A Big Three That Isn't So Big Anymore Sales of foreign cars are surpassing those of domestic companies, forcing the Big Three to cut more than 270,000 jobs in the past decade. To remain viable, one auto reporter suggests, less profitable brands should be re-evaluated or cut entirely.
NPR logo

A Big Three That Isn't So Big Anymore

  • Download
  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/92110103/92126495" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">
  • Transcript
A Big Three That Isn't So Big Anymore

A Big Three That Isn't So Big Anymore

A Big Three That Isn't So Big Anymore

  • Download
  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/92110103/92126495" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">
  • Transcript

American automakers are re-evaluating their business models as U.S. market share for American cars is rapidly shrinking. Bryan Mitchell/Getty Images hide caption

toggle caption
Bryan Mitchell/Getty Images

American automakers are re-evaluating their business models as U.S. market share for American cars is rapidly shrinking.

Bryan Mitchell/Getty Images

The Big Three automakers — General Motors, Chrysler and Ford — are not so big anymore. With Toyota now outselling both Chrysler and Ford in the U.S. market, what's left is a "smaller three" or a "dwindling duo."

Paul Ingrassia, a reporter for Conde Nast Portfolio magazine, has covered the car industry for decades and suggests that the American auto market might even end up with a sole survivor.

In the past decade, the Big Three have collectively shed more than 270,000 employees. Their cumulative loss of market share since the beginning of the decade is about 15 percent, Ingrassia says, or about Ford's current market share.

"In essence, since the beginning of the decade, a U.S. car company the size of Ford has disappeared," Ingrassia tells Ari Shapiro.

In order to be viable in the future, Ingrassia says, car companies have to shed unprofitable operations like Ford has in the sale of Jaguar and Range Rover, two brands that were not big enough to help Ford but were certainly big enough to hurt them.

General Motors is currently putting Hummer "under review," Ingrassia says, and he believes other brands like Buick, Saab and Pontiac should also be evaluated.

With only 20 percent of the U.S. auto market, "GM is just way too slow to react to market events," Ingrassia says. "They were the last one to get in on the truck boom, and now they are the last one to be leaving the truck boom."