Commentary: Welcome to 2018

2018 Toyota C-HR XLE
Photo by Randy Stern

Welcome to 2018!

As with every new year, the anticipation of new tidings and opportunities await. To make resolutions seem a bit aspirational, but how many of us stick to them? Many fall by the wayside on the third day of the year.

Goalmaking has always been an equal crapshoot. We all have goals, but how many of us meet them? If you stuck to them and meet them – congratulations!

Perhaps you see some trepidation in these first few words of the new year. It is not without some concern and merit. There is some fear in the air, but hopefully not enough to set down some goals with some flexibility and reality behind them.

How I see 2018 is in a state of waiting. Waiting for what could transpire out of Washington over the course of the year. Without getting into ideological discussions or political ranting, I am very concerned that any move that would affect this work will have an affect upon how I do this job.

For example, if the North American Free Trade Agreement is terminated or majorly altered, this could have a long-term affect on the automotive industry. How? This is an elephant in the room that may signal new manufacturing strategies that could go either way with the USA's neighbors and other trade partners. On a similar note, the United Kingdom's exit from the European Union could also create a trade offset that would have long-term ramifications upon the industry.

NAFTA enabled the automotive industry to diversify its manufacturing base, though it was done through the loss of jobs in this country. The result of the NAFTA rengotiation could also create a tougher atmosphere when covering this industry – or not. I cannot predict either way.

Despite a lot of controversy on the new tax law, we almost saw the end of credits for electric vehicle and plug-in hybrid purchases. The reality of electrification in this industry is something we no longer can ignore. The desirability of Tesla's products is still strong, while it is about to face fierce cometition from many comers.

Yet, I am not sure how quickly mass acceptance of electric/plug-in hybrid vehicles will be at a point where they will force public and private entities to step up plans on improving the power delivery grid and public charging infrastructure beyond current levels. The take on these vehicles have not reached that point to even consider jumping ahead on these projects, let alone a mass push towards a 48-volt automotive electrical infrastructure on almost every vehicle sold around the world.

There are many other elephants in the room that should be recognized, but this is not the place to talk about them. Not without provoking segments of this readership that either want to talk about them or want to exploit them either way for ideological gain.

The work has to continue, but how? Will any of the drama from the political realm affect this business? It could in various ways. Divulging these scenarios is a lot more energy that would be spent on more positive pursuits.

Being positive about any outlook helps to create goals. These goals should always acknowlege risk and take in consideration a level of variables that could either fulfill or not meet them. This is why they should take in consideration the reality of the time and the capacity to at least try to achieve them.

This is why I do not wish to make my goals public right now. I believe that a year should be approached with flexibility and a fluid manner. What comes your way could be good or bad, but you have to take the good with the bad to live a balanced and healthier life.

This is actually how I will approach this year. Granted, I am committed to working the Chicago Auto Show and the Twin Cities Auto Show this year. Everything else is open to anything that will come my way. That also includes the selection of vehicle subjects you will see on this site and on other publications that I write for.

I welcome the new year with open arms and mind. Let the games begin…

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