What's really killing Detroit

It's easy to point fingers but hard to pin down a single cause. Here are six big issues - and what they really mean for the future of the Big Three automakers.

1 of 6
BACKNEXT
SUV addiction
SUV addiction
The Chevrolet Tahoe has helped GM capture 70% of the large SUV market.
Gripe: They raked in huge profits for years from gas-guzzling SUVs.
Fact: Raking in profits is good, but taking eyes off the car market isn't.

Detroit depended largely on SUVs for sales and profits for many years. But those vehicles were very popular, and there was very little competition from foreign automakers.

In 2002, General Motors sold more than 2.8 million light trucks including 1.2 million SUVs. That was an increase of 6.2% from the year earlier. That same year, GM sold 2.3 million cars, a drop of almost 9% from the previous year.

When gas prices spiked in 2007, buyers suddenly shifted to smaller cars. That was quickly followed by an economic crisis that drove down sales of all types of vehicles. But trucks remain an important part of Detroit automakers' product strategies. Even with marker share for cars increasing, GM sold more trucks than cars in October

At the same time, automakers need to remember that cars matter, too.

What's to come: For now, GM has scrapped work on a future-generation engineering platform for its next-generation big trucks and SUVs, but that doesn't mean these vehicles will go away.

Chrysler recently announced the shut-down of its plant in Newark, Del. that makes the Dodge Durango and Chrysler Aspen full-sized SUVs. That leaves it nearly out of the large SUV business, at least for now.


NEXT: Lack of small cars
Last updated December 08 2008: 6:50 PM ET
More Galleries
15 top executives with $1 salaries Some CEOs and founders agree to salaries of just $1 a year. But once goodies like bonuses and stock options are added in, some of those executives end up taking home many millions of dollars a year. More
Mercedes SL65 AMG: 621 horses of topless power Turn heads as you blow by traffic in this roadster convertible from Mercedes. More
Where the middle class is most unequal CNNMoney looks at the five states with the biggest differences in middle class incomes. More

Special Offer
Market indexes are shown in real time, except for the DJIA, which is delayed by two minutes. All times are ET. Disclaimer Morningstar: © 2014 Morningstar, Inc. All Rights Reserved. Disclaimer The Dow Jones IndexesSM are proprietary to and distributed by Dow Jones & Company, Inc. and have been licensed for use. All content of the Dow Jones IndexesSM © 2014 is proprietary to Dow Jones & Company, Inc. Chicago Mercantile Association. The market data is the property of Chicago Mercantile Exchange Inc. and its licensors. All rights reserved. FactSet Research Systems Inc. 2014. All rights reserved. Most stock quote data provided by BATS.