Change In the American Auto Industry

I haven’t been a fan of American cars. They are blah at best. In the late ‘80’s and most of the ‘90’s, my favorite car was the Nissan Maxima. I still think it is one of the best cars for its market segment. I love BMW, Mercedes Benz and Jaguar. Over the years I’ve even come to like Audi and Volvo as well. As for American cars, the Mustang and Cadillac STS were the only cars that I would even get a double take from me.

Five years ago Chrysler made a comeback and I do like a lot of their cars. The new 300C is a great car but the 300M and the Magnum are good cars. That still has not diminished my propensity for foreign cars.

I was listening to a radio show on the auto industry and a woman spoke on the problems that Ford, Chrysler and GM are having with competing with Toyota and Nissan. Her premise is that the American auto industry is as strong as it has always been because Toyota, BMW and Nissan are building plants in the states. They are non-union jobs but they pay very well with good benefits. She also stated that buying an American made car isn’t as easy as choosing between a Ford or Toyota since the Ford could have been made in Mexico with German parts and the Toyota could have been made in the states using American parts.

Personally, I think American automakers are having a problem because they don’t make exciting cars. I wouldn’t choose an Impala over a Nissan Maxima. I’d select an Altima before I’d purchase a Malibu. When it comes to the pricier vehicles, are there any American cars that complete with a BMW 7-Series or a Mercedes Benz S600? The Big Three will get first look when I think of SUV’s or pickup trucks. As for Hybrids, they dropped the ball and gave the Japanese automakers a five-year head start.

The Questions:

1. Why do you think the Big Three are falling behind their foreign counterparts?
2. When you purchase a car do you specifically look for an American car?
3. With the globalization of the auto industry, is it even necessary to seek American made cars when a lot of foreign cars are actually made in the States.
4. What was the last car you purchased?
5. What is you dream automobile? Why?


13 Responses to Change In the American Auto Industry

  1. stuffle Says:
    1. Why do you think the Big Three are falling behind their foreign counterparts?

    My best guess would be a combinition of poor management, poor design decisions, and being sadled with overly oppressive unions.

    2. When you purchase a car do you specifically look for an American car?

    Nope. I look at them, but not specifically or exclusively. As a consumer, my only concern is bang for the buck and quality. Where something is made is of little concern to me.

    3. With the globalization of the auto industry, is it even necessary to seek American made cars when a lot of foreign cars are actually made in the States.

    Should not be a concern. See previous answer.

    4. What was the last car you purchased?

    Pontiac Vibe. Love it. You can tell that it is a Toyota w/ Pontiac badging. The other Pontiacs we test drove where all shit compared to the quality that are in these. Hopefully GM will learn something from their partership w/ Toyota on this...

    5. What is you dream automobile? Why?

    Right now, I would say the Honda Accord Hybrid or Civic Hybrid. Great style, great gas mileage (Civic) or pretty darn good mileage in a good sized car w/ power (Accord). I have a 40 mile commute, and good gas mileage is important to me.

    The fact that those two cars have style and a nice list of ammenities does not hurt anything either.
  2. SRH Says:
    Reliance on the status quo. There is no real push for alternate fuel in the US. Until recently, our gas prices were almost negligible.

    I specifically avoid American designed cars. I have no clue where the car might have actually been manufactured.

    I seek out cars that were designed by non-American countries. Our ergonomics suck.

    Toyota Rav4

    Not quite my dream auto, but it was the best we could afford in the smaller SUV line-up.
  3. Bloviating Zeppelin Says:
    The Big 3 are falling behind for any number of reasons. Let's examine a few:

    1. History. They are mostly stuck in the "we used to be the biggest and finest" mode. This simply does not work anymore.

    2. Arrogance. We have historically been the Big Dogs in the world and what we offer, the world should be glad it's there.

    3. Lack of Vision: Everyone wants an iron block V8. Okay, maybe an iron block V6. Front wheel drive rules all. It doesn't? How can that be? But wait; there's more:

    4. Legacy Costs: Detroit UAW workers have been progressively killing the auto industry. Unions were necessary in the 1800s and the early 1900s. Right on. GM is about to go bankrupt due to promised legacy costs. I knew they were in trouble when GM sold EMD to a ridiculous little pissant locomotive conglomerate.

    5. Molasses Effect: For whatever reason, Detroit on all levels is so fucking slow to react to the needs of the driving public. Like, dudes, you COULDN'T SEE oil as being a factor in the production of your massive fleets of SUVs, pickups and 4WDs?

