US auto industry should reflect shift in car design

The state of auto manufacturing today has little connection with pomp and glitz.
Gone are the days of sleek, glitzy models posing next to sleek, glitzy new cars. Instead, carmakers from around the world are highlighting fuel economy, alternative fuels and affordability.

At the 2008 Detroit Auto Show, Mercedes Benz featured Sex and the City’s Kim Cattrall at the launch of the Vision GLK. Cattral touted the powerful design, trunk space and the prestige of the Mercedes name.

This year, at the New York Auto Show, the German automaker was instead fishing for feedback on whether the U.S. market was ready for a 4-cylinder diesel engine in a luxury car.

In its established luxury lines, Benz played up the low emissions and fuel efficiency as compared to other cars in its class.

The troubled General Motors brand featured CEO Fritz Henderson climbing out of a Fiat, implying a possible solution to its imminent bankruptcy. The Italian carmaker has been looking for a viable return to the American auto market for years.

Fiat has accepted the latest terms of the U.S. autos task force on its part of the Chrysler LLC merger. The two companies seem poised to merge, which would save 5,000 U.S. production jobs – according to a March 28 Reuters article by Kevin Krolicki and Gilles Castonguay – and provide Fiat with much needed small-car technology.

The U.S. auto industry needs to change, and the changes made by international companies follow a series of trends significant to students.

Green technology, reduced consumption of petroleum, in manufacture and as fuel, and less conspicuous consumption are hallmarks of changing perceptions domestically.

The auto market is important to the country’s health and the trends that govern it are clear indicators to consumer priorities and cultural shifts.

As future graduates, whether in the market for a car or a career, we would do well to keep an eye on the auto industry.

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