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The inside story of the American auto industry's fall from grace

With our economy chugging along, although at a slower pace than we’dlike, its rather remarkable that the American auto giants are actuallystill around, considering that just two years ago, the Detroit BigThree were facing bankruptcy. <br />

With our economy chugging along, although at a slower pace than we’d like, its rather remarkable that the American auto giants are actually still around, considering that just two years ago, the Detroit Big Three were facing bankruptcy.


Author Paul Ingrassia dives into the complexities of how the auto giants ended up in these circumstances, especially a company like General Motors, who in 1955 had become the world’s first company to earn more than $1 billion in a single year.


“That General Motors could go bankrupt seemed as unlikely as, say, America’s banks going broke or a black man being elected as president of the United States” writes Ingrassia.


Of course. we saw both failures as well as the historic breakthrough with Barack Obama’s presidential victory.


Starting out with a timeline of events, Ingrassia described how the launch of the Model T by Henry Ford in 1908, and his perfection of the moving assembly line in 1913 essentially birthed the American middle class with mass production applications popping up outside of the automotive industry. This was also arguably the birth of America’s love affair with the automobile.


This love affair only heightened with the introduction of the tailfin era in 1955 and the muscle cars of the 60’s, which inspired films like American Graffiti, not to mention countless rock and roll hits such as The Beach Boys hit Little Deuce Coupe.


America’s bank bailouts ended up costing almost eight times more than rescuing the Detroit Three, but as with most love affairs, the emotional impact was nowhere near as deep.


Ingrassia’s book describes a situation that was so avoidable, including blind-sighted management, a ‘board of bystanders’ and a union movement that lost site of reality.

– Craig Lund, is the President Elect of the American Marketing Association’s Toronto Chapter and can be reached at hello@craiglund.ca

 
 
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