Business: Flat Tires

Catching Detroit's disease

Early in January, Chrysler, the U.S.'s ailing No. 3 carmaker, closed its aging, inefficient Dodge assembly plant in Hamtramck, Mich. Two weeks later, Uniroyal, the No. 4 rubber company, announced plans to shutter one of its oldest tiremaking factories, a 74-year-old mausoleum just south of Hamtramck on Detroit's Jefferson Avenue. The timing of the closings was coincidental, but it did serve as a stark reminder of how quickly a slump in the car industry can affect its many suppliers.

Especially the tire producers. The same worries about long gas lines and...

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