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17 Facts About The Decline Of The U.S. Auto Industry That Are Almost Too Crazy To Believe

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Very few things illustrate how dramatically America has been deindustrialized than the stunning decline of the U.S. auto industry.  Once upon a time, the United States literally taught the rest of the world how to make cars.  We were the ones that invented the assembly line.  We were the ones that showed the rest of the world what mass production could do for an economy.  For decades, we produced more cars than anyone else and we sold more cars than anyone else.  Detroit was known as “the Motor City” and our manufacturing prowess dominated the planet.  But now all of that has changed.  Japan makes far more vehicles than we do today.  So does Germany.  As you read this, state of the art production facilities are going up all over China.  Meanwhile, the U.S. auto industry continues to rot and thousands upon thousands of good automotive jobs continue to leave our shores.  The rest of the world is making cars better than we are, they are making them cheaper than we are and they really don’t care that many of our formerly great manufacturing cities are turning into rotting, stinking hellholes.  The U.S. auto industry was once a symbol of American dominance, but now it is just a symbol of American decline.  If we want to remain a great nation, then we need to start becoming great at making things once again.

The following are 17 facts about the decline of the U.S. auto industry that are almost too crazy to believe….

#1 The average age of an automobile in the United States has gone up more than 50% since 1990 and is now sitting at an all-time record of 10.8 years.  The average length of a marriage in the United States that ends in divorce is only 8 years.

#2 Germany made 5.5 million cars in 2010.  The United States made less than half that (2.7 million).

#3 When you add up salary and benefits, the average auto worker in Germany makes $67.14 an hour.  In the United States, auto workers only make $33.77 an hour in salary and benefits.

#4 Back in 2000, about 17 million new automobiles were sold in the United States.  During 2011, less than 13 million new automobiles were sold in the United States.

#5 Do you remember when the United States was the dominant manufacturer of automobiles and trucks on the globe?  Well, in 2010 the U.S. ran a trade deficit in automobiles, trucks and parts with the rest of the world of $110 billion.

#6 Japan builds more cars than anyone else on the globe.  Japan now manufactures about 5 million more automobiles than the United States does.

#7 In 2010, South Korea exported approximately 12 times as many automobiles to us as we exported to them.

#8 According to the New York Times, a Jeep Grand Cherokee that costs $27,490 in the United States costs about $85,000 in China thanks to new tariffs.

#9 U.S. car companies are spending hundreds of millions of dollars building shiny new automobile factories in China.

#10 In 1970, General Motors had about a 60 percent share of the U.S. automobile market.  Today, that figure is down to about 20 percent.

#11 The combined U.S. market share of the “Big Three” American car companies fell from 70% in 1998 to 53% in 2008.

#12 Detroit was once known as the “Motor City”, but in recent decades automobile production has been leaving Detroit at a staggering pace.  One analysis of census figures found that 48.5% of all men living in Detroit from age 20 to age 64 did not have a job during 2008.

#13 Today, only Chrysler still operates an automobile assembly line within Detroit city limits.

#14 Since Alan Mulally became CEO of Ford, the company has reduced its North American workforce by nearly half.

#15 Today, only about 40 percent of Ford’s 178,000 workers are employed in North America, and a significant portion of those jobs are in Canada and Mexico.

#16 The average Mexican auto worker brings in less than a tenth of the total compensation that a U.S. auto worker makes.

#17 In the year 2000, the U.S. auto industry employed more than 1.3 million Americans.  Today, the U.S. auto industry employs about 698,000 people.

Sadly, it is not just the auto industry in America that is falling apart.  In fact, almost everywhere you look in our economy (and in our society as a whole) there is decay and decline.

For example, our infrastructure was once the envy of the entire globe.  Today, U.S. infrastructure is ranked 23rd.

Recently, I wrote an article entitled “24 Statistics To Show To Anyone Who Believes That America Has A Bright Economic Future“.  In that article, I discussed many of the long-term trends that are systematically destroying this nation.

Just because we have had it so good for so long does not mean that it will always be that way.

As a nation, our wealth is declining.  A decade ago, the United States was ranked number one in average wealth per adult.  By 2010, the United States had fallen to seventh.

We lived off the wealth created by previous generations for a long time, but that was not enough for us.  We always wanted more.  Eventually we started going into massive amounts of debt so that we could keep this bubble of “false prosperity” going.

Today, when you add up all forms of debt in America, it comes to over 50 trillion dollars.

We are a great nation that is in an accelerating state of decline.

We have got to quit living off of the past accomplishments of previous generations.

We have got to quit being so lazy and decadent and spoiled.

There is absolutely no guarantee that America will always be a great nation.  In fact, when great nations fall, it usually happens very quickly.

I’m still proud to be an American, but the decay and the decline that I see all across this country sickens me.

And it should sicken you too.

  • I am Tyler Durden’s contempt for the system

    Turns my stomach. All of it. Though I have to disagree with you calling many ‘lazy.’ I would shift that description more towards ‘apathetic.’ For those that live in Detroit who would be eager to work for one of the big three automakers, they geographically can not work for them because of the outsourcing to cheaper labor markets. Now, this is not caused by laziness, but by sheer greed of the top executives and the banksters they serve. Bottom-line economics is no longer used to promote the health of a company; rather, it is used to promote the wealth of the shareholders and the executives who serve them. Once greed gets ahold of cpitalism, the system skews toward the wealthy and the poor and middle class are left out of the game, in the cold, with nothing but the shirts on their backs…

    • A Ayer

      The $33.00 number cited above as an average U.S. wage is WRONG. Base STARTING salary, not including benefits is over $28. Their benefits are huge–but the real story is their pensions.

      Google the numbers–all sources give a higher number than this; Heritage Foundation says $70 an hour is closer, maybe even more than that.

      • droubal

        Actually, I think starting wages are now about $14 dollars per hour, with the two-tier plan.
        Average wages are about $28 per hour.

