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CSPAN2 at 10:15 am: The End of Detroit: How the Big Three Lost Their Grip on the American Car Market

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Bozita Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Feb-03-07 12:58 AM
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CSPAN2 at 10:15 am: The End of Detroit: How the Big Three Lost Their Grip on the American Car Market
It's BOOK-TV. Taken from Viva's weekly schedule of BOOK-TV posting in GD:

On Saturday, February 3 at 10:15 am
The End of Detroit: How the Big Three Lost Their Grip on the American Car Market

Micheline Maynard

Micheline Maynard talks about the declining success of the Big Three Detroit auto companies (Chrysler, Ford, and GM). Ms. Maynard points to several factors for this decline, including the Big Three's focus on making SUVs instead of cars, efforts by foreign companies to learn about the American market, and a significant decline in the "buy American" attitude when it came to cars. The talk was held at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor. Ms. Maynard answers questions following her talk.

Micheline Maynard is a reporter for the New York Times and is the author of "Collision Course: Inside the Battle for General Motors." She has written for USA Today, Fortune, and Newsday.

Publisher: Currency Books 280 Park Avenue, 11th floor New York, NY 10017
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Mich Otter Donating Member (887 posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Feb-04-07 12:34 PM
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1. They are losing due to arrogance.
I live in the Detroit area, have worked for Chrysler since 1972 and have seen much of the reasons for the American auto industry decline first-hand over the past 35 years.
In the '60s and '70s the Big Three were so arrogant they produced a lot of absolutely shitty vehicles.
I used to be an inspector on the assembly line, and I saw many times management okayed work that should never have been okayed. Their come-back was always, "Let the dealers worry about it." The reality was, the dealers did knot worry about it, they simply told their complaining customers, "That is the way they are built these days by GM, Ford, or Chrysler".
One customer after another decided they would buy from some company other than the Big Three, and many vowed never to own a Big Three built vehicle again.
In the '60s and '70s, there was virtually no money spent on training the workers. When machinery needed repairs, it was only fixed well enough to keep running, not well enough to improve quality.
The primary focus by management was on the quarterly profit reports. Management's jobs and bonus checks depended on those profit reports being favorable quarter after quarter.
Foreign auto companies were more willing to focus on building quality and they not only got a foothold in the American market, they have become major players.
I feel bad that so many Americans are losing jobs and their standard of living due to the way things are going. I know the workers on the lines, almost to a man or woman, want to build the best product they can.
We, who work in the auto companies, can only build them as well as management wants, and insists, they be built.
The Big Three are slipping back into their old, bad habits of thinking they can build flashy vehicles, advertise the hell out of them, and keep the profit sheet in the black. The companies need to remember what got them into this trouble and get on track with building the best quality vehicles that the public wants and needs.
The same kind of "profits first' mentality has a lot to do with many of the problems in America today; from health care, pollution, jobs lost, jobs being sent overseas, and the need for endless wars. We all get to suffer the consequences of the "profits first" ideology that is pervasive in our economy. A few people get mega-wealthy while the rest take a beating in their standards of living.
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SharonRB Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Feb-04-07 01:14 PM
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2. Hi, Mich Otter
And we're all paying for their arrogance now, aren't we? It seems to me that they may be catching on a little now, but you'd know better than I. Quality seems to have improved, but they have to win back customers who left a long time ago. I think they now finally realize they must come up with new technologies. This will create jobs, increase our security and help the environment, but I fear that it's going to be too little too late and that they should have started down this path years ago.

It was interesting hearing Knollenberg say this morning on "Spotlight" that he supports alternative fuels, hybrids, electric vehicles, etc., but not increased CAFE standards. Wouldn't all the new technology automatically increase CAFE? They really go hand in hand to me. I think he's positioning himself so that that issue cannot be used against him in '08 like it was in '06. Same for his vote in favor of the oil/energy bill approved by the House. It's the first time I've seen him vote against the oil companies.

