We'll be hearing more about the Detroit 3 in the mainstream media this week as their homework entitled "What I Would Do With My Share of $25 Billion in Government Loans" gets turned in to Congress. While Detroit deserves much of the ribbing that's on the way, it irks our ears every time we read an op-ed piece from folks who flat-out do not know what the Hell they're talking about. Take Karen Wagner, whose opinion letter was published by the Chicago Tribune in which she claims that Ford should cancel launching the 2010 Mustang in order to receive federal loans. There are not enough appendages on the human body to count the reasons why that is a stupid idea, let alone an entirely unrealistic one. In her reasoning, she seems to believe that selling fuel efficient vehicles would equal a healthy, profitable automaker and therefore save millions of jobs, while not realizing that the Mustang has done infinitely more to help Ford's bottom line than the Escape Hybrid.
Then there's entrepreneur extraordinaire Michael Arrington, co-editor of Tech Crunch, who claims in a recent op-ed piece that what works for the tech industry will work for autos, too. His idea is that auto companies should outsource all production of their vehicles to third-party companies just like Apple does with the iPod. He also criticizes the auto industry for its business model of vertical integration, questioning why there isn't an Intel of engine manufacturers that sells to all the automakers. Well, guess what Mike, the Apple model doesn't work for everybody (it didn't work for Apple in the early '90s) and there are a tens of thousands more parts in a car than an iPod that might make outsourcing their production to the lowest bidder a logistical nightmare.

While it's easy to dog on the domestics for the sorry shape in which they find themselves, don't listen to every Karen and Michael out there who voice their ill-informed opinions on how things ought to be. There are such a myriad of factors that have contributed to the current state of the Detroit 3, some of which is their fault and some (like bad mortgages ruining the credit market) which aren't, that there just is no silver bullet fix beyond continuing to lower costs and building better products.

[Source: Chicago Tribune, Tech Crunch]

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