December 16th, 2008 at 11:48am

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John McElroy and his colleagues discuss the future of the American Auto Industry.

For those who had technical difficulties during the live chat, thanks for participating in our experiment. We’ll continue to work through problems on our end and hope to give this a try again real soon


10 Comments to “LIVE Webcast Event – PRE-RECORDED”

  1. Will Bennett Says:

    Long time viewer and now listener as well. I put the audio podcasts on my iPod Touch and bed down with John for an informative chat. What a life!

  2. Will Bennett Says:

    Perception? Check out Saturn. Very good quality AND reputation. Dump the one badge that really shines? The circular firing squad is alive and well.
    Reagan made UNION a dirty word. Period.

  3. Morse Says:

    First I am not an American car hater, but Saturn has, and has had problems. Currently they were 3rd from last in one of the major quality survey sources, so their reputation and quality are far from ideal. I have been in an Ion and an Aura in recent years and they do not impress me.

    I liked Saturn from the beginning and wanted one early on, but I am a very numbers driven person. In 94 I bought a Ford Escort wagon. The Ford had a little more HP, a little more torque, a little better mileage, was a little bigger, but cost about $3k less on the bottom line. I kept the Ford for 260k miles and 12 years. When the L series came out I again hoped for a Saturn wagon, but no manual was offered in the wagon and the price was far more that it was worth. After some time I finally bought a used Escort wagon. Recently my wife needed a car. The Aura was considered, but the Sonata was larger, better fuel economy, more standard features and many thousands less to buy.

    I don’t know what drive other peoples decisions, but I can eliminate every Saturn on paper. I don’t even need to drive one.

  4. Ray DeLong Says:

    I do not agree that Detroit is paying for bad cars of the 70′s and 80′s. In 2005 I bought a small pickup. I spent a lot of time looking at the new Chevrolet/GMC product and was left underwhelmed. I bought a Tacoma and not because it was less expensive. It just seemed like a better vehicle.

    I do not believe the unions created the middle class. That story needs more than an assertion.

  5. Tom Martin Says:

    I do agree that Detroit is paying for the sins of the past. Unfortunately, some of the sins are still with us.

    And there’s an impression of arrogance. GM never told the truth about the EV-1. When Nader started to criticize safety, GM hired people to discredit his personal life, rather than argue the issue. Detroit is fighting CAFE, green cars, state rights, etc.

    And they don’t make good decisions. For example, Chevy doesn’t build a small economy car. The Aveo is not built by GM. Can’t tell me there’s no market for economy cars. Also, Detroit won’t build a small luxury car. Claim people would not buy them. Yet people buy small BMWs, Acuras, Lexuxes, Porsches, Infinitys, Audi, etc. Does any Detroit company build a true competitor to the 3-series BMW? The CTS is the size of the 7 series.

  6. Mark Says:

    You talked about GM selling more Buick’s in China versus North America, this is a fact because GM builds Buicks there thya do not build Chevrolets or Saturns. There are not many GM options in China

  7. Mark Says:

    Unions created the middle class? Say what!

    I’ll agree that at one time in the early to mid part of the 20th century, unions helped the average worker get a justified bigger piece of the pie and needed improvements to working conditions, but to say they created the middle class is just myopic. What about the majority of the middle class that was not unionized during the same time period of the union heyday?

    People are upset with the UAW because the workers not only receive higher pay and benefits than most blue or white collar, unionized or non-union, middle class workers, they figuratively “flip the bird” to their management (and in some ways others middle class workers) through poor attendance rates, the near impossibility of firing a “bad” worker, and a “that’s not my job attitude.” Nobody begrudges a person for what they earn unless that person emanates a persona of entitlement and unrealistic expectations in today’s market place.

    The UAW’s answer would be to unionize more workers (foreign plants) and pay everyone unsustainable wages and benefits – brilliant! Again, the public bristles at the attitude and ignorance shown by the UAW by turning a blind eye to a global economy. It’s too bad that the market has changed from the time when these contracts were first negotiated (many times under the duress of a potential strike). But they changed! And today, when you’ve got a sizable part of the world population that will work for decent, not overblown, wages and benefits. The global market will find them.

    Like it or not, the market will decide. Most others get that and they are upset by a UAW that does not.

  8. Atlee Wong Says:

    The big three problems are more financial. All manufacturers are suffering from the global downturn in sales.

    Detroit’s problem come from legacy costs (promising benefits that couldn’t be supported by their market share) that diverted profits earned during the liquity bubble that needed to be reinvested back in operations, or kept as retained earnings during the down periods that always occur in this cyclical business.

  9. Howard Remeta Says:

    The UAW did not create the problem we have now. Unfortunately they are affected by it. In Minnesota, a small school district had a great pension plan. After many years, the school had more retired teachers than students. They had to cut back pensions because there was not enough money. That is what is happening to GM. Therefore, they need to cut back on their wonderful healthcare and pensions. It is simple econmics. Over production is killing them.

    Also, cars are ALL better now than 20 years ago. They last longer. People do not need to buy a car as often. 100k used to be the life of a car. Now cars can go 200k-300k. This includes GM, Ford, Chrysler and the “transplants”. 17 million cars a year is unrealistic. 10-12 million will be the norm even though we get 20k more drivers per year.

  10. Rick Sutherland Says:

    I am not an automotive expert, but I do have an MBA, and what your guests are missing is that we live in a free market economy and anything that alter to forces of pure competition throws the market out of balance. Government regulations from OSHA and the US Dept. of Labor take the place of watchdog for the workers, so there is no other function for unions than to artificially extort concessions for employers. If there were no UAW then the free market would compete for employees and salaries and benefits would balance out across the market. Also, unions kill incentive for worker to perform. Companies get better more productive employees when they can pay incentives for performance and use benefits as incentives to hire the best quality workers. This is the main reason why US car companies lagged so far behind in quality for so long. The UAW and most other unions exsist for only one reason and it has nothing to with watching out for workers and all to with enriching the union leadership.