General Motors dominated the auto industry for much of the 20th century, and its downfall took place over decades. Many of the attributes GM once saw as strengths, from its rigid structure to its diverse range of vehicles, became liabilities as Japanese competitors sucked away even its most loyal customers, reports the New York Times. Yet its bankruptcy filing would have been unthinkable even a few years ago, as GM insisted it was too big to fail.
In recent years GM blamed outside forces for its decline: unions, regulators, the Japanese government, and a supposedly hostile news media. Even last week one exec said most of GM's problems were "not of our own doing." But while GM insisted others were responsible for its problems, once-loyal customers started switching brands—and even a state-sponsored restructuring might not win them back.