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Thread: what killed the Big 3 from making semis?

  1. #1

    Default what killed the Big 3 from making semis?

    I will probably answer my own question right here but comparing how many cars and light trucks they were making semis must have been thousands less in numbers and possibly losing money on each one? I wish I could compare one of the Big three big rigs to one made by an actual semi company and compare every aspect. I find it very interesting since I had no idea that Chrysler made semis along with Ford and GM until I saw a old medium duty one [not a semi] hauling strawberries through a field and after doing a bit of searching I found out that they did but unlike Ford and GM they pulled out of the market first which seemed to be in the late 70s while GM pulled out in 2009 and Ford is somehow still going. I could never figure out if Chrysler was smart or what but it also explains the reason that every rv after 70s was made on a Ford.

    I just looked on wiki and it says the declining commercial market so better yet I wonder how Ford and GM survived that?

    One thing I find interesting with Ford semis is that a lot of counties have them here as does Caltrans vs real semis now though they are getting replaced with Internationals instead but what was the cost difference if anyone knows/ knew?

  2. #2

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    If I recall a lot of this went down when the government started to play around with the fuel efficiency standards.

  3. #3

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    Also deregulation of the trucking industry as well as mergers and buyouts of truck manufacturers.

  4. #4

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    Quote Originally Posted by Ringer View Post
    If I recall a lot of this went down when the government started to play around with the fuel efficiency standards.
    I had no idea they were doing that in the heavy duty segment! Can that explain why gasoline powered big rigs vanished by the 80s? if not the 70s?



    Quote Originally Posted by oleman72 View Post
    Also deregulation of the trucking industry as well as mergers and buyouts of truck manufacturers.
    I forgot about that. Now very common is autocar since a group of investors bought Volvo's COE model for garbage trucks and it must be the sole model and Caltrans has a few water trucks on autocars but I think they are pre 1987 Volvo buyout. since you made me think about buyouts

  5. #5

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    You also have to remember the cost of maintaince on a gasoline engine is almost double that of a diesel engine. That was the biggest downfall on the heavy duty trucks as well as farm tractors.

  6. #6

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    over here, in Britain, we're seeing a move toward vans (medium and large) as wagons and wagondrivers are hit with more and more regulation (aka, cost). vandrivers are unregulated (no working time limits, and no need for tachographs and CPC).
    not sure how that's going to affect the European manufacturers in the long run

  7. #7

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    [QUOTE=Experiment626;1138918]I had no idea they were doing that in the heavy duty segment! Can that explain why gasoline powered big rigs vanished by the 80s? if not the 70s?


    better believe it there trying to control the heavy duty segment id seen first hand with my own trucks how bad CA can be with regulations

  8. #8

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    Quote Originally Posted by oleman72 View Post
    You also have to remember the cost of maintaince on a gasoline engine is almost double that of a diesel engine. That was the biggest downfall on the heavy duty trucks as well as farm tractors.
    I wonder then how that is for the medium duty trucks since they could still be had with gas but it is certainly less then diesels from what I see. My thought for discontinuing gas trucks was that diesel was cheaper than gas,it made way way more torque than gas and at less rpm but i thought gassers were the cheaper ones to maintain and not the diesels!



    Quote Originally Posted by ade View Post
    over here, in Britain, we're seeing a move toward vans (medium and large)
    not sure how that's going to affect the European manufacturers in the long run
    I don't see how getting goods from a to b in a van vs a truck would make a difference and it seems that a truck would hold way more than a van! I find it interesting though since I think Europe is spending some of their models here such as the dodge prostar which is from Fiat since they bought out Chrysler and Ford is going stop making the E series and replace those with something from the UK except those are vans.

    - - - Updated - - -

    I can now! I can't believe the BS! My dad is in the construction biz and he has a few diesel trucks all 1 tons and one a GMC C4500 [is it a 1.5 ton ?)and CARB is stupid making you either get very expensive crap to stay in compliance or get new trucks and i cant imangine what people who cant afford either are supposed to do. It is just kinda like around here localy there was a brand of school bus that I would have loved to have gotten called Crown Coach and I have no idea why they were so damn common but when CARB started dicking around they pretty much vanished even an article was run in the paper about 5 of them getting the cash for clunkers treatment,[dont get me started on that!] motor seizeing and all! I'm still Pissed at GE buying them out and Shutting them down just for their land but CARB is ass

  9. #9

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    Quote Originally Posted by Ringer View Post
    If I recall a lot of this went down when the government started to play around with the fuel efficiency standards.
    CAFE standards only affect automobiles and light-duty pickups (GVWR less than 8,500 pounds), and historically there were different targets for autos and light trucks. These differing standards led to all sorts of interesting market distortions and trickery. The Chrysler PT Cruiser, for instance, was classified as a light truck for purposes of CAFE (so Chrysler could get away with it getting poorer mileage). The Ford Excursion, which used the F-350 chassis as its base, was exempt from CAFE, as are the Ford Super Duty pickups because they surpass the 8,500 pound GVWR. The move to first minivans and then SUVs (both considered light trucks) as family trucksters was in part motivated by CAFE standards, as making a spacious automobile that could haul a family and gear for a vacation while still conforming to CAFE became increasingly difficult.

    As for why the Big Three moved out of trucks, I suspect it's a matter of core competencies versus available capital to deploy across divisions and businesses versus the profit those endeavors can bring. The Chrysler Corporation was out of money in the mid-1970s. They could not even afford to develop smaller and more fuel efficient vehicles to comply with clumsily-implemented CAFE standards, let alone maintain a rather niche market (large trucks). In such an environment, of course they would stop doing large trucks and redeploy that capital to their core business. (Ultimately, Chrysler Corporation needed to turn to the U.S. Government for loans, loans that allowed them to develop the modern K-cars that saved Chrysler from utter demise.) I know in the mid-2000s Ford was still making medium-duty trucks, as large as the F-750. I don't know if they're still at it or if Ford opted to abandon that portion of the market during the 2006-2009 era when they were struggling to avoid bankruptcy and redevelop the Ford brand. I believe Ford made the last heavy-duty 9000 semi-tractor in 1996.

    As for GM, I am fairly sure they're still in the medium-duty segment. Odd and interesting fact: The presidential Cadillac is not any production Cadillac. It is, in fact, a Chevy medium-duty truck chassis (a 4500 level, as I recall) with specially-made Cadillac-styled body panels. There was not a production Cadillac that would withstand the strain of the reinforcement and ballistic protection the Secret Service installs in a presidential limo, hence the need for the truck chassis.

    At any rate, though, medium- and heavy-duty were/are a small share of the business for GM/Ford/Chrysler. From a business perspective, it probably didn't make sense for them to dedicate employees and resources to maintaining such a small portion of their businesses, even if they were profitable. I mean, Ford walked away from its virtual monopoly on the very profitable police/taxi/livery markets when it discontinued the Panther platform (Crown Victoria/Grand Marquis/Lincoln Town Car) despite those products still being profitable. But, it no longer made sense to have an assembly plant and the 1,000-ish workers cranking out old products, and the Panther platform was a product of early 1970s engineering that could no longer be engineered/changed to keep up with the modern automotive market. It makes sense to me that the Ford L9000 and its brothers from GM and Chrysler met a similar fate.

  10. #10

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    To get the bail out Chrysler was told to stop making big trucks and motor home chassis.
    Most motor home was dodge and Chevrolet back then.

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