Chevrolet and Ford’s Circular Firing Squad

It continues to surprise me how many grown adults roll through their lives looking to advance through pity. It came to my mind quite sharply while watching a television commercial for Chevrolet showing that many Ford buyers were converting. While to people unbeknownst in the realm of reality might think that was a good thing the real story was completely avoided. Who cares that two American automobile companies in a circular firing squad were competing against each other? The real story is why that same Chevy truck isn’t being shipped to India, or Japan, or even South America. The real story isn’t that Chevy took away business from Ford, it’s that American car companies continue to lose to foreign competition. It would be much more meaningful if there were a commercial showing that car buyers were purchasing Chevy cars over Toyota or Honda. Foreign car markets continue to dominate in a field that should be exclusively an American specialty. After all, while cars are now abundant in the world, no place uses them to the degree that America does. That American cars are not first in the minds of drivers is a bigger concern and one that has many twists and turns of psychological imposition.

Without question it was the American automobile market that made them commonplace around the world. For a few decades it was American made cars that dominated the world stage and was yearned for by everyone. But the labor unions moved in and autonomy in innovation and delivery moved out while other countries entered the market and simply did better than the United States in manufacturing techniques and cost to quality the hammer of decision had been delivered and the big three automakers in America, Ford, GM and Chrysler found themselves on the outside looking in. The great city of Detroit which had been driven to growth by the global automaker started an eventual slide that would nearly take it off the map all together. That is the cost of bad decisions and stagnant thinking which can be viewed clearly when studying American car companies and the people who support them.

There is always a bit of arrogance when you speak with people who come historically out of those markets, an entitled feeling that we were great once, and that somehow, they were cheated because the world no longer valued them. That somehow the world was wrong in what it expected. But the truth is that the unions destroyed market innovation at the employee level. While the average Toyota worker in Japan ran to their restroom break, the American worker took their slow ass time and might even smoke a joint in the bathroom stall before returning back to the manufacturing line a half hour later. Little things like that in a company of tens of thousands add up into the final product and consumers can see and feel the difference.

When people who are just lazy in life wonder why they reach their later years getting run over by all the up and comers the problem isn’t the competition, it’s the lazy person themselves. The world wants to grow and move forward. It doesn’t want the restrictions of governments or even socialism. Only the lazy and unambitious are attracted to such things and at points in our life cycles, they may outnumber the strong and independent. But it is always the drive of the best and brightest that launch product and innovation into the global marketplace. When a consumer puts down their money for a gigantic purchase such as a new car, they aren’t buying the tradition of the name, which American car companies still seem to believe, they buy the best product. If a company cannot deliver value to a customer they’ll lose. Just as an employee will lose if they don’t continue to make themselves relevant to their employer, they’ll also be overrun by competitors who are hungry for knowledge and continue to grow intellectually much longer than the typical lazy person who wants the prestige of respect, but doesn’t want to do the work to continue to obtain it.

There is an assumption in the Chevy adds comparing themselves to Ford buyers that the rest of the world isn’t making cars. Let alone admitting that foreign markets are just much better in producing an automobile product. When presenting themselves to American markets their strategy is to just not admit that anybody else is out there and hope that their name might be enough to carry consumers into an American car purchase, and that is precisely why they are being destroyed by foreign competition. I mean who values the name of a Ford or Chevy over a BMW or Mercedes? There are still American patriots who will buy the Cadillac over the Mercedes but not nearly as many as there should be. That is the fault of the car companies to simply refuse to acknowledge their status in life and assume that their names meant more to the public than they really did.

How many people in life roll into their later years hoping that the ambitions they performed at the start of their careers would carry them through into their retirements. They are the kind of people who say, “boy, I did this or that back when I was in my 30s and I was really hot stuff.” But the lack the courage to continue to push themselves and take personal risks which inspire growth then wonder why everyone is passing them up. Those are the types of minds running General Motors and Ford these days, and is precisely why everyone is beating the hell out of them in the automobile market. It’s why Detroit declined out of relevancy being run in the ground by Democrat politicians who want to redistribute wealth created in the glory days of risk and reward thinking that names and titles would hold value well into the future. But the truth is that those things only hold value for about one generation. After that, new names come about out of competition and if you aren’t the best, you will likely be passed over in life, and that is the way it is.

A lot of people are timid by nature and by force they do one or two things great in their life because when you are young, you have to in order to get anywhere. But as soon as they get comfortable and achieve a level of respect among their peers, they lose their edge in thinking. And clearly a collection of such minds is running the American car companies. They are not attracting top talent to their companies and when they do get them, they aren’t keeping them. But the competition is, and it shows in the overall product. Chevy would have had a much better marketing approach if they could show that consumers were buying their product over Toyota and Honda. That would mean something because it is those companies who own the most market share. Beating Ford is like beating up a brother at the dinner table then calling yourself the master of the world. But the minute you step onto your front lawn mouthing off how tough you are, some other kid punches you in the mouth and shows you what the world really thinks of your toughness. America used to make the best cars, but not anymore. And until they change their attitude from the top to bottom, they never will.

Rich Hoffman

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