The Auto Industry Is Running Out of Gas

The Auto Industry Is Running Out of Gas

America’s love affair with cars is losing its steam.

As city living makes a comeback and new transportation options emerge, the appeal of buying a new car fades. After decades of growth and record years, auto sales may have reached a peak or will get there soon.

The auto industry is trying to prepare itself for an inevitable decline and is investing in mobility services and self-driving cars. This worldwide trend marks the end of an era and the beginning of a quest for the next disruptive innovation.


Video Spotlight: Peak Car?


This post is based on a Bloomberg article, Car Troubles: This is What Peak Car Looks Like, by K. Naughton and D. Welch, February 28, 2019; and the YouTube video, Peak Car?, by Financial Times, January 26, 2014. Image source: Ionut Iordache/Getty Images

Discussion Questions:

1. What factors have contributed to the decline in private car sales?

Guidance: Factors include increasing numbers of people migrating to large cities where cheaper and more convenient transportation options abound; higher car prices; scarcity and cost of parking; young people’s dwindling interest in driving; and a growing elderly population for whom driving has become risky and stressful.

2. Continue reading

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Diamonds at Rock-Bottom Prices

Diamonds at Rock-Bottom Prices

February 21, 2019

World-famous diamond company, De Beers, attempts to put competitors in the budding lab-grown diamond business out of work by drastically undercutting their prices.

High quality lab grown diamonds look identical to the real thing, but they offer a special appeal to some consumers, especially Millennials, who want stones that are obtained in ethically responsible and sustainable ways.

Diamonds grown in the lab also sell for substantially less.  Whereas a mined one-carat diamond might carry a $6,000 price tag, a one-carat lab-grown stone averages $4,200.

However, De Beers prices its Lightbox lab-grown line at an average $800 per carat, hoping to further differentiate lab-grown diamonds from “real” diamonds to preserve their status and appeal and also to drive the competition out of business.


Video Spotlight: Are lab-grown diamonds here to stay? (video is included in the article)


This post is based on The Star Online article, Lab-grown diamonds are forever too!, no author given, January 26, 2019; and the Yahoo Finance article, Lab-grown diamonds will survive Big Diamond’s attempt to kill them, startup says, by Zack Guzman, January 14, 2019. Image source: © McGraw-Hill Education/Charles D. Winters.

Discussion Questions:

1. Why do some customers prefer lab-grown diamonds? Continue reading

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Boeing’s New Quality Transformation Program: Will It Fly?

Boeing’s New Quality Transformation Program: Will It Fly?

February 19, 2019

Will Boeing’s new “Quality Transformation” program fly?

Boeing is revamping quality inspection processes and plans to eliminate up to 900 quality inspector jobs over the next two years.  The plan involves mechanics doing more checks of their own work, rather than using inspectors to verify accuracy.  In addition, automated processes or tools make mechanics’ work simpler, more accurate, and faster, further reducing the number of inspections needed.  Another key to the program is using sampling rather than inspecting every job for accuracy.

In December, however, Boeing’s sampling process indicated that one job category failed to meet its 95% standard, with only 93% of the sampled tasks being done correctly. Additionally, some unionized quality inspectors are concerned that quality is being compromised and that Boeing may be pressuring inspectors to make it look like the new processes are doing the job even if they aren’t.

This post is based on the Seattle Times article, Boeing’s move toward fewer inspectors is questioned following quality control audit, by Dominic Gates, February 1, 2019; and the Herald Net article, Boeing revamps quality control: More high tech, fewer humans, also by Dominic Gates, January 22, 2019. Image source: Monty Rakusen/Getty Continue reading

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