Thursday, February 15, 2007

Where it's at for Detroit

The New York Times has a story about the American automakers, but I think the story primarily comes down to two sentences:

Simply cutting is not enough, analysts said. All the Detroit companies need to build appealing cars in flexible plants that can shift according to buyers’ tastes.

Don't get me wrong; I've said before that cuts are necessary for the Big Three and I'm sticking with that, but all three need to do a better job of designing vehicles the market wants. Cuts allow them to do that cost efficiently, and it needs to be done. The Big Three have another obstacle to overcome, though, too. Branding seems to be the bastard child of marketing these days, but the Big Three need to invest in it. There are too many car buyers in this country today who dismiss American vehicles out of hand. The Big Three have focused so much on the idea of American blue collar vehicles that they have lost site of a growing market that wants to feel like they bought an incredible, slightly exotic vehicle for their money. European and, to a lesser extent, Asian automakers have benefited from Detroit's neglect of that market, which has grown with American affluence.

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