Geography of the Auto Industry
Course Syllabus and Readings
Application of geographic principles to understanding the production and distribution of motor vehicles. Origin and growth of motor vehicle production in the United States, diffusion of Japanese production methods, global interdependence of automotive production, spatial implications of changing customer preference for different products, and impact of demand for quality and satisfaction.
Miami Plan for Liberal Education
GEO 492 is a capstone course that addresses the four principles of the Miami Plan for Liberal Education as follows:
· Thinking critically: think about the role of motor vehicles in society, including intimate relationship among issues of energy consumption, pollution, and economic development to motor vehicle usage.
· Understanding contexts: stay abreast of events in the auto industry and relate to “inside” information about what is happening in the industry and the underlying context of why things are happening.
· Engaging with other learners: discuss in a small-class seminar format what’s new in the auto industry, through choosing topics and priorities of interest.
· Reflecting and acting: prepare term paper that goes through several iterations.
To apply urban and economic geography principles to understanding changes in auto production and consumption; to understand the impact of the auto on cities in the United States and abroad; to understand the implications of globalization of auto production and consumption.
For geography and planning majors, this course offers a real-world application of principles already learned; for students from other majors, this course offers insights into geographic approaches to understanding a major world industry.
· Final paper and presentation account for 100% of the grade.
· Attendance and participation is especially important – a lower grade will be assigned for poor attendance
· Do the readings
1. James M. Rubenstein, Making and Selling Cars (Johns Hopkins University Press, 2001).
2. James P. Womack, Daniel T. Jones, and Daniel Roos, The Machine That Changed the World (Harper Collins, 1991).
1. www.detnews.com, click Autos Insider (Detroit News)
2. www.freep.com, click Auto News (Detroit Free Press)
3. www.wardsauto.com (Ward’s Auto World)
4. www.autonews.com (Automotive News)
5. All of the following deadlines and obligations must be met, and grade will be lowered if they are not:
· One-page paper proposal due January 25.
· Individual conference week of January 30
· One-page revised paper proposal due February 8.
· Individual conference week of February 27.
· First draft of paper due April 5.
· Final paper due April 26.
· In-class presentation April 26.
Contacting the Instructor
James Rubenstein, firstname.lastname@example.org
Office hours: Mon 9-11 in 211 Shideler (529-5025)
(tentative) Tues 9-11, Wed 1-2, & Thurs 9-11 in 102 Boyd (529-5254)
Other times by appointment.
Detailed Syllabus and Readings
Part 1. Focus on production of vehicles
Readings Rubenstein, chapters 1-6; Womack, chapters 1-6.
Week 1 / January 9-11. Introduction to course.
Week 2 / January 18. How a motor vehicle works / origin of motor vehicle industry.
Week 3 / January 23-25. The “Big Three:” Ford, General Motors, Chrysler.
One-page paper proposal due January 25.
Week 4 / January 30 – February 2. Ford invents mass production.
Individual conferences concerning paper topic.
Week 5 / February 6-8. The workers.
One-page revised paper proposal due February 8.
Week 6 / February 13-15. Lean production.
Part 2. Focus on demand for vehicles
Readings Rubenstein, chapters 7-12; Womack, chapters 7-10.
Week 7 / February 21-22. Dealers.
Cincinnati Auto Show February 22-26
Week 8 / February 27 - March 1. 1920s-1950s: G.M. invents and perfects modern marketing.
Individual conferences concerning paper.
Week 9 / March 6. 1960s: Product fragmentation and segmentation
Week 10 / March 20-22. 1970s: Energy crisis and downsizing.
Dayton Auto Show March 22-26.
Week 11/ March 27-29. 1980s: Quality gap.
Week 12 / April 3-5. 1990s: Personalizing and demographics.
First draft of paper due April 5.
Week 13/ April 10. 2000s: Globalization – Mexico and China.
Weeks 14 & 15 / April 17 & 26. Oral presentations. Paper due April 26.