End Of Detroit, The / Edition 1

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An in-depth, hard-hitting account of the mistakes, miscalculations and myopia that have doomed America’s automobile industry.

In the 1990s, Detroit’s Big Three automobile companies were riding high. The introduction of the minivan and the SUV had revitalized the industry, and it was widely believed that Detroit had miraculously overcome the threat of foreign imports and regained its ascendant position. As Micheline Maynard makes brilliantly clear in THE END OF DETROIT, however, the traditional American car industry was, in fact, headed for disaster. Maynard argues that by focusing on high-profit trucks and SUVs, the Big Three missed a golden opportunity to win back the American car-buyer. Foreign companies like Toyota and Honda solidified their dominance in family and economy cars, gained market share in high-margin luxury cars, and, in an ironic twist, soon stormed in with their own sophisticatedly engineered and marketed SUVs, pickups and minivans. Detroit, suffering from a “good enough” syndrome and wedded to ineffective marketing gimmicks like rebates and zero-percent financing, failed to give consumers what they really wanted—reliability, the latest technology and good design at a reasonable cost. Drawing on a wide range of interviews with industry leaders, including Toyota’s Fujio Cho, Nissan’s Carlos Ghosn, Chrysler’s Dieter Zetsche, BMW’s Helmut Panke, and GM’s Robert Lutz, as well as car designers, engineers, test drivers and owners, Maynard presents a stark picture of the culture of arrogance and insularity that led American car manufacturers astray. Maynard predicts that, by the end of the decade, one of the American car makers will no longer exist in its present form.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher

Acclaim for The End of Detroit

“[A] well-researched and passionate examination of contemporary culture, automotive and otherwise.”
Boston Globe

“Comprehensive . . . Maynard builds a persuasive case with layers of detail.”

“Maynard’s crisply written book coolly analyzes the causes of the latest fall of Detroit.”
The Economist

Publishers Weekly
Not too long ago, Detroit-made vehicles manufactured in the U.S. were the most popular and bestselling cars. That is no longer the case, and Maynard, a reporter for the New York Times, explains how the automobile industry is now led by such companies as Toyota and Honda. She explains the various reasons for the diminished power of domestic car makers including the introduction of new, more appealing models and light trucks. Maynard writes, "With the exception of Toyota and its expansive lineup, none of the import companies has designs on meeting Detroit head-on in every segment where it competes.... They can be successful by fixing their targets and taking away markets, one by one." She cites BMW and Hyundai as two companies who know their markets very well and have solid brand images. Based on Maynard's interviews with executives and employees of many car companies, foreign and domestic, she shows how the foreign companies were repeatedly more innovative and strategic in their efforts to win over American consumers. Toyota, for example, built car plants in the U.S. and trained local employees, including Spanish-speaking workers, who would later be able to work in Toyota plants in Mexico, South America and elsewhere. The reporting is solid, but the writing is occasionally dull. Still, this is an intriguing if somewhat gloomy view of the American car business. (Oct.) Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.
Library Journal
Maynard's premise is simple. American automakers have lost touch with consumer needs, and falling demand for their products will lead to their failure and eventual disappearance. But though this is presented as a new story, we have heard much of it before: in the early 1960s, as Volkswagen captured the hearts and wallets of American car buyers; in the 1970s, as the gas crises drove buyers to smaller, more fuel-efficient cars; in the 1980s, as quality concerns and cookie-cutter designs led buyers to Japanese products; and now with Maynard's stark portrait of a culture of insularity and arrogance among American car manufacturers. Any number of books from the past 20 years have presented the same argument, from Robert Sobel's Car Wars: The Untold Story, to Maryann Keller's Rude Awakening: The Rise, Fall, and Struggle for Recovery of General Motors. So do libraries really need another book on this subject? Surprisingly, yes. The automobile market is very different today, and mergers are leaving only a few large companies and almost no smaller independent manufacturers. Through interviews with industry leaders and analysis of these mergers, Maynard presents her findings with precision, even if there is a little too much hyperbole about the American auto-industry's oft-predicted end. Recommended for public libraries. [Previewed in Prepub Alert, LJ 5/15/03.]-Eric C. Shoaf, Brown Univ. Lib. Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780385507707
  • Publisher: The Crown Publishing Group
  • Publication date: 9/21/2004
  • Edition description: First Currency Paperback Edition
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 368
  • Sales rank: 1,257,262
  • Product dimensions: 5.50 (w) x 8.50 (h) x 0.81 (d)

Meet the Author

MICHELINE MAYNARD covers the automobile and airline industries for The New York Times and has written for Fortune, USA TODAY, Newsday, and U.S. News & World Report. She is a lecturer on the global auto industry at the University of Michigan School of Business, and is the author of two books, including Collision Course Inside the Battle for General Motors. She lives in Ann Arbor, Michigan
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Table of Contents

Ch. 1 How Detroit lost its grip 10
Ch. 2 A fallen comrade 34
Ch. 3 Two paths to the same conclusion 58
Ch. 4 Journey from the inside out 92
Ch. 5 Hot dogs, apple pie and Camry 115
Ch. 6 The challenger 144
Ch. 7 Nibbling from the bottom and the top 171
Ch. 8 Detroit south 199
Ch. 9 The end of Detroit 231
Ch. 10 What do customers really want? 271
Epilogue : the world in 2010 295
A five-point manifesto for fixing Detroit's problems 314
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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 2.5
( 3 )
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Sort by: Showing all of 3 Customer Reviews
  • Posted March 17, 2009

    "The End Of Detroit" Displays An Accurate Account Of The Highly Fickle Revolving World Of The Automotive Industry

    Author Micheline Maynard portrays how import automobile companies have labored mercilessly over the years to become competitive with the American big three car makers. The majority of the book reads as if it is a collection of magazine articles opposed to a novel. Although, brief exerts about candid moments in foriegn automotive history provides an intimate feeling as it shows their passion for the industry. Maynard seems to fall short at showing a detailed summary of the American big three and often leans heavily on the their competitions triumphs. The style of writing often becomes monotonous and leads to many lackluster chapters. The entire book would be compariable to a series of Buisness Week stories on the subject. Although at times dull "The End Of Detroit" splendidly summates how imports have risen from obscurity to become major players in the auto industry.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 2, 2005

    Biased View

    Although Maynard's research effort seemed substantial, the whole book read like one long, drawn-out editorial. The 'facts' were mostly opinions, selected only to support her views that everything GM/Ford/Chrysler was wrong and everything Toyota/Honda/Kia/Hyundai was right. Even quotes from American OEM executives were placed in context that deliberately portrayed them as misguided or out-of-touch (especially Bob Lutz). And, although there was some mention of socio-political factors contributing to non-American success in America, I was looking for more fact and commentary about our government's inaction to level the playing field for American manufacturers (health care, free trade agreements and enforcement, and retirement funding). I do acknowledge, however, that GM, Ford, and Chrysler are at fault themselves for their union contracts that work as a huge disadvantage on health care and pension costs. In short, I had a great interest in reading this book, especially considering the recent struggles of Delphi and how they affect GM, but was ultimately disappointed by the lack of fact-based analysis.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 3, 2005

    Half The Story

    Micheline Maynard overlooks a few things. Before 1970 the big 3 dominated, the book wrongly equates the existence of foreign rivals with automatic failure of Detroit in the present. Maynard also doesn't emphasize the fact that GM and Ford own several European, Japanese brands.

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