The End of Detroit : How the Big Three Lost Their Grip on the American Car Market
An in-depth, hard-hitting account of the mistakes, miscalculations and myopia that have doomed America's automobile industry.In the 1990s, Detroit's Big Three automobile companies were riding high. The introduction of the minivan and the SUV had revitalized the industry, and it was widely believed that Detroit had miraculously overcome the threat of foreign imports and regained its ascendant position. As Micheline Maynard makes brilliantly clear in THE END OF DETROIT, however, the traditional American car industry was, in fact, headed for disaster.
Not too long ago, Detroit-made vehicles manufactured in the U.S. were the most popular and bestselling cars. That is no longer the case, and Maynard, a reporter for the New York Times, explains how the automobile industry is now led by such companies as Toyota and Honda. She explains the various reasons for the diminished power of domestic car makers including the introduction of new, more appealing models and light trucks. Maynard writes, "With the exception of Toyota and its expansive lineup, none of the import companies has designs on meeting Detroit head-on in every segment where it competes.... They can be successful by fixing their targets and taking away markets, one by one." She cites BMW and Hyundai as two companies who know their markets very well and have solid brand images. Based on Maynard's interviews with executives and employees of many car companies, foreign and domestic, she shows how the foreign companies were repeatedly more innovative and strategic in their efforts to win over American consumers. Toyota, for example, built car plants in the U.S. and trained local employees, including Spanish-speaking workers, who would later be able to work in Toyota plants in Mexico, South America and elsewhere. The reporting is solid, but the writing is occasionally dull. Still, this is an intriguing if somewhat gloomy view of the American car business. (Oct.) Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information. -- PUBLISHERS WEEKLY.
There are no customer reviews available at this time. Would you like to write a review?
September 21, 2004
Number of Print Pages*
Adobe DRM EPUB
* Number of eBook pages may differ. Click here for more information.
Excerpt from The End of Detroit by Micheline Maynard
HOW DETROIT LOST ITS GRIP
DETROIT'S LONG REIGN as the dominant force in the American car industry is over.
Exactly 100 years after Henry Ford sold his first automobile in 1903, imports have taken an unshakable hold on the American consumer and are leading to the demise of inarguably the most important industrial force that America has ever produced. Like the steel industry before it, like the airline industry to an increasing extent, as with retailers, the balance of power in the car industry has shifted away from Detroit's giant companies -- General Motors, Ford Motor Co. and Chrysler Corp. -- toward smaller, more nimble players that can react faster to the competitive landscape.
It's an unthinkable but undeniable reality, one with tremendous ramifications for American life and the business world in general. During the twentieth century, the automobile changed everything in the United States, from the way people commuted to work, to where they lived, to the way they conducted romance. The automobile triggered the development of the interstate highway system, allowing Americans to see every corner of their country at ease. It created suburbs and exurbs, beginning with bedroom communities within a few minutes' drive of downtown areas, to sprawling developments that extend for 50 miles or more outside major cities. At their peak a scant 40 years ago, Detroit-built vehicles accounted for more than 9 of 10 automobile sales in the United States. Nearly a million people worked in automobile plants, and every manufacturing job created by Detroit generated five more, at auto parts suppliers scattered across the country, at steel mills in Pittsburgh, Cleveland, Detroit and Chicago, and at coal mines in West Virginia and in the Deep South. The neon lights of car dealerships from Maine to California lit the night sky, and the arrival of the year's new vehicles every autumn generated long lines of automobile enthusiasts eager to see the latest models.