A Plan to Save American Automakers

The Big Three are losing market share and there is a lot of controversy on the reasons of that and on how to help them. All these plans are proposed by specialists. But TRIZ teaches that sometimes that plan succeeds which is proposed by not specialists. Why would not try then ?

My plan is very simple: the Big Three have to own all their dealerships. Currently there is a conflict of interest between them. The manufacturers are interested in increasing reliability of their cars to make customers happy and win the competition. But dealership garages are not interested in cars that do not break down and require little or no maintenance. How would they make money then ?

That is why it is dealerships that are responsible for the impression that American cars are less reliable than Japanese or European. They do improper, unnecessary, and excessive repairs which lead to more break downs and eventually create an illusion of the inferior reliability of American cars.

In my opinion, the contemporary technology makes any car quite reliable. I drive a Chrysler minivan, which has more than 300,000 km on odometer and on which I travel all over America and see along the way a lot of Japanese and German cars broken down and left on the shoulder of the road in the middle of nowhere. The secret is that I do almost all repairs myself. If I had a hoist, I would have not gone to garages at all.

The reader may object: what is the difference between dealerships of American cars and Japanese/European ones ? Do they do better work, rip off less money, or damage cars to a lesser extend ? Probably not. Then why do people complain more on reliability of American cars and switch them for Japanese and European ?

This might be just a statistical effect. The thing is that people complain on reliability of all cars and switch Japanese and European for American too. But the market share of American cars is bigger. This means that more people have American cars, which implies that more people complain on them than on Japanese or European. That is why the flow of customers is from American cars to their competitors and not vise versa.

As long as America allows unlimited amount of foreign cars on its soil, the laws of statistics work against the dominance of the Big Three. The chorus of complains on American cars will definitely wane as soon as their market share dwindles to that of Japanese + European. Then the dynamic equilibrium will be attained.

How could the owning of dealerships help then ? It could slow down the process or even reverse it if Japanese/European automakers do not follow suit.

The downsides of the owning also have to be considered. Making avoiding unnecessary, improper, and excessive repairs the top priority of garages will hurt their profitability. They may become the least profitable divisions of car makers and may drag on their overall profitability. (Was not this the reason of farming dealerships out in the first place ?) However, the drag could be offset by higher sales due to the increased customer satisfaction.

If not, then we have a classical TRIZ contradiction: the cars makers have to own dealerships so that the reliability of their cars would not be compromised; and they have to not own dealerships so that their profits would not plunge. How to resolve it is an open challenge which cannot be solved by TRIZ . Anyone who finds a solution will be awarded the newly instituted Altshuller Prize established by Thoughts Guiding Systems Corporation.