The American Automobile Manufacturers Association would have less clout with only Ford Motor Co. and General Motors as its members, says AAMA President Andrew Card.
Ever since Chrysler Corp. and Daimler-Benz AG announced May 7 that they plan to merge, the future, or at least the effectiveness, of the AAMA has been in doubt. DaimlerChrysler AG would not qualify for membership under the AAMA's current bylaws.
'I don't believe that a trade association that looks like AAMA with only two members would be as effective in articulating some of the concerns as it had been with three members,' Card says.
The AAMA represents the interests of the Big 3 in Washington and in various state capitals. It has been that way since 1992, when the AAMA recast itself as a Big 3 organization and booted out Honda Manufacturing of America Inc. and Volvo North America Corp.
Chrysler would like to remain a member, says Card. The bylaws could be amended to admit DaimlerChrysler. But any changes would be tricky because other foreign-based manufacturers, such as Toyota Motor Manufacturing North America Inc., would like to join.
'There's a full range of discussions going on within GM and Ford, and I know there's a lot of discussions inside Chrysler,' says Card. 'To my knowledge, there have been no discussions between GM and Ford about this.'
On relatively few issues, such as international trade, union relations and health care, do the interests of the Big 3 differ from those of the so-called transplant manufacturers in the United States, he says.
Philip Hutchinson, president of the Association of International Automobile Manufacturers, which represents the transplants and importers in Washington, has been out front, before and after the merger announcement, in calling for a single trade association in the United States.
But despite the announcement and the strain it places on AAMA in particular, Hutchinson says he has seen no movement so far toward bringing AAMA and AIAM together.
'The captains of industry have to make the call,' he says, referring to the chairmen of the Big 3 and of major international companies. 'I think it's probably just a question of time.'
Staff Reporter Harry Stoffer contributed to this report