Tony O'Kane | Jan 21, 2009

Checker Motors, the 87 year-old company responsible for building America's most iconic taxi, has filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection after rising raw material costs and a dwindling market share left it with enormous bills and a long line of creditors.

Curiously, Checker Motors hasn't built a single taxi since 1982, when increased labour costs and outdated tooling (not to mention a hideously archaic taxi design) forced it to cease vehicle production. Since then Checker has eked out a living by producing steel bodywork and welded assemblies for other American automakers, but as demand for its client's products evaporated, so too did Checker's profits.

High wages demanded by unionized workers and the escalating cost of raw materials also hurt Checker's bottom line, and the company now owes an estimated USD$21.8m to around 2100 creditors. It seems that no matter whether you build cars or not, now is most definitely not a good time to be involved in the US auto industry.

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