Auto Industry's Future

Can the U.S. firms stave off foreign competition?


Depending on where you sit, the U.S. auto industry's gas tank is either half-full or half-empty. While 1999 sales totaled a record 17 million vehicles, market share is steadily being nibbled away by foreign automakers. Many industry-watchers argue that a fleet of jazzy new Japanese vehicles, especially in the all-important light-truck market, will further erode sales of American cars. But other analysts say the Big Three -- GM, Ford and DaimlerChrysler -- are answering the threat with their own forward-looking new products. Meanwhile, many analysts predict that the expense of competing in a global marketplace will force foreign and domestic car companies to merge into five or six megafirms. But others say that smaller companies that want to remain independent will thwart the trend toward ...

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