George Will Interviews GM CEO — Let me Parse it for you


George Will Interviews GM CEO — Let me Parse it for you

Renowned columnist George Will sat down with Mary Barra, CEO of General Motors and they talked about car stuff and the future. Allow me to translate from Will speak to JVH speak.

The automobile industry is precariously poised between a glamorous past and a future as opaque as it was when Henry Ford supposedly said that if he had begun by asking customers what they wanted they would have answered “a faster horse.”

Isn’t all future opaque? Gee crystal balls may work in carnival tents, but with the exception of Moore’s law, (look it up) most pridictions made by so called futurists have been if not wrong, wildly off target.

The torrid romance that was America’s car culture has cooled (the percentage of 12th graders with a driver’s license has declined from 88 to 73 since 1978),

Perhaps, but they must be getting driving licenses sometime, since more cars were purchased last year than any time in history.  Is it possible that they are just putting it off. Like until they begin a family?

“This is a long-lead-time business,” says Barra, as she tries to peer over the horizon to develop products for a public that increasingly can work and shop without leaving home, and that decreasingly vacations

But gee, George, how many actually work without leaving home. If Barra can design cars that are attractive to these folks, perhaps retailers can attract them out of their houses and back into shopping centers. True, those centers won’t look like those of the 60’s, but will be destination locations where people go to be ‘wowed’ and entertained, not necessarily just to shop.

Barra foresees a fast-unfolding future of “zero crashes” (salvation through software: auto-crash fatality rates are rising for the first time in years, and 94 percent of crashes are caused by human error), “zero emissions” (zero from tailpipes, much from smokestacks in an all-electric future) and “zero congestion” (with more ride-hailing services and car-sharing fleets, less individual car ownership and less urban land devoted to parking lots).t

I note that the CEO of General Motors didn’t mention self driving vehicles at all. Zero crashes through driver assist gizmos to keep a driver alert and note when the car begins to drift. That makes a lot of sense.

Thanks to Astrid at for posting George’s column. Click on the Parknews link to read the entire thing.


Picture of John Van Horn

John Van Horn

One Response

  1. Not only are more cars being sold, but the amount of miles driven each year is increasing. According the the Department of Transportation 2016 set an all time record;

    Maybe a big part of that increase is because of teenagers not getting their licenses and the parents having to shuttle them around everywhere. If I have to take my kid to practice and then go back to get him in 2 hours, then I’ve doubled the mileage compared to him driving himself there and back.

    Maybe they should look at how many of these teenagers that are not getting their licenses are using a means of transportation “other” than the cars of friends and family that do have a drivers license. They should also dive a little deeper in to those statistics and take a look at the % of those with a drivers license as they get older, the increases are pretty dramatic.

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