TravelBlog 2.4 – Motor City

There are two things that I associate with Detroit – music and motors. The home of Motown Records, the source of house music, and the location for the big three US auto manufacturers – Ford, Chrysler and General Motors.
The motor industry has been decimated by the economic turmoil of the past few years. It's a simple equation… In times of recession, people stop buying cars. But it seems that the US auto industry could be going the same way as that in the UK: whilst local firms struggle to keep up, foreign ones come in and set up in new locations to manufacture in new ways.
Apparently companies like Toyota and Hyundai are manufacturing in enormous volume in the US now, but they've set up in cities elsewhere from Detroit, and with non-unionised operations. The hulk of auto building in Detroit struggles to change direction to keep up.
It's a funny mix, though, because the City is full of the trappings of the wealth that were generated in times past. The Dearborn Inn Hotel, opposite what was once the Ford Airport and now the Ford test track, is country house opulence. Neat, tended lawns are everywhere. And yet at 9 am this morning, the roads appeared empty. A conversation with a colleague yesterday about his journey to work in the morning – about 30 minutes… but it used to take an hour.

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