Coming to America — The Global Auto Super-cycle Hits Home

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There is a better place. Far from Hades, free of hail and snow, Elysium beckons, a place as Homer wrote “breathes ever with a West wind that sings softly from the sea and gives fresh life to all men.” The Greek verb eleusô translates to being “relieved” or “released” from pain or troubles. Though many recorded visions have survived the times, Hesiod’s vision appeals most to those who seek solace when in the depths of losing someone they know to have been good and true. Hesiod, who lived somewhere near the same time of Homer, in the 7th or 8th century BC, wrote in his Works and Days of the deserving dead as those who “live untouched by sorrow in the Islands of the Blessed along the shore of deep swirling Okeanos, happy heroes for whom the grain-giving earth bears honey-sweet fruit flourishing thrice a year, far from the deathless gods, and Kronos rules over them; for the father of men and gods released him from his bonds. And these last equally have honor and glory.”

It would seem, however, that nothing in the afterlife is free. Being worthy of a place in heaven, or paradise as the Greeks called it, does not guarantee an eternity of peaceful rest. That bigger prize is rewarded by those left behind who are duty-bound to the departed. As professor of philosophy Joshua Mark wrote, breaching this social construct defines impiety. Keeping memories alive, especially those of simple, common scenes of life, “remind the living viscerally of who that person was in life, of who that person still was now in death, and to spark the light of continued remembrance in order that the ‘dead’ should live in bliss eternally. In ancient Greece death was defeated, not by the gods, but by the human agency of memory.” As life marches on, never forgetting the past requires we remember those individuals who keep that past alive.

But, can every past be kept alive? A demise of a different sort has some questioning the wisdom of the biggest thinkers in Detroit. Two trends have collided culminating in the risk that American-branded cars face extinction. Climate change is a lightning rod that’s put the internal combustion engine (ICE) squarely in its crosshairs. And yet, somehow, fuel efficiency and the loosest lending standards in industry history have driven a massive swing to trucks and sport utility vehicles at the expense of sedan sales. With General Motors now in a 10th day of strikes for the first time since 2007, it seems an appropriate time to step back and consider where we are in the global auto super-cycle.

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Danielle DiMartino Booth is CEO and Director of Intelligence at Quill Intelligence

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