🚙 The Big Three & the UAW Strike
What's at stake for American automakers?
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The US automotive industry has long been defined by the "Big Three:" General Motors, Ford Motor Company, and Chrysler—now under Stellantis, a Netherlands-based conglomerate. Often called the “Detroit Three,” their success or failure significantly influences the region’s economic health.
The influential United Auto Workers (UAW) union represents their workforce, with roughly 145,000 members. The UAW's strategic moves—particularly during strikes—can dramatically shape the industry's landscape.
On September 15, the UAW initiated an unprecedented strike against all Big Three automakers simultaneously. Eschewing the typical all-out strike method, the UAW strategically chose targeted strikes, keeping automakers uncertain about the next operational disruption.
But there's another layer to this: the evolving automotive market. Giants like Toyota and Honda have steadily carved out loyal customer bases with their dependable, fuel-efficient vehicles. Meanwhile, Tesla's meteoric rise is challenging the status quo. With the increasing importance of electric vehicles, the automotive old guard faces a pivotal transition period (more on this in a minute).
Worth noting: Tesla is the only major American automaker without UAW-represented workers. For insights on Tesla's recent financial performance, check out our coverage of their latest earnings.
In this article, we'll review:
How the Big Three make money.
The underlying causes of the current UAW strike.
The potential repercussions for the automotive giants.
Today at a glance:
Inside the UAW Strike.
Before diving into the auto market, there's a relevant detour you won't want to miss. GM has recently rolled out its fleet of self-driving robotaxis in San Francisco.
🤖🚖 Want the full lowdown on Autonomous Vehicles (AVs)? Check out our latest video. From current challenges to the ins and outs of AI-driven systems, we've got it covered. Plus, Stephanie and I hit the road for a test drive. Stay tuned for our first-hand impressions!
1. Largest automakers
Take a look at the top 12 automakers worldwide, ranked by market cap.
The '“Big Three” can be spotted on the right end of the chart:
Stellantis: $58 billion.
Ford Motor Company: $49 billion.
General Motors: $44 billion.
The once-dominant Big Three are now facing fierce competition. International brands and EV trailblazers like Tesla and BYD from China are chipping away at their market share.
A deeper dive into this year's market share (from January to August) reveals: