There have been some high times for the auto industry and some low ones too and the last five or so years has been something of a mix. We’ve seen some great ideas and also some terrible ideas come to the fore. However, with the recession looking like it may soon end and car sales rising, it seems things may hopefully change for the better. For now though, let’s dwell on the past and look at the best and worst ideas of the last half decade.
Electrics and Hybrids
We’ve seen some great movements in the area of hybrids and electric cars. One worth mentioning is Toyota’s insistence of pushing hybrid cars across all ranges and not keeping it boxed in an eco-area. Toyota hopes to have 21 models in the hybrid range by 2015, including its Lexus range. It looks like hybrid power is going mainstream – a good thing.
Tesla has also innovated and can be owed the praise for creating an electric car that people aspired to drive. They’ve also pushed a number of amazing technologies that could and have changed a lot of the motor industry.
Fuel economy has also received a positive boost over the last half decade and the manufacturer focus can be seen as an upside. Most manufacturers now offer a hybrid version of their cars and Ford has offered a number of great leaps too. We’ve seen things like low resistance tyres, high performance, green turbo engines and increased fuel economy across all manufacturers in the last half decade.
Smart in the USA
The introduction of Smart cars in the US was a bad move and the USA hasn’t taken well to the little autos. Fears over safety and the size of the cars saw sales plummeted from 25,000 in 2008 to 5,000 in 2011. It seems American’s can’t be convinced that small cars and low fuel economy is for them.
Toyota’s Acceleration Fail
Ignoring complaints is not advised and in the case of Toyota’s failure to act on faulty acceleration pedals, this can be seen as a real issue. Because the car manufacturer didn’t listen, it ended up having to call back far more cars than it should have and was fined millions and lost millions, as well as taken a credibility hit. It’s a bad mistake for a manufacturer with a once untarnished image.
A Mixed Time for Sales
When the US sold Chrysler to Fiat, it allowed the once lauded manufacturer to continue and also gave it a new lease of life. It also saved the White House having to pump millions into the ailing auto maker’s coffers. In all, it was a good idea.
However, when GM decided to stick with Opel after its bankruptcy issue it failed to make the right decision. The executives a GM thought that the EuroZone was solved and its new line was something to shout about – they were wrong on both fronts. Last year GM lost $361m in Europe in one quarter alone. It looks like it’s the chink in GMs armour and may cause it to bleed to near death.
Chris Morris has worked in the car industry for a long period of time and has written on the subject while leasing from http://www.firstvehicleleasing.co.uk/ and also when he owned cars too.