In the country I call my own, America, innovation is supposed to reign supreme. The free market economy will produce the best products at the lowest prices. In that way, old, outmoded products will be replaced with modern, more efficient ones.
That is an America that doesn’t actually exist. In that America, the domestic car companies that recently were given billions of our tax dollars would have been out of business long ago. We’d all be driving sleek, efficient Japanese hybrids or (gasp!) electric automobiles.
In the real America, American automobile companies have been stifling ingenuity for at least the past four decades. Instead of spending their hard-won money on research and development, building the next super-selling car, they lobbied Congress to keep fuel efficiency down and to keep foreign car companies from importing their products. In short, they sought arrogantly to maintain the status quo. Companies designing automobiles were more concerned with maintaining immobility in the market instead of moving forward, an irony I’d savor if it wasn’t at the expense of the health of me and billions of people I happen to share the planet with.
The Big 3 spent billions of dollars over the years stagnating the market, telling themselves that Americans wanted to buy the cars they were making. Guess what happened? Nobody wants to buy their cars. But worry not for Chrysler and GM: they get our money anyway directly from our pockets, via the government. We can’t have these huge companies laying off hardworking Americans just because their corporate offices are composed of brain-dead business school dropouts who spend more time playing golf than considering what kind of car a person would lay down $25,000 to buy.
Flush with losses, Ford decides the best thing to do is blow it on a website. According to an ad I saw in the New Yorker, Ford is “see[ing] the future differently” by designing hybrid cars. Gosh, it seems like only yesterday the first hybrid car was sold in mass quantities to the public. How 12 years slips away so quickly.
Don’t make the mistake that I am in any way blaming Ford’s marketing department or those brave souls who had to design an ad campaign and website explaining how optimistic Ford is about its future. They had to work especially hard to convince the American public that we are either stupid or incredibly naive. A company so opposed to innovation for so long is now fighting for its very existence, and some poor web designer was given the task of telling us that Ford has suddenly changed! for the better!
Ford is, in its own words, “driving in the right direction,” but that metaphor is incorrect. They are being pushed, kicking and screaming, by an overly patient American public who they have continually let down time and time again.
In the same ad campaign, Ford bravely announces they will have plug-in vehicles by next year or so. This comes a mere 170 years after the first electric car was built (thank you, Scotland). We can’t say Ford didn’t spend a lot of time on design.
Thank you, Ford, for opening yourself to mockery and showing us all how out of touch the Big 3 car companies truly are. May you choke on your own exhaust.