During the keynote address at the 2009 Chicago Auto Show on Wednesday morning, Hyundai America CEO John Krafcik urged the automotive industry to implement revolutionary thinking to turn the industry around. Advising his peers to be more disciplined, Mr. Krafcik said that the industry must embrace fuel economy, limit executive salaries, end overindulgence and focus on consumer safety to change its poor public image.
While no other industry has had a greater impact than automotive on the health of the U.S. economy, “there is no other business with a bigger perception problem,” said Mr. Krafcik.
While you may not agree with all of Mr. Krafcik’s suggestions for change, we all can agree that the industry has a huge image problem. We tend to pin that problem on the manufacturers, but in truth it is a problem across the entire industry, including the executives, the unions, the suppliers and the dealers. As a result, we all need to heed Mr. Krafcik’s call to acknowledge our shortcomings and implement fundamental change as the best way to usher us into the next era of greatness in the global automotive industry.
As an interesting side note, Reuters reported that Hyundai was one of the few large automakers to post a sales increase in January, while the industry as a whole was off 37 percent.