The Book

This book is about crisis, resilience and survival in the world’s automotive industry, specifically the 40 or so companies in the world that design, build and sell cars in significant numbers. The auto industry is a mature industry, featuring stable technology (with a dominant design that was established more than a century ago); high barriers to entry and exit; a global footprint; and a strong public profile. The activities of auto firms are heavily embedded in the economies in which they operate and cars are heavily embedded in the lives of those who use them.

Crisis, Resilience and Survival charts the evolution of the global automotive industry, revealing the pressures and challenges facing firms in this hugely significant industrial sector.

Long-term overcapacity and ferocious competition mean that the margins of many car companies are low across the whole economic cycle, and negative during the troughs. Yet the complete failure and disappearance of an auto company is relatively rare, and many auto firms have bounced back from serious crises. Using the concept of the ‘survival envelope’, we argue that the ability to design, develop, manufacture and distribute vehicles competitively is not the only factor crucial to survival in the auto industry. Scale, market reach and stakeholder support are all key to the resilience of auto firms.

Using detailed analyses of two failures (Rover and Saab) and two recoveries from crisis (Chrysler and Nissan) we examine how and why auto firms fail, and  how they can sometimes survive, apparently against the odds.

You can see the key messages of the book, and summaries of each chapter,  by clicking on the links below.

Key messages

Chapter 1: Why a book on resilience?

Chapter 2: The evolution of a global industry

Chapter 3: Competing in a global industry

Chapter 4: Concepts: Stakeholders, operations and context

Chapter 5: Rover: Inside a failing car company

Chapter 6: The failure of Saab Automobile

Chapter 7: Near misses: Nissan and Chrysler

Chapter 8: The future shape of the industry

Figures and tables