I thought Lee Iacocca had a brain, but I guess I over estimated another auto exec (former). In his upcoming book, Where Have All the Leaders Gone?, he assails everyone that did not get on the band wagon and reward American auto with another round of subsidies. He has particular bitterness for President Bush as he states that, “We’ve got a bunch of bozos steering our ship of state right over the cliff.” It seems Mr. Bush had the audacity to delay a meeting with the Detroit execs in 2006.
Mr. Iacocca is due a wake-up call-the auto industry is no longer in the “economic driver’s seat.” The two companies he guided over the past three decades, Ford and Chrysler, have serious structural problems that a mere visit from the President will not fix. American auto should not turn to Washington for solutions. Instead, the two troubled giants must look to the marketplace for hints to economic viability. They must: 1) Abandon high costs environs in the U.S., 2) Undertake serious negotiations with the UAW to reduce uncompetitive wage and benefit packages, 3) Embrace the global economy instead of hiding behind trade restrictions, 4) Produce automobiles that can compete effectively with their Japanese counterparts in terms of quality and design.
Once American auto looks to the marketplace instead of Washington for solutions, they will once again produce automobiles that the GLOBAL consumer wants. Competition is painful for the truly inept. American auto is truly fortunate that Mr. Iacocca is 82 and is likely to remain on the sidelines as they move ahead.