The automobile industry is huge business. It involves more time, money, people and equipment than anybody cares to imagine. It’s been an enormous factor in shaping our global economic landscape.
Sometimes for the better, and sometimes for worse. Large businesses can bring success to a community in the blink of an eye, and they can take it away just as quickly.
Just have a look at southeast Michigan. Composed of a handful of counties and innumerable municipalities, it’s one of the most thoroughly developed regions of the state, and it’s been riding an economic roller coaster for over half a century.
It used to be that the auto industry had a seemingly unlimited number of basic-labor style jobs available in the area. Workers flocked from the ends of the Earth seeking prosperity. But when the car companies packed up and took their factories elsewhere, most of the people evacuated themselves too.
Detroit, Michigan, known around the planet as the “Motor City”, used to be home to many of these manufacturing jobs. That is until they discovered that people in developing countries could and would do the same work for much less pay.
Back in the 1950’s Detroit had a population of nearly two million people. Since then they’ve lost considerably more than a million of them while the rest of the world has been worried about getting too crowded!
Much of the city looks like an abandoned war zone, and in many cases that’s precisely what it is. It was a cold, calculated business decision to move the jobs somewhere else, and it’s been a great thing for the communities that they moved to. However, it has left devastating and lingering consequences for Detroit.
Over the years we’ve seen a multitude of car companies come and go. Sometimes they can’t keep up with the times, sometimes they just make crappy cars, sometimes their owners are unskilled businesspeople. Whatever the reason may be, nothing lasts forever. Especially in business.
Some organizations are much more likely to shut themselves down before allowing the natural consequences of losing money to do it for them, while others will fight to stay afloat until the very last dollars are gone from their bank accounts. Ever since people started making cars, lots of brands have fallen by the wayside.
These include Hudson, Studebaker, Packard, Nash, AMC, and more recently Plymouth, Saturn, Pontiac, and Oldsmobile. These nine dead car companies fell victim to a competitive economic climate that did away with hundreds more you’ve probably never even heard of.
But this doesn’t always mean you can’t still buy your favorite car. It’s common practice among automakers to sell the same vehicle under many different brand names. Take the Plymouth Voyager for example.
This popular minivan was sold under several different names including the Dodge Caravan and the Chrysler Town And Country. Plymouth, owned by Chrysler at the time, was abandoned in 2001.
However, the identical Caravan and Town And Country remained in production for years until being redesigned and updated to keep up with their competitors.
The world of commerce changes rapidly and is well known for being unpredictable. It’s hard to say what’s going to be successful in the future and where the jobs might go.
The automobile industry will probably never disappear, at least not unless we do, but the ramifications of making poor business decisions grow exponentially when so much money is involved.
Cars cost a lot to produce, and there are more people driving today than ever before. Don’t be drawn into a false sense of security. That factory down the street might close it’s doors tomorrow for the overall good of the company. Stay frosty my friends, and keep your options open.