interview > lovins > lovins 25
Lovins 25 (1:45)
Topic(s): Auto Industry / Future Transport / Government
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The auto industry is the most complex undertaking in the
industrial history of the world. It's incredibly complicated and you
would expect that changing its culture is like turning a super tanker—it just
takes a long time. It takes a real grasp of the difference between leadership
and management and it takes a fundamental cultural change for which they may or
may not have time. I'm hoping the American automakers survive this gale
of creative destruction, as the Austrian economics Schumpeter calls it, that is
sweeping through their industry. It's the kind of gale that knocks down
old industries and new ones rise from the rubble. But this market is going to
change the managers' minds or change the managers, whichever comes first.
And I think they're starting to be much more open to new possibilities.
I was recently in Detroit and talked to heads of advanced
engineering for each of the big three and I asked, I thought the most
conservative of them, what he would do if he became convinced that there was a
fundamentally new way to make cars which would be strategically advantageous
but would require them to abandon their steel stamping capability. And to my
delight, he said, "We would adopt it immediately and fearlessly,"
which is the right answer. When you have such a disruptive technology, you have
to do it first, before your competitors have figured it out and you have to
sell them your steel stamping equipment to slow them down. But I'm pretty
sure he would not have given me that answer six or twelve months earlier. I
think gazing into the abyss has concentrated the mind wonderfully.
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Created April 2008