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How We Lost the Car Wars

A quote from Negotiating the Future by Barry and Irving Bluestone on how our auto industry missed the mass market.
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"It is 1949. The United Auto Workers Union (UAW) has just published and distributed to its local union leadership and its staff its monthly magazine, Ammunition. This issue calls upon the automobile industry to produce a 'low-cost, small, light car.' It even gives a name to its proposed automobile: A MotorCar Named Desire -- a takeoff on the title of Tennessee Williams's popular play. The auto industry turns a deaf ear to the argument. . . . The rationale for this negative response is highlighted in an item in the magazine Iron Age appearing that same year: 'A fact seldom discussed by the car makers is that passenger cars are really not designed for the mass purchasers as is commonly supposed. Rather, new cars are actually designed for the families in the higher income brackets, professional men, salesmen operating on expense accounts, well-to-do farmers, and a few hourly paid employees.' "

-- From Negotiating the Future, by Barry and Irving Bluestone (Basic Books, 1992)

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Last updated: Jun 1, 1993




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