    • A Ayer

      Here’s what Heritage Foundation has to say about UAW compensation:

      The average UAW worker makes about THREE TIMES what the average private sector worker makes. Do you know how much i would have to put in savings to guarantee a pension like these people get?? Don’t cry for our auto workers–they have killed the goose that laid the golden egg.

      • rick

        Google “UAW starting wage”

        It’s $14.00 per hour.

  • David

    How many automobiles are made in the United States by Foriegn Companies, Japanese, Korean, European manufactures in the U.S.???

    • Malcolm Reynolds

      “Made” or assembled? I had this argument awhile back with a douchebag that insists free trade has served us well. When I went looking, the VAST MAJORITY of all the cars at the 4 or 5 dealerships I looked at were mostly “assembled” here, nothing more. If I recall correctly, there were 2 models of Honda that were mostly “made” here but that’s about it. Even the so-called American cars were mostly made out of Canadian and Mexican imported parts.

  • William


    • Malcolm Reynolds

      competing with slave labor and 3rd world labor is fair competition to you?

  • I am Tyler Durden’s contempt for the system

    Globalization has, in the past three decades, usurped the backbone (the middle class) that propped up this country. We are devolving into a government subsidized daycare for roughly 50% of our population, while the other 50% are broken down into mostly the ‘haves’ whose perpetual indebtedness serves the oppulent lives of the ‘have mores.’ A system of insurmountable debt perched on what is left of the actual contributors toward society’s functioning imbalances the scales; the rich get richer and the rest of us die trying…

  • Kelly

    Why am I addicted to your blog? It’s not like anything you write makes me happy… but I can’t wait for the next article…

    • Michael


      Your comment made me smile. 🙂 I hope that I am not making people depressed with these articles. Rather, I hope people feel more awake and more “called to action” after reading them.

      In fact, I recently wrote an article in which I discussed how I hope that people are responding to this information….


      • Kelly

        Perhaps that the answer, Michael… What you write doesn’t ‘make me happy’, but it does make me hopeful in knowing that there are others out there like me who are staying alert to what’s really happening… Comforting to know I won’t be a lone crusader. I have been preparing for this challenging future and I want to make a difference! I plan to ‘have a backbone’! Thanks for all of your writing. I’m generally a ‘silent reader’ but really enjoy this site! 🙂 God Bless!

  • Rancher

    I believe the truth is the overwhelming majority of our citizens would rather refuse to do with much much less, get less or no handouts even if borrowing from other nations was needed to provide them, spend less than they earn, save up a couple years living costs, actually create a retirement account which is correctly funded and more.

    Nope they would rather play the game, have cheap products but more of them until they have it all ripped from their lily white hands and they stand there weeping.

    If you think this nation is going to willfully give up the illusion of prosperity and so called deserved self indulgence itself you are truly nuts. We saw this many many years ago and have simple given up on expecting any change. I have very very low expectations of mankind’s human nature along this line. Therefore I am seldom disappointed in the news.

    If you are still charging it up and are in debt and on and on I pity you. No compassion either, just pity. I am speaking to the overwhelming masses out there not the few smart ones. The masses have refused to alter their ways as others like us have and as far as we are concerned they can take a long walk on a short pier.

    I get sick and tied of hearing about what can or should we do. We who? There is not we here willing to really do anything other than a very few. It is quickly going to come down to a survival situation… good luck. I have “zero” intent to spend or share my hard earned money enabling stupid. Stupid is what stupid does. SOW AND REAP BABY…SOW AND REAP. No more giving so the one receiving can just go back to what failed again, nope.

    This country has access to the very same news I get and we hold them 100% responsible for their in actions. Personal Accountability now will help save you very soon…I expect a huge die off.

    This is the truth from here and some tough love. Get with it or die.

    • gary2

      Rancher-all they need to do is charge up a storm and then default. Time for some wealth redistribution. It is sure better than the looting that was done in the UK.



  • Rodster

    I work with cars as that’s my job and I can tell you that American made cars for the most part sans the Chrysler crap-wagons are very reliable.

    GM builds good cars for the most part and Ford IMO builds the most reliable American cars today. Japanese cars have regressed in reliability, maybe because we’re building them in the US. 😛

    Kia and Hyundai are very good cars. I always joke with my customers that when the Hyundai Excel & Accent were first introduced to the US in the mid 80’s they were one step ahead of the Yugo. Times have changed. Hyundai cars are very reliable and a great bang for the buck followed by Kia Motors.

    You can blame the UAW for most of the problems the US Auto industry faces today. You can build far cheaper automobiles in China, India and SK than what it cost to make a UAW car in the US and that still factors all of the UAW concessions.

    Oh and some of the OEM parts “original equipment mfg” from Ford, Chrysler and GM are now being made in South Korea and China.

    China overtook Mexico for cheaper mfg costs for automotive parts. 99.99% of all aftermarket parts come from Asia. Uro and TYC are OEM suppliers for several car companies and their parts come from the far east.

    • Rodster

      Oh and to add insult to injury, Government Motors Chevy Volt is going to be made in China. 🙂

  • Michael

    In FRance, we have invented Cinema, photography, electricity, discover radium for nuclear industry and be clearly advanced for the first aircrafts.

    Cinema is now in india, china or USA
    photography is now digital and we never had a big corporation on this topic.
    electricity is worldwide
    we are not bad for nuclear industry but it’s too dangerous and 80% of our electric consumption, it’s too much!!!
    about aircrafts, we are unable to sell our very good but very expensive military aircraft RAFALE !!!!

    with the car in USA, you are in the same situation than us !!!

  • Marco

    The USA is the modern day equivalent of the Roman Empire. And since people are the same, the USA is going down. I say that with great sadness, but your post hits the nail on the head – “We have got to quit being so lazy and decadent and spoiled.”

