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Becky: Hello everyone and welcome back to EnglishClass101.com. This is Culture Class, Season 3, Lesson 7 - The Top 5 Biggest Duels in Energy and Manufacturing. I’m Becky.
Eric: And I’m Eric. It’s great to be with you for this lesson!
Becky: In this lesson, we’re going to talk about some interesting things. One of the mysteries about the American Energy and Manufacturing market is that there are so many big players that do roughly the same thing.
Eric: Exactly. Honestly, why do we need so many refrigerator companies? Or so many battery companies? Or so many oil companies?
Becky: We hope this lesson will answer some of those questions and give you better insight into how energy and manufacturing is done in the USA.
Eric: Okay, so let’s get to it!
Becky: Number 5 in our top five biggest duels in energy and manufacturing is Frigidaire vs GE.
Eric: This duel is over consumer products like refrigerators, stoves, and microwaves.
Becky: That’s right! When compared directly, GE is a much larger company, but in the consumer market, what people think and say about you is very important.
Eric: Exactly. And for many Americans, what new dishwasher or microwave a family buys is determined by the public image the company has.
Becky: It’s been interesting to see how these two giant companies play against each other. In general, these two brands get the highest customer ratings and compete for the best spot.
Eric: Sometimes GE wins, sometimes Frigidaire wins. And they compete on everything from how smooth an oven’s surface is to the angle of microwave door handles.
Becky: It kind of seems strange to the average consumer, but these two companies spend millions every year to research and manufacture what kind of door handle will be most liked by the general public.
Eric: I bet if politicians spent that much of their own money to know what their constituents thought of them, they’d act a bit more responsibly.
Becky: Let’s hope so. Anyway, that brings us to our next duel, Honeywell vs Lockheed Martin.
Eric: These probably aren’t companies you talk about every day, but they are companies that are involved in your everyday life. These two companies have built military missiles, space shuttle fuel tanks, jet engines, computing equipment, and heaters.
Becky: That’s right, and a lot more besides. If your house is more than 30 years old, your thermostat probably says Honeywell on it.
Eric: Lockheed Martin doesn’t deal in consumer products. They’re classified as a defense contractor which means they make contracts with governments to build military defense weapons and surveillance equipment, among other things.
Becky: However, this is more of a historic rivalry because in the past few years, Honeywell and Lockheed Martin have actually worked together on a number of projects.
Eric: But that isn’t how it used to be. In fact, these two companies used to compete for government contracts for everything from stealth bombers to submarines.
Becky: Today, however, Lockheed Martin tends to take big projects and then subcontract parts of them to Honeywell. They're not exactly partner companies, but they work together when they have to.
Eric: Which is very different from our next set of companies. They don't ever work together. At least, we've never seen it happen.
Becky: No, we haven't! Number three on our list of Top 5 Biggest Duels in Energy and Manufacturing is Energizer vs. Duracell. These two companies dominate the battery market and have for decades.
Eric: Which is strange to me, because I’ve never been able to tell the difference between the two.
Becky: Yeah, me neither. I’ve used many different types of their batteries and they seem to perform about the same.
Eric: I think it’s because they use almost the exact same technology so there’s little difference in performance. However, there is one big difference between the two companies.
Becky: Oh yeah? What’s that?
Eric: The brand. I know people who refuse to buy Duracell because they’ve had bad experiences with them in the past, so they always buy Energizer.
Becky: And I know people who refuse to buy Energizer because they have had bad experiences with Energizer batteries in the past, so they always buy Duracell.
Eric: That’s exactly my point. The competition here isn’t really between the products, since they’re mostly the same. It’s about the image of reliability the companies provide.
Becky: This is much like the Frigidaire Vs. GE duel we mentioned before. The difference here is that the two companies make products that are almost identical. However, in the United States, these two brands are the most respected and have the best reputation.
Eric: That’s right. There are other brands, but Energizer and Duracell dominate the market, the shelves, and the minds of most Americans. Both Energizer and Duracell want to be the best, and they have dueled for decades over who is better.
Becky: Speaking of dominating the market, the next duel on our list is between two giants.
Eric: They sure are! Number 2 of our Top 5 Biggest Duels in Energy and Manufacturing is Ford vs General Motors.
Becky: Before we get into this, General Motors is often referred to as “GM.” GM manufactures the Chevrolet brand.
Eric: That’s right, and they’re a huge company with a net value of about $38 billion.
Becky: Ford’s net value is about $45 billion, so they definitely have the advantage in financial resources.
Eric: However, GM makes more cars than Ford. A lot more actually. Currently, GM is the largest car manufacturer in the world and is active in over 157 countries.
Becky: So the real question is, who makes the better car?
Eric: And that questions really depends on who you're talking to. My friend is from farm country, and in her area it's rare to find a farmer or rancher who owns a Ford. It's almost always a GM vehicle.
Becky: However, a frequently quoted survey about respected automobile brands in the US has Ford nearly 30 points above GM. So, according to that study, Ford is much more respected than GM.
Eric: But that was an internet survey, so it’s not necessarily representative of everyone.
Becky: And that is exactly what these two companies duel over. Who is the most respected and "best" carmaker.
Eric: These two companies have been competitors since 1908, and at different points in their history have each been considered better than the other.
Becky: By the way, Ford is only the fifth largest car manufacturer in the world but it has a higher profit margin on each vehicle. That’s why they make more money than GM.
Eric: Speaking of making lots of money, our next rivalry makes more money than all the other rivalries we’ve talked about together.
Becky: That’s right. Our number 1 rivalry in our Top 5 Biggest Duels in Energy and Manufacturing is ExxonMobil Vs Chevron.
Eric: We’re going to talk about these two companies in more detail in our next lesson, but to put it simply, between ExxonMobil’s $440 billion and Chevron’s $220 billion, there is a lot of money in this duel.
Becky: That’s for sure. Chevron and ExxonMobil are both active in every aspect of oil production. They both explore the planet for it, they both drill for it, they both extract it, they both...you get the picture.
Eric: ExxonMobil is almost twice the size of Chevron. However, once again, things come down to respect and public image. I know many people who won’t buy gas that came from ExxonMobil because they dislike how ExxonMobil handled the Exxon-Valdez oil spill in 1989.
Becky: That’s right, and I have friends who tell me that the gas at Chevron is “better” than the gas at other gas stations. I don’t know if that’s true but in a duel like this, what people think is very important.
Eric: As you can see, public opinion is a major factor in the duels the companies battle out everyday. These companies have been rivals for decades and they will continue to compete on many levels for years to come.
Becky: I hope that this lesson explained a bit about how business in America functions through rivalries.
Eric: Okay, that’s all for this lesson.
Becky: Thanks for listening, and we’ll see you next time! Bye!
Eric: See you!