It may be extreme to say that the overall mood at the Detroit show — the North American International Auto Show, to give it the full pretentious name — was sheer panic, but that is not far off, at least as far as the three American companies are concerned. Now known ironically as “the Beg Three,” after their disastrous four-private jets (the leader of the United Auto Workers union used one, too) trip from Detroit to Washington to ask for government loans to keep them from going out of business.

That was a public relations disaster of the highest order, and has caused four out of five Americans to say that Chrysler, General Motors and Ford should reap what they sowed and be allowed to fail.

All are in serious trouble, but to differing degrees. Privately-owned Chrysler is effectively dead already, with few desirable products, no successful overseas operations from which to draw smaller vehicles for the American market, unlike its rivals, and nothing in the development pipeline that can be realized in the time frame allocated by the Luddite know-nothings in the U.S. Congress. Some journalists and financial analysts have been shown the big cars that replace the current Chrysler 300 and Dodge Charger, and many agree that the cars are “stunning,” but will probably be stillborn unless the company is taken over.

The article continues in Auto & Design no. 174

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