Yeah, the first part of what you say is true, but why did they fail so badly? I don't know the answer to this. They failed to "March! March!," as Marx put it in that famous passage from Wage Labor and Capital.* I"m tempted by some cultural explanation about the erosion of manufacturing skills in our embrace of the post-industrial. But in every interview with auto execs I've seen they come off as meatheads.
CB: Why should the top exec's care or exert themselves ? They are pretty much financially set for life personally. They can coast, rather than march. ( Same with UAW "execs")