November 15, 2008

S&A Serious Question of the Day


Why can't Americans who work for American car companies build well-designed, high-quality, fuel-efficient, stylish cars, while Americans who work for foreign car companies can?

59 comments:

Ross said...

I've been asking myself that question ever since, as a 16 year old, I got behind the wheel of my 1987 Acura Legend with 125,000 miles on it and realized that it drove and looked better than my grandmother's brand new Ford Taurus.

brian t said...

Have a read of this Business Week article, which explains the situation pretty well, I think.

The fuel economy part of the question is easy to answer: the most economical cars run on Diesel fuel, which is subject to excessive taxation in the USA. There are cost and exchange rate issues to be concerned about - you'd currently need to import the engines from Europe, or set up a new plant to make them. Then there's the question of size: people feel safer in bigger cars, even if they aren't really safer.

Anonymous said...

Not the workers fault. Big three make Size, Profit thru cheapness, and there is always the greed factor. Gas: $4.00--dump the SUV. Gas: $1.99--buy a NEW SUV.

Paul E. Math said...

They absolutely can. They just haven't.

And the reason they haven't is because we keep sheltering them from the forces of competition.

US automakers focus on tax breaks, bailouts and handouts, distracting them from the task at hand: designing and building good, low-cost cars.

If we let these automakers fail now, we will see a new american automaker rise from the ashes who makes good cars. I really believe this.

dude said...

they can. the new malibu beats the camry, the cadillac cts beats the snot out of bmws. they just havent in a very long time.
also remember that toyotas are reliable but not much more than that. their driving dynamics blow, their engines are nothing special.
now back to the regular big three bashing fest....

keith said...

dude, maybe you missed a couple words in my combo:

fuel-efficient
stylish

I didn't say who makes cars that go the fastest. Or who makes cars with the worst gas mileage.

consultant said...

It's our American culture. The bad side of it, not the good side. Some of that bad side is: buyer beware, greed is good, short term thinking, screw the workers, etc.

American auto companies have wallowed in the bad side of American culture for over a half a century. Their is NOTHING new about their problems. As soon as the Europeans and Japanese recovered from WW II, they started to systematically chip away at the American market. And U S automakers have been losing every since.

And please, don't say unions are the problem. Japanese auto makers are highly unionized.

American auto companies need to take a deep look in the mirror.

vanilla ice said...

Very good question, one I've thought of a lot about myself.

My belief is that American's informal culture builds informal products.

America's strength is innovation. Culturally there are less barriers to entry and we are allowed to innovate ourselves because we are so informal. Therefore we are coming up with new technologies all the time.

Simply look at all the innovations related to automobiles; from the automatic starter, to automatic transmission, to the airbag that were first built in the US. I would bet the greatest number of innovations to cars came from the US.

However, once we are done seeing the innovation to production, we don't have the discipline to refine it. Our cars have such crummy workmanship that it is very frustrating and expensive to maintain them.

The Germans and Japanese on the other hand are more formal societies. They have very high workmanship and build the best cars.

If this is true, we should let American car companies go bankrupt. We should let American workers and innovators concentrate on whatever the world needs most in the next 30 years.

k.w. - Southern Ca. said...

We had our chance to be more efficient in so many areas within our economy, but greed, and the high living standards of a few, was always more important.

Now we'll see what happens to a flawed system when natural forces take over and make the needed corrections.

We've thrown too much devaluating currency at this problem, and it's only made things far worse.

Now, the incredible G20 will be working on creating a central banking system, which will eventually lead to the complete collapse of the US dollar.

Anonymous said...

"dude said...
they can. the new malibu beats the camry, the cadillac cts beats the snot out of bmws. they just havent in a very long time."

You ARE delusional, Rivethead.

Take your medicine. Detroit should stick to making army helmets, knives and forks and maybe, maybe wheelbarrels.

The Big 3 are DEAD but will not fall over yet. Let them die. They desrve it. No heroic measures...

Who would but that American Junk?

