Ford Motor Company was one of the big auto makers that did not accept government handouts when the financial crisis hit eight years ago. Consequently, I now drive a Ford Escape. The logic for the bailouts at the time stated that we could not let the big car companies fail — think of all the lost jobs and the irreversible hit to the economy. So, we hardworking taxpayers bailed out General Motors, Chrysler and other manufacturers—in effect, rewarding them for bad behaviour and poor management.
Bombardier consistently screws up (click here for the solutions to our problems with Bombardier). The company is poorly managed, seems to have no plan for getting better and continually falls back on empty promises and rainbow-chasing to secure ever more taxpayer dollars from whatever level of government they can rope in. This is another example of bad management being rewarded. Using that logic, perhaps those of us who have overspent our Visa cards and run up thousands of dollars of consumer debt for big screen televisions and vacations should apply to the government for some financial relief.
The competency and creativity of these giant corporations is sadly underwhelming. Why, when the auto makers supposedly employ some of the smartest engineers in the country can they not anticipate customer needs without being poked from behind to do so. We’ve endured decades of dependence on gasoline engines which we know pollute the environment. Safety mechanisms had to be government mandated before manufacturers would incorporate them into their designs. And when their naive business plans failed to deliver, the taxpayers paid the price.
How could all the auto makers be so blind-sided that it has taken Google, Apple and even Tesla to develop and market new concepts for civilian transportation? Perhaps it’s the big fat salaries and benefit packages enjoyed by the executives that killed their imaginations and drive. After all, if they screwed up and managed to get fired, they could live on their golden parachute packages for the rest of their lives. And the oil companies must bear a major share of blame as well.
Sure, I love my voice-activated GPS and my amber blind-spot alert signal. The touch controls on the steering wheel are lovely and the ability of my husband’s vehicle to tell him to pull over and take a rest if he swerves from his lane are all excellent features, but the progress made by the car industry over the past century could and should have been so much better. Look how much the tech business has accomplished over a mere two decades and how affordable all our gadgets have become. When are the automakers going to put some of that expensive brain power to work on something substantive? Before we know it we’ll be driving cars by Apple and Google while the big auto makers are scratching their heads, sifting through customer survey data to find out what went wrong and begging for more taxpayer bailout money.
The world is changing. Perhaps the big automakers should be hiring from Silicon Valley. What becomes of all those brilliant and innovative ideas generated by engineering students in university? Do they simply dissolve once they get permanent jobs in organizations where apathy is the status quo, where they just keep doing variations of the same old thing? There’s so much need for safe, environmentally neutral transportation vehicles for the masses. Thank goodness at least Tesla, Apple and Google grasp that reality. Because, heaven knows, we certainly can’t count on the government or transportation and the auto industry to provide us with cheap, efficient public transit any time soon (click here for my take on public transit). We deserve and should be getting so much better than what they’re offering now.
Feel free to share this blog post via Facebook, Twitter, e-mail or other social media links below.