I'm not sure why you initially blamed this on "aging factories, inflexible unions, and shoddy quality" ["10 Cars That Sank Detroit," usnews.com]. These are symptoms of bad management. I don't know who American car makers are trying to market to, but over the last 25 years it sure hasn't been me. Even today, small, fuel-efficient American cars seem to be marketed primarily to college students and other first-time buyers. The rest of the small-car market is completely ignored.
Comment by James of CO
Bankruptcy will not result in the elimination of GM. It will result in a complete restructuring of the company. In the end, they will be a smaller and more effective company. The difference between bankruptcy and bailout is that in a bankruptcy, it is the owners, venders, creditors, and employees that "pay the price." In a bailout, it is the taxpayers that "pay the price." Another difference—bankruptcy may solve the problem, and a bailout will postpone the problem.
Comment by Richard Greer of IA
I think the Detroit Three need to go. They have ignored their customers' needs for decades. Their market share dwindled, and all they did to counter that was to build more profit-making vehicles for the stalwart Detroit buyers that care nothing about quality, value, or economy. The United Auto Workers Union is a greedy entity that needs to be dissolved. I hope the government will not make us pay for Detroit's mistakes.
Comment by Jim of TX
The free-enterprise system relies upon the success of the automobile industry, just like any other industry. Produce a car that competes with the foreign product, and I will buy one tomorrow. In the meantime, I will continue to use my 1986 Cadillac that is paid for, has low taxes because of its age, and does 17 miles to the gallon after doing 116,000 miles.
Comment by Phil Rogers of MO
During the 1960s and 1970s, when Detroit was building nothing but junk, I owned five Volvos and a Saab; all but one of which was good for 50,000 miles or more. Since 1979, I have owned five GM products, four of which lasted more than 200,000 miles. My 1986 Pontiac 6000 topped 300,000, my 1995 Chevy Tahoe is still going strong at 249,000, and my 2005 GMC Envoy is a real gem. GM has produced some duds over the years, but their quality is as good as anybody's.
Comment by Wes Ewell of MA
There was a day when American cars were the high standard of the world. Sadly, that day is long past. For the last 40 years or so, Detroit has served the public third-rate cars at first-rate prices. I made the mistake of buying a Chrysler minivan back in the early 1990s. That was by far the worst car I ever owned. I swore that never again would I get burned by an American car and have been very happy driving Toyotas ever since.
Comment by Fred of CA
My 2000 Ford Focus lasted over 200,000 miles with no significant problems and also got good gas mileage. The American product is still good and reliable.
Comment by Steve of TN
All automakers are hurting right now, not just the Big Three. Toyota sales are way down, with only the Prius bolstering its sales. Nobody is buying cars because we are heading into a depression. If we bail out banks, we should probably bail out GM, too. Make these banks and GM pay the taxpayers back with interest when times are good again or give us a share in stocks if you want to stay afloat.
Comment by Tom of MI
This writer might take a bit of flak, but he is right. Detroit has been putting out junk for years, and it has finally caught up with them. Detroit still cannot make a four-cylinder engine that will last as long as Asian engines; this is a fact. Unions have also played a big part in the downfall of Detroit. With cheap labor abroad, how do they think they can compete with low-cost cars like Hyundai and Kia?
Comment by R. Mace of TX
The Big Three are desperately out of touch, and the union needs a new brain. However, they involve a huge part of the faltering economy. If you lose an arm out of stupidity or worse, are things made better by chopping off the other one? They deserve punishment, but, more important, we deserve solutions.
Comment by Martin Washburn of NY