In recent years, the recurring troubles of the American Big 3 automakers have been coming to a head. General Motors (GM), Ford, and Daimler Chrysler AG face a host of problems. Legacy costs inherited from past manufacturing heydays in the form of costly pension and health care plans for retired employees add up to hundreds of billions of dollars. Unappealing gas-guzzler product lines that are a step behind current auto buying trends aren't driving strong earnings, either; instead, the Big 3 are trying to pad flagging normal sales rates with price incentives. Finally, continuing tussles with the United Auto Workers make it hard to cut costs and downsize to profitability. Meanwhile, Asian and European competitors are rapidly outstripping these traditional auto manufacturing powerhouses.
The Big 3 auto woes strike North American auto components manufacturers particularly hard, and hit in more than one way. Reductions in production volume and capacity will obviously decrease sales for the parts suppliers, but spending cuts within the Big 3 infrastructure also translate into decreased earnings for suppliers.