  • People are starting to wake up and realize that the Central Banks are going to implode the financial system with an ultimate burst of the credit bubble. You owe to it yourself to get educated on how to survive and prosper from the upcoming economic collapse:


    The demise of the US will greatly improve the planet.

    • RightWingRadical

      Be careful what you wish for. The Chinese are soooo “culturally sensitive”.

      • paul

        Well, at least the Chinese don’t care about religion. You can do any religion you like if you don’t tell other people what to do.

        All that China cares for is money and wealth they can put into their infrastructure.

        One chinese politician said some years back:
        “You are all welcome to China as long as you don’t tell us what to do. Just make money and then go home when you are rich.”

        • Agoraphobic Plumber

          “Well, at least the Chinese don’t care about religion. You can do any religion you like if you don’t tell other people what to do.”

          Heh. Tell that to the Dalai Lama or the Falun Gong folks.

          And anyway, where in America are people forced into a religion? I’ve lived here all my life, and I do see Atheists making a big stink about Christmas decorations and such, but not once have I ever seen a person forced to go to church.

  • It’s hard to feel sorry for the American auto worker who only make $33.77 an hour in salary and benefits without a post high school education. If we back out the typical amount for fringe benefits, they make more money per hour than a many nurses, teachers, and accountants.

    German auto workers make more, but what is the cost of living there? Can they buy a gallon of gasoline for $3.39 a gallon?

    • Tel

      Germany imports a lot of low-wage Turks to do the jobs that Germans don’t want to do. They get temporary working visas, but no citizenship, but they go to Germany because the opportunities in Turkey are worse.

      A quick google search comes up with the statistic that Turks earn 73 per cent of German average pay, but I’m not vouching for the accuracy of that. At any rate it’s probably better than Mexicans earn in the USA.

      • View from Abroad

        That’s not correct.

        Germany used to import South European Labour during a period from about the beginning of the 50’s to the middle of the 70’s. It started with Spaniards, Italians and Portuguese, moved eastward to Yugolavians and, last and most, to Turks.

        There was never any work, “germans did not like to do” – the goal always was for Big Business to get in as much cheap slave labour, to reign in the strong german labour unions. It worked, to a degree – from the seventies onwards, they had piled up a jobless pool of about 2 – 3 Million, just enough to curb wage raises.

        However, they had to stop getting more foreigners in – the only Turks, who now legally have the option to move to germany to work are people who have family ties.

    • Kevin2

      Obviously you never “worked the line”. I seen my wife’s family, all UAW workers beat up quite well after 30 years “on the line”. Ever work all day in 100 degree heat? Back when the US was king of automobile production and the UAW paid wages you consider too high Detroit was a thriving city.

      What in your opinion is a livable wage for someone doing the work of an auto worker? The German does not pay double for goods across the board yet there is sufficient profit to pay them double what a US auto worker makes.

      Regarding US wages and globalization the US Textile Industry low paying by any reasonable standard ($8-$15 / hr) regardless if they were Union or not fled to slave wage nations. Foe 50 cent labor.

      I feel sorry for all US workers. What we now have is not what the men who stormed Omaha Beach fought and died for.

    • View from Abroad

      “German auto workers make more, but what is the cost of living there? Can they buy a gallon of gasoline for $3.39 a gallon?”

      A gallon of gasoline today is about $7.80.
      Of this there is about $3.27 Tax (“Mineralölsteuer”).

      So what? Most people have adapted quite well…of course, our country is not that big, so we do have to travel those distances…and if we do, we get us small, fuel-efficient vehicles.

      My motorcycle (BMW, 86hp) uses about 1,1 Gallon on 100 Kilometers. So about 3 Gallons will take me to work and back for two full weeks.

    • paul

      Fuel prices are higher in Germany, but their cars use much less than American cars.

      There is a high tax on energy use. All houses must be insulated, you get a cheap credit if you build a new house that uses very little energy for heating and warm water (less than 40kWh per squaremeter and year).

      Average water consumption per head and day in Germany is 200 liter, (550 liter in the US).
      And, of course, people have to pay for the water they use, and the waste water they generate.

      Unemployment benefits are about 350 Euro per adult per month.

  • Antonio Gonzalez

    United State 2010 only 2.7 Million. You are crazy.

  • Timo44

    What you have said is so true but so so sad. But their are reason for all this happening. Our government is rooted with bad politicians that have sold us out for decads to big busines. They have change laws to benifite big busines and the banks. Untile our govenment is gutted and clean out things are only going to get worst. This is my rule we have lost 96% of purchasing power so the politicians are laying 96% of the time. Untile remove the Federal reserve bank and go back to sound money. Things will only get worst. In yahoo today it says the feds will do another easing very soon maybe within a month.They say another trillian dollars. Can I ask one question why in the world are we letting them print money for us. Why can’t our stupid govenment just print the money we need with no intrest on it. And why can’t we live with in our means. Until these things change and things will only get worst.

  • Tim

    Last Sunday night 60 Minutes aired a story about the city of Pontiac, Michigan. Many of the city’s assets are up for sale in an effort to raise cash and cut costs. Fire stations, cemeteries, community centers, the public library and the police station are for sale.

    The first Pontiac automobile was produced by the Pontiac Spring and Wagon Works company in 1907. Pontiac Spring and Wagon Works later became the Oakland Motor Car Company, and in 1909 Oakland Motor was acquired by General Motors. The GM assembly plant in Pontiac, which once employed 1,100 people, closed in 2009.

    • Michael

      I wish I would have seen that report.

      Once in a while 60 Minutes does a really great job.


  • Cyrus

    Very heartfelt report, actually it is enough to break your heart. God bless America, what’s left of it.

  • knightowl77

    In #3 I think you have the countries reversed?