You must be stupid, 48% er.

Vote McCain-Palin in '08...

sonny said...

"the new malibu beats the camry"

LOL

Have you actually driven a chevy Malibu? There are worse cars on the road (e.g. Doge Charger), but not many.

corvinus said...

Because American car companies are run by monkeys who hate Americans.

How else would you explain why GM trashed their electric car??

Lost Cause said...

We have a war economy. The government supports heavy industry; it does not participate in the marketplace. Defense spending has a deleterious effect.

Anonymous said...

Because America is in cultural, educational and technical decline.

Japan has amazing futurist artists. Their whole culture is saturated in anime and stylish futuristic design. What does America have in terms of art and design? NASCAR?

Japan is also on the cutting edge of technology. They're actually excited by learning and science. Something that American's used to be excited about. Now America is excited about American Idol.

And we all know how abysmal the education system in AmeriKKKa has become..

vanilla ice said...

I should have read the question more than once before answering.

Ok, to add to my previous response, the formal culture of the foreign car companies is part of the culture of the plants brought here.

When you enter a BMW plant you have a more formal mindset then when you enter a Chrysler plant.

At the Chrylser plant, which is more informal, if you find a problem with a connection the manager might say ok lets try jerry-rig it and move on.

At a BMW plant they might shut down the whole line to take find where the connection issue came from to stop it from happening again.

And simply look at the way they dress:

For a BMW plant in South Caroline:
http://tinyurl.com/5ozj9x

And for a Chrysler plant:
http://tinyurl.com/659owv

(Speaking of a lousy product, lately my Roadrunner service keeps going out, so it take half an hour sometimes to before I can post a comment.)

vanilla ice said...

"Detroit should stick to making army helmets, knives and forks and maybe, maybe wheelbarrels."

Ha ha ha ha ha!

vanilla ice said...

Here's my thoughts on 'why don't we build stylish cars?'

American cars have always looked like they were inspired by the same people who produced the movies Mad Max and Cobra. Remember all the vehicles, especially the The Night Stalker's van in Cobra?

In the US, the legacy of redneck culture permeates into car design. Rednecks love big, brutal, mean looking cars. Often, there's nothing inviting or modest about them.

gutless and lazy said...

Easy. American mgmt is fat, dumb and lazy. But most of all, greedy. American mgmt pays themselves big bonuses for failure. It doesnt matter if the company is going down the tubes. They give themselves big salaries and bonuses not matter what. And Sr. mgmt rigs the board of directors with cronies who sit by and let it happen. Meanwhile the stockholders and customers take it up the backside.

Case closed.

George L said...

well,as long as people keep buying crap,crap will continue to be manufactured.

i do my talking with my wallet and so should everyone.but now that the party is over and people have to think before they buy,real competition is about to begin.

look at Ford and GM,a year into this crisis and they are already begging for welfare.next year they will ask for twice the amount they are asking for now.

drivingacorolla4ever said...

It could only be management, then, couldn't it?

The SUV bux of the mid-90s were crack cocaine for this crowd, enabling them to have one last jolt of pseudo-success.

Why has no one--large stockholders, for one--done a thing about this problem since the early 70s, when the huge deficiencies in management's worldview first became clear?

The waste is beyond tragic.

Anonymous said...

I had a 1997 Saturn SL2 for 10 years, til I moved overseas. 40MPG Hwy, reliable, low-maintenance, a pleasure to drive. Built with harmonious union-management cooperation. Had GM stuck with their plan, they could have beaten the Japanese easily. So Americans CAN build good cars. The Saturn S-Series died because American consumers wanted big gas-guzzling expensive SUVs and there was more profit in them for the car makers. Why would someone pay a lot more for a bigger vehicle they didn't need? Because they could borrow money cheaply, thanks to the Fed, which kept interest rates too low for too long.

