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Krafcik: Here's why people don't like us

John Krafcik in Chicago: “Our reputation as an industry is horrible.”

Photo credit: JOHN GRESS/REUTERS
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A lot of people have been taking the auto industry to the woodshed lately. But when the lashing comes from inside the club, it stings a little more.

"Let's face it: Our reputation as an industry is horrible," John Krafcik, acting CEO of Hyundai Motor America, said in a speech last week at the Chicago Auto Show. "In the U.S. we are viewed for the most part as a slow, dimwitted industry that is typically unresponsive to consumer and environmental needs. If that weren't bad enough, our executives are criticized for lavish compensation, abundant perks and unnecessary entitlements."

Krafcik said the industry must lead the way — instead of dragging its feet — on key issues such as the environment, safety and good business practices. "What if our industry was the first to exercise a more inclusive form of capitalism that voluntarily restrained executive compensation to a reasonable multiple of average employee salary?" he asked. "And what if our industry adopted a uniform code of conduct regarding gifts, meals and business entertainment?

"It's time we exercised more discipline and more sensitivity in our approach to business. It's time to say goodbye to the days of overindulgence in auto shows, media launches, gift-giving, employee and dealer rewards and executive compensation.

"There's a better way, a more modest and humble approach, that will help us move forward together through these revolutionary times."

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