The Thoughts of a Frumpy Professor

............................................ ............................................ A blog devoted to the ramblings of a small town, middle aged college professor as he experiences life and all its strange variances.

Monday, July 20, 2015

NUMMI & What Could Have Been

I listened to the radio program "This American Life" yesterday while working in the garage sorting out some of my tools, and they had a very interesting story profiling General Motors and the experiment they had in terms of trying to improve the quality of their vehicles in a partnership with Toyota at the GM's California NUMMI plant.  This effort occurred in the mid-1980s and I remember it very well. 

It was interesting to hear the story, and if you are interested, you could listen to it here by following this link:  "This American Life - NUMMI"  It is a very well done radio program. 

In thinking back on it, unfortunately General Motors as well as all of the American car companies sure wrecked havoc on our society and nation.  The first real rumbles of the impending disasters I recall occurred during the late 1960s into the early 1970s.  But, then the sh*t really hit the fan so-to-speak with the oil embargos in the mid-1970s. 

The most significant and horrific problems caused by General Motors though, occurred in the early 1980s.  It was as this time that General Motor's management and mistakes virtually anihilated and destroyed much of the mid-west.  Ohio, Pennsylvania, Indiana, New York, Illinois, and Wisconsin were all tremendously affected, but no state suffered more than the state of Michigan.  Most all of the major cities (Detroit, Flint, Jackson, Saginaw, and others) were decimated to such an extent that many of them have yet to recover.

Listening to the radio program helped me to remember those difficult times.  If only GM had made a real, concerted effort to enact NUMMI across their whole industry, things may have turned out quite differently.  If NUMMI would have become the "new norm" then I think all of the US automakers would have been far more capable of working through the 2007 recession without causing further heartache to many families.



Blogger BBC said...

The biggest GM problem back then was cutting corners to make cheap cars like the Vega, it was a piece of shit.

Monday, 20 July, 2015  
Blogger forsythia said...

My dad got really mad at me in the 50's because I had a teen-age fascination with things Japanese. "How can you be interested in Japan?" he fumed. "We fought a war with those people." And: "Suppose I bought a Japanese car and came rattling up the street in it? Everyone would laugh at me for driving such a piece of junk." (His best friend had the Cadillac/Oldsmobile dealership in town, and Dad traded his cars in every two years.) Fast forward 10-15 years. Husband and I bought one of the first Toyotas to arrive on our shores. It was a horrid little beast. One day I muttered to no one in particular, "I'd sell that thing for $100." Well, my friend heard it and her son-in-law (from coal country in western MD, trying to support a wife and 2 kids working 20 hours at the supermarket) shows up at our door with $100. By golly, he got that beast to run and he and his family even took a trip to Cape Canaveral in it. After enduring much pain and suffering during our ownership of a Plymouth Volare, we bought a series of Toyotas and Hondas and had no trouble with any of them. We now have one Subaru, and BTW, we have another. (Hard to make a proper plural of that word.), Dad would have been astonished at Japanese cars if he had lived long enough to see the good ones.

Wednesday, 22 July, 2015  

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