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25 Ways to Jump-Start the Auto Business

The debate about the declining state of the American auto business has played out like the world's worst sitcom. Stock characters such as the clueless dads (the Big Three CEOs) and wacky neighbors (faux populist Congressmen), spout tired lines that you could see coming from a mile away. And the plots? Ugh. This week, the Dads slash overhead. Tune in next week: Hijinks ensue when the Dads decide to stop flying in their corporate jets. Let me guess: Everyone learns something and hugs in the end but nothing really changes.

The discussion about what to do about the American auto business has been limited almost exclusively to "saving Detroit" and preserving GM, Ford, and Chrysler rather than inventing the 21st Century transportation economy. It's very hard to adapt for the future without radical ideas that come from outside the establishment. "The train companies of the 19th century did not become the car companies of the 20th," says Chris Paine, director of the documentary Who Killed the Electric Car?, offering some much-needed perspective.

Paine is but one of the "precocious kids," if you will, that we assembled to offer up innovative ideas for revving up the American car business. We asked more than 60 people with some connection to the broader automotive economy for their best ideas, looking for both short- and long-term solutions to the crisis. These are their answers. With no further ado, and with limited commercial interruption, we present this very special episode, 25 Ways to Jump-Start the Auto Business. Read More

1. Let President Obama Take the Wheel 1. Let President Obama Take the Wheel

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2. The iPhone Solution 2. The iPhone Solution

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3. Get Sexy 3. Get Sexy

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4. If I Were CEO of a Big-Three Car Company... 4. "If I Were CEO of a Big-Three Car Company..."

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5. Why Geckos Can't Solve the Problem 5. Why Geckos Can't Solve the Problem

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6. Respect Dirty Work 6. Respect Dirty Work

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7. The Facebook Solution 7. The Facebook Solution

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8. Urban Outfitters 8. Urban Outfitters

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9. Bet on Biology 9. Bet on Biology

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10. Make Sci-fi Reality 10. Make Sci-fi Reality

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11. What Would Google Do? 11. What Would Google Do?

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12. Customers First 12. Customers First

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13. Deal or No Deal 13. Deal or No Deal

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14. Change How Cars Get Made 14. Change How Cars Get Made

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15. Surprise Us 15. Surprise Us

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16. Look to Europe 16. Look to Europe

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17. Think Like a PC 17. Think Like a PC

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18. Make a House Call 18. Make a House Call

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19. Fix the Weak Link in the (Supply) Chain 19. Fix the Weak Link in the (Supply) Chain

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20. Leadership Matters 20. Leadership Matters

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21. Combine the Asphalt Highway with the Information Highway 21. Combine the Asphalt Highway with the Information Highway

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22. Think Globally, Act Nimbly 22. Think Globally, Act Nimbly

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23. Sell Your Car 23. Sell Your Car

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24. Stay the Course 24. Stay the Course

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25. Buy American 25. Buy American

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