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Detroit Must Die

Rob

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Below is an editorial article written by a staff member at the San Francisco Chronicle newspaper. What are your thoughts on this?
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Detroit must die
American cars are still uniformly god-awful. Why save them?

By Mark Morford, SF Gate Columnist
San Francisco Chronicle
Friday, November 14, 2008

This is what I think whenever I see someone plodding along the freeway or struggling through the city streets in some older and terminally bland or even brand new and yet still terminally bland Malibu or Cobalt or Taurus, Sebring or Nitro or Mustang or Corvette or Neon or hell, almost any car from any American manufacturer whatsoever...

I think: Oh, you poor thing. I think: Do you not have any friends? Did no one tell you? Have you not yet heard of this crazy thing called the Interweb? Did you not even bother to do ten minutes of research and comparison shopping before you purchased that squeaky, ill-built lump of misfit steel and crude design, homework which would've instantly revealed to you what even the most amateur automotive buff knows the instant she becomes a fan of quality engineering and design refinement and, you know, basic drivability?

This is what you would've learned: that American cars are, to this very day, still uniformly awful. Or if they're not awful, they're just passably mediocre. And your money would be oh so much better spent on German or Japanese or even Korean. I'm so sorry about your urine-yellow Chevy Aveo. Here, have my parking space.

You might disagree. You might say, hey wait a minute, not all American cars are as dreadful and ill-equipped as Sarah Palin at a science fair. There are a few exceptions, a few gems among the dirt clods.

Like the new... um, the Ford, uh, what was it again? Right. The Flex (that's not a car, but whatever). And hey, the new Fiesta is supposed to be hot, because they brought it over from Europe -- aka "land of wonderful, efficient, well-designed little cars we almost never see." And wasn't that big pseudo-gangster slab, the Chrysler 300, sort of cool about five years ago? Sure it was.

And you're right. Those cars are exactly that, exceptions. Rarities. Flukes. The truth is, American cars haven't been interesting or exceptional in decades. When it comes to small and efficient, there isn't a single truly desirable American car on the road today. And innovation? Dear God. The last new idea a U.S. manufacturer had was sticking a mini fridge under the seat of the Caravan. Neato.

And now here's the other thing I think when I hear that the bloated American auto industry is on the verge of complete collapse, failure, bankruptcy, that the Big Three -- Ford, GM, Chrysler -- are losing billions hand over tailpipe, and that Obama and Nancy Pelosi are right now considering shoveling many billions into their voracious maws to try and keep them afloat for a while longer, just so they can keep producing crap no one really wants.

I think: Are you kidding me? We have a chance to let this fat, lazy, top-heavy, SUV-glutted industry implode like it so very much deserves, and we might not take it? I think: What an opportunity. We could begin to reinvent the American automobile starting next week, and we might instead keep the old ways alive simply because the Big Three were too stupid and greedy to see past their gross SUV sales figures for the past 25 years? Come on.

Look. You are free to reminisce all you like about some hazy, throbbing, "American Graffiti"-tinted golden era of American cars, all about Steve McQueen and 'Cudas and '67 Mustangs and peeling out in the high school parking lot. Knock yourself out. But the truth is, this economic crisis might be our best chance yet to wipe the flabby, useless U.S. transportation slate clean and begin anew, armed with a whole new set of tools American auto manufacturing has never used before: efficiency, ingenuity, agility. Can you imagine?


I realize I am no economist. I fully understand there might be reasons far larger and more fiscally complicated to justify keeping the Big Three alive for awhile longer, simply because, like AIG, so many billions are wrapped up in their operations and in the various supply chains that support them, to let them all fail nearly simultaneously could rip a hole in our sinking ship of state far larger and more dangerous than the one that results from letting them suffer and die slowly, bleeding billions all the way.

What's more, I'm also not so heartless to ignore the brutal job losses, the tens of thousands of collapsed pension plans and failed retirement accounts that would result from the end of American auto industry. It would be horrible indeed. But maybe that's where the government's billions would be far more useful, to ease the meltdown and provide retraining.

