Daily Podcast: What the Dickens Happened At Chrysler?

Robert Farago
by Robert Farago
daily podcast what the dickens happened at chrysler

It's hard to describe the feeling a newsman gets when he's covering a big, breaking story. Sure, there's an element of ego gratification, a sudden, heightened sense of self-importance. But when push comes to shove and the world as we know it suddenly tilts on its axis, a real reporter feels humbled by events. Now I'm not going to equate Chrysler's dalliance with disaster with the end of the Vietnam War, 911 or any of the other momentous events I've witnessed as a jobbing journo. But make no mistake about it: when old Detroit judders to a halt, it will be a big story. American business will change forever. Of course, you could argue that it's already changed. That Detroit is the last relic of a bygone time, when men wore hats to work, smoked cigarettes and succeeded in business without really trying. But you don't need me to tell you that inefficient, Detroit-style enterprises still exist throughout this great land, in every field of endeavor. When GM, Ford and/or Chrysler throw in the towel, it will sound the death knell for the rest of the dinosaurs, marking the end of an era as surely as Richard Nixon's resignation. If you watch closely, you will see a gradual realization that humanity's second wave, mass production, is finally being replaced by something infinitely more sophisticated. One door will close, another will open. God willing, TTAC will be there to watch it happen. It is the best of times, it is the worst of times.

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  • MPLS MPLS on Feb 05, 2008

    My larger point was the abolutist nature of the Detroit's inexorable demise argbuement that appear in teh blog. However,in terms of the details, I respectfully disagree with two points of this statement: There are simply no game changing products, no game changing management/cultural moves and no game changing labour agreements to make the changes needed for the Detroit 3’s survival. Lets take GM for example. The Chevrolet Malibu will sell aomewhere around 200-250k units at an average price tag of $23 K. When was the last time GM was able to move that many mid size sedans at FULL MSRP. Also, the Saturn Vue, Cadillac CTS. and the GMC Acadia are all selling well at or close to full MSRP. These appear to be possible game changers. In fact, all GM, at 2.3%, was only of the "Big 6" manufacturers to post year over year sales gains. I think it is hard to understate the importance of the new UAW contract to the domestic automakers. This will quite literally eliminate the "legacy costs" through the albeit expensive VEBA. Plus, the hourly cost per hour of assembly line labor will go down by an average of $15. Again ,this is a possible game changer.

  • CarShark CarShark on Feb 05, 2008

    "...the domestic have to say screw the cost...even if we lose money..." I'm sorry. Aren't you the same person that crapped on the Saturn Astra non-stop for months before it arrived stateside because GM was using this exact same reasoning? I agree with you guys about the entry-level Cadillac. It should be RWD. Epsilon's not going to cut it. I don't agree, however, with taking Caddy upmarket so quickly after dragging the name down 30-odd years. I think slow and sure wins this race. There's only so much people will pay for a Cadillac right now. It didn't use to be that way, but now it is. Besides, aren't sales of Maybach and Rolls and Bentley down? And the argument that GM has plenty of brands capable of filling the gap is equally laughable. Even with the Enclave boosting its image somewhat, Buicks are still known as God's Waiting Rooms. I don't see the new LaCrosse or the Lucerne (riding on a platform old enough to drink with no replacement) changing that. The throttling back of Zeta and Alpha plans must kill Pontiac's all-RWD aspirations, so where the hell does that leave them? Reskinning Chevys again? Or Saab, which continues to have inventory pile up? Will the 9-4x and replacement for the 10-year-old 9-5 ever get here? Can the restyled 9-3 please go away? Or Saturn, with the only failing Lambda (and the Traverse breathing down its neck), a Car of the Year winner that missed its sales target by about a quarter, a heavy and inefficient small SUV and a compact that loses money? How would that work?

  • Robert Farago Robert Farago on Feb 06, 2008
    CarShark : “…the domestic have to say screw the cost…even if we lose money…” I’m sorry. Aren’t you the same person that crapped on the Saturn Astra non-stop for months before it arrived stateside because GM was using this exact same reasoning? No contradiction. If the Astra was a world beater, I'd welcome it and tell GM to take the hit. It isn't.

  • Dave M. Dave M. on Jun 01, 2021

    "At the turn of the key, the 2.2-liter Ecotec engine grunts itself conscious, rolls over, farts, fluffs the sheets and settles back in for the duration." Hilarious. Pure gold.