Canceling Elon

Elon Musk stands tall in my pantheon of heroes. When I see Elon in the news I pay attention. Recently President Joe Biden and White House had an electric car day. The White House’s intention is to have half the cars sold in 2030 be electric. Joe brought in industry leaders from Ford, GM and the newly formed Stellaintis. The photo op of the day was of President Biden driving a Jeep.

Whiskey Tango Foxtrot? If the previous president had pulled a stunt like this he, well, would not have been treated any differently than he would have been any other day. Yet the media was happy to portray the current president driving a Jeep on electric car day. If I am not mistaken Jeeps get really poor fuel economy. This is the way we save the future?

People debate how useful electric cars are in saving the future. In my view the is a cost benefit analysis, and eventually electric cars will play a prominent role. I could go on about the advantages of the technology, yet there are others who are more qualified. People like Elon Musk, who actually built half a million electric vehicles last year. I am sure Elon knows a thing or two about the challenges of building electric vehicles. An even more interesting speaker would have been Herbert Diess, CEO of Volkswagen. He could have talked about the misguided bet on diesels in the fight against carbon.

Left out were other industry leaders for electrification, Nissan and Honda who pioneered the Leaf and Insight. True the invited GM pead the revolution with the EV1, yet the emphasis was on Jeep. There are many EV startups in this country making off road EVs. None of the new startups were hilighted either. Only the traditional big three were represented. The big three, once the backbone of the American automobile manufacturing now account for about 41 percent of the market. Their share of the market is diminishing. When it comes to winners and losers, the focus was on the losers.

Of course Ray Curry was there. Ray is the newly elected leader of the UAW. Ray was given a prominent role on electric car day. Ray promised that union members are ready to build electric cars. The open secret was, only unionized manufacturers were invited. Now Ray may be a nice guy. He has only had the job a few months. Historically unions have been anti change. Maybe he can change their attitude. Unions are a big reason the role of the big three has diminished. In my view unions are basically parasitic. Resistant to change they stifle innovation.

I will GM credit for the innovation of the EV1. While the EV1 may have been flawed as a product, it was certainly innovative. GM took a lot of heat for crushing the EV1. The story was they did not want to be responsible for for providing spare parts for only 1000 cars for the mandatory 10 years. I wonder if union rules had any influence in their decision scrap the EV1. Adaptability to change is not a attribute of unionism. What are the union rules for small production runs.

Of course that was a long time ago. This is today, and Ray is large in charge. Of course I will make one small suggestion to Ray. When it comes to innovation, invite the innovators. Sure it is a culture change, Curry has been handed immense political power. As much as Joe is against innovators and innovation, I hope Ray will differ and embrace competitive innovation.


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