Monday, December 3, 2018

Job losses in the auto sector

GM is closing several plants.

Ford is expected to announce the loss of 25,000 auto jobs in the near future.

Chrysler has yet to announce.

Trump is mad.

I make no secret of the fact that I worked in the auto industry for more than thirty years. It is a highly competitive industry operating on thin margins particularly when you account for the fixed costs.
Adjusted for inflation the cost of new automobiles has actually dropped over the last twenty years even as technology and mandated content grew: Backup cameras, a half dozen airbags, smart radios, more aluminum and composites....

The sectors where cost increased are the sectors that have been most resistant to job reduction. College textbooks? Being the author of a textbook is almost a requirement to achieve tenure at a first tier University. The only way to wring the manpower out of textbooks is to eliminate that archaic requirement.

Trump can stomp around all he wants. It is expected of him. But the alternative to domestic auto companies being allowed to evolve to meet the market is to have the domestic industry become extinct, along with all of the supporting infrastructure.

Yes, I get that it sucks to have your job shot out from beneath you. I worked in Lansing in engineering, Lansing in the bodyshop, Lansing in a metal stamping plant. All those horses got shot out from beneath me. I worked in Flint building trucks. I worked in Pontiac building trucks and left a year before they closed that plant. Then I worked at Lansing Grand River and had my job reduced out. Then I worked at Lansing Delta and got reduced out. Then I worked at Lansing Grand River and got bumped out. Then I went back to Delta. It pays to not burn bridges behind you.

Always glad to have a job even if it meant a 94 mile commute one way.


  1. Thankfully, I can only imagine what going through all of those "workforce adjustments" was like. It pains me every time I hear the news that the automakers are doing this.

    One thing I have wondered about is the cost of new vehicles. As the average new cost goes up, I would think that drives many buyers out of the market. Cheap leases and 72 or 84 month loans help, but it would seem that many people are still priced out of the market.

    Do you think that automakers will ever make it possible to buy a car with fewer features as opposed to cars that continue to have more features? The basics like PS, PB, power windows, AC, cruise are a given and I prefer these things on my vehicle. But I can live without bluetooth, a nav system, 42 sensors telling me I am about to run over something, tire pressure sensors and the list goes on and on. By this rant you can probably tell I'm 50+.

    I know manufacturers have tried some stripped down models or more inexpensive versions, but I wonder if they were marketed correctly.

    We haven't bought a new car in almost 15 years. It's hard to justify the cost of a new one when a 3/5/7 year old vehicle works just fine and will still last for a number of years. When I started driving, 100,000 miles on a vehicle meant that it was either dead or ready to be dead. Now, 200,000 is not unreasonable and 300,000 is more like it.


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