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U.S. Automakers Fleeing Detroit Thrive Amid Motor City’s Decline

The Motor City was the car capital of the world when David Cole graduated from a Detroit high school in 1955 and headed off to college to study auto engineering. Six decades later, the “motor” has mostly moved out, he said.

Many of the factories that used to dot the city and employ thousands moved to suburbs, other U.S. states or to China and Brazil as the auto industry became global and manufacturing focused on getting faster and less expensive, said Cole, chairman emeritus of the Center for Automotive Research in Ann Arbor, Michigan, and son of a General Motors Co. president.