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Porter's Model as applied to the Auto Industry

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In 2009 the American auto industry is in a dire economic state. Chrysler is in Chapter 11, GM is on the brink of bankruptcy, and Ford's future is at best uncertain. The demise of the U.S. auto industry will have a devastating impact on our national economy and specifically the economies of Michigan and Ohio.

Economists occasionally use Porter's five forces framework when making a qualitative evaluation of a firm's strategic position. According to Porter, his model should be used at the industry level, defined as a marketplace in which similar or closely related products or services are marketed. This research paper requires the application of Porter's Five Forces Model to the auto industry.

Porter's analytical framework consists of those forces that affect a producer's ability to serve its customers and make a profit. A change in any of these five forces requires a re-assessment of the marketplace. The five forces include:

1) The threat of substitute products: The existence of close substitute products (i.e., high elasticity of demand) increases the propensity of customers to switch to alternatives in response to price increases.

2) The threat of the entry of new competitors: Unless there are significant barriers to entry, profitable markets that yield high returns will attract firms (i.e., perfect competition), effectively decreasing profitability.

3) The intensity of competitive rivalry: As in the case of oligopoly markets, rivals may choose to compete aggressively, non-aggressively or in non-price dimensions.

4) The bargaining power of customers: The ability of customers to put the firm under pressure due to availability of existing substitute products, buyer price sensitivity, uniqueness of the products, etc.

5) The bargaining power of suppliers: The cost of factors of production (e.g. labor, raw materials, components, and services such as expertise) provided by suppliers can have a significant impact on a company's profitability. As such suppliers may refuse to work with the firm or charge excessively high prices for unique resources.

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Porter's Five Forces Strategy Analysis as it applies to the Auto Industry

1. The bargaining power of customers
The bargaining power of the buyers is moderately high. The buyers being consumers purchase almost all of the industries output. The manufacturers depend on them to stay in business. The buyers also are a significant portion of the industries revenue. If they cannot keep their buyers happy then they risk losing them to their competitors. The buyers have low switching cost if they are not happy. All the buyer has to do is sell the car they own and purchase a new one. The reasons why the power is not completely high is that the buyers are not large and few in number. The buyers do not have the ability to integrate backwards into the industry. If they want a car then they have to purchase it from a dealership.

2. Bargaining Power of Suppliers
The bargaining power of suppliers is very low in the automobile industry. There are so many parts that are used to produce an automobile, that it takes many suppliers to accomplish this. When there are many suppliers in an industry, they do not have much power. There are so many suppliers to this industry; manufactures can easily switch to another supplier if it is necessary.

3. Bargaining Power of ...

Solution Summary

This solution describes how Porter's five forces model of a) the threat of substitute products, b) the threat of the entry of new competitors, c) the intensity of competitive rivalry, d) The bargaining power of customers, and e) the bargaining power of suppliers can be applied to the auto industry.

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