Cheap money leads to "structural imbalances", i.e., companies producing stupid products and people buying stuff they don't need.

dude said...

i havent driven the new malibu but it is derived off the opel vectra platform which is oretty good.
what exactly is so stylish about toyotas?
my parents drive a toyota that holds up very well but you cant tell me that they drive that well or are stylish.
i wouldnt even say that they are especially fuel efficient.
look, detroit made many mistakes in the past and remain managed by retards. but americans CAN build great cars, thats my point.
everybody seems to forget about the horrendous quality of mercedes for the last couple of years or toyotas push towards more trucks and SUVs and focus instead on the big 3.
i will ignore your political attacks because i do not want to steep that low, anonymous

Anonymous said...

Perhaps a new Bretton Woods will give the US a 30% advantage over Toyota, Nissan, and Honda.

If GM can sell the Corvette ZR1 with a 30% discount will the Japanese be looking at the Corvette ZR1 thinking it is a great deal.

http://www.youtube.com/
watch?v=mC-PQca6FJU

With an MSRP of $73,500 Nissan must be losing at of money on the GTR with the Yen going stronger.

http://www.reuters.com/article/
vcCandidateFeed2/idUSTRE4AE1BU
20081115

Gold surged on Friday as world leaders gathered to battle the economic crisis, amid talk of a new Bretton Woods agreement to shore up the financial system, but calls to revisit the gold standard are unlikely.

The gold standard, a monetary system of fixed exchange rates in terms of gold, had been the cornerstone of Bretton Woods, which created the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank, until President Richard Nixon took the U.S. dollar off the standard in 1971.

NWord said...

Bad management, plain and simple.

dan's ego said...

I blame management. The drawings look great, and we certainly have the technology. But by the time we get done taking that beautiful drawing and figuring out what pieces we already have and where we can compromise to make something we already have work, you end up with old technology in an ugly package. The story of the Pontiac Aztec jumps to mind -- great looking on paper, but put it on an existing platform and you get U G L Y.

DOPES 2 said...

HELLO TOOLS,

REMEMBER THE FORD COMMERCIALS THAT PITCHED THE NEW FUSION A WHILE BACK (1-2 YEARS)?!?!?!?!

I HAD THE OPPORTUNITY TO DRIVE ONE WHILE ON VACATION THIS PAST SUMMER. GRANTED IT WAS A RENTAL CAR (WITH 1,000 MILES ON THE ODOMETER) BUT IT DROVE LIKE SH!T!!!!

THE BIG PITCH WAS , "JUST DRIVE ONE!!!! EXPERIENCE ONE FOR YOURSELF!!!! IT BEATS THE PANTS OFF OF TOYOTA AND HONDA!!!!

YEAH, ONE WEEK WAS ENOUGH!!!!

CALL ME A TOOL, BUT I'LL KEEP MY OVERPRICED GAS GUZZLING X5!!!!

AT LEAST IT EMPLOYS SOME AMERICANS AS THEY ARE ASSEMBLED IN SOUTH CAROLINA!!!!

THE PROBLEM WITH AMERICAN (BIG 3)CARS ARE THAT THEY DRIVE AND FEEL CHEAP!!!!

TIGHTEN UP THE STEERING AND SUSPENSION THEN ADD SOME SOUND PROOFING AND USE BETTER MATERIALS FOR THE INTERIORS YOU TOOL ENGINEERS AND DESIGNERS!!!!

TARDS!!!!

TOOLS!!!!

TROLLS!!!

DUPES!!!!

DOLTS!!!!

DOPES!!!!

DISCLAIMER:
I HAD THE OPPORTUNITY TO RIDE IN THE POOR MAN'S BENTLEY (300M) AND IT RODE VERY NICE.

Icelander said...

I know that many American cars may fall short in the FUEL eff. dept. but , as far as style , American cars are by far the most attractive EVER.

Most American cars are beautiful and the feeling of driving one is something that foreign manufacturers have tried hard to copy , but in my opinion , will NEVER completely succeed at. American is American. No car can compete in the "feel" test.