(I am also urged to note that the enormous, overstuffed UAW isn't exactly a saint, either, and that a large part of the responsibility for Big Auto's lack of innovation and change lo these past decades rests squarely on its petulant shoulders, too. You can't blame all the ills of American auto on the greedy CEOs and their shortsighted accountants. Just most of them.)

Here's the upshot: The American auto market is the biggest in the world. Our near-religious adoration of cars isn't vanishing anytime soon. There are hundreds of billions of dollars still to be made. Let prehistoric Big Auto die now, put the old, tired, sickly circus elephant out of its misery, and watch what happens.

Innovation would skyrocket. Entrepreneurs would flood in. New and pioneering car companies -- or better yet, radical new ideas for urban human transport -- would flourish. New jobs would be created almost instantly. Those supply chains wouldn't vanish, they'd adapt. The American auto industry would convulse, struggle, acclimate, reinvent itself anew.

Hell, even most Republicans agree on this: You don't bail out lousy, overweight companies who've been dumping bad ideas on us since the Carter administration. Let the free market pull the trigger, and move on.

Yes, it might take awhile -- ten or twenty years, even -- before we'd see anything resembling a tolerable American vehicle that could compete with Toyota's manufacturing genius, Honda's simple quality, or any of the Germans' astonishing refinement or cool sex appeal. So what? Meantime, we'd all have to suffer driving Minis and Audis and Honda Fits while America figures out how to be ingenious and competitive again? Gosh, how horrible.
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Want to comment: http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article/comments/view?f=/g/a/2008/11/14/notes111408.DTL
 

Little Woman

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:mad::mad: Print media needs to die. Wonder what this guy drives.
 

First Robin

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Most of you are to young to remember when the only imports were Jag's, MG, Rolls, Bentley and all of them put together were very few and we kids drooled over them. Then after the war the rest of the imports started coming in. We should have kept them out and maybe we wouldn't be in this mess today. Have any of you seen the video of the new Ford plant in Brazil? They even have their own port where the ships bring in cars from Mexico and other places and pick up the ones manufactured at the Brazil Plant. Even the suppliers of parts are manufacturing right in the same facility. First Robin
 

HOMEGAMEROOM

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He has a good point or two - it would be nice if the automakers could start over again, almost like the Japanese did after we rebuilt their country after WWII. But the collapse would kill us all economically. Maybe Iraq will start building cars for us after we rebuild their country...

However, Chrysler reinvented itself during its bailout with Lee Iacocca at the helm, and did so very successfully and quicker than anyone had hoped. They repaid their loan from the government - in full and ahead of schedule. Sure, the K car was bland, and every Chrysler had parts from the same parts bin, making them all look the same. But they were fuel efficient, inexpensive vehicles, and designed for the masses.

Have you ever seen a Camry? They should just call it "car", since they're about as generic and bland as a car can get. Yes, the newer ones are light years better looking than their older counterparts, but....

I don't know where this will end up. The american public can't bail out everything that goes belly-up. And I don't think the government knows much about running any business, especially an automobile manufacturer. I would just hate for our only car buying options to be entirely foreign-owned companies. Not all of us rush out to buy the latest German, Japanese, or Korean car. And now the Chinese are getting into our market too? Yikes! Let's put a tariff on every imported thing we get in this country. Then we can afford to pay all the folks who wind up on unemployment so they don't come and rob us to feed their families.

When I was 16 (sorry, here I go!) I bought my first clock radio for $60. Now, I can go to Wal*Mart and get something that does a heck of a lot more for a heck of a lot less. I think I'd rather pay a few extra $$ to get one that was made in this country and employed some of my fellow Americans, mainly so that they could afford to buy some of the stuff I'm manufacturing! We all can't work for Wal*Mart or the government!

Okay,I'm done now. :patriot: Please Buy American, or at least try to!
 

Little Woman

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He has a good point or two - it would be nice if the automakers could start over again, almost like the Japanese did after we rebuilt their country after WWII. But the collapse would kill us all economically. Maybe Iraq will start building cars for us after we rebuild their country...

