Sitting here in Detroit, Michigan, you can make yourself crazy wondering whether the Big 3 automakers will ever figure it out. And when I think that while in Israel, I saw exactly 5 American made vehicles the entire time we were there, it's downright scary.
What can possibly overcome perceptions (and of course, in some cases, reality) that American cars are inferior? How can consumers ever be convinced that buying a Japanese or European vehicle isn't the way to go?
With great design. Consider the Chrysler 300, a sharply designed sedan that has turned the company's fortunes around. Hey, I traded in a Lexus to buy one, and I'm not alone. The 300 has spawned the Magnum, the new Charger, and a momentum return that has led to Daimler-Chrysler getting back on its feet. In fact, the Chrysler division is now outperforming the Mercedes branch.
And now it's happening again with the hapless Pontiac line. These guys can't stop misfiring. The G6 (remember how Oprah did that mass giveaway?) couldn't restart the brand. The new GTO is an insult to the classic '60s muscle car that inspired it.
But there's hope. And it all emanates from a hot design. The new Solstice - an affordable convertible sports car - hit the market, and the response has been excellent. We spotted this concept car a few years ago at the North American International Auto Show, and the real thing looks great. These babies turn heads.
(Word to marketing directors: this would be a great giveaway for the fall. It rocks, and it's cheap.)
It works in every business. Design, buzz, and good looks are what sell. When I thought about the Solstice, Milwaukee's new Hog came to mind. It debuted recently, and it's very strong on style, fun, and attitude. In an increasingly crowded and competitive market, we'll see how it sells. But in a tough environment, it sure can't hurt to look and sound cool.