“The illness” that sent two of the Detroit Big Three automakers into bankruptcy and nearly wrecked the third “was horrible and brought on by ourselves,” stresses Sergio Marchionne.
But industry watchers take it a step further.
“We’re back. And now the world knows it,” proclaimed local Detroit talk show host Paul W. Smith, as he addressed a gathering of industry insiders and dealers who had gathered in the back of Detroit’s Cobo Hall to celebrate the debut of the 2013 North American International Auto Show earlier this week.
But this year, momentum is clearly in the industry’s favor. Sales surged to 14.5 million in 2012, ending with a burst of showroom activity few had expected.
Ironically, that leaves some within the industry worried.
“I hope we learned a lot” from the bankruptcy process, says Mark Reuss, GM’s president for North American operations. “It’s tempting,” he says, to “do some bad things” to try to regain sales and market share the way the company did in the past, overbuilding and then offering profit-busting incentives.
“If we get greedy and try to blow the industry away, that’s a dangerous place to be,” Reuss suggests.