Leaders and Followers

The current credit crunch and ultimately gas prices are decimating a large segment of vehicles that are currently being offered by American companies to the public who right now are skittish at best when it comes to parting with their hard earned cash. The cash cows of yesteryear known as SUVs are on an even more rapid decline, with the more savvy public opting for a Toyota Prius, Honda Civic, Nissan Versa or other fuel sipping form of transport to combat the ever increasing cost of gas, in an economy that is teetering on recession.

For us in the Research and Development field all we can do is continue to model the visions that are offered hoping to hit a chord with the higher management who do have a pulse on today’s trends or do they?

My thoughts on this are, can the larger manufacturers especially ones that have relied heavily on SUVs for so long (GM, Ford, Chrysler) design and bring to market a desirable alternative that will satisfy a now pro-green consumer.

People right now demand that their vehicles offer good mileage and can automatically relate to hybrids because of this fact, even if they have to pay a premium for that privilege. If a desirable vehicle meets this level of expectation and is frugal on the gas consumption, without being a hybrid, such as the Scion Brand, Civic, Versa and such like, this would be an automatic second choice for people on less of a budget who could not afford the premium for a hydrid. These offerings by the Asian companies fit the bill and have reliability built in because they are not first generation vehicles and have been refined over time. If the American counterparts balance their portfolio with better offerings surely the brakes can be put on the rapid decline of these once proud companies.

What is needed is a succession of innovative vehicles to whet the palate of todays jaded buyers who need reminding that American design is still alive and it doesn’t have to be the biggest to be the best. Safety, build quality and style will sell these vehicles albeit in a smaller package but once again this decision is in the hands of upper management. Produce a vehicle that can go head to head with the best, forget the parts bin and be innovative, set the trends rather than follow then there will be a future.

We as sculptors ARE the conduit between fantasy and reality and all we need is that green light, the go ahead, couple this with a strong design and there’s no telling where it will go but at least it is a shot. We as sculptors are an integral part of the design process and not just design support so now is as good a time as any to work as a team and produce that winning product. NOW before it is too late.

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