This Ain't Charity: Detroit Must Win Consumers Back

Americans will get back on board if auto giants prove they can make good cars again
By Harry Kimball,  Newser Staff
Posted Dec 19, 2008 4:51 PM CST
President George W. Bush pauses during a statement on the auto industry at the White House today.   (AP Photo)
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(Newser) – With a $17.4 billion bailout in hand, Detroit must now turn toward restructuring and making the cars America needs, Mark Phelan writes in the Detroit Free Press. “To win back American buyers’ respect,” Phelan continues, “the automakers must show the aid package was a sound investment, not a handout.” That means smaller, fuel-efficient cars as good-looking as they are economical.

The companies also need to make changes based on a realistic view of the future. “All three automakers have structures inherited from the time when they accounted for 70% or more of US vehicle sales,” Phelan writes. “Those days are gone forever.” Not so the American automaker. “The crisis just became an opportunity,” Phelan writes, “to show Congress and the public that American companies can still build a great car.”