Thursday, June 4, 2009

Rapid Change in the Auto Industry (of all places)

Change is accelerating. The automobile industry, which generally does not come to mind when you think about rapid change, is suddenly at the forefront of a revolution. In a short Newsweek article last month about the auto industry, it was predicted that “We are on the cusp of a period of technical innovation like the automobile industry has never seen... There will be more change in the next five to 10 years than there was in the last 100.” On the technical front, much of that discussion had to do with the change to an all electric drive chain, with a small gasoline engine just to recharge the battery. The fuel efficiency for such cars can approach 100 mpg. Interestingly, the Prius-style gas/electric hybrid, which is at the cutting edge of technology today, will be nothing more than a temporary phase soon to become obsolete according to this prediction.

This past Monday, another dramatic change rocked the auto world. I don't think most people fully appreciated how significant this event was, unless perhaps you live in the Detroit area. The 100+ year old General Motors company officially went bankrupt. The relatively new dotcom upstart Cisco replaces GM it in the Dow Jones Industrial Average. Welcome to the 21st century.

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