Here PDL AE rant of the week www.autoextremist.com
PRESENTING A DELIGHTFUL HOLIDAY ASSORTMENT OF CRACKPOTS, RECALCITRANT TWERPS, SPINELESS WEASELS, THE OBLIGATORY EGOMANIACAL DICTATORS AND, OF COURSE, THE TRUE BELIEVERS. NO, YOU CAN’T REALLY CONTROL IT; YOU CAN ONLY HOPE TO CONTAIN IT. THAT'S RIGHT, IT'S THE AUTOEXTREMIST YEAR IN REVIEW!
DateMonday, December 15, 2014 at 02:16PM
By Peter M. De Lorenzo
Detroit. Welcome to this "thing" called the automobile business. Like a Dead Air Circus twisting in the wind, the automobile business writ large here moves in fits and starts in a two steps forward, three back pirouette of ignominy, one that provides a constant thrum of mediocrity, a sinister Motor City soundtrack of "dark noise" if you will that is always there, looming in the background.
Is it all tedium? Thankfully, no, not by a long shot.
We are enjoying the finest cars and trucks in automotive history, and at every price point too. We’re also bathing in a golden era of performance, one that few thought would sustain itself as we march ever forward to a No Fun culture that pillories the automobile at every turn.
The looming societal storm clouds can’t dampen the inherent goodness and level of technology found in the average cars of today. It's simply staggering to contemplate the advanced technology, fuel efficiency and general level of excellence available in even the most mainstream of automobiles available. If you had predicted the level of technology and efficiency that would be available in a typical Ford Fusion, Chevrolet Impala or Toyota Camry even as recently as ten years ago most people would have scoffed at the notion.
There are no bad cars anymore because the price of entry in order to compete in this, the most competitive market in automotive history, goes up with each passing quarter. Combine that with the ever-escalating regulatory demands for more safety and more efficiency, and you have a never-ending upward spiral demanding even more overall excellence that consumes this industry's every waking hour. And all of that is wonderful and a reason to be optimistic about this business.
But, well, there’s always a “but” when it comes to the car business.
Once again we were blessed or haunted (depending on how you look at it) by an assortment of crackpots, a few actual visionaries, hordes of recalcitrant twerps, legions of spineless weasels, the obligatory egomaniacal dictators (with special emphasis on the first syllable), an unfortunately high quotient of unmitigated hacks, and of course the True Believers, because if it weren’t for their diligence, this business would implode on itself all over again.
This was the Year of the Recall, the Year of Sergio, the Year of Horsepower, the Year of Mary and for a lot of reasons, the Year from Hell.
How can that be, you say? Everyone’s making money hand over fist as the national frenzy for crossovers, SUVs and pickup trucks seems to know no bounds. It’s all good, right? Yes, until it isn’t that is.
Don’t let those supercharged sales numbers go to your heads, because in typical Detroit fashion what goes up like a rocket comes down with a resounding thud. It always has and it always will. And just as the executives at the car companies here in the Motor City begin to believe their press clippings and start to think that maybe, just maybe this blissful state of soaring sales is going to stay hot forever, well, things are bound to get weird.
Though I’ve often written about the good things going on in this business, the constant misdeeds and missteps that seem to dog this industry and its players at a relentless cadence consume most of my time. That there are three dumb moves for every two smart ones in this business is a given and has been proven out over time. And to the industry honchos who are absolutely convinced that it won’t happen – or is not happening under their watch - I’ve got news: You can’t really control it; you can only hope to contain it.
I've often gone out of my way to separate the dunderheads from the True Believers in this business because to not do so would be a great disservice to the men and women who bring their talent and passion to their assignments every day. And the True Believers can be found at every level of these companies, too, from the executive suites on down.
But it’s never easy, because the mind-numbing hordes wielding their pitchforks of mediocrity are ever-present, just waiting for the True Believers to let their guard down for a millisecond so that they can wreak their particularly odious brand of havoc on the proceedings.
And that’s not the only threat for these True Believers face by any stretch, especially when chaos reigns - or has reigned - at these companies because of the constant ebb and flow of the prevailing political winds.
This has been the case throughout automotive history, and it’s not about to change anytime soon. It’s an ongoing battle of Goodness vs. Stupidity; Common Sense vs. Nonsense; the Blue Sky Visionaries vs. the We’ve Always Done It This Way Drones; and of course, the True Believers vs. the Carpetbagging Mercenaries du jour.
Yes, this business is all of that and more.