• May 9, 2006
Detroit Free Press columnist Tom Walsh believes the Detroit Big Three are wasting precious resources trying to answer why Americans are not buying their cars. The problems are not prices or how to beat Toyota in environmental issues, writes Walsh, but that domestic automakers need to rebuild the public's trust in their products by making ownership hassle-free.

Walsh states his arguable opinion that the domestics' strengths are low prices, trustworthy service and high quality. Chrysler, Ford, and GM must not only maintain such qualities but keep the public continuously aware of them. That way the consumer may one day forgive them of years of slipshod products and mediocre service. Ford's 'Bold Move' campaign, Chrysler's daring 300, and the new Saturn lineup show that Detroit still knows how to make great looking, fun-to-drive vehicles. Walsh believes all they need to do now is prove they can be counted on.

[Source: Detroit Free Press]


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  • 35 Comments
      • 8 Years Ago
      Commander - I guess if you tell the same lie enough you begin to belive it. The US automakers certainly seem to.

      I call shenanigans on the idea that US cars have just "gotten a bad rap." There is a reason why US automakers have a bad reputation these days. They've sold too many peopel too many bad cars. Sure they make a nice one now and then, and then they go right back to cutting corners when they think they have every one fooled.

      You can afford your delusions - US automakers cannot. The sooner they buckle down and start making quality, reliable cars that people want and stop whining about their unfair reputation the better off they'll be.
      • 8 Years Ago
      Dave, your comment about beaters illustrates our point perfectly. Americans uses to make good cars. Unforunately the majority of those care were built before I was born...

      I dont see any really old foreign cars either - older than about '85 that is. The japanese brands were up and coming in the late 70's and proved their worth over time. Ford and GM met that challenge by trying to cut the bottom line instead of competing on quality.

      If your gonna judge by beaters look again. Youll find a dearth of late 80's and 90's American cars because most of them are in the scrap yard.
      • 8 Years Ago
      "As I have said for over a year on this blog, the Big 3's short-sightedness in offering their vehicles at fire sale prices, flooding the market when prodcution cutbacks were needed, huge incentives on overpriced cars and SUVs, and pushing a thrid of their unwanted trash off on fleet sales has irreperably tarnished their brands."

      They flood the market sir, because with the UAW on their backs, they cannot be flexible in production at all.
      • 8 Years Ago
      What's the big deal with dealerships? Really, I buy cars and only see the dealer for the warranty work and scheduled maintenance (on my european car this is constant). I loathe all dealers. They're all scummy. From the bargain basement dealers to Lexus, every last one of them is filled with the same kind of evil snakes. Shrug. That's part of owning a car: you can't trust and don't want to be near the dealer.

      I think many of you are putting to much on dealerships.
      • 8 Years Ago
      I have always bought Japanese. I do look at domestics but never bought. Why? No comparison. The domestics feel cheap and are built "good enough." I want more than that and when I buy my next car, I do take a look at some domestics but never am satisfied with overall build quality and reliability. Plus, Japanese cars hold their value far much better. I just don't see myself ever buying American. I want quality and there is absolutely none in my opinion.
      • 8 Years Ago
      koba, my son has an 'o4 tundra sitting in his yard with a blown tranny, 61k. toyoda says tough shit, so i suppose it's his fault for never carrying anything in it but groceries or an occasional beer cooler. young lady down the street has a maxima that has been in the shop seven times in eighteen months. my dodge '05 ram has 235k on it and only repair was a fuel pump at 195k. all cars have their share of problems, but i still stand behind american brands. hopefully when we get a president that has brass ba##s he will deport the illegals in toyodas and end this nightmare. oops, hope i didn't offend any rich, classy, yuppie wannabes
      • 8 Years Ago
      I reluctantly started buying Japanese cars in the late '80s. Why? I was in the market for a small car and having owned a Cavalier-clone ('82 J2000) that was somewhat unremarkable, I thought I would go back to Ford. I wanted an Escort GT and found 2 nice ones at a Ford dealer. So why did I buy a Civic instead? I didn't fit in the front seat of the Escort and didn't want to buy a "freshened" nearly 10 year old design. In 127,000 miles, the Civic never let me down. The Ford Ranger I bought after the Civic was totalled went only 75,000 before problems started to crop up. STILL, I'd buy another Ranger, but I don't want a "freshened" 14 year old design.
      Notice a pattern here? Ford's (and presumeably GM's) cars start out "almost on par" with a typical Japanese sedan, then stay in production forever. Then, after falling behind the rest of the market, they eventually throw out the design and start over.
      As has also been pointed out, domestic dealers and especially their sales staff, are the pits.
      • 8 Years Ago
      Inconsistency in quality has been the biggest dealbreaker. Everyone plays the reliability risk game when buying a car (and yes, that includes imports like the Camry). But when the odds are significantly better on the imports, it would be silly to play against those odds on $20-30K.
      • 8 Years Ago
      These companies simply don't know how to interact with their
      employees, their suppliers, or their customers. So this trust thing
      isn't likely to develop that way. But...I also agree that the
      difference in reliability is smaller, maybe even much smaller, than
      most people think it is. The way Consumer Reports reports its results
      in relative terms hides the absolute differences. I'm working
      on a fix for this at http://www.truedelta.com.
      TrueDelta will be reporting absolute numbers for times and days in
      the shop, among other things. This will make it much clearer how bad
      a bad car is and how much better a good one is. This is far from
      clear right now.Once the sample is large enough, TrueDelta
      will also be reporting what many people really want to know: what are
      the odds of getting a thoroughly unreliable car, the "lemon-odds."
      • 8 Years Ago
      Detroit has been preeminent in bastardizing American tastes, so they think an Imperial which has a smaller engine, front seat, back seat, and trunk than a 300 SEL, while it is four feet longer is beautiful; it also would not do anything nearly as well. An Olds Cutlass had less leg-room than a Fial 128, which was six-inches shorts than a VW beetle...that's class.
      If they want to do something smart, make cars that will stop in less than a hundred feet, and corner around an accident. They crash cars into a brick wall at 40 mph and decide how safe they are. If you had a decent car side-by-side with a Tahoe or some other piece of crap and slammed on the brakes at 70 mph it would not hit the brick wall, but the Tahoe, et al will be demolished as it will need about another 150 feet to get stopped after the Z3 or whatever does..........dah; and consumers report rates these "things" brakes good....there are cars that can drive around that brick wall if there isn't enough time to stop. Go figure; there isn't anyone in this country with enough brains to be an American.
      • 8 Years Ago
      The biggest reason foreign BRAND automakers are more successful than domestic brand automakers is Unions. I am sure I will get alot of anamocity over stating this but it is a fact. There quality is poor because so what I have a union to protect me from getting fired. A group of people in the union decide to go on strike instead of working and building quality vehicles.
      Add in the healthcare that they shouldn't have to pay for even though everyone of them probably average $60000/yr. Jealous, not a bit. Wouldn't want to work for an Domestic brand due to the commute back and forth to Mexico is not worth it.
      I would guess there are at least the same quantity if not more American workers working for import brands than domestic brands in the US. Not sure have not bothered investigating.
      If they are American brand, the need to be American made not in Canada or Mexico.Support the American worker by Import brands
      gbh
      • 8 Years Ago

      Dateline: 10 May 2006
      "Up next, Tom Walsh with breaking news - Richard Nixon has resigned the Presidency of the United States!"

      Living in a cave that long, maybe Walsh can help us find Osama Bin Laden...
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