And speaking of automobile futures (see below), try this perspective The Green Machine that Could be Detroit.
IMAGINE that you are running a
domestic automaker. Rising gasoline prices threaten your lucrative
S.U.V. sales, a glut of car-making capacity promises ever more
competition, and burdensome union contracts limit your ability to cut
costs. Then there are the Chinese. They’re beginning to put together
the parts they’ve been making for years, and sooner rather than later,
whole cars from China will arrive at scarily low prices.
What do you do? The easy answer is to
follow the path that Detroit has taken for years. Grind out well-made
but ho-hum vehicles and offer them at huge discounts. Let your debt
rating fall below investment grade.
What if one of them decided to break
from the pack? What if a major automaker decided to reinvent itself as
the world’s first and only green car company, producing only hybrid,
clean-diesel and other high-efficiency vehicles? Not Birkenstocks on
wheels, mind you, but enjoyable, functional cars that get great mileage.
For my money, Toyota’s more likely to get there first than Detroit,
which has given away enough market share — desipite the good efforts
of very good people — over the past three decades to float entire
countries. And a company we haven’t heard of yet may be more likely
But that’s not to say Detroit couldn’t
do it. Worth a try, folks, since Business As Usual sure isn’t working.
But only if it’s prepared to embrace ‘creative destruction’ in place of
slow death by a thousand cuts.