Have you ever stopped to consider that the automotive industry is one of the largest industries in the world? If you take all the people in the U.S. employed by car manufacturers, parts suppliers and car dealers, as well as those whose businesses are reliant on the distribution channel, over seven million people – or about one in 45 Americans – earn their living in the industry. On an economic basis, if the automotive industry were a nation, it would be the sixth-largest country in the world. In the U.S. alone, it is responsible for 3.5 percent of the GDP.
For an industry so significant, surprisingly little is publicly known. For instance, many would be surprised to learn that Kia and Hyundai vehicles have a defect rate of 115 percent. That is, on average every single Kia and Hyundai vehicle that comes off the assembly line has more than one defect – and a defect so material that it is sufficient to mandate a federal recall of the vehicle.
Other areas are just as provoking. Electric cars, for instance, are all the rage. Yet, few have an understanding that the lithium necessary to power electric vehicles is a precious Earth metal that has limited supply. Lithium can only be found in four countries in commercial quantities: Chile, Argentina, Australia and China. So, our race to rid ourselves of reliance on the 12 OPEC oil-producing countries has placed us in a position of becoming beholden to an oligopoly of four. A replacement for lithium as a power source for electric cars will undoubtedly be found – it has to be – but the point remains that little is known about an industry that impacts us so greatly.
In 2010, I began a journalistic undertaking that would be eight years in the making. That year, I began authoring a collection of articles on the automotive industry that provoked thought, stirred the conscience and asked questions that insiders didn't want asked. The result of the effort was 101 published articles, exposing the secret nuisances of one of the most powerful industries in the world.