COLLISION by Maryann Keller


GM, Toyota, Volkswagen and the Race to Own the 21st Century
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 A top securities analyst's savvy, if impressionistic, audit of the trio of multinational manufacturers she expects to rule the automotive world well into the 21st century. While some Motown watchers might quarrel with one or more of her choices for a Global Big Three (America's General Motors, Germany's Volkswagen, Japan's Toyota), Keller (Rude Awakening, 1989) points out that each still dominates its domestic market, has displayed a capacity for productive innovation, possesses vast resources, faces unique challenges, and is dealing with self- induced organizational trauma defined by corporate culture as well as nationality. Moreover, the author leaves little doubt that the industrial giants she has singled out are as much on a collision course with an uncertain future as with one another. Having provided brief up-to-the-minute histories of her exemplars, Keller assesses their prospects in anecdotal detail. Although all three are under more-or-less new management, GM, the author notes, has yet to realize the full benefit of less adversarial labor relations, while the shogunate-styled Toyota seems unwilling or unable to grant offshore affiliates the autonomy that could make them genuinely local enterprises. As far as VW is concerned, Keller argues that partial ownership by Lower Saxony (the state in which the company is headquartered) and aberrant governance procedure have not only inflated costs but also led to unfortunate decisions on technology. In the meantime, she cautions, the environmental movement, the opening of potentially lucrative outlets like mainland China, and allied developments promise to increase the risks incurred by automotive executives who confuse change with progress. An informed observer's informative progress report on some possible winners in a socioeconomic rivalry of supranational consequences.

Pub Date: Nov. 1st, 1993
ISBN: 0-385-46777-X
Page count: 304pp
Publisher: Doubleday
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15th, 1993


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