Ten years ago, Detroit was facing dark days. With the economy in the throes of the Great Recession, General Motors and Chrysler were on life support under the guidance of President Barack Obama’s auto rescue task force, both headed to bankruptcy. Ford had previously mortgaged everything, including its iconic Blue Oval logo, to survive.
Today, the traditional Detroit 3 are strongly profitable but face declining sales and uncertainty about how to remain dominant players as transportation technology and preferences change. The UAW contract expires in September, and production workers have said they expect their new deal to reflect recent successes.
To illustrate the challenge, Ford last week reported a $3.7 billion profit for 2018 — half the 2017 level and acknowledged by company leadership as a weak year. Ford and GM are in the midst of restructuring, while Fiat Chrysler Automobiles says it’s good where it is.