The big picture

Not at all unlike auto giants GM and Ford-- and diesel engine maker Cummins among other manufacturers serving trucking here-- North American-based automotive parts suppliers are apparently prospering by going global.

According to a report by The Wall Street Journal today, both Visteon Corp. and TRW Automotive Holdings Corp. have "joined the growing list of parts suppliers reporting improved financial results thanks to cost cuts and efforts to penetrate international markets, even as the outlook worsens for car and truck sales in North America."

The reporter goes on to observe that "Most U.S. parts makers... have spent the past few years closing plants in North America and moving production to low-cost countries. Most have cut their North American work force."

So this is really a good news-bad news story. It can't be all bad for the U.S. economy (and presumably the Canadian, too, given its huge role in auto and truck production) for these North American industrial powerhouses to be doing well financially; it certainly can't be bad for their stockholders and maybe not even for their customers.

On the other hand, the shift of automobile and auto parts production overseas not only removes high-paying factory jobs from North America, it reduces the amount of that outbound freight available for U.S. and Canadian motor and rail carriers to haul to ports.

I know free-traders would argue that those factory jobs will be duly replaced by high-tech or service jobs including those in the so-called "knowledge sector" and they may be right, although I for one am not entirely sure they are.

But one thing I think everyone in trucking can question is this: Will the automotive freight now being created elsewhere in the world ever be replaced here by anything a truck can haul?


Where have all the parts gone? Gone to overseas many have...