209-Situation Bad…About to Get Worse

Over the last year, the U.S. government spent $80 million to prop up General Motors and Chrysler. The intent was to save millions of American manufacturing jobs. The benefits seem to be temporary, at best.

Both Chrysler and General Motors are reducing manufacturing capacity in the U.S. and shifting some of that capacity to Mexico. Over the next decade, Mexico is scheduled to gain most of the GM and Chrysler North American production that is discontinued in the United States. The reason isn’t hard to see. GM and Ford workers in the U.S. earn about $55 an hour, including benefits. The same workers in Mexico earn something less than $4 an hour.

Some in the government are upset about GM and Chrysler opening more facilities in Mexico, while U.S. facilities close. These people simply do not understand global economics. If GM and Chrysler keep their production in North America, all that will happen is that GM and Chrysler, backed by the U.S. tax payers and current shareholders, will pay for the excess wages that the domestic UAW employees now earn. If GM and Chrysler do not move their production facilities to places where costs are lower, other companies will do it for them and take their market share with better cars and lower prices. This has been the scenario for the domestic automobile manufacturers for the last twenty years.

No matter what the U.S. members of the UAW choose to do, their future is going to get worse. (See the Symptom & Implication “Foreign competitors are expanding with low prices” on StrategyStreet.com.) Workers in other countries can simply make automobiles cheaper than they can. Chennai, India is a good example. In 2010, this city will produce 1.5 million automobiles. That is well in excess of 10% of the U.S. domestic demand and more than any U.S. state produces. Many major automobile manufacturers have a presence in Chennai.

The investment there is growing much as it is in Mexico. Hyundai, Ford and Nissan are each investing heavily in facilities in Chennai. Hyundai can now produce 650,000 cars a year there. Nissan can produce 400,000 cars annually. This new capacity is coming into a market that already has significant overcapacity in global production facilities. When new low-cost competitors enter the marketplace, they squeeze out the high-cost competitors. Who are the high-cost competitors? Watch where facilities are closing. Oh oh, that seems to be the U.S., where the UAW is holding a significant price/cost umbrella over its low-cost worker competitors, among whom are the Indian and Mexican workers in this story.

This will not have a pretty ending for the United Auto Workers, neither for those working nor for retirees.

Posted 8/2/10


Both Mexico and India continue to be major and growing participants in the global automobile market.

The Mexican government offers tax holidays and tax breaks for companies opening plants in Mexico. The country’s labor and energy costs are substantially lower than those of the US. Today more than 40 brands produce nearly 400 different models in Mexico due to these low costs. Mexico is now the second largest automobile manufacturing nation in the Western Hemisphere, after United States. The Mexican industry can produce technologically complex components and engages in its own research and development.

India’s automotive industry is now the fourth largest in the world. The country is also the fifth largest automobile market in the world, surpassing Germany in 2020.

Mexico and India began as Price Leader companies producing low-end products. With time and experience, these two countries can now produce technologically advanced products competing with Standard Leader products in the global market. See HERE and HERE for more perspective.




If you face a competitive marketplace, read these blogs. We wrote them to help you make better decisions on segments, products, prices and costs based on the experience of companies in over 85 competitive industries. Much of the world suffered a severe recession from 2008 to 2011. During that time, we wrote more than 270 blogs using publicly available information and our Strategystreet system to project what would happen in various companies and industries who were living in those hostile environments. In 2022, we updated each of these blogs to describe what later took place. You can use these updated blogs to see how the Strategystreet system works and how it can lead you to better decisions.