For the last quarter century I have spent several days in January chronicling essentially the same story – Detroit’s back!
You know the clichés: Chrysler, Ford and General Motors are now “firing on all cylinders” and the Detroit Three have “turned the corner.” Detroit’s car companies are “racing ahead” with exciting new models and “inspired” leadership. The former Big Three have their “plants humming” and their “mojo” back.
Ugh. Sound familiar?
Here in 2014, Ford, GM and Chrysler are profitable and GM and Ford have even topped third-party quality studies at various times since 2010. And each is offering some very good cars and light trucks, with the promise of more to come as the 2014 Detroit auto show unfolds these next two days. In particular, I want to see Ford’s new F-Series pickup, Chrysler’s new mid-size cars and GM’s new Cadillac ATS coupe and GMC Canyon mid-size pickup.
Mostly I’ll be looking for something more than the usual, decades-old rhetoric. I am not holding my breath, however.
Back in the 1980s, I wrote about Chrysler’s revival under Lee Iacocca, led by K-cars and minivans, only to write about Chrysler going back “in the ditch” until another rebirth arrived thanks to a line of LH mid-size cars, minivans with sliding doors on both sides and an all-new Ram pickup with then-novel drop-down fenders – all three of the latter showcased at the Detroit show. Since then, Chrysler has had more ups and downs than a playground teeter-totter.
Ford? I covered the launch of the original Taurus in the mid-1980s, a car that saved that company from the Grim Reaper. A decade later, Ford launched another Taurus in Detroit that was so awful, it almost bankrupted the company. Like Chrysler, Ford has been rising and falling like the temperature in Calgary during a series of chinooks.
GM, from the mid-1980s to bankruptcy in 2009, was mostly about a long, steady death spiral. Will this current turnaround be the exact opposite – an uninterrupted rise in sales and profitability?
Most of all, I want to see something I haven’t seen over all these decades, something to suggest Detroit really and truly is back. I’ll let you know in this space first.
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