Friday, July 17, 2009

Where is the soul of the car industry? Joe vs Michelle

This in from the Boston Globe a couple of days ago:

(Globe Staff Photo / Jonathan Wiggs)

Although her father, Joe Gildea, 62, has dreamt about Cadillacs since he was 14 and now collects them, Michelle Gildea, 20-something, said she's happy getting from Point A to Point B in her hand-me-down Camry and more interested in her BlackBerry than cars. Are cars dead to the young generation?
Hold the phone.

While all the fighting has been going on about gas, electric, consumption, anthropogenic global warming, and particulate emissions, who is minding the store?!

Could this be true? Is there an explanation?

Could it be:
Old guard (cars) vs. New guard (electronic gadgets) - (What this article suggests)

Or Maybe it is:
Male (interested in cars) vs. Female (not interested in cars)
More financially secure (expressive car owner) vs. less financially secure (can't own an expressive car),
Freedom device in the 50's (the Car) vs. Freedom device in 2009 (the internet enabled phone), or
Some other reason, such as "pure chance"?

You can parse through this graph to try to divine a trend, but I think it is hard. Both segments young and old, have compressed from '05-'08.

Nonetheless, just because we cannot isolate the trend, the questions are compelling. I for one think that there is a HUGE grain (aka boulder-sized) of truth in this article's observation and what is going on between Joe and Michelle. Yes, they may be the worst stereo-typical examples, and sure there are auto-focused youth hotbeds like Scion and the Fast and Furious franchise to cling to, but deep down, over the last 5 decades, the auto industry has lost a vital connection with the youth.


(IMDB: He's just not that into you)

Does this mean that auto company's should pack it in? Trade their fender presses for iphone housing injection molders?

Not in my estimation, BUT current automakers need to take a long hard, customer facing look at their entire business and Fix It or they will lose Michelle for ever, and not even own a fender press worth trading in.

Apologies in advance to those terminally addicted to the old way of doing business, but I care too much about this industry not to call a spade a spade.


Unknown said...

I like iPhone gadgetry almost as much as th next college kid, but a seductive body wrapped around a howling engine is what really captivtes me. After all, my fav modern car is the Ferrari F430 Scuderia - and it doesn't have a radio, or an iPhone jack, or even an interior that doesn't look like it was "welded by monkeys" (to quote Jeremy Clarkson) - but it has most definitely has soul, a lot of soul. Twitter-&-apple tech isn't everything..

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