Saturday, 12 April 2008

A tale of two cities

General Motors still commandeers the American Dream - it even uses a line from the Declaration of Independence in its ads, in which gravelly, heroic voices evoke wide highways of freedom and the shiny beasts that must naturally cruise them. It is a story, although peppered with the words “future” and “efficiency”, that wants the 4x4 SUV world to stay just as it is.

Leo Lewis takes a critical look at Detroit and Toyota, the leading car cities of the USA and Japan.

The carmaker dominates local politics and society: even the town's name, Koromo, was changed to Toyota in 1959 to suit its omnipotent resident. Why, he asks, is there no proper public transport system, and why does the school calendar fit around the Toyota plant schedule?