Past as Prologue: The Detroit Edition
Fuel efficiency standards, government bailouts, intransigent corporate cultures, Americans’ undying thirst for large cars… it’s beginning to sound like 1980 again. Where’s my K car?
From the archives of the New Yorker, this Detroit dispatch, by Joseph Kraft and titled “The Downsizing Decision,” (interestingly, the word only seems to refer to making cars smaller, and not laying off workers) is worth a look.
Then, in April, 1979, G.M. introduced a compact four-cylinder, front-wheel-drive vehicle, produced as the X-Car and marketed as the Chevrolet Citation, the Pontiac Phoenix, the Oldsmobile Omega, and the Buick Skylark. Thanks to the comprehensive reduction in size, G.M. more than held its own at the time of the second round of gas lines. Its share of the market for American-built cars soared to over sixty per cent—and set new monthly records, which, among other factors, put Ford in trouble and sent Chrysler running to the government for help. Even though hard hit by the recent slump, with first-quarter profits down eighty-eight per cent from a year ago, G.M. is the only major American car manufacturer in the black. In April, it has accounted for sixty-five per cent of sales of American-built cars. Robert Stempel, the general manager at Pontiac, told me, “These days, it’s exciting to be at G.M.”
This entry was posted on Monday, April 27th, 2009 at 3:34 pm and is filed under Cars, Etc.. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.