I test drove the 2008 Mustang at a Reykjavik dealer. Almost came my pants !!

I settled on a GM product. I believe that GM has a true winner with the new Malibu. Safe , good on gas , plenty of room and "FEELS" TIGHT !!

AMERICAN CARS ARE NOT TRASH !

(Maybe a few , but NOT all !! )

After all , who makes the most cars ???

Mammoth said...

According to GM, this car meets all of your requirements Keith:

http://www.playle.com/listing.php?i=BOOTS32201

keith said...

Nobody's gotten to the heart of the question.

Why can Americans working for Toyota and Honda put out such great cars, while Americans working for GM, Ford and Chrysler put out total crap?

Is it the workers? Do Toyota and Honda get better, more motivated, smarter workers? Even the designers in many cases are Americans.

Want a solution, if all this is is about jobs?

Let the Big 3 file Chapter 11, and then let Toyota and Honda buy up their plants and remaining workers. Then put them to work making quality cars that people want.

Anonymous said...

Funny how the American ROW cars are cooler than what are sold stateside.

Ford Cosworth Focus for example.

Ohio Loan Guy said...

Americans may think the big heavy SUVs are safer, but are they really?
Do a search on Youtube for "Smart Car Crash Test". Watch that video.
They crash a Smart Car into a concrete barrier at 70 mph and the egg shaped roll cage survives.
Try that with a Ford Explorer and watch the carnage.

happyliberal said...

Because the workers aren't the ones who make the decisions on the quality and durability of design. That's the MBAs in management. They decided that cars should be crap so we'll keep having to buy new ones. Instead, we went out and bought Japanese cars that last without constant repair. I drive a 140K mile Accord that runs like new. Compare that to the rented American car I drove with 15K miles that felt like it had 200K on it.

You want the culprits, look for the MBAs.

Peahippo said...

If nobody will say it, then I will:

The elites in America (i.e. the people running the banks and automakers and oil companies, etc.) are all in collusion against the U.S. consumer. They are in a giant conspiracy to make sure that you pay the MOST for the LEAST products or services. If they could get you to sign a contract to pay for the rest of your life for something, they'd do it. They managed to get you to do THAT for a house, so anything's possible at this point.

The more you're in debt, the happier the corporations are. They all like debt. Debt means more money for somebody, and the corporations obviously think they'll be the ultimate receivers of all these payments.

Anonymous said...

"dude said...
i havent driven the new malibu but it is derived off the opel vectra platform which is oretty good.
what exactly is so stylish about toyotas?"

Illiterate, uninformed dipshits like you who comment how good something is (American cars) without even having driven it. Just admit you are a moron and your comments are irrelevant and we will move on.

Otherwise, you will get bashed here forever for being one of the 48% of the imbeciles that voted McCain-Palin/Bushco/GOP and really should have a mandatory psych observation period before being released into the public domain.

Asshole. We are awaiting your apology or look for another site to frequent, numbskull.

DIE U PIGS

Devestment said...

From the antiquated out of touch board of directors to the managers to a showroom near you.

Anonymous said...

"...SUV bux...one last jolt of pseudo-success..."

"...Why would someone pay a lot more for a bigger vehicle they didn't need?..."


Nissan sales training in 1995 for their new SUV-concept the Pathfinder>>>

Target customer: "...suburban female, afraid of being violated(WTF?) who sees her vehicle as protection against a hostile, urban environment..."

Add that 6000lb GVWR tax break.

Now add some more vanity: "...as far as style , American cars are by far the most attractive EVER..."

Utility is not high on our list, until we can't pay for gas. We get exactly what our market wants.

Fatassable mommy wagons, that make her think she's athletic and desireable.

W said...

The malibu is really a opel from europe. GM's european brand. Saturn has a bunch of cars that are really Opels and they get great reviews. This brings up the issue of DETROIT. That is the problem ... who the hell wants to work there that is any good. GM for example should totally change the way they design cars ... base it on what opel is doing. Create a new group based on opels experience to design all their vehicles. INNOVATION is the key and non is coming out of DETROIT! Those that think that America's strength is INNOVATION are so wrong. INNOVATION is questioning everything and not making blanket statements.

