For those who don’t keep up with such things, the American car industry is in big trouble. Detroit’s sales have been declining for some time, hurt by high costs, and Japan is stepping in to take their place. Some Americans, of course, will only buy American, but many seem to be taking the more pragmatic approach. High gas prices and a preference for marketing big cars and vans among America’s car markers haven’t helped.
Chevy seems to be upping the ante with a controversial new advert for their Silverado truck - with an admittedly catchy tune (video; I’m not sure what Stephen Colbert has to do with it). A recent Slate podcast deconstructs this in detail; suffice to say that images of Katrina and Vietnam are hardly likely to avoid heated discussion. A slightly blunt and clumsy parody is already doing the rounds.
This is all particularly interesting at a time when alternatives to petrol-guzzling SUVs finally seem to be becoming viable. David (site down at the time of writing) recently discussed an In Business podcast that looked at the Tesla Roadster, the first electric car that seems to actually have both a realistic marketing and engineering story. Tesla claim a 135 mpg equivalent energy consumption and 0-60mph in 4 seconds: not a bad combination. The car is currently being marketed only in California due to EU regulatory problems (please, government, get out of the way of the entrepreneurs saving the world). But it looks like it might finally herald the start of a more sustainable future.
I don’t think it’s an unreasonable prediction to say that the car industry will be one to watch closely over the next decade.