Don’t imagine that just because there’s Trouble at T’Detroit Mill, the rival Japanese car makers are laughing. They’re not. So here at the Detroit Show, there have been a lot of expressions of solaridarity from the Japanese.
That’s because the industry is so interconnected. If GM, say, suddenly went down owing billions of dollars to the companies that produce its components, some of those suppliers would also go bust. And they’re mostly the same suppliers who feed parts to the US factories of Toyota, Honda and Nissan.
Let’s say an air-conditioning maker goes under. If that’s a supplier to Toyota too, Toyota can’t keep sending Camrys to dealers with a ruddy great hole in the dashboard where the AC ought to be. So it has to stop the production line. Which will cost it millions.
Here’s a quote from a speech made at the Detroit Show by Irv Miller, a senior executive at Toyota’s American subsidiary. ‘We’re committed to this show, to the city of Detroit and to the success of our industry.’
Besides which, Toyota has said that this year it will lose money for the first time since it was founded in 1949. Not a good position from which to crow at its American rivals’ expense.