Cover image for The end of Detroit : how the Big Three lost their grip on the American car market
The end of Detroit : how the Big Three lost their grip on the American car market
Maynard, Micheline.
Personal Author:
First edition.
Publication Information:
New York : Currency/Doubleday, [2003]

Physical Description:
327 pages ; 25 cm
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
HD9710.U52 M39 2003 Adult Non-Fiction Central Closed Stacks
HD9710.U52 M39 2003 Adult Non-Fiction Non-Fiction Area
HD9710.U52 M39 2003 Adult Non-Fiction Open Shelf

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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.

Reviews 2

Publisher's Weekly Review

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.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

Library Journal Review

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. (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.