Dave Leggett | 17 April 2007
Drove out to Auburn Hills today for a couple of meetings. It’s business as usual as far as possible for people there and that’s how it should be. They are keeping abreast of all the speculation in the media though and I guess that’s only natural. As I told them, the media will have a field day with something like this. Very few people actually know what’s going on.
But one way or another Chrysler will carry on. It’s not as if it is with the administrators or has turned into a complete basket case with no value. It’s a matter of who is going to be in charge and what their preferences may be.
The DC headquarters at Auburn Hills is quite something. I’ve been there before, but every time I visit the sheer scale of the place strikes me. There are around 11,000 people working there and it’s a mini town in its own right. Quite phenomenal.
One uncomfortable question: do people across America care about the fate of Detroit as it tries to save itself? If you are sitting comfortably on the west coast, Toyota or Honda on the driveway, is the plight of distant Detroit’s auto manufacturers something that you would care about? I think it perhaps should be, but I’m not an American.
Fascinating to reflect on the psyche of this amazing country and how different it seems to be from that of Europe. I’m not actually making a big value judgement on that. America’s economy is huge, diverse and more flexibly minded than Europe’s. Things move fast. People adapt quickly, get on to the next opportunity. There’s not much nostalgia or sentimentality for the past (and the US is, remember, still a young country). That mentality has served America well.
But I wonder what Detroit’s situation would be today if the French ran the US government? In terms of the way societies and economies operate, maybe a blend of the American freewheeling liberal way with a bit of European collectivism thrown in would yield some kind of happy medium. Most (more?) people happy most of the time, the adverse effects of economic change managed rather than left to the free market. Or is that a rather Euro-centric view?
Okay, that’s enough of that. Meetings at Ford WHQ and GM's technical centre at Warren tomorrow. Steak diner on the cards for later.
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