There has been a debate going about the American automotive industry that I have been following with great interest. You will probably be aware of the fact that there is a danger of the ‘great American brands’ to go broke over the current financial crisis. And that is where the world seems to split up into two camps. One is in favor of rescuing the large corporations with huge amounts of money. The loss of employment when it is not done is one of the greatest drives for their argument. The other camp is in favor of having the big giants die their natural economical death. The latter camp usually says that by removing the big companies, the market will be open for new players that will be more innovative. In my opinion the thought is great. I would love to go back to smaller more innovative car companies, but reality will show a different story.
If we look back in history, seldom has succesful innovation sprung from an economic decision to have other companies die. Innovation has come from people who walk besides the big companies and one day decide that they can do it better. Or from people who are on the outside and decide that what is built now does not meet their requirements, so they will make it themselves. Or from completely new techniques that allow people to build something out of the ordinary that is a much better match for the demand out there. Forcing it will not be the answer to this debate. It will not lead to the innovation we dream of. And besides, there is a lot of interest in the old giants from new economies like the Chinese, to buy it if nobody else wants to anymore.
I don’t have a clear cut answer here, but I would love to see more innovation stimulated to allow people to develop their view on the automotive industry, because there is much room their for innovative players that do not only cater for the happy few who can buy supercars. But players that can give average families greener, more distinctive and more enjoyable transportation.