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Firestone, Clunkers and Chapter 11: The Decade in Car News Page 3

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No Renault-Nissan-Chrysler alliance

No Renault-Nissan-Chrysler alliance

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Wagoner claims GM doesn’t need an alliance

Wagoner claims GM doesn’t need an alliance

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Auto Alliances End in Tatters, Mostly

In 2000, the auto landscape was shifting dramatically as smaller brands were being hoovered up by debt-happy automakers. Today, most of those alliances have ended up in tatters.

GM and Chrysler may have hit the skids together this year, but ten years ago, it was Nissan that was edging toward the same fate before Renault intervened. Nissan's fortunes foundered in the late 1990s as stale product and stagnant sales in Japan and the U.S. pushed the company near insolvency. DaimlerChrysler took a sniff--and walked away. In the end, France's Renault invested in a major chunk of Nissan, and to date it's the most successful near-merger ever executed in the auto industry--the only Renault alliance worth much, in the long run.

Look elsewhere, and it's a hall of shame of unworkable acquisitions and alliances. In the 2000s alone,  GM held 20-percent stakes in Fiat, Suzuki, and Subaru--while also retaining production sharing with Suzuki in Canada and Toyota in California. All are defunct. Ford once held Land Rover, Jaguar and Aston Martin--and sold them all during a decade of retrenchment, with a Volvo sale nearing a closing date and Mercury likely in possession of a DNR.  BMW jettisoned Rover while nurturing MINI and Rolls-Royce.

Volkswagen seemed to buck the trend by digesting Bentley, Bugatti, Lamborghini and Skoda and by finally swallowing Porsche and taking a large chunk of Suzuki. Will that sentence read the same in ten years?


 
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Comments (9)
  1. I've always had a problem with Cash4Clunkers. To me it seems to go against simple supply and demand economics. How can we push all of these new cars into a market already saturated with used and repossessed vehicles (i.e. www.repofinder.com)? Now new cars are worth even less, we have more Americans in debt, and eventually more repossessions.
     
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  2. Heres to a better 2010~
     
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  3. I love Padgett's writing but think there is more than a glimmer of hope for 2010. A picture is worth a thousand words-check the look on Lutz's face!
     
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  4. I'm sure the naughts will be looked back on as a time when American Capitalism started to lose its way, the auto industry being a textbook example. Will we get back on path? The auto industry might be one of the first places to look in the next several years.
     
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  5. The biggest change to me has been in how the public learns about cars -- which is partially what Marty's talking about in his last point. In the 2000s, the internet became a truly robust marketing medium with its own set of needs, limitations, and possibilities. Today, consumers can get more information than they ever wanted about nearly any new model, any recall, any tech development -- and in just seconds.
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    Of course, in internet is a two-way superhighway these days, and we've seen more than a few automakers take hits when bad news and reviews circulated quickly. (Hello, Crosstour.) On the other hand, models like the Ford Fiesta have used the web to great advantage.
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    So, here's to a well-informed public in the 2010s (though technically the decade doesn't start until next year). Maybe automakers will listen this go-round. Maybe?
     
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  6. As Richard Read points out, the next decade doesn't start til Jan 1, 2011. That said, this is a great roundup of important developments.
    I think another take on the GM-Chrysler bankruptcy (and Ford's commensurate cost reductions via negotiating with a UAW that briefly got some sense into its head) is that for the first time in two generations, the U.S. industry may be not only cost-competitive but actually become a powerhouse exporter. We'll check back in 2 years.
     
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  7. Hybrids as a category is definitely the story of the decade. IT has changed everything from how we look @ autos , legislation etc etc
     
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  8. I believe that alternative energy sourcewill be thetheme of the next decade.
     
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  9. Cash for clunkers would never work for a real business model.
     
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