Autos Autos Everywhere, and Not a Car to Drive

This is a pretty good pictoral reprentation of the economic downturn as far as auto manufacturers are concerned.  Lots of cars piling up that no one wants to buy, and the automakers have been churning them out because of the expense involved in shutting down and restarting production lines.

4 thoughts on “Autos Autos Everywhere, and Not a Car to Drive”

  1. But yet, here I am – WANTING to buy another car (I purchased a brand new 2008 Jeep Commander in December) and I can’t find ANYONE willing to engage in reasonable negotiations. It certainly seems – to this consumer at least – that the price of cars hasn’t really come down and in fact has increased from where it was in December, pre Bush/Paulson bailout. Is there any coincidence there??

  2. Sebastian, that my friend, is the fundamental flaw of the American auto industry. Kanban is the JIT system invented by the Japanese and allows them to be very flexible, with the same line producing different cars based on demand. They can retool an entire line extremely quickly.

    The unions and employees are a big part of the problem. Switching to a true Just In Time system involves up-skilling, multi-skilling and reassigning people to completely different jobs.

    If some guy has spent his entire 20 year career installing car seats on a production line and then you tell him he now must install car seats, learn to operate the painting machines, fit the exhaust, engine etc. etc., he then runs to his union which informs the company that they cannot just give him a different job.

    And by the way, I am not saying the management is also not the problem. They sure are. It seems the industry is rotten all the way through, bailing them out simply validates their behavior.

  3. On the one hand, the devil’s advocate in the back of my mind says that it would have been easy to stage some of those photos, no matter what the state of demand, supply, and backlog. A parking-lot full of production goods isn’t too hard to stage.

    But I wonder how hard it would have been to stage a photo of a test-track full of production that ought to have shipped.

    On the other hand, I work for an auto-parts supplier. We were seeing declines in part demands in late-summer and early-fall 2008.

    So I agree, that is a sad look at what the auto business looks like.

  4. However, many of those stacked up cars are Japanese. It isn’t just the U.S. makers that are in trouble, although they are in worse trouble, that’s for sure.

    And it isn’t true that no one wants to buy cars. It is that not enough people have confidence that they will have jobs next month to make the commitment that buying a new car involves.

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