But maybe you can replace it; however, I have my doubts. About what, you ask? The American Automobile Industry, of course.....
I begin with this simple premise: It is stupid to create products and services based on sales data (the what) rather than on consumer wants and needs (the who). Focusing on the who instead of the what is called staying ahead of the curve–a very good thing. So, that leads me to believe that Ford, GM and Chrysler have been stupid since at least the late '70s, the era of America's first gas crisis.
Here is some evidence to support my premise, as reported in the Sept. 19, 2006, New York Times.
The Chrysler Group said today that it expects to lose $1.26 billion in 2006, and that it will cut production in the third quarter by 90,000 vehicles, double the figure previously announced.
And then this:
Chrysler depends more heavily on sales of minivans, sport utilities and pickup trucks than any of its Detroit competitors. But sales of S.U.V.'s and pickups have declined this year, in part because of gasoline prices that reached $3 a gallon this summer. Vehicle buyers have been turning away from larger, less fuel-efficient vehicles in favor of cars and crossover vehicles.
Finally, from Edmunds.com, the auto industry bible:
Domestic manufacturers have been losing ground to imports, particularly Japanese brands. Trends that Edmunds.com saw in 2005 include:
* Domestic manufacturers' market share percentage dropped 2.4% from 58.4% in 2004 to 57.0% in 2005. Import market share percentage increased 3.4% from 41.6% in 2004 to 43.0%.
* Of the major Japanese manufacturers, Toyota and Nissan enjoyed the most growth, with market share percentage gains of 8.7% and 8.5%, respectively.
* Edmunds.com's site traffic data revealed that eight out of the top 10 makes researched were imports, with Honda and Toyota leading. The two domestics that made the list were Chevrolet and Ford, at number three and five, respectively.
I have a message for the Big 3. Maybe it's time to stop planning based on yesterday's sales and on driving short-term results, and think about your customer for a change and driving long-term results. Then again, maybe it's too late.
Take the first step (it's free).
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