By Jon Miller | Post Date: November 23, 2008 7:34 PM | Comments: 6
The Big 3 automotive companies must follow in Toyota's footsteps to survive. There are three things that need to happen for General Motors, the Ford Motor Company and Chrysler to avoid becoming case studies in how not to run global manufacturing companies. These three steps are not kaizen, respect for people and making cars that customers want to buy. Those would be platitudes at this point, necessary but not sufficient. Something far more radical is needed at this point. We can learn from three key factors in Toyota's success by tracing their footsteps over the past half century.
The second step is to benefit from the massive investment that the Obama administration will make in new technologies that create jobs, make use of alternative energy sources and reduce environmental impact. As a key industry and one of the largest employers, the U.S. automotive industry stands to benefit from increased demand in these areas, although the shift in their sales philosophy, design and manufacturing infrastructure will be more difficult than it was for Toyota to make trucks and jeeps for the U.S. military during the Korean War.
The third step is for the Big 3 to take full advantage of the energy crisis and the emerging consumer consciousness that will create a demand for fuel-efficient vehicles. Demand for these vehicles may be spurred not only by the patriotic urge to for energy security and independence, reduced pollution and lower fuel prices but also by government policies toward carbon taxes or tax credits for buyers of these vehicles. For decades the lack of fuel efficient vehicles in the U.S. market has been less a matter of technical capability and more a matter of a lack of will. Tesla can, Toyota can and yes, the Big 3 can.
It took Toyota over 20 years to fully benefit from the three forces of bankruptcy reorganization, government spending and the energy crisis. The Big 3 auto firms could perform this hat trick in one single year. What took Toyota decades to accomplish, the Big 3 could accomplish in less than a decade.
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