Opinion: Where’s the Optimism in Detroit?


Where’s the optimism in Detroit??

Opinion: Where's the Optimism in Detroit?-opinion

The electrically powered Chevrolet Volt drives into the exhibition hall in front of a cheering crowd – unfortunately the cheers are General Motors employees.


The biggest indicator of the US auto crisis is the lack of optimism on the part of American manufacturers. At their fair in Detroit, they show that they have lost the typical American virtue of seeing things positively. This is worrying because, besides a good mood, they are currently missing three crucial things.

D.three years. Perhaps in the end you will say that it was only three years missing. But three years is a long time if you have to invest in the future and at the same time the products of the present cannot find buyers. For 2011, 2012 or 2013, which varies from stand to stand at the Detroit Motor Show, the American car companies are announcing the start of the electric age. Cars that don’t use gas should come on the market and everything will be fine.

It would be nice. At the moment it looks more like the three years might be too long. This is supported by the noticeable lack of optimism that the Americans show at their trade fair. General Motors CEO Rick Wagoner says his company would run out of money at the end of January without the agreed state aid. Chrysler Sales Director Jim Press lectured for minutes during his presentation about the cuts of the past few months. At all stands you can see how savings have to be made: Less hospitality, fewer hostesses, carpeting instead of parquet. This is not "Yes, we can ". That is "Please, help us ".

The car bosses may not even be happy about the lower gasoline price. Because with every cent that the gallon becomes cheaper, the willingness of American customers to buy the expensive electric models decreases.

And battery-powered vehicles will be expensive; the new technology will roughly double the purchase price, especially for small and medium-sized cars. Nobody talks about this at the fair, instead General Motors brings employees to the stand as claqueurs who hold up boards as in the election campaign. "It says “Charged up” – charged.

However, feigned optimism will not be enough. And even if Barack Obama is as prone to protectionism as some believe, that doesn’t help much in protecting the Big Three. The competition – Japanese, Koreans, Germans – has long been producing with American workers in American factories. What General Motors, Ford and Chrysler need is real optimism, money, ideas and time. Unfortunately, that’s all pretty tight at the moment.

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