    • knightowl77

      Michael, Google gave me these wage and benefit numbers at the time of the bailouts…

      Which shows how much it is costing the company per hour for each labor worker when factoring in base salary, benefits, and various other compensations: (such as lifetime medical & pensions) which is why they are outsourcing so many jobs

      DaimlerChrysler $75.86
      General Motors $73.26
      Ford $70.51

      Toyota $47.60
      Honda $42.95
      Nissan $41.97

  • There’s a simple answer here.

    Workers join unions.

    Nothing wrong with that.

    Once workers join unions, they don’t bother to have any say in what the union does.

    There is everything wrong with that.


    It is not the Unions fault.

    It is the workers fault for allowing the dross (scum) within the unions (which in essence are a good thing) to rise to the top.

    What can now be done about it?


    • Gutter Economist

      Same problem with share holders and executive compensation.

    • Tel

      The same thing could be said about voters and a Democratic system of government.

  • Kimberly

    Great article. In your opinion, how will generations to come save for their future?

    • Michael

      I think in the future, people are going to be more concerned about trying to stay alive.


      • josh

        my cousin is having a child soon and he said to me not too long ago “i am freaking out about how i will pay for its college in 18 years”… one of the many people i know blind to what will come in the years ahead.

        • Michael


          Yes – I think that paying for college for that child will be among the least of their worries.


        • igotadose

          Then, why did he have it?

          Can’t anyone do math anymore? Or is that ‘elitist?’

          The way to save america is to adopt a 1 child per family policy like China. There’ll be fewer slaves (parents and childrens) for big business to terrorize, fewer volunteers for the corporate-owned military, less demand for resources, higher wages as the jobs go unfilled, less pollution, overcrowding and debt. It’s supply and demand

          China gets this. We don’t. Think globally – act locally. Limit yourself to at most 1 kid, preferably none. Don’t believe the b.s. spewed by the corporate religions and their toadies in the media

        • josh: your cousn or any one who refers to her child as “IT”, she sounds like trailer trash to me.


  • r.bitting

    Don’t worry Michael, November is coming quickly, and all the country needs to right the ship is the right politician. ( sarcasm off ). I love this country as well but it’s game over. The recent cruise ship disaster serves as a good example of where we are at. The passengers sensed something was wrong but the captain and crew gave them false assurance that all was o.k, just a minor problem. The boat was sinking! If the captain would have given the order to abandon ship sooner, the passengers could have exited on the life rafts without much of the chaos that cost many their lives. While this is not a perfect illustration, the point i’m making is this, whether you feel there is still hope that America will survive or whether you don’t ( as I do ), the course of action is exactly the same for both. If you want America to survive, then it has to start with repentance and making Christ Lord of your life, If you think that America is going to fall and that a time of great suffering is upon us, then you STILL need to get on the lifeboat that is Jesus Christ, with true repentance and by making Christ Lord of your life. So you see, it’s pointless to argue over which politician or which party is right, or what will turn the economy around or who to blame for the economic disaster, these are just symptoms of the disease, which is moral bankruptcy. Americas fate rests within the four walls of every household. If it does’nt begin there, it does’nt begin.

  • Handog

    As I was reading I thought about one of those hidden camera news story’s showing union auto workers drinking beer and smoking pot during thier brakes.

    Just look around. I travel a lot for work. Its hard to tell one city from the other.
    The same big box stores. The same fast food joints. The corporate profits are swept off into some offshore bank as the community crumbles.

    The same words come to mind as I travel the US. Decay and decline.

  • andy

    Thank you for the article,very sad but true. Actually, it is over 56 trillion in total debt now. Our net interest is a size of some countries GDP, over 222 billion. Our fed is printing money (not literally but electronically) to pay our own debt, what a scheme huh? I believe, as a nation, we have lost our identity. Can you tell me what it is? We have no pride, no leadership. Look at the S. Korea and the East Asian countries. How can we compete with them when we don’t want to work and just have things handed to our plate like the last two generations. The 60s’ generation really did it with their multiculturalism views and getting more progressive. I am a foreign-born U.S.citizen and I came to love this country, but I am thinking about moving to other countries for my retirement. I feel very sorry for the future generations, but I don’t feel like they are aware of what is going on besides draining in the pop culture mentality and “reality” moments.

  • Gutter Economist

    If we want to remain a great nation, then we need to start becoming great at
    making things once again.

    NWO plan to destroy American manufacturing industries

    (1) Different parts of the world would be assigned different roles of industry and commerce in a unified global system.

    (2) The continued pre-eminence of the United States and the relative independence and self-sufficiency of the United States would have to be changed.

    (3) Our system would have to be curtailed in order to give other countries a chance to build their industries, because otherwise they would not be able to compete against the United States.

    NWO plan to destroy the American automobile industry

    (1) I remember saying that automobiles would be imported from Japan on an equal footing with our own domestically produced automobiles, but the Japanese product would be better.

    (2) Things would be made so they would break and fall apart, that is in the United States so that people would tend to prefer the imported variety and this would give a bit of a boost to foreign competitors.

    (3) Your patriotism about buying American would soon give way to practicality that if you bought Japanese, German or imported that it would last longer and you would be better off.

    Eventually we started going into massive amounts of debt so that we could keep
    this bubble of “false prosperity” going.

    NWO plan to fool Americans

    (1) The US industrial base is too small to support the US government and the US population.

    (2) The US government has been making up the difference with debt, deficit spending, and larger government to smoke screen the above preparations for the New World Order.


  • Syrin

    Yes we do have to stop being lazy, dependent and spoiled, but it won’t happen. The indoctrination system known as public education teaches the opposite. The entire liberal message is that you aren’t responsible for your own situation or actions and you “deserve” and are “entitled” to someone else’s property, or hell even the next three generation’s property which has ALREADY BEEN SPENT! It’s INSANITY, and the liberals want to ramp it up on steroids, cheered on by Gary who has yet to realzie he owes the federal gov’t a minimum of $100,000 as that what they’ve already borrowed and spent.

