With the latest US bridge financing for the 'Big 3' dead on the Senate floor, one has to wonder what will become of them.
Chrysler will shrink to a shadow of its former self. (Those old enough to remember their show rooms in the early 80s will remember walking into a room full of K-platform cars and leftovers from the mid-70s. This time around, I suspect the remains will include a minivan, and possibly something based on a Mitsubishi platform ... and not much else.
GM on the other hand could be headed for a fate not unlike what happened to AT&T/Bell in the early 80s. GM has a couple of brands that I suspect will survive in some form or anther. I can see Chevrolet, Pontiac and Cadillac remaining fairly intact; Saturn will likely become a brand used to label whatever they can import from Europe and Korea. (Not unlike GM's ill-fated "Passport" and "Geo" brands - hopefully better managed than that...)
Buick will vanish - at least in North America, and I suspect the 'GMC' branded trucks will also go away - being otherwise identical to their Chevrolet-branded cousins.
Just at a guess, we'll see the following companies emerge from a GM bankruptcy in North America ("MiniGeMs"?):
1. Chevrolet - Mostly producing family cars and light trucks
2. Pontiac - Will try to position itself as a "near luxury" brand competing with Acura
3. Cadillac - Will continue to be Cadillac
4. Saturn - Will mostly become a dealership network selling rebranded Opel product.
No speculation on what will happen with their holdings in Europe and Asia - I simply don't know enough of GM's current holdings over there
All of those companies will be producing in much reduced volumes from today, and I expect their lineups to be trimmed dramatically.
Any guesses as to what shape GM takes on after a bankruptcy filing is, of course, purely hypothetical - based far more in my imaginings than anything even remotely real.
What the impact of a dramatic reshaping will be on the US and Canadian economies will be is hard to say - I'd have to imagine that it will be messy in the short term until the new companies start to take shape and fill the gaps. I expect the stock markets to take a nosedive on this, not because it's warranted, but because the stock markets are run more on emotion than on anything resembling rationality. Sit back, and hold on.