However, Chrysler reinvented itself during its bailout with Lee Iacocca at the helm, and did so very successfully and quicker than anyone had hoped. They repaid their loan from the government - in full and ahead of schedule. Sure, the K car was bland, and every Chrysler had parts from the same parts bin, making them all look the same. But they were fuel efficient, inexpensive vehicles, and designed for the masses.

Have you ever seen a Camry? They should just call it "car", since they're about as generic and bland as a car can get. Yes, the newer ones are light years better looking than their older counterparts, but....

I don't know where this will end up. The american public can't bail out everything that goes belly-up. And I don't think the government knows much about running any business, especially an automobile manufacturer. I would just hate for our only car buying options to be entirely foreign-owned companies. Not all of us rush out to buy the latest German, Japanese, or Korean car. And now the Chinese are getting into our market too? Yikes! Let's put a tariff on every imported thing we get in this country. Then we can afford to pay all the folks who wind up on unemployment so they don't come and rob us to feed their families.

When I was 16 (sorry, here I go!) I bought my first clock radio for $60. Now, I can go to Wal*Mart and get something that does a heck of a lot more for a heck of a lot less. I think I'd rather pay a few extra $$ to get one that was made in this country and employed some of my fellow Americans, mainly so that they could afford to buy some of the stuff I'm manufacturing! We all can't work for Wal*Mart or the government!

Okay,I'm done now. :patriot: Please Buy American, or at least try to!

Too bad more Americans didn't feel this way. :patriot::rocker:
 

b_pappy

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Right on HomeGameRoom and Little Woman. I to try to buy American where I still can.
That, and I will put any one of my American cars against any comparable foreign car, and pound for pound, dollar for dollar I think the domestic cars can stand right beside them.
I recently got in a friends Acura (I sat down so no one would see me), and was dismayed to see how bland, and dinky feeling it was. What was I missing, where was all the quality and feel everyone talks about? Is this the emperors new clothes? Give me the new Cobalt SS for less money.
Bruce
 

Lola's Mom

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The columnist is just one guy with one opinion - his.

Personally, I didn't like the overtone of the article at all. The flag on his lapel is probably pretty tiny.

Well-written doesn't necessarily mean well worth reading.
 
M

mswaim

Guest
Now imagine an American car built by someone whose compensation is directly tied to their build quality and quantity, rather than longevity.

Right now you can be a slug on the assembly line with repeated quality rejections on your record and the worst that will happen is they will re-train you or move you to a less impactful station.

I buy American cars because I like the designs and power plants. But; GM and Ford are global companies, so when you buy one you are supporting a global busienss not an American one. They build cars from parts sourced from all over the globe.

If a South African based company decided to build replicas of the 1968 Camaro, stuffed a side-oiler 427 under the hood and marketed it for a decent price I would buy it in a heartbeat!! :reddevil
 

Lola's Mom

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Do you think the majority of AA worker's are slugs????

Oh ............. BBB is going to have some interesting topics ............. :laugh:
 

b_pappy

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...If a South African based company decided to build replicas of the 1968 Camaro, stuffed a side-oiler 427 under the hood and marketed it for a decent price I would buy it in a heartbeat!! :reddevil
Why would you want a Ford motor in a Camaro?
Bruce
 
M

mswaim

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Because it is the best of the best from that era, plus its tops for power/weight ratio and better suited for a high RPM lifespan. :D :D
 

standby-V

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What's going on here, everyone is over reacting. If something going to happen, do you think we have anything to say about it?
Let's move on...........I never thought I'd say that:blinzel:
Because it is the best of the best from that era, plus its tops for power/weight ratio and better suited for a high RPM lifespan. :D :D
 

Lola's Mom

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.... company decided to build replicas of the 1968 Camaro, stuffed a side-oiler 427 under the hood and marketed it for a decent price I would buy it in a heartbeat!! :reddevil

Well ..... this is pretty close, don't you think???

1969 Yenko Camaro 427

by the Auto Editors of Consumer Guide




The 1969 Yenko Chevrolet Camaro 427 was the delicious conversion of muscle car need and a factory's desire to please.

