Detroit car show running on empty

It’s the biggest event in the world’s biggest auto market, but this year’s Detroit Auto Show comes at a terrible time for the industry. Expect gloom - not glitz - in Motor City, say our correspondents.



Monday Jan. 5, 2009


It was snowing when we left Paris, but it’s even colder in Motor City. Everyone here works in cars or knows someone who works in cars. The bus driver who takes us to the hire car office is a loud, funny 30-something called Joe Jones. His father was a car factory worker. His brother and sister are car factory workers. He’s a driver - but wants to be a news reporter. He whips out an old copy of a story he wrote for a local community paper: “Automakers: a crisis in Detroit that could affect us all”.

The crisis shaking Detroit’s Big Three - GM, Ford and Chrysler - does affect everyone here. Factories have already closed, jobs gone. In the hotel, we catch local TV stations announcing more grim news: US car sale figures are out for December. GM and Ford sales are down more than 30 percent, and Chrysler more than 50 percent. Detroit is set for a long, cold winter.



The spectre of unemployment looms; cars sit in lots unsold. Photo N. Ransom











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