Autos: Back on the Fast Track

After a brutal decade of lost stature and lost profits, American carmakers are really on a roll

Quiet, please. The new generation of power in Detroit is at work.

When Alexander James Trotman was named chairman of the Ford Motor Co. in October, there was no flourish or fanfare, not even a prior announcement. He was handed the keys to one of the largest and most powerful corporate kingdoms on earth in a small, no-frills gathering at the company's plant in Dearborn, Michigan, almost as an afterthought to the introduction of Ford's new Mustang. At General Motors 11 months earlier, affable, unassuming Jack Smith landed just as unceremoniously in that company's top job. Following the virulent boardroom coup...

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