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Friday, November 13, 2009
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Vol. 3, No. 9
November 21, 2005

The Last American Car
by Andrew Angove

Image: MILEPOSTS Garage


Breaking Automotive News
Final Big Three-built car rolls off the line

DETROIT AM November 13, 2009 - In what was a day many thought would never come, the final car to be built by an American manufacturer, a General Motors-built Sable Black 2010 Cadillac DTS, rolled off the assembly line at 2:15 pm this afternoon. A crowd of assembly line workers waited for it at the end of the line, but the look on their faces revealed that this wasn't a happy gathering. It was a sad one. In decades past, Cadillac employees have greeted previous finished Cadillacs at the end of the line, which normally signified an achievement, such as the one millionth car built.

While today's event has been preceded by similar mileposts at Ford Motor Company in 2008, and DaimlerChrysler earlier this year, the gravity of today's happenings is not lost on many. It represents the end of the American automobile. From tomorrow forward, no American automobile manufacturers will be building cars. Henceforth, all new cars will be built by overseas companies, although many of the actual cars will still be assembled in the United States. What little remains of the former automotive giants is being sold off, often to overseas investors.

When the likes of Packard, Nash, Studebaker, and DeSoto began to disappear 50 years ago, no one could have predicted the impact this might have further down the road. The first hint that there might be a big problem was the demise of Plymouth, followed a few years later by Oldsmobile, which was largely ignored by Americans, as they continued to buy foreign automobiles in record numbers. Few predicted even as little as 2 or 3 years ago that over the next couple of years, once popular names like Mercury, Buick, Pontiac, and Lincoln would cease to exist.

Foreign brands such as Honda, Toyota, Nissan, and Mitsubishi have become so popular around the world that demand has exceeded capacity in recent months. Officials from those companies have said that despite the poor economy in the U.S., which is mostly due to the elimination of American jobs in the automotive, or automotive-related industries, other countries are doing quite well economically, and sales of new cars remain strong in those countries.

With supplies far exceeding demand in the United States, foreign manufacturers are looking to ship some cars overseas from North America, despite the additional cost, to keep up with orders. Few new cars have been sold in the United States in recent years, due mostly to the skyrocketing unemployment figures, which are now approaching 35 percent.

The impact this has had on the American economy has been devastating; hundreds of thousands are out of work, bankruptcies are at an all-time high, and more homes are in foreclosure now than at any other like period in American history.

And the fall out isn't limited to just the auto makers. Thousands of other businesses that catered to the automobile industry have also gone under. 2009 marks the first full year of America's economic depression, one which might end in 2011 or 2012, according to economists, and ranks as the most devastating economic time in U.S. history. "The Great Depression of 1929 was nothing compared to this," stated a top ranked economist who asked to remain anonymous. "Americans have been selfish, always looking for the best deal, always looking to save money, without any thought to what those actions might lead to in the future. And now that the future is here, it's too late to do anything about it. Americans literally shopped themselves out of jobs beginning in the 1990's and continuing into the mid-2000's. There was no such thing as American pride, and this is the end result."

Normally, Cadillac Division might have been expected to retain the last car built, as they did with the final Eldorado Convertible in 1976, but bankruptcy liquidators have ordered everything sold. The final Cadillac was purchased by a private investor in Japan, and will be shipped overseas.

Honda put out a press release calling today "a dark day in automotive history in America," and promised to build as many cars as necessary to fulfill demand, which has been minimal given the economic devastation in America.

Toyota said "America will recover from its financial problems," and committed $250 million to the task of updating its remaining factories in the United States.

All of the major overseas auto manufacturers have posted price increases to their new vehicles in recent days, causing many to speculate that more layoffs of American workers are on the horizon. "It's just too expensive to build cars in America," stated an industry insider. "It's more affordable to build overseas and ship to America, especially given today's climate." In the past 2 years, assembly plants in North America building foreign cars have experienced a work force reduction of close to 45%, and wage and benefit concessions from workers of almost 50%. Many workers have reluctantly accepted these terms, since there are no other jobs available.

Friday, November 13, 2009 will certainly go down in history as an unlucky day: the day the final car built by an American car maker rolled off the assembly line. Many attribute this to mistakes made in the past. "If I'd known back in 2006 that buying an American car versus a foreign car would make the difference, I would have done it," said John Smith, who was finishing loading up his family's belongings so they could move in with his In-Laws. "I had no idea that this could really happen. I wanted a dependable car, and that's what I got. Of course, with no job and no money for car payments or fuel, that dependable car doesn't look like such a good deal right now." Joe's 2006 Mitsubishi SUV was repossessed last year, shortly after he lost his job.

This fictional story will hopefully never happen, but it certainly could if Americans don't recover the pride they once had in this country, and support American companies, American-made goods, and American jobs. Outsourcing is not in keeping with the American way of life.

Copyright © 2005 Automotive Mileposts, Inc.
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