Lee Iacocca: Predict Change Where Possible

In the auto-industry, change is constant and for Detroit, the challenge is always figuring out what’s going to appeal to customers three years down the road. That is because production from design, research and fitting the plant for a production run takes a lot of time. Iacocca says that Ford and the others in the Big Three (GM and Chrysler) as well as smaller manufacturers are always designing cars 3 years in advance of their sale date even though consumer tastes may change drastically in that time.

Coming out with a product too early is never good, just as coming out with a product too late is equally bad. The spike in oil prices in 1979 was not predicted so the response of the Big Three was very late. In the auto-industry, the consumer has a major impact on whether a specific model will sell. In Detroit, cars cannot afford to lag too far behind consumer demand, or lag to far ahead of them. The myth was that car companies create the cars and then tell the consumer that they want to buy it. For Iacocca, the products have to be researched, Ford can only sell what customers are willing to buy.

This is a synopsis & analysis based on Iacocca: An Autobiography and other miscellaneous research sources. Enjoy.