A few years ago I was at the Munich airport looking for a book to
read when I stumbled upon a paperback buyer's guide that listed every
new car sold in Germany along with a photo of the cars and their vital
I was amazed at the size of the book. It was about as large as the Wedster's New World Dictionary.
That same type book is published here in magazine form, and it's about a third of the size of the German version.
only can German new car buyers choose from most of the American,
Japaneses, and German cars we can purchase here, but they also have
access to dozens of French, Italian, Russian, Korean, and even British
brands we never see on our shores.
you remember the classic MG? Both the car and brand still exist. MG is
now owned by a Chinese company that produces them in China and
Longbridge, England, and sells them in Europe.
Once upon a
time in America new car buyers also had a real choice of cars from
hundreds of small local car companies and dozens of foreign car
manufactures like Fiat, Alpha Romeo, and even Renault.
because of government regulations and consolidations our once robust
and thriving automobile market place was transformed into a tightly
controlled and barely competitive corporate town were the big three
Detroit brands ruled the roost.
That was until the Japaneses
brands came to town, and with a combination of better quality and
ruthless attention to the consumer needs and wants—they soon became
the new big boys in town.
But what about all the other smaller
and niche car manufactures? You know the struggling cottage brands that
once thrived on our shores and gave birth to companies like Ford and
even General Motors? And what about about all of the Italian and French
and Korean and even long forgotten British cars?
Where are they?
America we sacrificed innovation, competition, and a truly competitive
marketplace in the name of saving and protecting our own car
manufacturers. You know, we bought that old marketing line that what's
good for GM is good for America.
We'll it turns that what's good for GM isn't all that good for America, or even GM in the long term.
home team boys (at least much of the management) used our willingness
to support and protect them to get fat, rich, and lazy.
The dulled knife of local competition let them believe that building bigger and fatter cars is what the customer wanted.
And perhaps they did, that is until gas hit $4.00 per gallon.
When this milestone was surpassed the big American car companies had little to offer customers in search of fuel efficient cars.
In fact Chrysler had the least to offer and today is the first to go bankrupt.
And that's the way it should be.
now America stands at a moment in time when we can restore true
competition to our automotive marketplace. If Chrysler ends up
partnering with Fiat, it will mean the return of small Italian cars to
And if GM sells Saturn to Nissan-Renault or another
French automaker (as has been recently rumored) this will mean the
return of French cars to a dealership in your hometown.
those "foreign" cars will not be built here initially, but there will
be thousands of new jobs for sales types, mechanics, marketing types,
management types and eventually even workers who'll build small (and I
might add cute) tiny Fiats in Michigan.
And what's wrong with that? Is that not the way a free market brings prosperity to hundreds of thousands?
The king is dead, long live the new king, or perhaps just "Ciao" Fiat-Chrysler.
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