Port Elizabeth of Yore: Rise and Fall of the Car Industry

Just as the slump and ultimate decline in the wool industry in the late nineteenth century made the future economic prospects of Port Elizabeth bleak, so too does the motor vehicle industry’s relocation to the economic hub of South Africa portend a grim future for the town. 

After the booming nineteen fifties and sixties, the seventies awoke to new realities which the City Fathers had not contemplated: the decline of its manufacturing base. This process was ineluctable as the vortex of demand in Gauteng sucked manufacturers ever inward. Far from its market, aspersions were cast on Port Elizabeth’s manufacturing credentials. Instead of adapting to this reality, it persevered with the previous one. Simply put, its strategy should have been a focus on economic activities decoupled from Gauteng such as tourism, medicines manufacture and development, movie making, technology development et al. 

In retrospect, the stages of development of the motor vehicle industry in Port Elizabeth are now at an end. Hence it allows one to analyse dispassionately it’s still warm corpse. 

This blog deals with its stages of development as a requiem mass is held after the demise of yet another motor manufacturing icon, General Motors, at the age of 95 years. 

General Motors is a fitting metaphor of this process and is replete with all these elements.

Main picture: General Motors’ factory

Continue reading

Japanese Economic Malaise: What should Shinzo Abe do?

A Personal View – April 2014

Six decades ago Japan surrendered after an atomic bomb obliterated Nagasaki. It convinced Emperor Hirohito that fighting to the last man, woman & child would be calamitous for the Japanese.

A new war commenced; economic growth with industrialists such as Marita Akio of Sony at the forefront. Her economy was export driven with vehicle manufacturers such as Toyota together with the electronics producers comprising the battering ram.

Continue reading

The Men who Built America – DVD

The chronicle of the rise of the Titans who built the key pillars of Industrial America

Rating: 5 out of 5

This History Channel documentary deals with the key individuals who single-handedly built the key pillars of Industrial America – steel, railroads, oil, finance & ultimately the motor car.

Prior to their rise, America which was recovering from the devastating effects of Civil War, was still not industrialised but within 30 years of unbridled capitalism, was converted into a worldwide power house & incipient super power.

In spite of their reputations as the poster children of uncaring capitalism, the motto should read “honour to whom honour is due”. Not to be held in thrall but rather as an acknowledgement of their achievements while recognizing their frailties. This quintet comprised Vanderbilt, Carnegie, Rockefeller, JP Morgan & Ford. Their signature trait was an intense focus

Continue reading