But of course the startup auto industry wannabes propose to shake things up and play by different rules.
And naturally, the big traditional companies with everything invested in the status quo tend to avoid upheaval.
Until this year, that is.
In April, Sergio Marchionne, the CEO of Fiat Chrysler Automobiles, tossed a lit cherry bomb into the party. He called the industry a destroyer of capital and called for a new plan for how it is run.
Too many corporations are spending too much money on redundant technologies and programs that ought to be merged and consolidated, Marchionne said, causing startled harrumphs around the world.
He didn't merely mean that companies ought to pare down inefficient spending. Marchionne meant that competing automakers need to merge programs -- or their companies -- to develop future vehicle solutions, such as electric car batteries, powertrains, autonomous drive and advanced materials.
Marchionne added that joint ventures and other partnerships aren't sufficient; outright mergers are needed. And, for that matter, General Motors ought to merge with FCA. GM has so far declined.
"I think it's healthy," Marchionne told Automotive News, referring to the kind of disruption he and other tradition breakers are envisioning for the U.S. industry. "I think it may break a couple of bones, but it will reconstitute a much stronger organism."
He championed the spirit of tearing down old rules and the rise of new players.
"I invite them in," he said of the newcomers who also are thinking of new ways of doing business. "I invite the Apples, I invite Uber, I invite Google. They should all come, and we're talking to them all."