To Ford fans, Carroll Shelby is the high-priest of performance. Chevy loyalists revere a Canonsburg, Pennsylvania, car dealer named Don Yenko. Yenko had a deserved reputation for driving, building, and selling dominating Chevrolets, starting in '65 with well-crafted super Corvairs. He advanced to installing 427-cid Corvette V-8s in '67 and '68 Camaros, performing 118 of the transplants. These $4,200 ponys ran in the low 13s right off his shop floor.

 
M

mswaim

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Yenko-built muscle was and is still part of the american auto pop culture. Very nice!
 

Cadillac Tech

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Tick, tick, tick...
By Peter M. De Lorenzo
Detroit. So it has come down to this for General Motors: 100 years of living, breathing American industrial and social history is on the precipice of total disaster, with the once-glittering corporate icon facing certain collapse if some sort of government financial aid package is not put together in the next 60 days.
Think about that for a moment.
The company that basically powered this nation through a century of progress and helped this country muster the strength to fight world wars - while contributing immeasurably to the fabric of America and the development of our vast middle class - is on the verge of filing bankruptcy.
Unbeknownst to the legions of people out there in “fractured” America, the ones who fill the Internet with bile and who project such a level of viciousness and unbridled glee at the thought of the collapse of our domestic automobile industry as if it were – amazingly enough - some warped opportunity for celebration, there are countless towns, big and small, scattered all across this nation that have grown up with GM as their main employer and the main source of income for thousands of American families.
I am absolutely convinced that the people who hate “Detroit” and want it to implode have not even the faintest of clues as to what it really means if it were allowed to happen. To those instant experts out there who are reveling at the thought of a major part of our country’s industrial fabric collapsing, I say be careful what you wish for - because if GM is allowed to fail, it will take the entire domestic auto industry down with it - meaning thousands of suppliers and dealers in towns making up a cross-section of America will go under too.
For the record, there are around14,000 domestic-oriented dealers in the U.S. employing approximately 740,000 people with a payroll of around $35 billion – that’s billion with a “B.” But that’s just the dealer side of the equation. When you add in the suppliers and all of the associated businesses that either directly or indirectly depend on Detroit for their livelihoods, we’re talking almost three million people who would be out of work in a matter of just a few months, adding up to a $150 billion loss in personal income.
Let’s take California, for instance. Judging by our reader mail, there seems to be a large contingent of people out there who adamantly believe that “Detroit deserves to die” etc., etc., and that whatever happens “won’t affect me.” But GM and the domestic auto industry’s collapse will most definitely affect Californians as well. NUMMI, a joint operation between GM and Toyota (the Toyota Corolla, Toyota Tacoma and Pontiac Vibe are built there) and the only San Francisco Bay Area car factory, is already reducing shifts and may even shut down its Tacoma pickup truck line due to the burgeoning economic slowdown. One of our readers who understands the ramifications of a domestic industry collapse passed this interesting local news report along about NUMMI, which said, "There are tens of thousands of additional jobs on the line besides the 5,000 at NUMMI. There are over 1,000 suppliers in California that provide parts. They in turn employ 50,000 people."
That’s just one factory. Now multiply that by the staggering totals involved if GM - which has 22 stamping plants and 26 powertrain plants in North America on top of its assembly facilities - and the rest of the domestic automobile industry is allowed to fail. The tentacles of this kind of cataclysmic disaster would spread throughout the nation like a virus that could not be contained.
I really don’t know why it’s so easy for people out there to dismiss the collapse of the domestic automobile industry as being some minor event that won’t affect them in the least, because each person who is part of that figure of three million represents a real family and real human story, all across this nation. It’s the mom and pop diners, stores and peripheral neighborhood businesses that depend on the workers who toil at these factories and plants for their livelihoods too. There are towns all across America that would simply dry up and blow away if the local GM or supplier plant shut down. That’s not an exaggeration, that’s a simple fact.
I have been vilified of late by numerous critics for shifting my commentary to a more political tone over this election year, but I don’t offer any apologies. This country is not only in the throes of a financial crisis, it’s in the throes of a fundamental identity crisis as well. We as a nation have been lulled into thinking that things will work out and that any unpleasantness headed our way will be mere speed bumps on our journey to becoming a state of perpetual consumer bliss.
Well, it just doesn’t work that way, folks.
We live in a global economy that isn’t big on history or what we as a nation once did or stood for. We have to compete, or else we will arrive at a point when our national future will transition from being one of destiny to one being dictated to us by a unsavory set of circumstances and interests not in line in the least with our hopes, our dreams or our thinking.
In order to compete in this global economy we have to get smarter in our schools and with our educational policies. A high school graduation rate of 50-60 percent should be anathema in our inner cities instead of too often the rule. Remedial classes for kids entering college (who are not able to handle freshman classes) should become a thing of the past. And our teachers need to be compensated realistically and properly so more of our brightest people can sign up to help shape our kids’ futures.
Even though we as a nation don’t seem to have the stomach for hard work and sacrifice any longer - hell, I’m not sure those words and their meanings are even in the lexicon of vast swaths of our population - we must get tougher in the midst of this global economy, and we have to steel ourselves for the kind of battles we’ll face. And that means shoring up our manufacturing and supporting our homegrown industries that are so intertwined with communities all across this still great nation. It also means that President elect Obama will not only be President of the United States, he will have to be CEO of America, Inc. too.
And America Inc. not only needs to be rebuilt, it needs to be fortified with new determination because there are far too many talented and creative people in this nation who can do extraordinary things and we need to make the idea – the idea that we can innovate, create, build and manufacture things that are the envy of the world - cool again, and take pride in doing so as well.
In short, this nation needs a wake-up call.
Anyone who thinks this country will not be thrown into a full-blown depression if the domestic automobile industry is allowed to fail is simply kidding themselves. We are facing a perfect storm of events that could spell disaster if we as a nation don’t act and act fast. And it would take years for this country to recover too.
As I’ve said repeatedly the time for all of the idyllic, “let the free market run its course” hand-wringing is over. It’s far too late for that. This country’s leadership needs to get these loans to GM and the rest of the domestic automobile industry in the next 60 days, or life as we’ve come to know it in this country – and I mean every part of this country – not just here in the Motor City, will be severely and unequivocally altered.
That tick, tick, tick you hear?
It's the time running out on the future of America.
Let’s hope that what needs to get done will in fact get done, before it's too late.
Thanks for listening.

