Chrysler is no stranger to crisis, but it's going to take more than a K-car to get the auto industry out of this mess. When gas prices started to skyrocket mid-decade, U.S. automakers' emphasis on gas-guzzling SUVs and trucks backfired. Saddled with the cost of salaries, benefits, health care and pensions, the Big Three were further weakened by higher wages than their nonunionized competition.
Now in the midst of a global financial crisis, Chrysler finds itself in a familiar position: begging for government assistance to survive. In a 1984 ad, Lee Iacocca referred to Chrysler as a company that "had one foot in the grave." Unless the automaker can do something quickly, the other foot may soon follow.