US industry turmoil: why we should care

Carole Nash Classic Insurance Specialists

gm-ford-chrysler

According to Autoblog, the state that the Big Three in the USA now find themselves in is rather precarious. After collectively going cap-in-hand to congress (in the most eco-cars they could find) and asking for a mere $34bn, it looks like the requests made by the three companies’ CEOs were only partially met to the tune of $15bn.

With a reduced hand-out between the three, it’s looking likely that the continued survival of Chrysler, GM and Ford won’t happen. The mood in Detroit, understandably, is desperate and my thoughts are with my colleagues out there, who face a bleak 2009.

Of course, we’ve already been there – the 1970s were a desperate time here in the UK, as our one major indigenous car manufacturing conglomerate went down the plughole (yeah, I know), as the government went cap-in-hand to the IMF and our media did its best to stir up anti-UK feeling…

Right now, it looks like the US car industry is going through the same convulsions (some would say death throes), except on a much, much grander scale. The feeling that commentators across the globe have is that Chrysler’s already doomed, GM is hanging on by its fingernails, and Ford should struggle through 2009 and 2010 if it continues its current efficiency drive (AKA job and factory-shedding rationalisation programme).

But should we care?

Of course, we’ve already been there – the 1970s were a desperate time here in the UK, as our one major indigenous car manufacturing conglomerate went down the plughole (yeah, I know), as the government went cap-in-hand to the IMF and our media did its best to stir up anti-UK feeling…

Absolutely – if GM goes under (as many think it will because of the crash in demand for new cars, globally), then we’ll be saying goodbye to Vauxhall in the UK and Opel in Germany. Given that unlike Ford, Vauxhall still mass-produces cars in the UK (at Ellesmere Port near Liverpool) then that will be a devastating blow, not just for the region, but for carmaking in the UK in general. Tragically for GM in Europe, this catastrophic failure would happen as it finds form with its current (and upcoming) range.

And Vauxhall’s history is one of the longest in the UK – with the Griffin still very much part of the nation’s psyche. To see that go would be a real and genuine loss…

It’s clear that we’re a long way from seeing the global crisis run its course and we’re standing at the beginning of a significant shift in the history of the motor industry. We’ve already seen Honda’s pull-out of F1 (who will be next?), mass redundancies globally and severely depressed demand (even China is 30 per cent down).

One thing is clear – we’ll be seeing a new world order in the next few years, but where will that be centred? Germany? Japan? China?

Keith Adams

Keith Adams

Editor and creator AROnline at AROnline
Created www.austin-rover.co.uk in 2001 and built it up to become the world's foremost reference source for all things BMC, Leyland and Rover Group, before renaming it AROnline in 2007.

Is the Editor of the Parkers website and price guide, formerly editor of Classic Car Weekly, and launch editor/creator of Modern Classics magazine. Has contributed to various motoring titles including Octane, Practical Classics, Evo, Honest John, CAR magazine, Autocar, Pistonheads, Diesel Car, Practical Performance Car, Performance French Car, Car Mechanics, Jaguar World Monthly, MG Enthusiast, Modern MINI, Practical Classics, Fifth Gear Website, Radio 4, and the the Motoring Independent...

Likes 'conditionally challenged' motors and taking them on unfeasible adventures all across Europe.
Keith Adams

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