    Look at what our gov’t has done.

    Trillions spent on the war on poverty, and here we have record poverty.
    Trillions spent on the war on drugs, and we have the most addicted society in history. Trillions spent on wars all over the world, yet we have been invaded by armed foreign invaders from Mexico making us less safe than ever.

    Imagine how much more safe and prosperous we all would be in the gov’t didn’t wage war on ANYTHING.

    Now it’s openly waging war on our rights and prosperity.

    • Paul

      Isn’t it rather that the government owes Gary $100,000, because they have borrowed it from his savings account and pension?

      Now they are going to borrow from you to pay back to Gary?

      And then borrow from Gary2 to pay back to you?

      Sort of like having 20 credit cards so you can pay one with the other.

  • Dr. Detroit

    Michael really loves hating on Detroit

    I offer my services as a resident of the rotting hellhole laugh……..

    • Michael

      Am I being too tough on Detroit?


    • mondobeyondo

      Whew, at least Cleveland, Cincinnati and Pittsburgh are safe… for the moment (ha!)

    • 21st Century Plutocracy

      Dr. Detroit, I also reside in Detroit and I think Michael’s evulation (except for one fact I poitned out was incorrect) is right on. If you want to put on rose-colored glasses and ignore the statistically proven problems Detroit is facing, fine, but don’t attack the messenger for pointing them out so we can keep some semblance of reality around here (because if the problem is ignored, it just gets worse).

      I’m in the process of getting out of Michigan myself BTW. The grass does seem greener on the other side (and it’s sunnier).

  • Lennie Pike

    Off topic again – everyone should watch “Scam On Epic Scale” and hear what Warren E. Pollock has to say about the bank holiday that is coming soon to the U.S. and Europe and how it is official now – your country has been completely taken over by criminals.

    To me, this is the biggest story in American History since 1776 and no one is reporting it – duh, wonder why not?

    The video can be seen on The Keiser Report.

    • Lennie Pike

      Correction: find it on

      • Lennie Pike

        More than anything else, including the fact that our economy is now in China – it’s the derivatives!

  • David Gurney

    The recent heavy Asian immigration has hurt the Big 3 as very few of them ever buy an American car.

  • nowwthen

    People like to refer to GM and Chrysler as “government motors” because of the loans that helped them survive bankruptcy.

    Here’s some news for those who haven’t been paying attention for the past 40 years. Beginning in the 60s with the PCV valve and followed by seat belts, evaporative emissions controls, catalytic converters, air bags, 5mph bumpers ever increasing fuel economy standards, crash and rollover testing ratings, daytime driving lights, child safety seats, lemon laws, etc. the government has told automakers how to run their business for years. Most of these things are beneficial to the consumer but the fact remains that the government has dictated compliance.

    Some of the most vocal critics of aid to the U.S. automakers Mitch McConnel (R Kentucky) and Richard Shelby (R Alabama) were senators from states where foreign transplant auto companies have been paid millions in tax incentives to relocate.

    Government Motors has been around for decades under the names of Nissan, Toyota, BMW, Honda et al and quietly continues to grow.

    As much as I disagree with much of what government does I can’t deny that tens of thousands of Americans are still at work and paying taxes (as opposed to being laid off and collecting unemployment) because of the government loans GM and Chrysler recieved and have been paying back ahead of schedule.

  • James

    Hard to believe that the 1% can provide enough money to keep this country in a livable condition just for them. The 99% who are out of work, have part time work, or not making any money at all can’t possibly be supplying the taxes to keep all of this running. People who don’t make money, don’t pay any taxes, or buy much of anything.

    • Gutter Economist

      The US government has been making up the difference with debt and deficit spending.

  • ken nohe

    I drive cars in different countries and I am sorry to mention it but American cars are crap! Not worse than they were 30 years ago, certainly not much worse than a Proton from Malaysia. But if you compare to a Japanese car or even worse a superb if pricey German car, it is very difficult to see how the US can catch up. It is not a matter of salary or technology, it is a matter of mentality.
    How could a US manufacturer lose money for years to develop a hybrid as Toyota did, showing the way to everyone else without the Japanese way of thinking about the long term?
    How could you build a BMW or a Benz without engineers obsessed with technology, the ones that the German education system and culture produce?
    And still, when you look at these cars from the 1950s; so beautiful! I am looking forwards to these brain-simulators of the 2020s to fly back to those “Happy days” in 1958.

    • mondobeyondo

      Twenty years or so ago, American cars did have that reputation of being low-quality crap. (“Ford” stood for “Found On Road Dead”, or “Fix Or Repair Daily”. But I believe the quality has gradually improved. Maybe not as good as a Toyota or Nissan, which makes me sad…

      Why are there so many Acuras on the road, anyway?!

    • Malcolm Reynolds

      “if you compare to a Japanese car or even worse a superb if pricey German car, it is very difficult to see how the US can catch up”

      Sorry, Your claim doesn’t match up to even this one story

      • ken nohe

        Recalls do not tell us much. It can be because the cars are lemons or because the manufacturer is cautious.
        “Stories” are not statistics, they are anecdotes. Market share is the key although here too, there other factors. Japan didn’t gain market share on quality but on price… as China will if it is allowed to.

  • Steve

    The election of a Marxist like Barack Obama is another symptom of the fatal disease that has infected our Republic.

    • steve: you are a much needed critical thinker. and 100% correct about obama.


  • Georgiaboy61

    Rodster, re: “You can blame the UAW for most of the problems the US Auto industry faces today. You can build far cheaper automobiles in China, India and SK than what it cost to make a UAW car in the US and that still factors all of the UAW concessions.”

