Once Upon a Car is the fascinating epic story of the rise, fall, and rebirth of the Big Three U.S. automakers, General Motors, Ford, and Chrysler. Written by Bill Vlasic, the Detroit bureau chief for the New York Times and acclaimed author of Taken for a Ride, this eye-opening, richly anecdotal work is more than a riveting and insightful business history. It offers a clear-eyed view of the present day automobile industry and of Detroit, the city that spawned it, going far beyond the corporate and federal maneuverings to explore the impact the car companies’ failures have had on the overall economy, and more importantly what they have done to people’s lives. Relevant and thought-provoking, Once Upon a Car is an unforgettable journey deep inside this quintessentially American industry.
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Amazon Exclusive Essay: Bill Vlasic on the Men who Battled for the American Auto Industry
Bill Ford: The great-grandson of Henry Ford realized he had to give up his job as chief executive in order to save the company. He confided to aides: “I’m not the best person to operate this place,” he said. “I want to get somebody who can do it right.”
Alan Mulally: The former Boeing executive’s fresh approach turned the company around and kept it from begging for a government bailout. “These three companies have been slowly going out of business for eighty years,” he said. “And their arrogance caught up with them.”
Rick Wagoner and Bob Lutz: They were convinced G.M. was on the right track, until the 2008 recession. Wagoner, G.M.’s chairman and CEO, lost his job after leading the Big Three to Washington for emergency assistance. “The moral of the story,” he said, “is never put yourself in a position where you have to go down there.” Lutz said, “Those people down there hate us.”
Kirk Kerkorian and Jerry York: The Las Vegas billionaire and his aggressive advisor tried to grab General Motors, but failed. “Wagoner has never accomplished anything,” said Kerkorian. York urged him to buy Ford shares – and ride Mulally’s turnaround plan. “It’s pretty damn clear to me that Ford has a huge sense of urgency compared to G.M.,” he said.
Steve Feinberg: The intense chairman of Cerberus Capital Management believed his private-equity company could turn Chrysler into a moneymaker, and so he bought the smallest of the Big Three carmakers from Daimler Benz. “What could be a better opportunity than an orphan in an industry that’s at the bottom?”
Sergio Marchionne: The crafty head of Fiat offered the Obama administration an alternative to letting Chrysler go broke which would liquidate tens of thousands of jobs. Marchionne knew Detroit was facing its reckoning in 2008. “I can smell the fear in this town,” he said. “I can feel it, the feeling of impending doom.”From the Back Cover:
Once Upon a Car is the brilliantly reported, inside-the-boardrooms-and-factories story of Detroit's fight for survival, going beyond the headlines to chronicle how the country's Big Three auto companies teetered on the brink of collapse and pulled themselves together under new leadership at Ford and government assistance to General Motors and Chrysler. In this riveting true account of an iconic industry in crisis, Bill Vlasic takes readers from the gleaming corporate skyscrapers, massive auto plants, and union halls to the U.S. Congress and into the Oval Office, introducing a cast of memorable characters, many of whom are speaking out for the first time. Once Upon a Car is a uniquely American tale of success, failure, and redemption, chronicling a vitally important chapter in an astonishing story that is still unfolding—a story no one is more qualified to tell than Bill Vlasic.
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