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Last Updated: Sunday, 13 January 2008, 10:11 GMT
Chrysler's stampede into Motown
By Jorn Madslien
Business reporter, BBC News, Detroit auto show

A pickup truck
Farmers have been driving into Detroit for the cattle race
The American car maker Chrysler plans to drive a herd of cattle through the centre of Detroit on Sunday to launch its new Dodge Ram pickup truck.

But the truck, which goes on show at the Detroit auto show, is likely to face stiff competition in a shrinking market, analysts said.

Pickup truck sales, perhaps more than other car models, are suffering from the rising price of oil.

They also cater to the currently weak building and farming sectors.

Such a focus on gas-guzzling pickup trucks, although there is still a market for them, is going a bit "against the grain", says auto analyst Michael Robinet of CSM, referring to how environmental concerns and regulation are forcing a shift towards smaller cars, many already being marketed by European and Asian rivals.

Healthcare reform

This year's Detroit motor show comes against a background of growing concern about whether or not the US economy can avoid a recession.

For the US carmakers General Motors, Ford and Chrysler, this comes on top of a long-running onslaught from rival car makers from both Europe and Asia.

But the American car giants are in the process of reforming themselves.

Recent healthcare arrangements that have been struck between the carmakers and the unions should help speed up the process, analysts say.

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