I am the son of an immigrant.
My father came to the United States after World War II to be part of the American Dream. Part of that dream was to own a car - an American car.
Dad was a loyal Ford man; he wouldn't have dreamed of buying anything else. He was a firm believer in supporting American workers building the best cars in the world.
Like most Automotive News readers, I share many of those old-school values. And I consider myself lucky to be working with the industry at a time of such remarkable change. But the excitement that used to surround American automakers has turned into a growing anxiety. The Big 3 are losing U.S. sales and market share and the technological edge to their Japanese competitors.
The story is familiar and increasingly troubling to anyone watching the business:
The Big 3's U.S. market share has hit an all-time low, and it's still dropping. Toyota Motor Corp. is neck and neck with Ford Motor Co. as the world's No. 2 automaker and has General Motors squarely in its sights.
U.S. sales of the full-sized pickups and SUVs that used to be Detroit's most profitable vehicles are slumping badly. Companies are locked in a profit-sapping incentives war in which the Big 3 have to offer almost four times the discount of their Japanese competitors to move the metal.
Meanwhile, customers are lining up to pay premium prices for advanced-technology, fuel-efficient hybrids, mostly from Japan.