Rick Wagoner’s out at GM, Fritz Henderson is in. There’s been a lot of beating up on the American auto industryover the last months. Longer than that, actually, in some corners, but it really took off with last summer’s rising fuel prices and fall’s global credit crisis dealing a one-two punch to Chrysler, GM and, to a lesser extent, Ford.
While this day has been coming for a little while now, and arrives not completely undeserved, I can’t help feeling that the American auto industry is being scapegoated to an unfair degree. And when auto sales among all manufacturers are down as much as they are, how can you expect anyone to come up with a viable plan for turning the company around and returning to profitability? If people can’t afford new vehicles because they don’t have a job, or can’t get credit even if they do, how is that so much the fault of the auto industry?
The American (i.e. brands with domestic roots, not U.S.-based plants of companies with origins in other countries) auto industry may well be the next (or most recent, depending on your perspective) casualty of globalization. It also may not be the best place to focus our attention, energy, and resources for the “next economy.” But if that’s what’s happening we can take some of the sting out of it and stop heaping blame when there’s more than enough of that to go around.