I don't know where the 22,000 lost jobs number came from (I suspect it came from the analysis if GM took over Chrysler) but the most recent number of people employed directly in the US auto industry is three million. For every person employed in a US assembly plant there are 7.5 other people employed in the supply base. These numbers don't count the retail stores that service the auto workers.
Regarding the imports historical advantages, there were three: quality, product scale, and cost. Quality has been addressed albeit slowly. Ford essentially has caught up and the others are so close that they had to add another decimal position to the rankings to be able to be able to see a difference. Product scale means that the imports always were smaller and more gas efficient because their countries were so cramped and gas is so expensive, they had no choice. Further, safety was not as important to the imports as it was to the US manufacturers in a litigious society. The US manufacturers didn't compete on a cost basis initially for two reasons; first their factories and union contracts were not set up that way (e.g. in Japanese companies, suppliers provide inbound freight (not in the US mafgs.) including delivering the parts to the assembly line which is something the UAW will not allow in US plants) and secondly the exchange rate has been in Japan's favor for many years. One of Toyota's current problems is that the exchange rate is no longer in their favor. Now it is closer to 100 yen to the dollar. When I visited Japan to study their methods, the exchange was over 700 yen to the dollar. They could buy a lot of design and testing for every dollar they got. Not so much now.
Finally my favorite complaint with the Japanese (this may not be a major issue) is that the Japanese have no qualms about copying other people's designs. The US companies always tried to at least change something so they don't get sued for copyright infringement. In the famous suit filed by the guy that claimed to design interval wipers, the US companies paid out money even though they had interval wipers before his patent was filed and the wipers they used were not exactly the same as his. The inventor's son now drives a Ford and says that the Japanese merely paid 50 cents for a copy of the patent and used it directly. When his father tried to sue the Japanese auto companies, the judge threw the case out. Finally, I was actually taught that Toyota does not spend any development money on feature that another auto company has a better design. They simply copy it and spend their money on where the customer can't see a difference between the two company's feature. Personally, I think that that is a great strategy but the US companies are gun shy for fear of being sued -- I know because I audited them for compliance.
Last edited by IsUaClone2; 11-09-2008 at 10:44 PM.
Whether you think you can or think you can't;
you are right. Henry Ford
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