Automation and high-tech factories. During the first half of the 1980s, U.S. auto makers spent billions trying to solve quality and productivity problems by replacing workers with robots and flexible automation. It started going terribly wrong by 1986.
Technology transfer from aerospace. Fueled by GM’s $5 billion purchase of Hughes Aircraft in 1985, this trend was going to jump start advanced technology in vehicles. It was a bust.
Outsourcing. It was a major buzzword in 1987, not as a means of offloading employees, but as a way to keep up with rapidly advancing technologies in electronics, seating and braking systems, among others.
Insourcing. In 2003, recalls and quality issues frayed relationships between auto makers and suppliers – especially at Ford. It became the year insourcing was back in style.
Plastic cars and trucks. Another grand notion to come out of the 1980s and early 1990s. The plastic-body-panel craze started with GM's Fiero and APV minivans, but other auto makers launched huge plastic projects, too. Then they all fizzled.
Covisint. The Internet bubble drove many bold ideas and Covisint was one of them. A joint venture among the Detroit Three, Renault and Nissan to purchase parts and materials, it was expected to revolutionize automotive purchasing. It did not.
Hydrogen. In 2002, GM, DaimlerChrysler, and others predicted there would be thousands of affordable fuel-cell powered vehicles on the road by 2010.
My take on the biggest non-events of the last 25 years. Let me know what other boondoggles I should have included.
Sponsored Introduction Continue on to (or wait seconds) ×