Detroit's Big Three Are Seeing Red

Sorry sales and breathtaking losses have left domestic carmakers worse off than they've been in decades. The silver lining? Well, it's a fine time to buy.

The crunch followed a long skid, and the damage looks heavy. Battered by recession and increasingly stiff competition from Japanese rivals, General Motors lost $1.2 billion in the first quarter of 1991, while Ford lost $884 million, and Chrysler dropped $341 million. Total: an astonishing $2.4 billion, the largest three-month deficit in automotive history. Worse, the Big Three have accumulated $4.5 billion in red ink since last fall, when the gulf crisis shattered consumer confidence, and the companies seem certain to remain in the red for the rest of 1991.

Detroit's troubles are far from new, and they're remarkably tenacious. Despite...

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