    The UAW is undoubtedly deserving of some of the blame – but more should go to our politicians and elites who have sold us out. Every advanced nation on earth uses tariffs to protect strategically-important industries such as autos – save one, the USA. China, Japan, Korea, Germany, etc. all use them. Why don’t we? American companies used to believe in the future of our nation, and were patriotic in their actions, but no more… they’ve off-shored to China, Mexico, etc. and don’t care who it hurts back home. Profit is everything, loyalty nothing. And everyday Americans should be ashamed of themselves, buying cheap foreign cars that are dumped on the American market using predatory pricing and trade practices by Japan et al. In short, there’s plenty of blame to go around, not just for the greedy unions, but for the rest of us.

  • Georgiaboy61

    Judas Jones, re: “The demise of the US will greatly improve the planet.” Do you live in the USA? If so, you’re welcome to leave anytime.

  • Bluestocking

    If we want to remain a great nation, then we need to start becoming great at making things once again.

    There are three major reasons why manufacturing jobs have been declining in this country for the past couple of decades…

    1) Outsourcing (AKA greed and expediency). Corporate America has been moving more and more manufacturing jobs overseas into other countries where labor is much cheaper…and one of the reasons why it is much cheaper is because workers in these countries often don’t have many of the same rights and protections that we have in this country. Often, these workers are not hired directly by the American corporation but by a local subcontractor. One advantage of this for the corporations is that it creates a degree of separation between the corporation and the workers and makes it easier for them to overlook and/or deny responsibility for worker exploitation. For that matter, there are more than a few companies right here in this country which violate or circumvent the labor laws which are supposed to protect people. The only reason why we have those protections in this country (which many Americans have taken for granted) is because there was a time when ordinary people were willing to fight — and in some cases, die — for them.

    2) Technology. Unfortunately, advances in technology frequently mean that human labor is replaced with machine labor, putting a certain segment of the population out of work. This is one of the primary forces behind the growth of the service sector in this country over the past few decades. Unfortunately, technology is beginning to replace jobs in the service sector as well — and many jobs in the service sector don’t require much in the way of special skills or training, which means the pool of potential job candidates is much larger and the employer does not have to offer as much in terms of salary and benefits.

    Spoiled American consumers. We have allowed ourselves to become a society which worships conspicuous consumption and instant gratification, with the result that Americans have (perhaps without consciously realizing it) chosen to trade quality for quantity and to put profits above principles. We have allowed ourselves to become incredibly greedy and wasteful instead of appreciating what we have, and we have exploited people in other countries in order to maintain the kind of lifestyle to which many of them cannot hope to aspire.

  • Nexus789

    You have to face the facts that without a change in direction in terms of replacing the current leaders and elites in the US the US economy is doomed to a spiral of decline.

    What has happened to the US car industry is just a microcosm of what is happening to the US as a whole. Its decline is more obvious as whole cities and localised supply chains are heavily impacted. As the major car manufacturers declined many supporting companies went out of business as well.

    This is happening across the US but in a broader and more insidious way as it impacts individuals, small companies, high street small businesses….but their collapse is silent.

  • Tel

    “We have got to quit being so lazy and decadent and spoiled.”

    It’s tempting to think that’s what this crisis was designed for.

  • Martin

    American auto industry is going down the drain.
    There are only unions to blame…

  • stan

    This is becoming my favorite blog. I did like The Burning Platform, but it has morphed into a Ron Paul site, where anyone who does not worship Ron Paul is considered a war monger and terrorist. ( as if Ron Paul has a snow balls chance in hell of ever getting elected, and even if he did, he is 80 freaking years old and could never overome congress) But this site is where the rubber meets the road.

    HOWEVER, it is hopeless for America in this system. The only way things are gonna change for the better is for this system to collapse and fall, so a new and better system can rise in its place. Our debt is 15 trillion and rising by 4 billion every day. We use 80 million barrels of oil every day world wide. Crime and violence are escalating. Pornography and gambling are on the rise. Drug abuse and drunkeness are rampant. Our politicians and leaders are crooked and many of them are perverts. Our media tells lies. We waste food and other precious resourses. It cannot change without much pain and many deaths.
    The truth hurts and hurts bad. You reap what you sew. What have we as a nation sewn in 250 years?
    The only hope is to get yourself in order and out of debt. Get right with God and take care of your family. All hell is gonna break loose!! And it will be HOT!!

    • Michael


      I am glad that this is becoming your favorite blog! Hopefully it can stay that way for a long time. 🙂


  • DM

    What is missing is an article showing how much damage overpriced American products and services are destroying small business. For example, how does paying twice as much for health care in the U.S. drive companies out of America? Or paying 16 times as much for broadband drives companies overseas? Or paying 75% more for construction costs drive manufacturing overseas?

  • And we keep hearing on the news how car sales in US is up in this recovering economy.

    • mondobeyondo

      Excuse me while I vomit…

  • Jeff

    Please provide references for your statistics.
    Also, if you are going to give statistics about the U.S Auto Industry you should provide the whole truth and not skew the statistics so that they support your hypothesis that the world economy is inevitably going to collapse .

    For example, your #2 statistic “Germany made 5.5 million automobiles in 2010. The United States made less than half that (2.7 million)”. This Statistic is not true: the U.S made 2.7 million Personal Vehicles and 5 million Commercial Vehicles for a total of 7.7 million Automobiles in 2010. Germany on the other hand made 5.5 million Personal Vehicles but only 350,000 commercial vehicles for a total of 5.85 million Automobiles. In reality the U.S made close to 2 million more automobiles than Germany.

    Here is my source:

    • TheIronYuppie

      Jeff, you may be right, but the fact that the U.S. has almost 4 times the population of Germany means that we are underperforming on a per capita basis.

  • GoneWithTheWind

    This is 100% the fault of the unions. Can you imagine that prior to our latest recession (in 2007) a typical auto worker was making $100,000 in pay and another $60,000 in benefits a year. The unions acquired all the power thanks to them buying politicians and they milked the companies dry.

