In the 1950s and 1960s, the combination of special circumstances and geographical isolation produced chrome-bedecked, V-8 powered, behemoth passenger cars. In the 1980s and 1990s, they gave birth to pickup trucks and their offspring, body-on-frame sport utility vehicles. Detroit lost its engineering edge as manufacturers on other continents pioneered front-wheel-drive, multi-valve engines, and hybrid gas-electric powertrains.
In the future, the larger, faster-growing market of China, will drive design preferences, while stricter fuel-economy standards will dictate size, weight, and engine size. That could mean extinction for some models that are beloved by American car buyers but aren't adaptable to the new world order. Herewith, some candidates for the scrap heap.
CEO Dan Akerson and his team get high marks on financial results. On busting bureaucracy, their grades are a mixed bag.
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