For a U.S. car comeback...drop musclecars, beat Civic!
OK, US automakers are in the tank, right?
Where is American carmaking strong? --RV's, trucks...and now musclecar revival.
OK, that's maybe 5% of the car market.
If they want to get back into the game there's an easy way: compete against Civic or Camry. They should pick just ONE SIGNIFICANT car to go up against or, really, they'll be sent packing.
Just pick one, then reverse engineer it and do the same thing only better in a few ways. Is that too hard?
If it IS too hard then they should come right out and say why and what are the barriers. Are the parts too tiny and refined? So? What does that mean? Are the machines that make the parts too refined? How can we get such machines? Just find out where the logjam is and go public with that with specifics.
If everyone involved in a US project like this would have to make too much money, then say so. Give exact amounts. If a US maker made a Civic, what would it cost? Then, if we made a Civic for LESS than Honda sells them, what would everyone involved have to give up? I'm sure that the nation would prefer to take 10% cuts across the board and stay employed. Or would it be 12%? What portion of costs go to bluecollar, whitecollar, execs, owners? We gotta be upfront or we'll go under, eh?
Maybe we don't want to even be in this game. Maybe there's a better way for the nation to earn a living. Maybe factory work is good enough for Korea and China but we have better things to do. Fine. Let's be upfront about it. Show me the stats.
Anyway, we won't likely beat Civic in every way, so just be upfront about it. "OK, we can't give 100K warranty, but in exchange our car can cost $2K less up front."
Or even "OK, our car isn't as good and it even costs more and our dealers have bad attitudes, but to save our nation, you gotta buy our cars!"
Hmm, I think that's been tried. Just doesn't work. There's gotta be a WIN in there somewhere for each specific customer.
For instance, take me. I know my car is junky but it only cost $500 and it's pretty reliable and safe, etc.---I come out ahead everywhere but looks and smooveness---so it's a win for me. Now if it was TOO junky the repairs on a $500 car might end up costing more than the expenses of a lease car. So I have to pay attention. The point is that anyone trying to sell me a $500 car has to show me how I'll come out ahead. Their pitch has to show the balance going my way. Or I buy another car. Simple!
Ya know, the only thing I buy new is books. My own. From the printer. I didn't want to buy foreign to get color printing, but the word is that's what you gotta do. I did my own research and I got the best U.S. quotes and they were double the Koreans. Gulp. We're not talking slight margin troubles for the U.S. printers. Would you pay $40 for a slim paperback with a little color in it? No one would---hence I doubt that any of those printers do short-run color work for retail. But! I kept digging and found ONE little Grand Rapids, MI, printer (ColorHouse Graphics) who beat the Koreans! They got my biz. Now let's extend the concept to cars... All it takes is ONE U.S. company to do it.
The last two retired execs I talked to who drove Japanese cars said they did so mostly because the dealers treated them well. Washed their car, etc. I dunno if U.S. dealers do that, too.
If U.S. products and services are better or as good and people still aren't buying then there's an image problem.
The answer sure isn't a musclecar revival. Ouch.
Of course the mere interest of a maker in a musclecar is enough to scare off most of the public. The basis is all wrong. When Honda makes a sports car it bears resemblance to its other cars: efficient, compact, zippy. Like an amped-up Civic. Thinking up and down from a musclecar leads us where? Sadly, only to more vehicles of interest or use only to 5-percentile customers. Trucks really are a terrible idea except to contractors and farmers. These are fine markets but not enough to support a national car-maker.
You gotta do first things first.
US makers gotta each deliver ONE car that's: cheap, reliable, safe, efficient, snappy and well-supported or else they're kaput. The rest won't matter.