By Jim Taylor, Editor MACS ACtion magazine
Are we reliving the good old days? Stay with me here; companies come and go, particularly in the automotive world. A quick glance at the list of lost marques and fallen flags reveals these North American names. Some you probably know but depending on your age, to others you’ll say “who’s that?”
Start with Auburn, Cord, Cunningham, DeSoto, Duesenberg, Edsel, Franklin, Frazer, Hudson, and Hupmobile. Then Kaiser, Lagonda, Marmon, Mercer, Moon, Nash, Oakland, and Packard. Have you seen a Paige-Detroit, Pierce Arrow, Rambler, Reo, or Simplex lately? Don’t forget Stanley, Studebaker, Stutz, Tucker, White, Willys, or Winton as well. And that’s without the recently deceased Plymouth, Pontiac, Saturn, and Hummer.
Some of these names date back to the earliest days of the motorcar while others came late to the scene. Most companies sprang from existing manufacturers of other products, often steam engines, machinery, sewing machines, wire or wagons, bird cages or bicycles. All made a product, some with quality and reliability while others missed the mark completely. Some won races or set records; others failed their task miserably.
Some of these companies collapsed financially, others were run into the ground by poor management, some were bought out and others stood helpless in the face of war or macro-economics, but none survive today.
Now consider this list: Amp, Aptera, Better Place, Cecomp, Coda, CT&T, e-Wolf (Alpha-2), Fisker, GEM, Liberty, Lightning GT, Luxgen, Meyers Motors, Modec, Phoenix Motorcars, Protoscar, Smith, Spark, Tesla, Think, Venture, Visionary Vehicles, Wheego, Yo-Avto, Zap, Zenn, Zero.
You probably recognized a couple names on that list, too and now you see where this is going. They are all active or proposed makers of some sort of electric vehicle although not all are North American. Some products are fully roadworthy cars, others are low-speed “town only” vehicles and some are little more than big golf carts. Many have actual product available now, while others show only a prototype and still others aren’t much more than paper companies with a snazzy website.
It takes more than vision to produce a viable product. We wonder which of the EV makers will be on the list of lost marques in five to twenty years. Which will succumb to the “good product but bad management” syndrome? Which will develop a stunning new technology or an advanced manufacturing method? Whose name will your grandkids recognize?
History always repeats; it’s just somebody else’s turn.
Note: On the day this written, word was received that Think Global of Norway had filed bankruptcy for the fourth time in 20 years (and may have to liquidate to pay off its debt) and that SAAB of Sweden had temporarily shut down production because it lacked financing to pay its workers.
When having your mobile A/C system professionally serviced, insist on proper repair procedures and quality replacement parts. Insist on recovery and recycling so that refrigerant can be reused and not released into the atmosphere.
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