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Big, expensive cars and trucks equal big profits. Small, inexpensive cars equal small profits.

The mathematics in today's marketplace simply can't be argued, and the result, as buyers increasingly switch from trucks, truck-based 'utes and big family cars into smaller sedans and hatchbacks, is less earning potential for full-line automakers. Like Ford, for instance. Citing the rising trend of smaller cars and crossovers, Ford Chief Operating Officer Mark Fields warned that fourth-quarter earnings will be down compared to last year.

Smaller profits in the US market are one thing; an even bigger problem is the almost complete lack of profit margin in South America and huge multi-billion-dollar losses in Europe, where economies are in crisis and automakers are laying off workers and closing plants. In other words, we're thinking Ford's eight to ten-percent margins in the States aren't looking so bad...