>it didn't become a loser overnight - the Germans had to work at
Hmmmm... surely they had to. With that Chrysler blooper Daimler lost staggering 35 bn dollars over the years. You can't blame them for not trying. Of the big three they had the most interesting products, like that desirable 300 Hemi.
The two others doing no better (in fact, the perennial European loser Fiat has larger market capitalization than GM and Ford combined) so the question is why. Many of the folks on this thread who worship a dead gonzo journalists as their political ideologist will be quickly pointing out the unions. However those we have here too and much stronger. American union guys wouldn't be tough enough to re-fill toilet paper racks in IG Metal offices.
I blame the quarterly-result based capitalism. Its old and not competitive any more. Toyota was able to take the no. 1 spot because they took the long view. Quarterly results never mattered to them.