Why wait for the dust to settle?


While the automotive news, at least as reported in the mainstream press, is all about bankruptcy, bailout, dealer closings and other bad news, there is evidence of rebirth even before those complicated puzzles get resolved.

According to AutoBlog, a new car company, V-Vehicle Co., based in San Diego and backed by T. Boone Pickens, among others, is about to be born in a former GM plant in Monroe, LA.  They won’t be making stodgy econoboxes, either, if the bent metal in the teaser photo below is any indicator.  Perhaps more significant is that design for the promised “fuel efficient car for the US market” will be led by the wizard behind Mazda’s MX-5 Miata.


Combine that with a same-day report that Tesla, the Silicon Valley electric car darling, may already be worth as much as $1 billion, and some might see more than a ray of hope.

I’m not suggesting that the industry’s problems are behind them, only that there are always pockets of innovation, renewal and growth amid any difficult scenario.  Excepting rare conditions, entire industries don’t go away, although industry leaders often do, particularly those who demonstrate a protracted unwillingness to change themselves before external forces do it for them.

Where are you seeing notable innovation among dinosaurs?


2 Responses to “Why wait for the dust to settle?”

  1. 1 Cris Kinross

    For most people, housing construction for a single family residence is limited to aluminum siding, cedar, stone, brick or some combination. While the current ‘fad’ is to buy/build a small home, the basic building materials haven’t significantly changed. Something innovative is finally becoming available in more areas of the country; straw bale homes. These homes use straw bales (hence the name) as the support inside walls. The design makes these homes airtight (practically no ability for fires to spread, super hypo-allergenic, very energy efficient and – get this – affordable. They are also some of the most attractive homes I have seen with new concepts in curved walls, etc. Straw bale homes are currently where hybrid cars were 7 years ago – just becoming known. With the need to provide quality, affordable, environmentally friendly housing for billions of people these homes might become mainstream in 7-10 years. Check it out; http://www.strawbale.com. I put this type of home in the same category as a Tesla – to be enjoyed in my lifetime.

  2. Back in the field of law, there is zero notable innovation by the dinosaurs. No surprise there. But it’s not just a symptom of the risk-averse legal profession. It’s not at all uncommon for entire industries with significant R&D budgets to be overtaken by upstarts who aren’t saddled with the legacy infrastructure and costs borne by the incumbents. Consumers are fickle, and despite all the heroic flag waving by patriots, the average Joe will buy the car he likes that fits his budget. Amidst all the “buy American” talk the to selling cars across all demographics continue to be foreign-made. Or at least of foreign origin, even though modern manufacturing methods result in cars made from multiple sources. No reason an American car company couldn’t meet the needs of the modern buyer. Imagine a car company starting out today that didn’t have legacy labor costs, legacy retiree costs, didn’t have to re-tool machinery but could start with fuel-efficient or even hybrid technology, didn’t have a distribution or dealer network set in its ways. If I were to survey what category of consumable item is likely to continue to generate high demand and where a late-mover advantage allows a substantially lower cost of goods sold, the automotive industry would make that list. Like you, Mike, I’m not declaring this the perfect opportunity, but viewed from a fresh start rather than from a re-tooling of decades upon decades of ingrained processes, I can see an opportunity worth investigating.

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