The Automotive Industry's Moneyball Moment

Today the people at the Oscars announced that Moneyball, among other films, is up for Best Picture. Since my brain thinks about cars every 7 seconds, I soon found myself daydreaming about what the Moneyball solution, rather, the method of building a baseball team, would look like if applied to the car business. Explaining this will require me to divulge some stuff about the movie, so consider yourself spoiler alerted. 

First thing, the Moneyball method is a simple logic for choosing which players should make up a baseball team. By choosing only the players who are most likely to score points (based on their on-base-percentage), the Oakland Athletics were able to play record breaking baseball, and ultimately the method was adopted by many other teams across the sport. It gets more complex than that, but that is the essential nugget I want to pull out. 

Moneyball looks at baseball from a long-term perspective, and leverages the lengthy season and vast amounts of statistical data as tools to fine-tune the team "'til she's running on all 8," as my father would say. What is key to the Moneyball method is that it relies on hard data in ways it until recently, hadn't been used before. The point was to achieve a single goal; winning the last game of the season. 

To me, it isn't clear that the automotive industry understands it has a last game of the season. This is an industry that has been playing the game for more than a century, with various brands coming and going but surprisingly few of them disrupting the industry so vastly that everyone takes an abrupt left. The closest attempt at such a feat is undoubtedly the Nissan Leaf or the Tesla Roadster, neither of which is seeing significant sales. The Chevy Volt was selling at  about a thousand vehicles a month, until that whole exploding battery thing happened. 

From Yugo to Delorean (which is going electric), and many lesser known attempts, few small brands have overtaken American roads, and if there's a grand innovation to come to the automotive industry I don't think it's been discovered yet. As a car lover, I hope I'll recognize this when it happens, because right now I have no idea what it is.

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