Running down the list, it seems that we still will have three U.S. automakers: the New General Motors, the New Chrysler Corp. and the Old Ford Motor Co. But the new Old Ford Motor Co. is a lot different from the old Old Ford Motor Co.
So much for the names. How about the product?
It is product that will determine the viability of those three new old companies.
Let's start at the bottom, with small cars. All automakers want them and are working hard on them. GM will have the Chevrolet Cruze and Volt; Ford will import a fleet from Ford of Europe, and Chrysler is relying on Fiat.
At Chevy, keep your eye on the Cruze. The Volt is still a toy. At about $40,000 a copy, the Volt is a long way from becoming a mass-market car.
There are other small-car problems. The Detroit automakers seem unable to build and sell a small car at a profit; every attempt in the past half-century or more has failed. They damn well better succeed this time; the mpg regulations that are almost upon us make a small car imperative.
Then there is the biggest problem: "How do you sell small cars to Americans?"
Americans have often voiced their disdain for such vehicles by declining to buy them. Last summer, gasoline was $4 a gallon, and small cars were popular. This year, gasoline is cheaper, and small cars are piling up on dealership lots.