Rewind a few years and the talk was all doom and gloom for auto sales from the domestic automakers. This was followed by the bankruptcy of GM and Government bailout, Ford was reeling and saw foreign cars as more popular because they were exciting product and new. Also consumers believed they were superior quality over U.S. automakers even though that gap had been shrinking.
Also, foreign automakers were seen as providing value, which means different things to different people for some it was purely price, for others it was quality and low maintenance. The continuous rising sales trend for foreign automakers had many in domestic automotive scared. The American automotive industry was in a mess and had nothing positive in sight.
Fast forward to today and Ford is rolling with GM exiting bankruptcy and bringing new products to market like the Volt. Things can change fast with the recall by Toyota creating questions about foreign automaker quality and bringing to light the issue of quantity over quality in manufacturing. The auto industry has changed quickly and had to make tough decisions on everything from capacity to employment benefits to workers.
Automakers need to design for the future, not what is hip and position for a world that is far more energy conscious. The mentality of build what will sell well now has gone out the door, it is about positioning for the future. With sales annually at all time lows, the automakers are in a holding pattern with the future in question. Making the right decisions to position for that future will be critical for the big six and any other player that is looking to move up. Do not count out the likes of Hyundai, Kia and Subaru. The future seems to be wide open, the economy and planning will make the difference.