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The End of Detroit: How the Big Three Lost Their Grip on the American Car Market [Kindle Edition]

Micheline Maynard
3.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (51 customer reviews)

Print List Price: $23.00
Kindle Price: $12.09
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Book Description

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.

Editorial Reviews

From 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.
Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information, Inc.


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

Product Details

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
29 of 33 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Timely, but incomplete February 15, 2005
"The End of Detroit" covers a very timely subject - the long slide and decline of the market share of the Big Three, as well as the decline of their ability to effectively compete.

Micheline Maynard covers the successes of Japanese and Korean automotive manufacturers in great detail, as well as BMW as an example of European manufacturers. A particularly worthwhile read are the areas covering the the North American manufacturing plants that the import brands have built - covering not only the obvious financial advantages but also their long term strategic benefits. She also covers the state of the big Three in detail - the focus on high-profit trucks and it's inevitable backfire, and especially the overhead costs of the very powerful (and very entrenched) labor force: uncompetitive (costs and work rules), overpaid, excessive benefits, and enormous financial overhead both when working, when laid off, and continuing on through retirement. All of these labor issues competitively impact the bottom line of the Big Three - not only in the price of the vehicle, but in their ability to drive down costs (both manufacturing and labor) to be competitive in the market.

I actually finished this book and then went back to review it again a couple of months later. Its a very timely book, and I highly recommend it. However, I can't say I agree with everything the author states, and I do feel that several of the topics deserve more detailed attention.

For example:

- Nissan has made some very serious errors, almost going out of business. Now the recovery is well underway, and the product lineup is very aggressive and bold (too much so in some cases?). However, there are some serious quality issues in some of the cars (the many issues of 350Z owners comes to mind).
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16 of 19 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Disappointing December 29, 2004
This book is essentially an expansion on several newspaper columns related to the thriving Japanese automakers and the struggling "Big 3". I expected to gain insight into management systems and perhaps a comparison of the methods used at various automakers to understand why honda and toyota continue to gain market share and impress their customers. Instead, the book uses quotes from sources like Edmunds and company literature to demonstrate the writer's point and really tells very little about how these companies work.
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9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars A Missed Opportunity May 4, 2004
By A Customer
I was very excited about receiving this book as a gift and eagerly dug into reading it. Unfortunately, I am quite disappointed with most elements of the book and think that Ms. Maynard missed a great opportunity to dig deep into the downfall of an American-led industry.
The book is written from a journalistic viewpoint rather than from a business strategist/analyst viewpoint. The proof of Japan's successes or Detroit's failures was recalled via anecdotes instead of concrete sales results and trends. The anecdotes provide nice human interest stories, but provide little business proof for success or failure. She does interject a little profit margin data over time, but doesn't acknowledge that profit margins in all industries decrease as the industry matures.
Additionally, at different points in the book, Ms. Maynard contradicts her previous conclusions. For example, early in the book, she emphasizes that Japan's success is getting cusotmers to return and buy another Japanese nameplate; however, later she chastizes Detroit for the same thing, indicating that they are not focused on capturing additional marketshare (which is hard to do when you have greater than 50%).
The book does provide a nice history review for those that are interested, but feels like a TQM book from 15 years ago.
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16 of 20 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Been Done Before October 13, 2003
By A Customer
Certainly with the problems facing the Big Two of Detroit and the company formerly known as Chrysler, I was looking forward to an enjoyable read while attempting to add one more person's perspective on Detroit's problems and whether or Ms. Maynard's reporting of the same might well be insurmountable, in turn leading to disaster for one or more of our American manufacturers.
Sadly, Ms. Maynard should have asked the Society of Automotive Historians if they would volunteer their time to proof read her book, as the numerous little factual errors built up to become a huge disappointment to me.
Additionally, Ms. Maynard falls into the trap that so many would be automotive analysts do, oversimplification of the issues at hand. By claiming that Japanese companies like Toyota never make mistakes in determining want the customers want in new products or overstating the German's abilities to capture the mood of the American public's automotive desires, she overlooks vehicles such as the Toyota Echo or Volkswagen's "soon to come to America" Phaeton.
As an automotive analyst and historian and a very harsh critic of many of Detroit's missteps along the way, I'm always on the lookout for another person's viewpoint on the present crisis. However, Ms. Maynard's book sheds little new light on the subject and many of her conclusions are simply wrong.
That doesn't mean that Detroit isn't in serious trouble, but by my analysis, the current situations that are likely to cause permanent damage to the American automobile industry has little to do with her oversimplification of the market dynamics and how Detroit is reacting to them.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars The End of Detroit: How the Big Three Lost Their Grip on the American...
Very enlightening book, though recent history seems to indicate that the remaining Big Three American Automobile Companies are continuing down the same path that has led to the New... Read more
Published 11 months ago by J P Villforth
4.0 out of 5 stars Good history of the American Auto Industry
This book chronicles the rise and decline of the American Auto Industry. The 'just good enough' mentality of management and the crazy union crap that doomed this vital part of... Read more
Published 19 months ago by Bob Corry
2.0 out of 5 stars Paint by Numbers
This book is like the product of a paint by numbers kit. All the colors are there and the product is recognizable but it is not original or very interesting. Read more
Published on January 18, 2012 by John Mccarrier
4.0 out of 5 stars Insightful and well written overview of US auto industry
As a Michigander and a car buff I thought I would give this book a quick read this summer whilst on vacation. Ms. Maynard is a very good author. Read more
Published on July 20, 2010 by Michigan Reviewer
3.0 out of 5 stars Good but should have been better
Overall the book was good but reading it 7 years after publication,
I was somewhat disapointed. Would not have read if I would have
realized when it was written. Read more
Published on June 21, 2010 by Glenn A. Manning
1.0 out of 5 stars WORST SERVICE EVER!
Published on October 15, 2009 by B. Hilliard
4.0 out of 5 stars Cool book, needs an update
This was a really cool book that gives a good overview of how the Imports took over the Auto industry. Read more
Published on July 21, 2009 by JSquaredZ
4.0 out of 5 stars Good book for people who are interested but not experts
This is a very good book for an overview of the state of the automotive business world. Note if you are a total gear head, work in one of these companies, etc.. Read more
Published on March 17, 2009 by C. A. Shepherd
5.0 out of 5 stars A great study in business leadership as well as the auto industry
This book is not only well written but is a good read for more than just car buffs. Maynard lays out a detailed case for not only how Detroit lost its hold on the auto industry,... Read more
Published on December 16, 2008 by Knud A. Hermansen
2.0 out of 5 stars Too much opinion interjected amongst fact
While there are some interesting stories about the various car companies, the author adds her own opinion in far too many situations. Read more
Published on November 7, 2008 by Jon OBRIEN
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More About the Author

Micheline Maynard is a senior business correspondent at the New York Times, and the author of the acclaimed book, The End of Detroit: How the Big Three Lost Their Grip on the American Car Market. A veteran journalist, she joined the staff of the New York Times in 2003. She was named the 11th winner of the Nathaniel Nash Award for excellence in business and economics journalism in 2009. Maynard is a frequent guest on NPR, CNBC and The Newshour on PBS, and an adjunct lecturer at the Ross School of Business at the University of Michigan.


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