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Monday, June 1, 2009

Requiem for a Heavyweight

Flint, MI… 6-01-09
When Dinah Shore sang “See the USA in a Chevrolet”, GM was rolling solidly on all four wheels; over 600,000 were employed globally, and they had a fat 51% market share. Now, GM stock is the price of a newspaper and soon to go away, market share is 21%, and when things shake down, only about 40, 000 people will be GM employees world-wide. Being in the broken heart of the GM bankruptcy this week and being surrounded by a very somber state of Michigan is very tough to take. Today is a day to remember.

Because today the headlines should read, Detroit R.I.P.

Not rest in peace mind you. No. The RIP stands for “Results in Politics.” I drove past and around Buick City today. I spent a couple hours in Flint. I will be in Detroit in the morning and for the rest of the week. I want to be a witness. This is my home. But things are changing with lightening speed. The factories closed by GM will be someone else’s soon. All the car songs will change. It will now be “See the USA in your Hyun-dai!’ Instead of Mustang Sally, we will dance to “Tata Sally”. The Beach Boys classic will shout “she’s real fine my hybrid mine”.

Like a heavyweight champ, Detroit was left hooked. Knocked out cold. The people of the United States will now own 60% of General Motors. Our choice to drive what we want will soon be over. Smaller, more fuel efficient vehicles will be the norm. It is not without coincidence that gasoline is rising at a record pace, again forcing people into considering small vehicles. Here is the sad truth. Americans do not want small cars. They want cars with good gas mileage.

Ford, Honda, Toyota, and all the smaller companies will listen and watch this week. Notice there is no comment from them today. Chrysler and General Motors are in essence, nationalized. It does not make any difference if we agree or not. This is the new reality.

When we go from 16 million to 10 million units sold, very ugly things can and indeed do happen. One thing for sure is the Big Three is changed forever. Detroit, the once Arsenal of Democracy is forever a much smaller shadow of itself. Re-invention must come from within. And it will quickly come from being without. Those working and those retired are just hoping to keep what they have.
The days of Detroit as the Motor City are modified forever.

This is the result of car sales that melted to nothing. And consumer confidence will not improve overnight, unlike the gas prices approaching three dollars AGAIN.

1 comment:

mattbach said...

Hello,

Hope you came to downtown Flint while you were here. We're a town in transition that is experience a positive change in attitude and appearance. Yes, we have some one-time factory sites that are now vacant lots or fields.

But did you also know that in our downtown alone, we have several new restaurants and businesses and several buildings that are being transformed.

Our city is quickly changing from a factory town to a college town. I hope when you came to Flint you also noticed the four major colleges and universities in Flint that currently serve nearly 30,000 students.

I hope you drove into the Flint Cultural Center and saw the amazing Flint Institute of Arts, Flint Institute of Music, Whiting Auditorium and Longway Plantearium.

I hope you stopped at the Sloan Museum and Buick galleries to learn about our town and the auto history. If you visited the Cultural Center you saw an area that was developed by our many auto pioneers, like C.S. Mott, Alfred P. Sloan and Robert T. Longway. This is an area of our community that continues to thrive to this day.

If you would like to learn more about Flint let me know. Next time, when you're here give me a call and I can show you around or steer you toward some things maybe you missed in your two hours here.

Let me know. Thanks for your time.

Matt Bach
Public Relations Manager
Flint Area Convention and Visitors Bureau
mbach@flint.travel