Monday December 1 | Auto Industry in Crisis

November 26, 2008 at 9:35 am | Posted in Coming Up | 8 Comments

We’ll explore the ramifications of the struggling auto industry today. Guest host Chris Clackum and a panel of experts will look at the current state of the industry, the economic implications of a proposed bailout plan and what the future might hold for “the big three.” We’ll also look at the auto industry right here in our region.
Tony PlathAssoc. Professor of Economics, UNC Charlotte
David Westcott
Director, National Automotive Dealers Assoc. of NC
Bill Musgrave
Chair, Charlotte Committee, National Automotive Dealers Assoc.
Rick Hendrick
Chairman, Hendrick Automotive Group

Listen to Show


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  1. I take great exception with the comment that American-made vehicles are well-built. I have purchased three new GM vehicles (two Saturns and a GMC pickup) in the past five years and all have been problematic. The pickup has gone through three sets of brake rotors in under 50,000 miles and one of the Saturns blew an engine with just over 40,000 miles. The pickup also has a ABS brake sensor problem that has been recognized by GM but only recalled in the “snow belt”. What about the rest of us. It snows here too. Of course, all of these problems occurred out of warranty. I will never again consider it un-American to purchase a foreign vehicle.

  2. In 1933, Bucky Fuller unveiled a car that could carry eleven people, exceed 90 miles per hour, and got 30 miles per gallon of gas.
    The leaders of our car companies need to be replaced, since they have have prevented the necessary evolution. Save the infrastructure, and the workers, but get some visionary leaders.

    Otherwise…no bailout.

  3. Unfortunately we need to save the industry (workers minus their hostage unions), suppliers, and so forth. Get rid of the executives who are clueless. Why can Toyota & Honda adapt quickly for the times? How is it the US automakers still have not learned these manufacturing lesssons?

    We are not typical auto customers as we drive cars until they die. I bought a new car last year and it was a horrible experience. The Charlotte sales”men” were clueless and it was all about thir quotas (& one sales”man” forgot my appointment twice!) I settled on my choice, walked in to write a check to pay in full, and they refused it. Not everyone gets hijacked by their financing deals. The sales”men” were clueless about the car facts such as how many air bags, mechanics, etc. It was amazing how little they knew. This would have been our sixth car via a “large” auto dealer in Charlotte, and they did not care. We will never buy a car in Charlotte. I guess this is good for the dealers elsewhere in the Carolinas!

  4. American cars are generally poorly designed, manufactured and unreliable. I have bought/leased three American cars (Ford Contour, Pontiac Montana Mini Van and the Buick Rendevous) and without exception all were plagued by breakdowns. After suffering from these three subpar models, my wife begged me to never buy another American car. Now I am less stressed with a reliable Toyota and Mercedez.

  5. Let me submit that the entire world car market may be retarded in product development due to collusion with oil companies and suppliers, such as tire companies. In an economy like ours supply determines demand because expected alternatives are unavailable (Witness: “Who killed the Electric Car?”). Developments have been isolated within the stream of proven profit and “outside” ideas have been excluded. Right now we are being steered back to the disproven technology of nuclear fission electric plants when they have proven dangerous and have no outlet for toxic wastes. The recent lowered gas price is the “elite way” of quashing alternative energy production.
    The same principle applies to social organization and business models. Corporate charter is the favored model because it tends to pump wealth to the already wealthy. That is why worker owned, worker managed and co-operative firms are discouraged and relatively rare, though they might be more transparent, more stable and better citizens in the community.
    Mike needs to select more guests outside the regional business network to enlighten the population to other possibilities. If the only thing from “outside” is a Frankengene Complex built by a canned fruit mogul (D. Murdoch) we are in trouble. I was shocked recently when a retired Gastonia machinist bluntly told me, “You don’t find any visionary leadership around these parts.” We need to quit assuming our working people are stupid because they don’t presently earn above 49K. We need to quit assuming cultural possibilities are summed up in ethnic recipes and dining choices along with driving habits. Mike has developed into a worldly cosmopolitan man and Charlotte Talks should reflect it. Lift minds up and don’t put local hearts down. We are more than our spending, more than consumers. (And I thought WFAE was non-commercial.)

  6. Noticeably absent in the conversation was the role of over-taxation by Michigan on its industries. Government has failed that state and Detroit specifically for the last 50 years. Part of the overall reform should include tax abatements and removal of costly regulations. The cost of Sarbanes Oxley [specifically section 404] on a any business is a crushing burden. It should be part of the relief we give them. Advanced capital depreciation breaks would also be a big help.

  7. Henry Ford, on February 11, 1934: “Let them fail; let everybody fail! I made my fortune when I had nothing to start with, by myself and my own ideas. Let other people do the same thing. If I lose everything in the collapse of our financial structure, I will start in at the beginning and build it up again.”

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