I, for one, plan to make my next car American for the first time in a long time. My last three cars, as well as two others I've had in the past, have been Japanese -- Mazda and Lexus. In between I've had a couple of Pontiacs. I'm guilting myself back to American and think the quality has really improved. I'm leaning toward a hybrid Aura (I'd really like a hybrid, and it kind of depends on what else comes out in the next year; I do know that the Aura will not be a full-blown hybrid, but it's a start) or the new Sebring. I really wish the Sebring would have a hybrid option available. I love the new styling, although I'm not sure I like the upholstery options I've seen online. I'll do some test driving at the beginning of '08 --- my current lease is up in June of '08.

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noamnety Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Feb-04-07 01:44 PM
Response to Reply #2
3. There are a few cars that interest me, one local
The local one is The Kurrent - being built in Ferndale (first one built Jan 2007!). It's cheap ($10K), 2 passenger, entirely electric, and costs less then 2 cents per mile. The problem from what I can determine, is that it can't go on streets with a speed limit above 35mph, which would prevent me from getting to work. I'm wondering if we're at a point in global warming where we need to rethink that law - any laws that restricts street use to gas guzzlers seems wrong. Maybe I misinterpreted something on their website - I emailed the company and they responded and asked for my phone number - I'm open to pushing to change laws if need be. I grew up in a town where people had mopeds and other low speed vehicles - this is much safer than those, but Michigan and its laws seem to be designed in a way to make those practically illegal.

Anyway, The Kurrent:

The one I'd really like to have is the Twike, which is human-electric hybrid - pedal assist, like a bike, but licensed as a motorcycle - so it can go on all roads, including highways. Sadly, it's not built locally and costs about 2.5 times as much as the Kurrent:
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SharonRB Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Feb-04-07 02:23 PM
Response to Reply #3
4. It's cute, in an odd kind of way
It just wouldn't suit my needs. I had been planning to get a Mini Cooper, despite its small size, but then guilted myself into the fact that I really need to be in an American-made car.

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noamnety Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Feb-04-07 03:11 PM
Response to Reply #4
5. The Sparrow is made in america
Edited on Sun Feb-04-07 03:17 PM by lwfern

Also electric, and like the twike, street legal on highways, and can go 70mph. (Personally, I'd rather have the twike, though, for about the same cost, because I like the bicycle aspect of it.)

I'm not convinced I want to support the big three, because of their lobbying which is often against our best interests, and their CEO salaries. I think the big three are part of what's wrong with the country (because of their management, not the workers). Smaller companies still give jobs to American workers, and the owners seem more interested in helping the environment and their labor force than padding their own wallets no matter what the consequences are.
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gasperc Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Feb-05-07 08:15 AM
Response to Reply #1
6. excellant post should be it's own Post
you made many excellant thoughtful posts. You should keep adding details, recall examples, keep a diary in MSWord and cut and paste entries into regular posts. They will be read and penetrate into the greater conciousness of the auto workers and hopefully management. Keep writing.
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Dyedinthewoolliberal Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Feb-05-07 01:56 PM
Response to Original message
7. As a short term auto worker
I offer this. I was born and raised in Detroit. After coming home from the military in 1972 I got a job at the Wixom plant making T-Birds, Mark IV's and Lincoln Mercury Town Cars.
It was evident then the Big Three had lost their grip on the auto market, but they didn't know it. What we see now is the toppling of the tree that rotted from the inside out.
The line was set at a certain speed and we cranked those cars out, about one a minute as I recall.
When people bitch about quality issues with American made cars I assure you the problem doesn't orginate on the line..........
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noonwitch Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Feb-06-07 09:31 AM
Response to Original message
8. I buy american (Ford)
I'm driving a 2005 Focus I bought new. I think it's a good car, it drives well, it handles the season changes in Michigan. I had a 98 Escort I bought used that was a piece of crap, but I know that previous year Escorts were pretty decent cars. I had a 92 Probe I bought new that I loved, but the transmission died on it, and I was told that the sticks were better made than the autos. My mom had a 94 probe that was a stick and it did hold up better.

But the Mustang 2 was a piece of crap, and the Bobcat and Pinto were also junkers.
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