This is a partial transcript from "Your World with Neil Cavuto," January 23, 2006, that was edited for clarity.
NEIL CAVUTO, HOST: Well, you have been hearing a couple of things about this, this news that Ford Motor Company (F) is slashing up to 30,000 jobs, shutting down 14 plants nationwide, American automakers trying to get in on the road to recovery, an industry they once dominated.
So, what if the unthinkable happens and America never, ever gets its mojo back in motor vehicles? Then what happens? What if we are permanently also-rans to the likes of Asia and Europe? Is that such a big deal, if we do all the buying, but none of the making?
With us now is Malcolm Bricklin. He's the CEO and founder of Visionary Vehicles. It plans to sell Chinese-made vehicles to the American market by 2007. And Mark Gillies, the executive editor of Automobile magazine.
Mark, end it with you, begin with you.
Is it a big deal if we are no longer manufacturing these cars?
MARK GILLIES, EXECUTIVE EDITOR OF AUTOMOBILE MAGAZINE: I think it's a huge deal.
The companies are massive employers, both directly and indirectly. If you look at Ford after the restructuring, they have actually got 87,000 employees, which is twice as many as Microsoft have worldwide. Moreover, if you look at those jobs, they are very high-paying jobs. These people who can afford to buy their own products, unlike the employees at Wal-Mart (WMT) or people who are flipping burgers at McDonald's (MCD).
You know, they can't afford to buy an F-150. The guys on the line at Ford can.
CAVUTO: It is a good point, Malcolm, and one that seems to indicate a big hit for our economy, if these jobs go bye-bye. What do you make of that?
MALCOLM BRICKLIN, FOUNDER & CEO, VISIONARY VEHICLES LLC: I agree, by the way.
I mean, it is a really sad day for America. But I will tell you, it goes deeper than just pension and it goes deeper than just expensive labor. You know, it goes all the way down to the dealer. It is not a pleasant experience to go buy cars right now. And I think there is a major restructuring that the major car companies have to do.
CAVUTO: Yes, but it is not any more pleasant going to a Nissan (NSANY) or Toyota (TM) dealer, right?
BRICKLIN: That is true. By the way, I happen to advocate a whole change in the whole industry.
CAVUTO: Right, the whole way it's being done.
BRICKLIN: But, right now, Ford and General Motors (GM) have an opportunity. Unfortunately, the word is bankruptcy.
BRICKLIN: But it is an opportunity to restructure and maybe take a lead in the industry that definitely needs a lead.
CAVUTO: You know, Mark, I'm not wishing this upon anyone here. But if we were to lose our auto industry manufacturing in this country, many feared disastrous consequences if we were not the place making VCRs, if we were not the place making televisions, and, yet, the American economy went merrily on, even as those type of jobs did not. What do you make of that?
GILLIES: I think that is slightly naive, because one of the beauties about the car industry is, these are very, very high-value items.
I mean, one of the things is, if you look at the financial situation of the companies, General Motors, for instance, doesn't actually turn over much less than Wal-Mart does. Wal-Mart has 1.3 million employees, I think. And, if you look at General Motors, in 2005, they had 181,000 employees.
CAVUTO: But, Mark, it is not as if cars are stopped being made, right? The likes of Toyota and so many of these others do have plants in this country and are making vehicles in this country. They are just not American companies doing so.
GILLIES: Well, you know, there's still a large number of cars being made by American manufacturers. I think people forget that.
More than half of the cars sold in America are American, for instance. So, what has happened over time is that, as the market share has fallen, foreign car companies have come in. And they have taken over plants. Effectively, they have set up new plants and they have taken over that capacity. So, it is not like there are less cars being produced in America than there were 30 years ago.
CAVUTO: Well, Malcolm, let me ask you about the Chinese coming in. How serious does is that threat? What would it mean to American jobs if and when that happens?
BRICKLIN: Well, it is a serious threat. Of course it is.
We are going right into the middle market, in the 20s, which is a market that has been held by most of the manufacturers very comfortably, because they sell in the 30s to 50s.
So, it is going to be serious. But I think it is going to give an opportunity to the American manufacturers to look seriously at where their place is in this world. And I think there's a very major place for them. It just has to be restructured, again, from top to bottom.
GILLIES: Excuse me, if I can butt it.
CAVUTO: Go ahead.
GILLIES: I disagree with that.
The Chinese cars we have seen so far aren't that great. And they don't have the branding that is necessary to make an impact on the world stage...
CAVUTO: Well, neither were the Japanese cars or the South Korean cars. When they first came here, they were considered, you know, tin cans with wheels. And I think they have come a long way.
BRICKLIN: Mark, you are right, by the way. The cars you have seen from China do not meet what I just told you.
But nobody has actually seen the cars I'm talking about, except the one at the Shanghai Auto Show, that won car of the show, I believe, this year.
CAVUTO: All right. Malcolm and Mark, thank you both very much.
GILLIES: Thank you.
BRICKLIN: Thank you.
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