All May Not Be Lost for the American Automobile

Not only is the technology of the automobile changing, so is how we think about them.

Published: 01-Feb-2009

It’s not news that Detroit is in the ditch, battered by both a frightful economy and self-inflicted woes. General Motors and Chrysler have already tapped Washington for $17.4 billion in emergency loans to avoid bankruptcy, and given the plight of the American auto industry that looks like a first installment of taxpayer funds.

The prognosis seems grim indeed. Yet is there a hopeful note amid the gloom? Is there a case to be made that the car industry actually could revive itself, instead of ending up in a coffin?

History and technology suggest that there may be — provided, of course, that the Big 3 can survive the next few years. And that’s a big if. The hopeful path, auto and labor experts say, requires rethinking not just old-line management and work practices but also how cars are sold, serviced and powered — that is, reinventing the industry and the car itself.

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