Make no mistake; General Motors is doing well these days — at least outside North America.
GM's U.S. market share has been cut by almost half since the first oil crisis back in the 1970s. The company is fighting to keep its share around 25 percent. Back in the early 1970s, GM's market share was around 45 percent. Management even worried about antitrust activity against GM.
But it's a different time and a much different world. In the 1970s, many companies had huge advantages in their home markets. Fiat dominated Italy, and Renault and Peugeot didn't have many competitors in France. The Germans had dominant domestic manufacturers, and there was even a strong British automobile industry.
But laws, the removal of trade barriers and competition changed all that. It's a different world, and if it isn't global, it's getting close.
GM faces more competition than ever in North America. Yet GM is growing rapidly around the globe, if not to compensate for domestic losses then at least to build volume in all sorts of new markets, such as China.
Thirty years ago, China didn't exist on anyone's automotive map. Today it is the second-largest vehicle market in the world and growing rapidly without yet needing to export. GM now sells more Buicks in China than in the United States. GM is one of dozens of manufacturers assembling vehicles in China.
Fiat lost dominance in its home market but now sells vehicles across Europe.
We have watched Renault expand outside France. Since Nissan is part of the Renault alliance, it has a global footprint that wasn't there before.
Toyota dominated a single major market in 1970, but today you'll find the brand all over the world.
The only way GM can make up for lost market share in the United States is to continue to expand all over the globe. GM is making money outside North America, which shows how expansion is paying off.
No automaker can exist anymore with just its home market. It no longer has a protected place to sell.
The way for U.S. car companies to expand and prosper is to go global. And there are some great opportunities for the Detroit 3 around the world.