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interview > eberhard > eberhard 14

Eberhard 14 (1:22)
Topic(s): Auto Industry / Car Culture
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Eberhard

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It seems pretty clear that the American car companies have not been particularly innovative, at least lately, but I don't think that has to do with the people. Within Ford, within General Motors, within Chrysler, there are people there who are incredibly bright and innovative. But they are in a company that has a structure about it and a way of doing things that forces them to behave a certain way. And I think it's also—how can I put this—the American car companies have found themselves a local maximum, a place where they can make lots of money selling giant SUVs and pick-up trucks and the like. And every time they try to step off that a little bit, you know, their profits go down and the business doesn't do very well. And even if there was another peak over here that was even higher for them, to get from here to there requires them to go through a valley and finding their way to this higher peak. And that's almost impossible for businesses to find their way how to do that.

But, you know, I hate to say that, you know, I'm smarter than the guys at General Motors and that these guys are idiots and don't know how to make cars, because I think that is not the case. The problem that they have at general motors is a very different problem than mine. Rick Wagner has to figure out how to sell, what is it, 1.8 million cars in America next year and 2 point some-odd million SUVs. And I have to figure out how to sell a few thousand cars. So we have a very different problem before us. I'll have his problem some day, maybe, but its not right now for sure.

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