Spring 2014 Texts

I am busy setting up speaker visits on campus and visits to companies and similar events in Detroit. Meanwhile, here are the texts we’ll use:

Heitmann, John and Morales, Rebecca H. (2014). Stealing Cars: Technology and Society from the Model T to the Gran Torino. Johns Hopkins University Press. Vlasic, Bill (2011). Once Upon a […]


Four intensive weeks – when we have a speaker on campus we likely meet morning, lunch, afternoon and dinner. Detroit trip: we will leave early Sunday 4 May and return very late Friday 9 May. Cost: The fee for this class is $700.

That covers transportation (rental cars plus gas), lodging (5 nights double […]


Paul Traub’s presentation for us last week at the Chicago Fed Detroit Branch noted the divergence between the price of natural gas and petroleum (diesel, gasoline). Furthermore, he argued that this differential won’t be arbitraged away. (See a blog by Ed Dolan on the impact on the market from increased exports.)

So what of the […]

Costs in the Japanese auto industry

…it’s not just OEMs…

Monday I was at the award ceremony for the Automotive News PACE Supplier of the Year competition, for which I’ve been a judge for the past 19 years; more on that in a later post. On Friday (19 April) I spoke on the Japanese auto industry at an UMTRI conference in […]

Economics 244 website: Spring 2013

Huntley Room 321, 10:10-11:05 and 1:20pm-3:25pm, Monday – Friday.

I’ve linked this site to the Autos and Economics site on Google’s blogspot. We have 3 on-campus speakers, David Ruggles, Bill Cosgrove and Charles Tomm. We’ll visit a local dealership (Staunton) and a local factory (Roanoke). Then there’s Detroit, from the Heidelberg Project and […]

auto industry picking up

Smitka and Ruggles are keeping busy with auto industry functions. The posts of Ruggles reflect on occasion discussions at one or another specialized industry conference – publications in auto dealership finance and so on make a goodly part of their revenue from running events that bring vendors and industry participants together. [We really ought to […]

New Media, New Marketing

Jack Poor, Guest Post Which media most affects consumer behavior in the Automobile purchase cycle? With the explosion of new and different media options today, it is timely to consider which media platforms consumers are crediting with influencing their automotive buying patterns. In conjunction with The Futures Company (formerly the famed Yankelovich Research company), the […]

JDPA Quality: Interpreting Correctly

…be it 71 or 149 defects per car, purchasers’ experience is identical: 1 defect… In terms of quality, we are fortunately decades away from 1980, when I bought my first new car. My Toyota had problems almost from day one. The paint peeled, the transmission broke, and over time other things went wrong. But at […]

JDPower Quality Ranking and Statistical significance

…is JDPower more reliable than Republican pollsters?… JDPower’s latest quality survey reports a gradual (but over time substantial) improvement in vehicles sold in the US, averaging 126 customer-reported defects per 100 vehicles, versus 216 for 2007. That recent vehicles are better than those of a decade ago matches casual observation of new and used cars. […]

Toyota as Number One

…remember Japan as Number One?… I’m just back from a meeting of the Japan Foundation American Advisory Board, where part of the discussion was on the ups and downs of the field, such as high enrollments into the mid-1990s from those approaching the region in an instrumental way. Do you remember a prominent book of […]