We were due for a little correction of the recent corporate credit bubble.
The auto industry is not just down…for a couple of months there, it was at a complete standstill. Entire companies went months without projects (I know because I saw it)…and I mean literally zero cash coming in. A superstitious person might connect this to the death of Sergio Marchionne at Chrysler, which served as a sort of finale to a crescendo of chaotic behavior at the Big 3. Not even the Big 3 themselves knew their project plans for even the next few months, when they’re supposed to be making concrete plans three and four years out so that work can be disseminated throughout the industry in a dizzying spiderweb of build contracts.
Based on what I’ve seen of our capabilities in this country and the rapid downward trend in average IQ and the quality of education at all levels (with the possible exception of technical education at 2-year colleges and trade schools, which are actually still pretty damn good), we will probably lose the ability to design, manufacture, and assemble a full automobile within 30 years. This will be primarily due to failures in long supply chains to keep up with demands for Asian-tier price and quality, due to low trust and incompetence. We’ll still be able to produce a lot of components where the process can be understood by a single, highly intelligent and obsessive project manager, so there will be a future for tier suppliers like in Brazil and Mexico. But it will take us a while to learn how to be a 2nd-world country, whereas places like China have already had a lot of practice and they have learned to put out an insane number of cars without any individual person giving a shit about the end product.
This will show up first in non-truck Big 3 sales, because we only build and sell trucks at a profit here (and a good profit at that). The consolidation of brands and models and such may simply continue until we are no longer competing apples-to-apples with Toyota and Kia, and only sell luxury monster trucks to high bourgeoisie who will have benefited from increased income disparity (presuming that trend also continues). But, as our society continues to neglect the problem of trust we will begin to see (quicker than expected, I think) unreliable quality of these luxury monster trucks become the rule, rather than exceptions, so that more and more parts are outsourced to other countries to belay the problem as long as possible. Eventually, American assembly plants will stagnate for lack of faith in their finished products.
I’m not sure how this will affect the future of electric vehicles or self-driving cars because I don’t understand the manufacture of batteries or the design of AI. Frankly, I think the demand for self-driving cars is 100% inspired by the Georgia Guidestones, because nobody I’ve talked to wants to be anywhere near those abominations. But the supply side of AI is robust to collapse because all you need is one excitable thard in a tree stump with a 10-year-old Dell laptop and a high-speed internet connection. So it’s difficult to predict how that will shake out. And if you’d told me the advances we’d make in electric vehicle technology ten years ago I would have laughed at you.