the impact of automaker hubris
We've had headlines first about the £42M the Pheonix Four took out of the dying MG Rover, (see Birmingham Post video report, also Robert Peston), then the Aston Martin launchof their £150K Rapide, and JLR announces plans to close either Solihull or Castle Bromwich.
I'm reminded of the last Top Gear in 2009. Jeremy Clarkson turned to a complete stranger. She was a woman in her 20s. He stared at her briefly, then baldly stated “You should be in a bikini”. He then turned away from her and continued the show.
Just for a fleeting moment, imagine Jezza in a pair of swimming trunks. After all, nubile young men look good in French-style speedo gear. So that’s all right then.
It’s doubtful Jezza’s other obsession — the speed and beauty of very fast, expensive cars — has done our auto manufacturing base much good. Obsessions rarely do of course, as obsessed people have an unexamined tunnel vision, and don’t see the wider picture.
The wider picture for the automotive industry includes the following: Global over capacity. Brutally high costs. The US Big Three, let alone swathes of our regional industry, long being in “the business of value destruction” (the words of Deutsche Bank). Appalling supplier relationships. Procrastination in dealing with problems that can be fixed such as noxious emissions, road crashes and congestion. Outright refusal or prevarication in dealing with issues where the industry is hugely influential, namely, the challenges of energy resources and global warming.
In a nutshell, automaker hubris.
This hubris sometimes persuades governments to prop up industry. Of course, political decision-makers sometimes step in to help shield vulnerable people from the impact of great socio-economic change. But be under no illusions, propping up waning industrial endeavour for any length of time is folly. At best, it provides a brief opportunity for individuals to change their livelihood and so their lives, and for regional decision-makers to wield their influence in new directions or . . . step aside if they've been too caught up in the decades-long misjudgments in the auto-industry.
s.a. Dan Roberts on the triumph of crooked salesmen, accountants, lawyers and politicians over the interests of enduring industrial businesses.