In recent years, automobile production in the United States has undergone changes on a scale unmatched since the pioneering era before World War I. Few plants have been opened in the interior of the country, while most of those located along the east and west coast have been closed. New technology, just-in-time delivery, and more flexible work rules have been introduced, sparked by changing consumer preferences, increasing sales for Japanese products, and declining market shares for American firms. In the fiercely competitive North American market, automakers look for every possible advantage, and they have found that location is a decisive element.
"The Changing US Auto Industry" integrates concepts drawn from geography, such as access to markets and shipment of parts, to understand some of the reasons for the recent changes. The changing role of labor in the production process is also crucial, and this includes the search by Japanese firms for a union-free environment, the re-location of some production to Mexico, and the debate over the appropriate level of union-management cooperation.
James Rubenstein captures the drama behind the changing distribution in the automobile industry: the Japanese arrival in small-town America and the competition among communities to attract new General Motors plants.
." . . a well-researched study of changes in the U.S. auto industry, with many useful maps and tables. . . . the book should be read by anyone interested in either the historical development of the U.S. automobile industry or its restructuring during the 1980s."