From The Futurist
DETROIT — Detroit’s Big Three automakers — General Motors, Ford, and Chrysler — are going to have to make changes in their products if they want to stay competitive, says automotive trend watcher Micheline Maynard.
The American automobile industry is by no means in trouble, but it will be based less and less in Detroit. “There will be more new plants opened in the United States by 2010, more new choices and more jobs introduced into the car market,” says Maynard. “These vehicles won’t be sold by Detroit companies, most of those new plants won’t be built by Detroit companies and those factories won’t employ United Auto Worker members.”
Market trends show that the future holds more growth by imports than by the Big Three. If things get no worse between now and 2010, and the companies simply lose ground to imports at the same rate they have been doing for the past years, the Big Three will see their share of the American market slip to roughly 50 percent.
“If the Detroit companies are to win back customers, they can’t simply flood the market with new vehicles and hope that they will somehow generate sales,” Maynard writes in The End of Detroit. They will have to do what their foreign counterparts do: make every vehicle they develop uniquely special and targeted precisely at the consumers who will own it. “Every pickup, car model, and minivan has to be the best of its kind ever built, and every generation after that must be the same,” she says.
Maynard sees the following developments during the next decade.
* By 2010, one of the Big Three will not continue in its present form. One or all of them may be forced into bankruptcy, merge into one giant company, or seek a foreign partner. The vast array of choices available to consumers simply dictates that there is no need for three mass-market American car companies.
* Non-U.S. companies are going to build more plants and employ more American workers, especially in southern states like Alabama, Kentucky and Mississippi. Detroit companies will close more plants, and the United Auto Workers will continue to see its membership shrink.
* By the end of the decade, Toyota, not GM, could become the world’s largest car company.
U.S. customers are no longer making decisions based on patriotism. “American consumers know they can find something that fully meets their needs,” says Maynard, concluding that Detroit has plenty of catching up to do if it wants to compete and survive.
Copyright 2004 The Futurist. via ProQuest Information and Learning Company; All Rights Reserved .
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