The impact of globalization

The impact of globalization has been profound on the auto industry in the last 20 years. On one-hand it has mixed bloodlines to the point where Volvo and Ford DNA is inexorably mixed even now that they are no longer related companies.

On the other hand the worldwide marketplace it has given domestic and foreign car makers a larger if not always level playing field. General Motors, Ford and Chrysler have taken significant advantage of the upside opportunity. Last year in addition to a strong annual 13 percent increase in the US, the Chevrolet division alone posted record sales up 9.5 percent in China. Other markets with significant year-over-year Chevy sales increases included Vietnam: 79 percent, Russia: 49 percent, Turkey: 30 percent and even Germany: 21 percent.

With Ford 2011 North American profits of $6.2 billion, the company actually lost about $119 million in its European and Asia-Pacific markets, but the long term opportunity to expand its market share has been a potent element of the Ford rebound from the years of $15 billion losses — especially in the fast growing Chinese and South Asian markets.

In a precious bit of global irony, Italian auto giant Fiat only made money in 2011 on its Chrysler business.