Over the weekend you may have caught the NFL Draft on television. Think of it as a televised meat market with football teams all vying for the perfect cut to complete their menu. Unlike the NBA which drafts on a lottery system, the order of the NFL draft is based on a team’s performance from the last season. It’s simple, the better your team did, the later in the draft your team picks. That’s why the embarrassingly bad Colts got the top pick in the draft.
Money moves the NFL, but there’s a salary cap meaning teams can’t spend more than a certain amount of money on their players. This keeps the sport competitive and in a perfect world, every team in the hunt for a Super Bowl – it’s perfect competition (holler at the econ scholars). Obviously coaching dynamics and player chemistry all play a major role in team success, but the salary cap keeps uber-rich owners from going off on a spending spree. Otherwise, the Dallas Cowboys might become the next New York Yankees of football.
Aside from government regulations on safety or fuel efficiency, the automotive world is a free-for-all. Some companies have more money to produce beautiful, safe and luxurious cars. Is it fair that great and under appreciated companies like DeLorean Motor Company can go out of business because they can’t compete against the big boys like Toyota and GM? Without getting into an economic debate about the invisible hand and/or communism policies, let’s imagine something.
Let’s imagine there was a governing body over the automotive industry similar to the NFL. Auto companies would be like NFL teams and draftees would be the cars or trucks. Each year designers and engineers would craft new vehicles and then let the auto companies duke it out on a draft day. What will be the result? Companies that underperformed the year before have a chance to draft what are sure-to-be best sellers. More importantly, cars will be faster, more efficient and sexier. Bob Lutz wrote a book about how the pencil pushers in the auto business have killed the automobile. They focus on the facts, figures and stats instead of designing a car with soul.
The draft will save automobile design from mediocrity. Designers and engineers would have free reign over their vehicles. They could work without what Lutz calls “bean counters” hovering over their shoulders. This would leave the designers and engineers doing what they do best – building awesome cars. This would also leave the business folk to do what they do best – sell cars with awesome ads. Auto shows that travel the world could become auto drafts and a new spectator sport. Las Vegas would put odds on the vehicles they think each brand will draft.
They’re are some potential problems that are more complicated than originally anticipated. What happens to the automobile brands, the unions and the thousands of employees? There would still need to be some direction for the designers too, otherwise they’ll be cars like this driving around. Then again, if this was a perfect world, the Cadillac Sixteen would have been built and the WRC would be popular in America.