So in a comment in my last blog, Hawks N Cards asked for my take on the possible bailout of Detroit's Big 3 automakers.
I actually think NASCAR is part of the reason Detroit is a sinking ship. For all intents and purposes, NASCAR has served as a marketing arm of the automakers, but the old mantra "win on Sunday, sell on Monday" hasn't held true for many years now.
Manufacturers had been losing identity gradually over the years, but the COT threw the knockout punch. The new car has rendered manufacturer identity null and void. Now in the Sprint Cup world, aside from decals, a Toyota looks like a Chevy looks like a Ford looks like a Dodge.
From and R&D perspective there's little room to innovate based on NASCAR's strict specs.
It used to be true that NASCAR fans were a loyal bunch but there sure are a growing number of Toyotas sporting Johnson, Gordon and Earnhardt stickers.
It's great that Earnhardt Jr. drivers a Chevy and all, but consumers aren't blindly loyal anymore. Especially in these economic times, the buying public is going to flock to a more fuel efficient product that sells for less. Hello? Anybody in Detroit listening?
Now don't get me wrong, while the cars may not looking anything like a Chevy, Ford or Dodge, having their badge associated with a top-tier talent is still a strong form of advertising. But is it enough to offset the costs?
And pulling out completely could have its harsh negatives as well, such as allowing rivals to gain a stronger foothold with the NASCAR crowd. But is it addition by subtraction? Toyota was able to thrive without being involved in NASCAR until just recently.
NASCAR is just a small piece of the pie -- but I believe a piece nonetheless -- for why Detroit finds itself in this mess. However, mismanagement and complete lack of foresight are the biggest reasons for the U.S. automakers failures.
Ever hear of the law of supply and demand? How many gas guzzling SUVs did they think the American public needed?
I'm thinking (hoping?) that when the United States climbs out of this economic abyss, it will be better for it. Unfortunately, it's a greedy world we live in and people will try to milk a good idea for all its worth rather than build upon and grow that idea. Without innovation even the best product is destined to eventually fade away.
As for what the future holds for Chevrolet, Ford and Dodge in NASCAR, I'm guessing (key word -- guessing) that Dodge eventually throws in the towel, while Chevy and Ford pressure NASCAR to give the new car manufacturer body stylings so that they actually resemble a street car again. Sort of what they were trying to do with a renovated Nationwide car before the bottom fell out of the U.S. economy.