Sunday, November 16, 2008

The Top Ten Cars That Help Explain The Demise of Detroit, and The Possible Revival of the Big Three

The global financial crisis is suffocating the Detroit automakers, but the problems have been festering for years—even when the mighty "Big Three" were earning billions. Aging factories, inflexible unions, arrogant executives and shoddy quality have all damaged Detroit. Now, with panicky consumers fleeing showrooms, catastrophe looms: Without a dubious federal bailout, all three automakers face the prospect of bankruptcy.

There will be plenty of business-school case studies analyzing all the automakers' wrong turns. But, as they say in the industry, it all comes down to product. So here are 10 cars that help explain the demise of Detroit (including the Ford Pinto, pictured above).

The road to recovery in Detroit is so long and pitted that General Motors, Ford, and Chrysler might not all make it. Billions in federal aid will help. But the government doesn't build cars, and without top products in the most important segments, the Detroit Three will continue to flounder while the Japanese and Europeans surge ahead. Here are ten cars that are key to the revival of the domestic automakers (including the Chevy Volt pictured below).

HT: Ben Cunningham at Taxing Tennessee


At 11/16/2008 4:41 PM, Anonymous Fred said...

There is a limited amount of investment capital in the economy. The money that goes to a bailout is not available to other companies. Those other companies get starved for capital. I think the jobs you don't see are just as important as the auto jobs you do see.

It's time to cut all the lifeboats free from the Titanic before everything is pulled under.

Too bad about the Titanic.

At 11/16/2008 6:56 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Building cars to address a nonexistent evironmental crisis isn't going to save the automakers. Instead, they will have retooled just in time for a collapse in the price of oil and the realization that Al Gore couldn't find his ass with both hands behind his back.

Perhaps the "Big 3" should spend less time in government lines, with their hands out, and more time studying and emulating the success of their competitors.

At 11/16/2008 8:39 PM, Blogger gadfly said...

it would seem that even GM does not believe that the Chevy Volt will save them and the WSJ agrees:

At 11/16/2008 11:23 PM, Anonymous qt said...


Have to agree. The Volt is a boondoggle of the first order.

GM might want to look at streamlining the multitude of brands it presently offers. Too many brands and too many models.

At 11/17/2008 6:09 AM, Blogger 1 said...

Well the only thing I got out of this particular posting is that the last, the very last person I would ask for advice on cars is Rick Newman...

Maybe if the federal government quit interfering in the automobile business (CAFE standards, EPA's vehicle emisssions rules, safety standards) the big three might be able to stand on their own even with the legacy payments to it union members...

At 11/17/2008 12:00 PM, Blogger 1 said...

Not to worry folks, the demented Dems have a better idea

"The House is ready to do it," said Democratic Rep. Barney Frank of Massachusetts, chairman of the House Financial Services Committee. "There's no downside to trying."

What was Einstein's definition of insanity again?

At 11/17/2008 1:38 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...


Monday, November 17, 2008
John Dingell's Wife on GM Payroll

The New York Times reports:

"General Motors is rapidly running out of cash and appealing to Washington for a multibillion-dollar bailout to keep operating and continue the costly conversion to a leaner company producing efficient vehicles that people will buy. Mrs. Dingell, who gave up lobbying for G.M. when she married Mr. Dingell in 1981, is executive director for public affairs for G.M. and its most familiar face in Washington."

"Mrs. Dingell, 54, known to everyone as Debbie, said she and her husband were stunned when Mr. Waxman called the day after the election to tell Mr. Dingell that he would try to snatch his chairman’s gavel."


"She said she was not involved in the details of the campaign to protect Mr. Dingell’s chairmanship, although she rallied his defenders in the early days of the challenge and serves as part of his war council. She does not lobby Congress or the administration on G.M.’s behalf, but she makes the case for the company, the auto industry and the state of Michigan in public and in private. She is a descendant of the Fisher brothers, who founded the company that became General Motors 100 years ago, and is a member of the Democratic National Committee from Michigan."

Posted at: Instapundit

At 11/17/2008 5:15 PM, Blogger OBloodyHell said...

The Prius is an absolutely stupid idea. They are cars for people too dumb to do the math.

At 11/17/2008 5:16 PM, Blogger OBloodyHell said...

> Al Gore couldn't find his ass with both hands behind his back.

Well, like... DUH.

That's because his is on his shoulders.


At 11/17/2008 7:47 PM, Blogger karsten said...

It is very interesting to see what vehicles made the list because they are hands down terrible cars or poor market performers. I was happy to see the Chevy Cavalier on there. I am on my second cavalier and love its absolutely base-model mentality and availability of replacement parts to drive it until its dead, for which it is a great car. It is that reason, however, that makes it a terrible car for Detroit. Car manufacturers make very little money on new car sales, sometimes even losing money on them. Additionally, Detroit's business model is desperately contingent upon Americans buying new cars every 3 to 5 years to stay in business. People like me, who don't want their money to depreciate and rust away in three years, who don't much care for new-vehicle-snobbery, and who can afford decent new cars but prefer to buy cars 4 years used and keep them going with good maintenance until the wheels fall off are the bane of the Big 3. Like everyone else out there with an opinion, I feel like I know what the cure is for the ailing auto industry, but for now, I'm not buyin' what they're selling.

At 11/18/2008 4:04 PM, Blogger @sethstorm said...

About every single car from the Far East (Honda/Toyota/Hyundai) is another reason why there's a push to keep them alive. There is just too large of a market for cars built the Detroit way to just let them fail.

I am on my second cavalier and love its absolutely base-model mentality and availability of replacement parts to drive it until its dead, for which it is a great car. It is that reason, however, that makes it a terrible car for Detroit.

That, and it takes a lot to stop them.

Too bad about the Titanic.

It sounds like they'd only rescue those who were first-class(the proverbial "Wall Street") and consider Detroit(and their supporters) steerage. The only problem is that steerage will have no problem pulling first class down with them.

The transplants would do well to retool for larger cars of Detroit size and performance at not-so-exorbitant price. They can do so now, or they'll have to do it later should irrational hate prevail.

At 12/02/2008 1:34 AM, Blogger Starkplug said...

If they brought back the Gremlin, I would be all over it. Oh yeah, except for the part where the gas tank can explode. This is an awesome top ten list. You should post this to my buddy's site People can also vote on the list if they don't agree on the rankings.


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