After recovering from the 2008-09 collapse, the Detroit Three are threatened by the European crisis.
GM’s Opel, Ford and Chrysler’s partner Fiat have seen a massive drop in sales and are on the track of losing $4 billion by the end of this year in the region, reaching their lowest level since the mid-1990s.
“We’re not going to see a return to pre-crisis volumes for the foreseeable future,” said IHS Automotive analyst Tim Urquhart. “It’s going to be a long and hard recovery.”
GM has appointed Vice Chairman Steve Girsky to Rüsselsheim to get Opel back on the track, Ford has the European veteran, Stephen Odell and Mark Fields the Chief Operating Officer with solid European credentials. Analysts believe that Europe will be sooner or later forced to adopt North America’s radical restructuring, closing 8-10 plants in the region.
But it is not as easy as it seems to close plants and dealerships and lay off workers in a region deeply affected by the debt crisis. In Europe companies are pressured by the government not to close factories and the continent is not dealing with the cash squeeze that almost shut down Detroit’s automakers almost five years ago.