Today, a Ford executive was quoted as saying the auto market is "terrible" right now. http://today.reuters.com/news/articl...src=rss&rpc=23
Chrysler has it's own problems to be sure, though saw a slight bump is sales last month.
One has to ask how much longer it will take to right the ship, even if it can be done. The way I see it is this:
-- All three companies make too many vehicles. There are competing models in the same category and too many configurable options. This is starting to be addressed.
--All three are beholden to the disgusting UAW. Their absurd contracts, where people with virtually no education can make $50,000-100,000 a year building cars, are killing them.
--Their vehicles are still of inferior quality to Japanese products, wherever those products are actually built. It's got to be in the design process. A Toyota is good for 250,000 miles if you never change the oil. Take care of it and it lasts a good 500,000. A GM car is good for 80,000 and then it starts falling apart. Take it from me...I've had both brands. Fit and finish is not as good. Things just go wrong more frequently. Instead of actually addressing quality, they address things that customers perceive to mean a quality car, like a quiet ride. Ford even has an ad now that talks about how their car is "quieter than a Lexus something or other." Stupid. Build a better car and can the marketing crap.
--All three have become more finance companies than car companies. This is their own fault. The worst...and I mean worst mistake...ever...was to introduce rebates. No one will buy an American brand car without a big rebate now. When I bought my 2003 GMC Envoy (big mistake, by the by)...I got like $4000 in rebates...AND $5000 off the sticker. Just lower the goddamned price from $41,000 to $32,000 an be done with it.
--GM in particular made healthcare promises it can't keep. Their healthcare costs last year were over 5 billion. They simply have to change that, even it means breaking promises.
--Following every consumer fad instead of providing a quality product and evolving it slowly with market demand. A good example is SUVs. They had to know that gas would double in price or could and that would screw them over. But NO! They jumped on the bandwagon and lived high on the hog off massive SUV markups for 10 years. It was like the late 60s and early 70s all over again. Those stupid Jap SUVs can't compete! We're Ford! Quality is Job #1! GMC is Professional Grade! RAM: Hemi! In this respect, the Big Three remind me of The RIAA's response to digital music. They're only now waking the fuck up and actually giving a damn about efficiency and realizing that WOW..those "japs" actually know wtf they are doing.
--From a more techical standpoint, I've heard the way "we" design cars is totally different than the more "team oriented" approach they use at Toyota and Nissan and what not. My understanding is the same team is responsible for the whole vehicle and especially quality control, whereas the domestics have specialists and managers for every little thing...including separate quality control.
I welcome your thoughts on this issue. Do you think the American auto industry will ever regain dominance? I have my serious doubts.
(FYI: I've owned American and Japanese-designed cars, and I can tell you the latter is 100% better. I've owned/leased two Nissans and two Toyotas and I doubt I'll go back to GM.)