Bruce





__,_._,___
 
M

mswaim

Guest
If you take a very grandular look at the issues as described above - the question remains; with 3,000,000 people earning $150b from an industry who cannot give away its products..........do you really need to hear the question???

The most idiotic statement made to date came out of the mouth of GM's own CEO Rick Wagoner when he said he and his team were the right ones to lead GM into the next chapter of its life..........:laugh: :laugh: :laugh:

That's so good I should post this in the comedy section.

Speaking of "Homegrown Industries"; here is a short bite from wagoner that fits right into that:

"At GM, we believe industry is uniquely positioned to innovate through the application of economic and human resources. We apply our innovations globally to improve the quality of life of the people who live in the communities in which we work. For example, the town of Ramos Arizpe, Mexico, now enjoys a freshwater lagoon teeming with birds and fish in place of a saline pond, due to the innovative water treatment and usage practices of the GM plant there. In August 2001, that project was recognized internationally with the prestigious Stockholm Industry Water Award. We strive to apply similar innovations daily across the globe in our plants, our processes and our products."

I for one am glad to see that the folks in Ramos Arizpe have nice new pond to call their own.......
 

PassionDiva5150

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My big question is, WHY did we ever let all the imports in? I remember when Datsun (before it was Nissan) cars hit the streets, and all we did was laugh. How could anyone drive something like that. Over the years Toyota, Honda, Nissan, etc. have taken over our streets. Go cruising on a Friday or Saturday night, our young people don't even know what a muscle car is. They think their little XAs, XB's and all the other little cars are it. But, the domestics have done this to themselves, they became complacent. Not until the last few years have they tried to compete, well now it is to late. I think most of you know, I work at a Toyota store (and Mark & I still drive domestics). It hurts me when the local farmers or the young truck guys come in and trade in their big Ford, Chevy, or Dodge truck for a Tundra. I always ask 'WHY", most say "its a better truck, and it cost less". How do you respond to that. :pat::pat::pat:
 

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