically increase their brand quality NOW. They need to suck in their pride and immediately adopt the Toyota Quality Method. If that means firing their entire QA department and hire some Toyota engineers - then so be it.

Listen to your customers. These people who are running the companies need to get their feet on the ground and begin listening to their customers complaints, demands, or improvement suggestions. For too long these companies have arrogantly decided "This is good enough.". Well I'm sorry, but the shit they've been selling lately has NOT been good enough. With the exception of a few notable models, the vast majority of domestic vehicles are pure utter crap. Did you know that when I drove the Chevy Aveo, I had an urge to kill myself? The driving was that bad. But high on the list of crappy cars would be the KIA Amante. I believe whoever designed and authorized that car should be held on high treason in South Korea. It is the worst piece of dog shit I ever drove.

Be Humble. I am so sick and tired of walking into a dealership and finding the sales people acting like you are wasting THEIR time. I am sick of those arrogant assholes ignoring me. Porsche is a prime example of such an organization. Completely opposite would be some Toyota lots. In those situations, I had sales people literally JUMPING to help me. And it must not stop there: The corporate culture in all these organizations must be humble. They have to remember that the CUSTOMER is what counts - not their quarterly dividends. Don't act like you're doing me a favor when I ask for a test drive.

Spoil your customers. Lexus is notorious for letting their customers sit in luxurious rooms with big screen TV's and free food and drinks when their car is in for service. Wash their car and detail it when they bring it in for maintenance. Give them a small appreciation gift when you come back on your second visit. You know what I got on my visit when I had my chevy? Piss poor coffee and that's about it.

Until the automanufactuers start following these principles they are doomed to fail.

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