DETROIT -- Dealers, suppliers and auto executives must use the crises at the Detroit 3 to communicate the industrys economic importance to the nation, Tim Leuliette, CEO of partsmaker Dura Automotive Systems, said.
At the Automotive News World Congress here last month, Leuliette called for an umbrella association to push for a national manufacturing policy and educate the public on the millions of jobs and community contributions tied to the auto business.
Leuliette dubbed his proposed association the American Automotive Industry Association. The group would represent the interests of the car builders, suppliers, dealers, labor and other stakeholders, he said.
Internally, the association would promote a common product creation process to speed and reduce the cost of bringing new products to market, Leuliette said.
The group would be an open-source information portal that would use the Internet to connect the automakers, suppliers, associations, universities, government agencies, unions and others, he said.
Leuliette said the Obama administration could be asked to help fund this collaborative, next-generation management and product development process.
This is no pipe dream. There is a group working on this strategy right now, he said.
Leuliette said the American movie industry faced a similar crisis in the 1960s when nudity and violence in films began to erode consumer confidence in the product.
The industry organized and found a forceful spokesman in Jack Valenti to convince Congress and regulators that the industry could police itself, Leuliette said.
The result was a voluntary rating system that labeled content G for general audiences, M for mature audiences, R for restricted and, finally, X.
The auto industry faces a similar challenge in demonstrating that it has made strides in bringing forward the kinds of high-quality, fuel-efficient and reliable products that the public can support, he said.
A good crisis is a terrible thing to waste, Leuliette said. Lets not waste this one.