Detroit Drives For A Turnaround

In this handout photo from General Motors, the Chevrolet Camaro Concept is unveiled driven by General Motors Vice Chairman Bob Lutz, at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit, Mich. Monday, Jan. 9, 2006. (AP Photo/General Motors, Tom Pidgeon) AP

The North American International Auto Show is Detroit's debutante ball, a coming out party for their new cars and dream machines.

But CBS News correspondent Anthony Mason reports Detroit is desperate. Together, General Motors and Ford have lost $8 billion in the United States last year and are expected to cut more than 50,000 jobs. Hundreds of autoworkers tried to protest in front of the convention hall, but were stopped by police.

U.S. car companies keep losing their market share, and to become the world's largest automaker.

In addition, a CBS News poll reports only 51 percent of Americans polled would buy an American car today. Eighteen percent of those polled said that the quality of American cars is excellent, as opposed to 41 percent that thought the quality of Japanese cars reaches that benchmark.

Even Ford's chairman, Bill Ford knows American cars have an image problem, Mason reports.

"Clearly there is a perception issue out there that we have to overcome," Ford said. "The only way to do that is with product."



Automakers are facing another challenge — as the age of the SUV comes to an end in the United States, the world's automakers are engaged in a race to figure out the next hot trends.

Lexus and Chrysler are debuting luxurious sedans at this year's auto show. Ford is offering a chiseled new crossover. Honda is hyping a subcompact.

"The theme of this year's show is customer choice," Bob Cosmai, head of Hyundai Motor Co.'s North American division, said in an interview with The Associated Press Monday.

Crossover vehicles — which ride lower to the ground than sport utility vehicles but offer similar interior comfort — are expected to outsell SUVs in the United States this year. Ford Motor Co. wants to lead that segment with the Ford Edge crossover.

The 2007 Ford Edge, which boasts sharp lines and the distinctive three-bar grille of the Ford Fusion sedan, is expected to hit showrooms this fall. Mark Fields, Ford's president of the Americas, said the vehicle will stand out in a crossover market that is getting more crowded.

"If you look at the CUV right now, it's populated by a lot of vehicles, that, quite honest, are somewhat nondescript," Fields said.
  • Gina Pace

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