The maverick approach

Should the US auto industry go bankrupt, Mark Cuban has some suggestions for the days after:

1. The bankruptcy court puts the designs of all parts, patents and technology of all big-3 cars into the public domain so no one ever has to worry about getting their car fixed. Someone will always be able to build parts or systems for all makes and models. In fact, making the designs open source could possibly lead to better parts, car designs and repair solutions.

2. The bankruptcy court assigns to their boards someone who has a clue about how to cut costs and manufacture in a cut throat environment. Michael Dell and Andy Grove come to mind.

3. The court creates a warranty fund, much like the FDIC, where every car sold has some dollar amount go into the fund to pay for warranty service for a maximum of up to 3 years. In the event the Big 3 can’t survive out of bankruptcy, repairs on the cars for models sold while the companies are in bankruptcy become a tax credit, with the treasury being reimbursed for these repairs from the fund. (btw, I hate to do something using tax credits, so if anyone else has a better suggestion on how to deal with and pay for warranties…)

Buyers who obsess over warranty coverage, and I’m sure there are plenty such, aren’t going to be impressed by three-year protection while Hyundai/Kia are still offering ten.

Still, I’m intrigued by the idea of open-source engineering for cars, though I admit I’m somewhat bemused by the possibility of anybody’s actually making any money off of it. And the easiest bits (I presume) to engineer, the computerized engine-control systems, would perforce become heavily tweakable, much to the dismay of Thou-Shalt-Not types like the California Air Resources Board.

1 comment

  1. fillyjonk »

    10 December 2008 · 9:16 am

    As crazy as I think Cuban is, idea #1 is a good one.

    In fact, having that in place BEFORE any kind of rescue/bankruptcy/whatever plan would probably reassure customers – I know if I were looking for a new car at this stage, the Big Three would look very unappealing right now, because I’d fear I’d not be able to get my Chevy Whatever or Ford Not-Quite-POS serviced in a couple years’ time – and might even lead to a few more sales.

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