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Monday, January 03, 2005

 

Decline of the Big Three

For those of you who live in Detroit, this is an ongoing topic. I had plenty of time to think about this over the holiday weekend and the following things struck me:

  1. They're not really the Big 3 anymore...Chrysler is now DaimlerChrysler, although they still have a large presence as a "domestic" manufacturer
  2. Marketshare for what used to be the Big 3 continues to drop...year after year. I recall Bob Stempel being "fired" when GM's share was still in the low to mid 30% share. Last I checked, they were around 26 or 27%...and the trend is down.
  3. Cutting edge engine technologies don't seem to be coming from the "Big 3." The "cool" new hybrids are coming from Japan...Honda and Toyota. Those of us close to the industry know that the core/essence of a vehicle platform is the engine. It is also an expression of engineering excellence and technology.
  4. The Big 3 still seem to be able to develop interesting new designs (e.g. the new 300 and Magnum) but the question remains -- can these new vehicles sustain a la Camry or Accord? We can hope...
  5. Increasingly, the Big 3 have become very successful "truck" and "SUV" manufacturers. This isn't all bad...they are, after all, profitable. But the overseas competition is moving into that profitable niche as well. At last count, Toyota had 5 SUVs...that's more than Dodge or Jeep!

Does any of this matter? At the current rate, it will cause some dislocations (selfishly...I think it's hurting the value of our home in Michigan...less jobs = less demand for homes/declining local economy).

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