CBC Digital Archives

A challenge from Lee Iacocca

Since 1925, the Chrysler Corporation has been a titan in the world auto industry; one of the three largest manufacturers in North America and producer of iconic machines like the Jeep, the Barracuda, the K-car and the minivan. Like any company in any industry, Chrysler has seen its share of good times and bad. But as a multi-billion dollar company with tens of thousands of employees, those ups and downs have major ramifications for the North American economy. On May 1, 2009 the auto giant filed for bankruptcy protection. The CBC Digital Archives offers a brief look back at some of the troubles and triumphs of the automotive juggernaut.

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It's a new year, but an old problem for U.S. trade and manufacturing. The Japanese-U.S. trade imbalance now stands at over US $40 billion in 1992, and the U.S. is falling further behind with each year. President George Bush has just returned from a state visit to Japan, but attempts to close the gap prove fruitless. Also back from Japan is Chrysler chairman Lee Iacocca, who has some strong words for his government and dire warnings about this growing imbalance. The U.S., he says, has become like a colony to Japan's mother country. The Japanese "are beating our brains in!" he cries. In this speech, he throws down the gauntlet and urges the U.S. to fight back.
• Host Michael Enright's remark about U.S. president George Bush having stomach flu refers to an incident during Bush's January 1992 visit to Japan, when Bush threw up on Japanese prime minister Kiichi Miyazawa during a state dinner.
  • Lee Iacocca made these remarks in January 1992, but his call for action didn't help. The Japanese-U.S. trade imbalance grew significantly that year, from US $43 million to $49.6 million. It jumped another $10 million in 1993.

• Lido Anthony (Lee) Iacocca was born on Oct. 25, 1924 in the U.S. industrial hub of Allentown, Pa. He became president and CEO of Chrysler in 1978, and took over as chairman in 1979. He held all three posts until his retirement in 1992. In 1995, he assisted in a failed hostile takeover of Chrysler by billionaire investor Kirk Kerkorian.

Medium: Radio
Program: As It Happens
Broadcast Date: Jan. 12, 1992
Guest(s): Lee Iacocca
Host: Michael Enright
Duration: 5:09

Last updated: February 9, 2012

Page consulted on September 10, 2014

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