    Gimme a break!

    DaimlerChrysler is the only exception to the Big 3. The 300 Platform has saved them, and the, oddly enough, Hemi has taken them through, to date, the horrific waters of auto production. From the Chrysler 300C Hemi platform comes not only the Dodge Magnum, but the newly and totally re-skinned Dodge Charger -- a SCORE for DC because they've got three monster cars from the same chassis on three different levels for consumers.

    GM just plain sucks except for the Corvette and their MONSTER Z06. You can't get MORE bang for your buck than the Z06. Cadillac is their new techno leader. Oldsmobile is gone. Buick has nothing to offer. Saturn is for losers. Chevrolet is the only mainstay GM has -- and even then they have nothing to compare to the once cheap but Mileage King Metro. The Aveo is a total loser.

    I just checked out a brand new 2-door 2006 Civic. Its CD (coefficient of drag) is astounding due to the hood and windscreen rake. The interior was trimmed with cloth and had seats with bolsters similar to Recaros. The back deck panel had three speakers; a middle bass and two side speakers. Metal gaps and piece fit was tight and even.

    Ford finds itself in between the plummeting GM and the surviving DC. Their pickups saved their asses and the Ford 500 just received the best crash ratings ever.

    The US is going to have to find a way to compete with the globalization of the auto industry. American workers will soon have to drink from a big cup of Get the Fuck Over It in terms of their bennies, retirement, healthcare, etc.

    Then there's this: when the Chinese get into the auto market, WATCH OUT. Your newest car may in fact be Chinese in a few years. They learned what the Japanese did a few years ago, only geometrically.

    US automakers: update or die.
  4. bold as love Says:
    1. Why do you think the Big Three are falling behind their foreign counterparts?
    American made cars are basically junk. Why? Lack of vision, reluctance to make a product that lasts, piss poor warranties(Hyundai has a 10 year-100,000 mile warranty)Labor Unions that believe the sky's the limit. When you do find a well made American car, they are simply comparable to some of the foreign made cars, except the foreign made cars offer more. When you have a problem with an American made car, dealing with the dealerships is a bitch.

    2. When you purchase a car do you specifically look for an American car?
    I avoid them like the plague- If I am buying a truck, its Ford or Chevy, but cars, oh hell no.

    3. With the globalization of the auto industry, is it even necessary to seek American made cars when a lot of foreign cars are actually made in the States.

    First thing I do is decide what vehicle will fit my lifestyle. There was a time in my life when a truck was the ticket(children changed that) I drive a Ford Explorer at this moment and it fulfils my needs- wish I had bought a Toyota, the explorer has been one of the most problematic vehicles I have ever owned.

    4. What was the last car you purchased?

    Ford Explorer- within the first 5 years of owning it- had 3 computers swapped out, a new transmission, and an engine put in- everything but 2 of the computers and the engine were not covered by the warranty- I had a 70,000 mile warranty but here in some parts of Georgia we put a lot of miles on our vehicles. Was able to get half my money back on the trany, but I was stuck with the rest. Several times I wanted to get rid of the truck but not having a car note was so nice, and still is.

    5. What is you dream automobile? Why?

    69’ Camaro- Its evrything I ever wanted in a car, power, great lines, easily maintained and modified.
  5. Steve Says:
    1. Why do you think the Big Three are falling behind their foreign counterparts?

    Everybody's answers above (100% right on time) and then some. There are just way too many things wrong with the American market, no single answer will suffice. US manufacturers must get on the ball, or die.

    Hell, I live in Detroit. The only real affinity for American cars comes from those who actually work for one of the big 3. And their families get that employee discount which accounts for American cars being their first choice. It's cost effective. Other than that, folks here are no more loyal to American made cars than any other part of the country.

    2. When you purchase a car do you specifically look for an American car?

    It really depends on the car. Truck or van? American, no doubt. Sports car? It depends. Luxury car or sedan? Foreign vehicles are kicking butt. It just depends on the type of car.

    3. With the globalization of the auto industry, is it even necessary to seek American made cars when a lot of foreign cars are actually made in the States.

    Foreign manufacturers may employ US citizens, but foreign car sales still strengthen non-US companies. It depends on the situation. For example: Toyota, Honda, & Nissan are all independent. Ford however, owns Mazda, Volvo, Jaguar, and Land Rover - or at least a percentage. The degree or percentage of ownership should - of course - play a role in the profits, and strength of Ford's position.

