The Big Three become the Big One

Published: 28 November 2008

When the twin towers were destroyed on September 2001 America’s iconic landscape underwent a shocking, instantaneous change on an unthinkable scale. Everything Americans believed in was irredeemably altered.

The plight of the so-called Big Three car corporations – Ford, GM and Chrysler – is surely going to lead to a similarly seismic shock, but this time it will be different because it should not come as any kind of surprise.

Years of mismanagement, union bullying, poor product and a defiance of the need to embrace change has left each of the Big Three horribly exposed. And now they’ve come to judgement day, on which they stand before Congress to beg for a public bailout, are they contrite or humble? Are they heck.

With a withering arrogance that defies the overarching reality, they front up in their private jets to demand money with menaces – the threat in this case being the loss of potentially three million jobs in their own organisations and the businesses which supply them. But you have to ask: if the government gives them the cash, what will they do with it? GM alone has squandered $5billion in just one quarter of 2008, so it’s hardly a safe pair of hands.

An industry insider told us this week that he believes the outcome of the crisis will be the merging of the Big Three under one name – American Motors Inc? – owned by the government.  Tens of thousands of jobs will be lost, but millions will be saved too, and the new auto giant can get on with the business of building cars that people actually want.

And if you think Americans are proud, patriotic and ignorant, and would wail at such a loss of treasured brands, you’re wrong – research shows an overwhelming view that the Big Three have had their chance and blown it. The majority actually resent their incompetence.

Like the New York skyline, the American motorscape is about to change forever.

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By Greg Fountain

CAR's former managing editor, editor, caption chiseller, noticer of ironies