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The End of Detroit

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The End of Detroit

How the Big Three Lost Their Grip on the American Car Market

Doubleday Broadway,

15 min read
10 take-aways
Text available

What's inside?

Detroit waited 20 years for a tune-up. Too late? Will non-US cars force one of the Big Three icons into the junkyard?

Editorial Rating



  • Innovative


America’s fascination with the auto helped build and change the entire country. But as author Micheline Maynard writes, Detroit has lost its grip on American drivers by relying on overgrown distribution systems, styling myopia, reduced quality, brand mismanagement and family ownership. These factors, to varying degrees, combined to weaken the Big Three (Ford, General Motors and Chrysler). As an automotive journalist, Maynard apparently has all the facts, interviews and trade show vignettes to tell the story of the Big Three being replaced by non-US manufacturers who simply do the job better. She also includes interviews with car shoppers and others who are not germane to her tale. Still, this is a powerful chronicle on the threatened, imminent demise of more American icons. getAbstract finds this very valuable reading for marketing and human resource professionals, corporate change management executives and anyone interested in buying a car.


Motown Blues

For about 100 years, Detroit, Michigan, has fueled America’s love affair with the automobile. For many years, the city was synonymous with cars. But, about two decades ago, non-US automakers began producing autos for the American market. Their cars incorporated different engineering, styles, performance standards and prices than those rolling off Detroit’s assembly lines. By the 1990s, Americans had become familiar with Honda, Toyota, BMW and Volkswagen. But more importantly, these firms were developing the kind of loyal customer base that still eluded many Detroit manufacturers.

The balance of power between Detroit and non-US manufacturers began to shift in the summer of 2002 when reports linked a number of traffic fatalities to defective tires installed on the Ford Explorer, then the most popular SUV. As the news spread, Ford sales sank. Eventually, Ford was forced to cut 23,000 jobs, close five factories and drop five car models. This latest bad news caused Ford to suffer a combined loss of $6.4 billion in 2001 and 2002, about the same amount it made in 1998, its peak profit year. By the time Ford corrected its SUV problem, Detroit’s lock on US auto...

About the Author

Micheline Maynard covers the automobile and airline beats for The New York Times. She also has written for Fortune, USA Today, Newsday and US News & World Report. At the University of Michigan, she lectures on the world auto industry. She is also the author of Collision Course: Inside the Battle for General Motors.

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