The Big Three doesn’t pack the whollop it once did.
, and have lost a combined $11.3 billion this year and together their market share has fallen to 55.1% in the U.S. from 72.7% two decades ago.
By 2013, when the latest round of restructuring moves is expected to be completed, the three will be building 1.5 million fewer vehicles in North America than they did last year and output will have fallen by more than 3 million units from a decade ago. Their share of vehicle making in North America also hovers in the 55% range.
The reality is these three auto makers, once domestic behemoths, are downsizing themselves almost out of contention on their home turf.
Yes, GM still is the No.1 auto maker in the world andclings precariously to the No.2 ranking in the U.S.
But, with all three in various stages of reorganization, it amounts to one of the largest restructurings in Detroit history, with 120,000 jobs at stake.
GM will have shrunk to the size of Ford by 2008 in terms of capacity, and Ford will drop tosize. GM and Ford essentially are halving their workforce, both white- and blue-collar workers, and Chrysler is finalizing a plan to cut costs by $1,000 per unit a scant two years since the last restructuring shed 35,000 workers.
Executives insist better use of global resources and fewer platforms will compensate for fewer bodies and brains in North America.
As inconceivable as it seems, the Big Three in the future will not be full-line auto makers. That distinction will fall to.
Ford has said it will exit the traditional minivan market after more than 20 years and offer, in its stead, a family hauler modeled after the Fairlane concept.
The auto maker also says it still is deciding whether to stay in the compact pickup market after Ranger production ends in 2008 with the closing of the Twin Cities, MN, plant.
GM has cancelled the minivan program that was to bow in 2009, focusing instead on its new line of large cross/utility vehicles as the auto maker continues to make hard decisions to remove $9 billion annually in structural costs.
Chrysler never entered the fullsize SUV segment, and is delaying the next-generation Pacifica, even though CUVs are the fastest-growing segment.
Conversely,can afford to offer everything from the pint-sized Yaris to the pending Tundra CrewMax 4-door fullsize pickup, with hybrid variants of many of the vehicles in between.
As the Fords of the world evaluate their future strategies as smaller auto makers, Japanese and Korean manufacturers continue to plot their respective growth paths, and the automotive landscape in North America is being transformed.
In the end, GM, Ford and Chrysler will be shadows of their former selves. Whether they emerge stronger and more competitive at their new fighting weight remains to be seen.