    As for those foriegn auto companies building factories inside the U.S. you will note that all of those factories are built in “right to work” states.

  • Kevin2

    A sign should be at the Walt Whitman Bridge entering Camden NJ.


    Camden lost RCA, New York Shipyard and Campbells Soup decades before the great wave of industrial evisceration. Billy Joel sang about it with Allentown in the early 1980s. Almost everyone seen it and ignored it buying into the nonsense “service economy”. Now even the “worshippers of the sphere” can see it as they catch a headline on the way to the “Sports Section”.

    • mondobeyondo

      Ah yes. Camden, New Jersey.

      That giant bastion of American ingenuity, power and strength. Home of Campbell Soup Co. Look where they are now.

      Hey, at least they still have Campbell’s Soup. I like that stuff. V-8 Juice is pretty good.

      • mondobeyondo

        And it’s NOT named for the V-8 engine, btw.

        V-8 juice is named for the eight vegetable juices that are mixed together to make the beverage. Tomato, carrot, watercress, look at the can… takes to long to explain.

  • Mr Carpenter

    The fact that the only clothing that I own made in America are clerical shirts (CM Almy, Maine) speaks volumes.

    But re: cars; I rotated between AMC, GM, Ford and Chrysler from 1973 to 1992 – twenty years – and finally threw up my hands and said “enough”. I was fed up with unreliable cars built by drug addled bored union members, engineered by people who clearly were told to design down to a price, and companies which were all too happy to increasingly increase their profits by sending more jobs overseas. The last straw was an “American” Dodge Neon back-n-forth-to-work-car which I found out was made in Mexico instead of the USA. Junk.

    So I went and did something I’d never done before and bought a Hyundai Sonata. We’re now on our third one – the last two were built in Montgomery Alamaba by what appeared to be happy workers (yep, I’ve taken the tour).

    Interestingly, ‘foreign’ car companies are happy to invest in this country. BMW, Mercedes, VW, Kia, Hyundai, Subaru, Mitsubishi, Subaru – all invested money in America building factories (albiet with some nice state tax incentives – but they’d be fools to turn them down – and at least they aren’t held up by taxpayer bailouts like Government Motors and Chrysler-Fiat).

    Contrast GM, Ford and Chrysler which have dumped tens of thousands of jobs, closed many plants and are busy spending their money building factories in CHINA.

    So “buy American” can now mean Hyundai, Subaru, Kia, etc. depending upon the car! (Hint: look for a 1, 4 or 5 as the first digit in the VIN number). 2 = Canada (neighbours).

    As for the state of our union, it is deplorable. To be honest, I wonder WHY these car companies are investing money into our country when our ‘own’ executives refuse to do so. Perhaps the foreigners hope that we’ll recover? We can pray that this is the case.

    But with no nation ever having recovered from a debt of over 90% of GDP and our official debt ratio at 100.3% (unofficial debt ratio of over 400%) – well, let’s just remember what that white hat sheriff in the old Dodge commericals of 1970 used to say ‘you in a heap o trouble, boy’

    Pastor Glenn

  • mondobeyondo

    Wow, those are some beautiful old cars, aren’t they? Shame we don’t make cars like that (or anything else much) these days.

    Just yesterday, it was reported on ABC’s evening news broadcast, that General Motors has overtaken Toyota as the #1 auto manufacturer in the world. That’s very hard to believe. Maybe the money they received from their bailout has allowed them to make and sell more cars last year. But it seems highly doubtful that GM can make their winning streak last. It’s just a brief respite. Two years from now, Toyota will be back on top.

  • Cinderella Man

    Dude, Michael what in the world are you talking about? Diane Sawyer on ABC News last night and I kid you not,I was reading this at the same time when her top story was “GM is the #1 car maker in the world again!!! How can this be? Are they blind or are do they really think we are the stupidest viewers in the world?

    • Kevin

      Yes CM, there is a special place in hell for these dirtbag presstitutes. Your girl DS is one of the worst. The man formerly known as Bubba’s chief of staff is also someone who I wonder how they can look at themself in the mirror. Don’t these bastards realize that their kids will be sharing the same polluted and bankrupt world that we will?

    • DB200

      GM has a lot of subsidiaries around the world, so that may be the reason. Remember that Toyota has taken a hit by the earthquake in March 2011.

    • mondobeyondo

      Sounds like Miss Diane may have been lying to you.

  • There is a demise in the auto industry obviously
    and many are built overseas but they will never stand up to the cars that were built in the 50’s,60’70’s and everybody knows the great cars of those times whether it was ford,Gm,Chevy,
    pontiac,etc.Those cars and trucks were built with quality and pride, and i am proud to say that i own four of them from those yrs.

  • 21st Century Plutocracy

    FYI, #13 is not true.

    General Motors also has a plant in Detroit’s city limits (though Detroit shares it with the enclave the city surrounds, Hamtramck). This is also where the Chevrolet Volt is assembled.

  • Kevin

    Funny, the only brand new vehicle I’ve ever bought is exactly 10.8 years old.

    • DB200

      Mine are 20 and 38 years respectively. With proper care and good maintenance, a car can last a life time. Provided that the car has good quality to begin with, of course.

  • DB200

    So many comments and nobody refers to the great picture: a 1957 Chevrolet Bel Air Hardtop Coupe.

    After the war my grandfather bought a Chevrolet Truck from 1932. A few years later he traded the Chevy for a Federal (an American truck manufacturer that went bust in the 50s, like so many smaller car manufacturers). This was a great truck, my father still tells stories when he sat next to his father during the trips. The Federal lasted and lasted until it became uneconomical to drive it (even then petrol was expensive). The next one, in the early sixties, was a Mercedes-Benz diesel. The difference? Same quality, more comfort, more economical (fuel efficiency). So Mercedes (and others) were already overtaking US manufacturers at the time.