    4. What was the last car you purchased?

    GMC Savanna - 3/4 tun work van for my business. Great vehicle. I'm not sure foriegn manufacturers will be able to compete with US cars and trucks. (But anything is possible.)

    5. What is you dream automobile? Why?

    99’ Camaro Z28 SS - bought it brand new in 1999. (Paid full price too, but they did NOT discount those cars.) I love that car. It's got the power of a Corvette, but very unique styling. And it's $20,000 cheaper than a Vette. They don't look like the average Camaro. I still get looks and questions when i drive it, even today. I don't know how rare they are (or will be) but I'll never sell it.

    My next car will probably be a Range Rover - the LR3, either new or slightly used. Luxury all wheel drive SUV that can handle Michigan winters, for under $40,000.
  6. James Manning Says:
    In only five comments and we've completely solved the American Auto Industry's problem. So why aren't we CEO's?
  7. Chance, Says:
    To JAY Manning,

    Chance: I hope you get your dream car man, we all have those dream cars that we would love to have.

    Dreams are beautiful because they inspire us to action if we really are interested in our dreams.

    Go get Jay, go get it.

    By Chance (Chancellor) writer for
  8. James Manning Says:
    Thanks Chance,

    I linked you by the way. I would buy an S600 if I had the money but it would take a lot of for me to purchase a $300K car. It almost seems sinful. it's like buy a $100 tie. I could do it, but why? There is no reason for me to have $100 tie in my closet when $60 ties do just fine.
  9. Jo Says:
    1. Everyone already covered it, but I think the UAW is the biggest problem.

    2. Absolutely. But I'm from Michigan. We view Japanese cars a bit differently than does the rest of the nation.

    3. Again, absolutely. Again, but I'm from Michigan ;-)

    4. I'm driving a Chevy Malibu. And I love her!

    5. Right now, my dream car is the Ford Thunderbird. It's sooo pretty. But, it's a Ford. And I'm from a GM town. Buying a Ford is ALMOST as bad as buying a Toyota.
  10. Dave Miller Says:
    1. They are not falling, they fell in the 70's with the OPEC oil crisis. That allowed the imports to get a leg up on the Big Three from which they have never recovered.
    2. Never. I start with non Big Three companies and then go from there. I am unlikely to buy US unless there is a specific car that I want and like.
    3. Not for me.
    4. It is not even a car. It is a Hyundai Accent. So small it does not even receive a full letter name, just an Accent!
    5. Dream Car? One that's paid for. Seriously for me, the Nissan Titan Crew Cab. Base priced about $27,000.00. As shown in the commercials...$952,000.00 plus tax and license. Not including delivery.
  11. James Manning Says:
    Dave, That's funny about the $952,000. They like to do that. You can get a Benz for as low as $50,000. If you want doors, tires, brakes, seats or an engine, it's cost you $200,000.
  12. chance Says:
    Chance: Thanks for linking me Jay (james) and I have linked your peace on that also at Thanks again BRuh.

  13. Bloviating Zeppelin Says:
    One comment I forgot: last car purchased.

    2003 Subaru Outback Sport. Purchased for $21K, this car has everything I need. I live in the snow and commute 71 miles, one way, each day. That equals 142 miles each day X 4 days = 568 miles per week. The car is AWD and handles phenomenally in the rain and snow. Mileage AVERAGES about 25 mpg; my trip to work is down, my trip home is up.

    The Subie has a 2.5L engine and the car has every possible option BUT came equipped with many things as standard that many cars do not have, such as power windows, power locks, power mirrors, rear window defrogger, luggage rack, cloth seats, 4 spd auto, remote entry and alarm system, center console and rest, compass and self-dimming rearview mirror, external temp readout on dash, rear decklid cover, rear luggage net, rubber far rear protective bottom tray, all weather deep mats, rear bumper protective rubber top mat, huge and amazingly-effective fog lamps, and an 8 speaker system with single CD player and, my only formal option, the 6-CD changer.

    Holy Christ. All that for $21K. And, for a cheesy little Impreza, it handles like a slot car with the right tires. On my trip down I-80 from Blue Canyon I can cut the corners with most any WRX or STI -- I just can't compete with their turbocharged power.

    I defy any American car to match those specs and performance in that compact a package for the price. Can't be done. Period.