Americas Other Auto Industry

Posted on December 6, 2008 

America’s Other Auto Industry

The men from Detroit will jet into Washington tomorrow — presumably going commercial this time — to make another pitch for a taxpayer rescue. Meanwhile, in the other American auto industry you rarely read about, car makers are gaining market share and adjusting amid the sales slump, without seeking a cent from the government.

These are the 12 “foreign,” or so-called transplant, producers making cars across America’s South and Midwest. Toyota, BMW, Kia and others now make 54% of the cars Americans buy. The internationals also employ some 113,000 Americans, compared with 239,000 at U.S.-owned carmakers, and several times that number indirectly.

The international car makers aren’t cheering for Detroit’s collapse. Their own production would be hit if such large suppliers as the automotive interior maker Lear were to go down with a GM or Chrysler. They fear, as well, a protectionist backlash. But by the same token, a government lifeline for Detroit punishes these other companies and their American employees for making better business decisions.

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