    • Michael

      DB200 – that is a beautiful car, eh?


      • DB200

        Yep, I have a model of it on my desk :-).

  • DB200

    Michael, good article! A few comments.

    In 1992 I bought a book called: “the machine that changed the world, the story of lean production”. How Japan’s secret weapon in the global auto wars will revolutionize western industry. It is written by James Womack, Daniel Jones and Daniel Roos. It was an analysis about how the Japanese were beating the West. Long story short: They learned to practice Deming’s theory about quality. The US car manufacturers refused to accept this theory (that’s why Deming went to Japan) and as a result lagged in efficiency (production) and quality (products). The European car industry went through a crisis in the early 90s and learned the hard way to apply lean mfg. They were keen to apply the lessons from the above mentioned book. After reading the book and seeing how the Americans did not change track, I thought the writing was on the wall, and the US car industry would go down the tubes. And that was 20 years ago. So it is stìll surprising how long systems that are doomed, still can function for a very long time.

    An example about my experience with GM:
    We had a small, simple GM car and I started to do the (normal) maintenance myself. With a good repair manual and a little bit of patience, this is not so difficult.

    The first time, I bought the spark plugs at the GM dealer. Three years later, after 40k miles, they had to be replaced according to the maintenance schedule. This time I bought spark plugs (Bosch) at a parts dealer.

    The difference:
    GM spark plugs were 10% more expensive (2004 price) than the Bosch (2007 price) not taking into account inflation.
    GM spark plugs were made in China (versus made in Germany for the Bosch)
    Gm spark plugs were of lower quality resulting in a less smooth running engine (still technically acceptable though).

    So GM mgt was buying crappy Chinese stuff and selling it for high prices under their own brand. The Germans were making quality stuff at fair prices. And this latter, I guess, is what the Americans should start doing again.

  • “Today, when you add up all forms of debt in America, it comes to over 50 trillion dollars.”

    $ 200 TRILLION. Prof. L. Kotlikoff

    • Michael

      I was just talking about current debt, not future obligations. I have quoted Kotlikoff in many previous articles. 🙂


  • 317

    Maybe it is not who builds them or where they are assembled is the where the problems solution exists.

    Maybe it is what one does with these vehicles makes the difference.

    A lot of money, time and effort is put into makig energy a consumer product. To wake up and find 60% of the US culture is relying upon foregn resources must be difficult to manage in the press.

    The USA Still wanting to grow its economy upon resources it doesnt owm can only lead to one place?


  • I retired from the auto industry in 1974 and blame management and their greed to serve the stokholders for their colapse. I was laughted at when I left and told them that if they did not change the way the handled people and money they would gobankrupt. I rest my case.

  • Michael, I mostly enjoy reading your end of the world stories, but this one is so ill-informed that it is just plain sad.

    First of all, the United States has an automobile industry that is alive and flourishing. It is just not in Michigan any more. It pays good wages, has good benefits and the jobs are not going anywhere. In 2009, 441,989 Americans had those jobs in seven states that were not Michigan. In Michigan, there were only 205,962 auto jobs. (Two more plants have opened outside of Michigan in the past two years, but numbers are not yet available. For more details see, “The Great Recession Conspiracy”, which is available everywhere ebooks are sold.

    But on the other hand, those fools in Washington don’t seem to have a very good grasp on the truth either.

  • Wolfgang

    Two things to point out here.
    One: The US auto manufacturers have still not grasped the concept of Peak Oil.
    Two: The US couldn’t build a fuel efficient car or truck to save its life.

    The only reason Chrysler is still moving along is because they are now owned by Fiat. Fiat has good experience in small cars, and that is what is saving Chrysler.

  • Jim

    If I had any complaints with my Domestic autos, It’d relate to the outsourced parts that were the direct result of bean-counters running the company.
    Of course, it made the stockholders happy,who I doubt drive the same brand I do.

  • Steve

    You still don’t get it,do you? Those employers are out there and they can’t be bargained with and can’t be reasoned with. They feel no pity or remorse or fear and they will not stop ever until they automate all jobs. Employers are automating all jobs to make money. That’s what they do. THAT’S ALL THEY DO!!

  • Steve

    I have lived both in Europe and the US. Recently moved back to Europe from the US.

    The shocking state of the US infrastructure is sickening. Rusty old bridges, pot holed roads, and bad public transport (and I was living in a major east coast city).

    In Europe the infrastructure is in much better shape beccaus they invest in it.

    The US has to cop on and start moving forward again. The “working well off” don’t see the decline inside their car windows. It’s noticeable when you actual “walk” around cities and get the up close and personal view.

    The US is in decline and the rust and poor infrastructure is all around you.

  • 1965LeMans

    2.7 million vehicles is clearly incorrect. 8 million vehicles was more like it. Your source,Kevin Brown? is clearly incorrect-I just notified him as well. Apparently he likes to stir the pot. You need to do better research-this was a glaringly obvious error to anyone that knows anything about the auto industry, and apparently you don’t know too much. I question some of your other “facts” as well, but in the meantime-do a simple google search to confirm my assertion-omit #2, and then change the title to 16 facts you didn’t know. Unless you just like to stir the pot too.

  • Bush and Obama can bailout Detroit, as only a temporary measure. However, Obama did not do his job by deregulating the industry back to 1971 or so! Or 1974! Should be deregulate back to 1974, then 1971. Then back to 1956 for all I care! I also do not believe in the 2 party system. I guess voting for Bush in 2000 is fine, but after what he did in Iraq in March 2003, should have voted for Michael Badnarik for 2004. Both Bush and Kerry are Skull & Bones for sure. Take care!

  • Both Democrats and Republicans stink! Democrats downsize our rigs to nothing and Republicans lower our car quality. Read Chalmers Johnson! Waxman, Carter, and GW Bush are out to kill the auto industry! Besides, that 9-11 was an inside job!

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