Business: Motown's Blues

Some billion-dollar losses

The fashion industry has flourished for decades by staying ahead, periodically changing styles to shorten hems or narrow lapels. But Detroit's automakers are sinking knee-deep into red ink, as energy-conscious buyers increasingly switch their taste in cars to lighter, fuel-efficient models. Surprised by the speed of that change, manufacturers cannot turn out enough small autos to satisfy public demand, while outmoded big cars gather dust in dealer back lots. As a result, in the first ten days of November, Big Three sales plummeted 26% from last year's levels.

The most shocking news comes from Ford Motor's upper reaches, where...

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