Wall Street insiders attempting to predict the demise of the Detroit Three (GM/Ford/Chrysler) blame most of the domestic auto manufacturing difficulties on the rise and fall of the SUV. They believe that General Motors, Ford Motor Company, and Chrysler LLC (mostly under the management of Daimler-Benz) didn’t have the foresight to build high quality cars when money was pouring in from easy-profit vehicles like the Ford F-Series, Chevrolet Tahoe, and Dodge Ram. On the surface, these insiders appear to be correct.
Take American luxury cars, for instance. In the early part of this millenium, the only prominent vehicles at Cadillac and Lincoln were their jumbo SUVs, the Escalade and Navigator. Mainstream brands like Chevrolet and Ford were offering an abomination called the Malibu and an ancient design called the Taurus. The few takers snapped them up at rock bottom prices.
For a deeper look at the gravity of the situation in numerical terms, check this Numbers post from a few days ago with figures supplied by TIME. For perspective on the issue, read The Good Car Guy’s question from yesterday. For facts about automaker offerings in the U.S. domestic market in 2009, keep reading. Oh, and by the way, to attempt to sway the argument in favour of cars instead of trucks, models like the F-150, F-250, and F-350 were lumped together. It didn’t help. Also, TSV means anything that isn’t a car: trucks, SUVs, and vans.