Jeff said...

Simple: American manufacturing companies are (for the most part) poorly managed. Management teams have been attempting to copy the Japanese management model for decades, with mixed success. Leadership starts at the top, and design engineers can not make decisions that guide a product's configuration without the blessing of the (out of touch with reality) marketing dept. and upper management.

The Asians have dominated manufacturing because of how much FEAR drives their decisions. They actually feel shame when they fail, unlike American management teams.

JaneZ said...

Peahippo said...

The elites in America (i.e. the people running the banks and automakers and oil companies, etc.) are all in collusion against the U.S. consumer. They are in a giant conspiracy to make sure that you pay the MOST for the LEAST products or services. If they could get you to sign a contract to pay for the rest of your life for something, they'd do it. They managed to get you to do THAT for a house, so anything's possible at this point.

The more you're in debt, the happier the corporations are. They all like debt. Debt means more money for somebody, and the corporations obviously think they'll be the ultimate receivers of all these payments.

-------------------------

America suffers from "Short Term Thinking" syndrome. It is about the monthly payment, the quarterly return on earnings.....

This syndrome guarantees that you can't see far enough past the end of your nose to prepare for Murphy when he arrives.

No one in corporate America ever thought to look to the future to see the consequences of shipping our jobs overseas and then persuading the entire country to go into debt up to their eyeballs.

Murphy has arrived.

JaneZ said...

keith said...

Nobody's gotten to the heart of the question.

Why can Americans working for Toyota and Honda put out such great cars, while Americans working for GM, Ford and Chrysler put out total crap?

We all want to think that we are still living in the world of last year. I keep hearing "when is the consumer going to bounce back?" When will the consumer start Xmas shopping, buying cars, buying houses again? The poor Consumer has lost confidence. We must get the little consumer up off the couch and down to shop. Send him a check for $600. That should get his confidence going right?

The Consumer hasn't lost confidence, he has lost his line of credit. Tapped out. When everyone has 2 or 3 cars in the driveway and the mortgage and credit cards are eating him alive, he isn't interested in buying another freakin car!!! I don't care if you put diamond studded windshield wipers on the car. The consumer is broke. It matters not who makes the coolest or the bestest cars this year because THINGS HAVE CHANGED.

I think that is the heart of your question.

Anonymous said...

One word - Unions.

JaneZ said...

By the way, Citigroup is going to lay off 40,000 people. Wonder how many of those folks are debating whether to buy a Toyota or a Ford?

Frank R said...

One word:

UNIONS.

The average American auto factory makes $85,000/year. More than many doctors and lawyers.

Your Marxist boy Obama has pledged to make the unions even more powerful.

Thank you, Obama voters. Thank you very much. At least I'll get some satisfaction out of watching you go jobless and bankrupt after even more American jobs are shipped to China and Mexico thanks to Obama's plan to drastically empower unions.

Anonymous said...

Getting to the heart of the question...

Sure the management and the unions suck. But this is a free market - the strong should survive and the weak fail.

In order for Americans to build good cars, either the big 3 would need to fundamentally change their corporate culture or a new American manufacturer would need to enter the market. Why has neither happened? Several reasons:

1. We don't let the big 3 fail. They get plenty of government money at the state and local level. There is always a bailout when they need it. This kept the weak from failing.

2. The American consumer doesn't demand good cars. In the US, products are made to be sold, not to be used. As long as the consumer buys, it doesn't matter that the product is crap. All car ads are selling an image of how you will feel better about yourself because you own their car, and the ads are very effective. You can just as well ask why our political system is so broken. The bottom line is that Americans make decisions emotionally, not logically. (The housing bubble offers plenty of proof of that point.)

3. There are a lot of barriers to entry for auto manufacturing. It's really hard for a "start-up" to get anywhere, which is why the foreign makers are taking over America.

