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After the meltdown, car companies ready to compete again

Old 11-27-2011, 04:28 PM
50 Watt CAFz'r
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After the meltdown, car companies ready to compete again

Whew! All thatís left now for auto companies around the world is for the politicians and the financial sector to find common ground with reality and get this economy humming again. Thatís the big takeaway from two days milling and mingling and poking and prodding leaders of the auto industry at the last big show of 2011.

Anyone with any sense can see that this car business has resurrected itself from the mire of the 2008 financial meltdown that sent two of Detroitís auto companies into bankruptcy and left the third teetering on a knifeís edge. There was a palpable optimism on the show floor in L.A., in fact. It seems borne of a conviction that after the last three years, car companies know crisis management Ė no, theyíve mastered crisis management.

General Motors, if you hadnít noticed, is making billions now. So is Ford. Chrysler is more profitable than its saviour, Fiat of Italy, and recently announced a $500-million (U.S.) upgrade to the Toledo, Ohio, plant where Jeeps are made.

Reid Bigland, the Chrysler Canada CEO who also runs the companyís sales operation in the United States Ė and I suppose spending every other Tuesday afternoon as CEO of the Dodge brand Ė says itís hard to complain about working hard when the hardest-working person in the company is Sergio Marchionne, CEO of Chrysler and Fiat.

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