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The End of Detroit: How the Big Three Lost Their Grip on the American Car Market Paperback – September 21, 2004

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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. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

Review

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.”
—BusinessWeek


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

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 368 pages
  • Publisher: Crown Business; Reprint edition (September 21, 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0385507704
  • ISBN-13: 978-0385507707
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 0.8 x 8.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 9.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (51 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,162,292 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

29 of 33 people found the following review helpful By JW on February 15, 2005
Format: Hardcover
"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 By FHC on December 29, 2004
Format: Hardcover
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 By A Customer on May 4, 2004
Format: Hardcover
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 By A Customer on October 13, 2003
Format: Hardcover
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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