The free market IS working wrt to auto manufacturing. The weak (the big 3) are failing, and the strong (Japanese, German, Korean) are prospering.

Anonymous said...

ross:
"...as a 16 year old, I got behind the wheel of my 1987 Acura Legend with 125,000 miles on it..."

The Acura Legend was first produced in 1986. Is it even possible to drive 125K miles in one year?!? You'd have to drive at 60mph average almost 6 hours a day, every day, for a year to hit 125K.

Therefore, I call BS.

formosan80 said...

Anonymous said...
ross:
"'...as a 16 year old, I got behind the wheel of my 1987 Acura Legend with 125,000 miles on it...'

The Acura Legend was first produced in 1986. Is it even possible to drive 125K miles in one year?!? You'd have to drive at 60mph average almost 6 hours a day, every day, for a year to hit 125K.

Therefore, I call BS.

November 16, 2008 2:00 PM"

Hmm... maybe it was a 1987 Acura Legend, but ross did not say that he was 16 in 1987. Maybe this was in 1997, for all we know, when I was 16!

Anonymous said...

First you have to look at Detroit and the blight standard.

The entire area is trashy.

There is no pride but there is a lot of crime and drug usage, and it reflects in the products they produce.

Unions have put a strangle hold on profitability. Workers are making 75 bucks an hour but do less work than the average McDonalds scab. They demand pensions and free healthcare.

Let the Auto Makers file Chapter 11and rid themselves of the unions and the idiocy.

Rom said...

My BMW Z4 was designed in Southern California and built in South Carolina and it is an amazing car. Designed by American and built by Americans. To answer the question, it has to fall on management. I can not believe that the same people who built my car couldn't do the same quality of work for GM. In fact, it looks like they've but together a winner with the Solstice. I seriously considered getting one but the trunk was too small and it didn't have enough of the options I wanted. Still, as I cut my driving it may be a good option...

Anonymous said...

Easy, the per-unit profit funneled back into R & D by the non-union auto manufacturers in the Southern U.S. is sucked up by the UAW autoworkers making much higher wages. The technology stagnates.

Even more perverse, the Govt. now wants to tax those lower-paid non-union autoworkers in the South so the Big 3 can continue to pay the bloated UAW wages. If it wasn't so sick, it would be funny.

Anonymous said...

"And we all know how abysmal the education system in AmeriKKKa has become"

Screw you, sh*t head! Do you mean the same "AmeririKKKa" that just elected a black president, you f*cking moron!

Anonymous said...

It's all about attitude, the bigger the ego, comes the inverse proportion of product quality, talent, importance, relevance in the real world, etc.

And we here in the USA have BIG egos and rotten attitudes, therefore, we more or less get what we deserve.

So, if we do end-up in a severe recession or maybe depression, I wouldn't be surprised, we've collectively earned it.

Anonymous said...

It keeps getting asserted that American cars are horrible, and non-American cars are wonderful, which was true perhaps back in 1982.

These days, the quality gap is imperceptible.

I know. I do auto market research, and when the Dodge Avenger was presented, free of logos, as "the next Toyota," consumers in the test groups were universally positive. When it was presented as "the new Dodge," they suddenly went negative.

The "quality gap" is an antique fallacy presented as a "truism" when it isn't true.

That doesn't stop people from claiming it IS true, though.

The irony will be that all the Californians calling for the death of Detroit will be bitching up a storm when their "obsolete" jobs are next -- and when collapsed pensions and manufacturing jobs up and down the country result in higher taxes, higher prices, and cascading effects that put them out of work too.

Anonymous said...

dude, maybe you missed a couple words in my combo:

fuel-efficient
stylish


This is what cracks me up.

You're bullying the hell out of the Detroit automakers, when they make a number of fuel-efficient and stylish cars.

A Chrysler 300 2.7 gets 30 MPG on the highway and is quite stylish.

A Mercury Milan 2.3 has similar mileage and a great, "European" look.

