Yes, the impact on the entire industry, including suppliers, is noted by US media, but I havn't been able to find anyone talking specifically about the effect on the other car manufacturers, including Nissan, Hyundai, VW etc. with plants in the US.Martin: You can be sure that the Japanese automakers are doing their best to blend into the background and avoid becoming part of the story. They’ve always been careful to act humble while playing the part of the perfect guest for their host states. Now, an American lawyer who is aware of the political score recently suggested that “Japan”—I think that he was being purposely vague—could gain a lot of political points by helping out the Big Three. So I put the question to a friend who is deeply involved in the Japanese auto industry: If the Detroit Three could restructure its legacy costs and existing labor arrangements and commit to product lineups more befitting future market prospects, would Japanese manufacturers be willing to be take over one or more of them? The answer: The factories have to be looked over one by one; some of them won’t be worth the trouble.
The "shift" is towards Asian and European cars, which are smaller, smarter (eg. more fuel efficient), but require a new way of thinking. The US is also going to need massive investments in public transportation, when the economy no longer can support the two-cars-per-family lifestyle. Instead of bailing out the Big 3, it would make sense to debate that. Obama is talking about "green jobs" and a new green deal, that has been noted here in Japan as well:
Now, GM says that it is going to do all that, if the U.S. government helps out with the financing, including an unspecified amount in the form of preferred stock. If Congress authorizes something along those lines, the political implications—billions of dollars in public funds just so Japanese manufacturers can skim the cream off the top?—and the business considerations—who wants the U.S. government as a business partner and watchdog that will often fail to speak with one voice?—are such that takeovers, or any kind of capital injection for that matter, by non-D3 manufacturers will become pretty much unthinkable. I suspect that even the opportunities for deeper R&D cooperation in hybrids and other next-generation autos will become complicated if the U.S. government becomes involved as a major creditor-equity holder at the other end.
You raise the broader question of the need to reorient the overall transport system to meet environmental and energy-related challenges. Note that it is not just a matter of the public transport system and the overall infrastructure. At issue is the entire U.S. political geography that has evolved around the automobile and the airplane. How are you going to redo Los Angeles and its suburbs? Montana? Because of the enormity of the challenge, I do not think that America is going to “end its dependence” on Middle East oil in ten years or any time soon—ten years is surely sooner than soon where a 300 million-strong nation’s energy profile is concerned—and clean up the environment even if President-elect Obama were everything his staunchest supporters hoped he would be. And I do not think that the American public is ready either. There will be progress. But my guess is that it will be painfully incremental unless there are dramatic technological breakthroughs, or a willingness to rely on nuclear power to an extent that isn’t there yet in the specific.