Taking a look at the most-popular car in the USA, we find it's no more fuel-efficient than a Chrysler Sebring 2.4... and not so "stylish" either.

Anonymous said...

Why can Americans working for Toyota and Honda put out such great cars, while Americans working for GM, Ford and Chrysler put out total crap?

Again, the premise of your question is completely wrong.

Let's compare, say, Camry and Chrysler Sebring.

Camry costs more, gets the same fuel economy, and if you get the 3.0L V6, has a serious problem with "engine sludge" at higher mileage.

The Sebring has a higher crash test rating, costs a few thousand less, and has some equipment the Camry doesn't have (like ESP and traction control, standard).

Both have good first-year reliability reputations, but Chrysler gives you a better warranty.

Some prefer the Camry styling to the Sebring styling, but that's a question of taste.

Neither car is "crap," although lots of people aren't willing to consider the Chrysler at all because of their attitudes.

If Chrysler started selling Mercedes cars for ha;f the price, people would still insist they were "crap."

Oh YEAH, they are.

The Chrysler 300 is built on a Mercedes S-class platform.

D'oh.

Funny thing is, the people I know who keep insisting that US cars suck have NEVER owned one, and tend to refer to rental cars (which are always the cheapest, most decontented cars and not properly maintained in many cases) to back up their own biases.

So no, the premise of your question is incorrect. I don't accept it.

Anonymous said...

The free market IS working wrt to auto manufacturing. The weak (the big 3) are failing, and the strong (Japanese, German, Korean) are prospering.

LOL! What a ding-a-ling.

The Japanese and Koreans have protected markets with high taxes on imported cars. They're also protected heavily by their governments in other ways (including R&D funds and low interest loans).

The only mass-market German automobile company, VW/Audi, is losing billions a year in the USA and is considering pulling out of the marketplace altogether. The small luxury car makers, BMW and Mercedes, are both losing money.

BMW is 35% owned by its local government, which pumps huge amounts of tax cash into it.

All this rhetoric about the US automakers "losing in a free market" is BS. The US is the only major auto-producing country that has a free and open market for imports that does not provide domestic manufacturers with an advantage.

Anonymous said...

My BMW Z4 was designed in Southern California and built in South Carolina and it is an amazing car.

It's also $45K brand new.

Anybody can build a great $45K car.

Building a great $17K car is hard work, and most Americans have become used to "bling" and fancy leased foreign luxury cars.

Thus, they've "gone beyond" $17K Chevies and Fords and look down on them.

A great deal of the attitudes towards American automobiles are a result of the bling-I'm-rich syndrome, where people borrowed and consumed on fancy new Lexus, Infiniti, BMW and Mercedes cars.

Mark said...

I've done consulting in product development all over the world. I've even done it in the automotive industry. Here's my take on GM:
(1) GM average hourly labor rate is $78/hour. Compare to Toyota at $30 less per hour.
(2) GM automobiles total time-on-task to build is far higher than Toyota's.
(3) It takes GM 5 years to take a car from initial design to full-scale production. That figure is the same as it was in the early 90's. By contrast, it takes Toyota as little as 18 months to do the same.

GM's labor costs are extortionate. Its management hasn't figured out out to bring products to market quickly.

The US should not bail out GM for these reasons. It needs to be restructured in bankruptcy so they can reduce costs. I have no majic bullets for how to make their management better.

Anonymous said...

If you think management runs the Big 3, you are sorely mistaken. Management can't sneeze w/o the unions approval. The unions will continue to run this industry into the ground. Rather than take any kind of concession to keep the business up and running, they will hold out the hat to "the guuuu-ment" (aka you and I) for a bail out. I say let them fail and start over w/o the unions - an out moded concept plaguing a once proud and productive American auto maker group.

Anonymous said...

Plain and simple, devalued foreign currencies allow foreign manufacturers to make and sell their products cheaper.

Add to that government subsidized health care and retirement and you have your answers.