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SnakebyteXX
01-09-2006, 07:45 AM
By Nick Carey | January 9, 2006

CHICAGO (Reuters) - Iain Robertson opted to buy his 1999 Honda Civic for three reasons; reliability, fuel efficiency and a little family history.

"My mother has owned several Hondas over the years, and she swears by them," said the self-employed 26-year-old from Bloomington, Indiana. "My impression of this and other Asian brands is that they are well made, efficient and don't break down much."

He said he was unable to make the same assumptions about American auto brands.

Among the myriad challenges facing U.S. automakers, including skyrocketing health-care and production costs, is the perception that U.S. vehicles are not as well built as Asian ones. Quality is a variable that has not received much attention lately, but still affects Detroit's prospects.

Analysts say beliefs like Robertson's are grounded in problems Detroit car makers had 20 to 30 years ago with reliability and efficiency but do not reflect the significant progress made since then.

"This drives Detroit nuts," said David Healy, an auto industry analyst at Burnham Securities. "They have come a long way, but public perceptions don't reflect that."

Jokes surrounding General Motors Corp., Ford Motor Co. and the American brands of DaimlerChrysler AG -- such as Ford standing for "Fix Or Repair Daily" -- are still told, and laughed at.

The perception has also helped erode the market share of the Big Three and lowers the resale price of used American cars. And while they have narrowed the gap with Asian car makers, Burnham Securities' Healy said their cars are still "spotty in places."

"Detroit (car makers have) high pension costs that put them at a disadvantage compared with the Asian car makers," he said. "They can't invest as much so they are constantly playing catch-up."

An October survey of more than 1 million car owners by nonprofit publication Consumer Reports reported that 29 of the 31 most reliable cars named by respondents were Japanese. The other two were the Chevrolet Monte Carlo and the Mercury Mariner.

Of the 48 least reliable, 22 were American, 20 European and four were Japanese, according to the survey.

PERCEPTION

Brian Moody, road test editor at automotive information Web site Edmunds.com, said the quality nadir for the American automobile industry lasted from the late 1970s to mid-1980s, when they lagged behind Asian car makers and produced cars famous for persistent problems.

"This is where the perception comes from," Moody said, adding it's possible children growing up in those years may have been influenced by seeing their parents deal with balky Big Three vehicles.

"Many people are subconsciously influenced by what their fathers may have said about different brands, even if those statements are no longer necessarily true," he said.

"It is an emotional issue," Moody added, saying some Big Three cars match their Asian counterparts, but "thanks to this emotional baggage some people don't give them a second look."

Moody and other analysts say the worst is now behind the Big Three, with some brands regaining some U.S. market share and earning recognition for advances.

From 2000 to 2005 J.D. Power and Associates' study of APEAL -- Automotive, Performance, Execution and Layout -- measuring "owners' delight" with their cars, has seen Asian cars in the lead with 47 awards. American brands have taken 35 and European brands 24.

Overall, the Big Three saw their U.S. market share decline to 56.9 percent in 2005 from 65.6 percent in 2000, according to J.D. Power data, although the Chrysler brand rose to 3.8 percent from 2.8 percent in the same period.

Toyota Motor Corp.'s market share rose to 10.6 percent in 2005 from 8.1 percent in 2000, while Honda Motor Co. Ltd.'s went to 7.4 percent from 5.9 percent.

Analysts said part of the problem can be resolved through improved communication.

"The challenge is to get people back into the showrooms," Edmunds' Moody said. "The key to that challenge is to reach people on an emotional level rather than just claiming they are making good vehicles."

Susan Jacobs, president of automotive consulting company Jacobs & Associates, said that rather than constantly pushing incentives and discounts "that give the impression these cars are on sale because no one is buying them," the Big Three need to "communicate the advances they are making in technology and comfort."

Jacobs said that when asked, she advises people to choose based on cars' attributes, as "there is very little between the brands nowadays."

"Many people don't know that," she added.

web page (http://www.boston.com/news/nation/articles/2006/01/09/us_automakers_suffer_image_problem_of_old/)

Rich R.
01-09-2006, 09:39 AM
<blockquote><font class="small">Quote SnakebyteXX:</font><hr>Jokes surrounding General Motors Corp., Ford Motor Co. and the American brands of DaimlerChrysler AG -- such as Ford standing for "Fix Or Repair Daily" -- are still told, and laughed at.<hr /></blockquote>
In my life time, I can remember Ford starting out as meaning, "First On Race Day".
Then it moved to, "Fix Or Repair Daily".
Finally, it digressed to, "Found On Road Dead".

Unfortunately, these meanings were pretty accurate, at one time. I don't know if they are today, but I still won't buy a Ford. /ccboard/images/graemlins/tongue.gif

Deeman3
01-09-2006, 10:03 AM
Actually, the quality of America made cars and trucks are very near that of Asian brands but the buying public has a long memory. As well, poor sales staffs at dealerships have not helped. People remember mistreatment and tricks for sometimes generations.

I beleive styling lags have also hurt them as they don't have much loose cash to invest in new technology and product design.

It's sad but the inconsistency of core beliefs at all the American manufacturing plants as well as very highly overpaid workers contribute as well.


Deeman

Cueless Joey
01-09-2006, 11:56 AM
Domestically made trucks are fine.
The cars are something else.
I shoot with a Ford salesman. Even he make fun of Ford's quality or lack of.
Domestics have terrible resale value.
I bought a Honda Civic eons ago for $8500. After 100K+ miles, I sold it for 2 grand to a reseller. Then I bought another Civic for 13K. After 200 THOUSAND PLUS miles, I sold it for nearly 2 thousand dollars.
Why do Hondas and Toyotas have great resale value? B/c even used ones are still reliable.
My brother now sells for Nissan. He says the salespeople in his lot cringe when someone drives in with a domestic car b/c most of them are upside down ( value of car is less than the remaining balance of the loan ).

onepocketfanatic
01-10-2006, 07:50 PM
That's why I own a Toyota. I would love to buy American, but the quality and service are just not competitive.

SpiderMan
01-10-2006, 09:03 PM
Back in 1984 I bought a new Nissan, and was surprised to find that it was built in Smyra, TN. Build quality was excellent. Of course, despite being assembled in the US, I had to wonder how much of my purchase dollar actually stayed onshore.

Also, my Honda Valkyrie says "made in the USA", but again I wonder at the actual meaning. Did I sell out? At least I've never been outrun by one of those noisy, oil-leaking, cruiser twins slapped together from parts of Mexican origin /ccboard/images/graemlins/grin.gif

SpiderMan

wolfdancer
01-11-2006, 01:39 AM
It's sad but the inconsistency of core beliefs at all the American manufacturing plants as well as very highly overpaid workers contribute as well.
I believe that you are correct here....the American worker needs to be reeducated and learn that he can no longer expect to share corporate profits in the form of fair wages.And that any amounts paid that exceed the wages of workers in third world countries, can be viewed as excessive. The pie can only be cut up in so many ways.....and to attract and keep top management, and founders, like Ebbers, Lay, Rigas,Skulley,monies for lucrative salaries, bonus's ,stock options must be set aside.
There are no profits??????...must be the workers fault....it couldn't date back to the 80's when corporate raiders like Carl Ichan were getting huge payoffs not to take control of the companies.....and the ones that did take control used the pension funds as collaterol......did the workers on the assembly line force GM to plan their sales strategy on big gas eaters....SUV's pickup trucks, etc???
Well not to worry....when the dollar gets devalued, the worker might be getting less then his counterparts in Thailand, the Philippines...or even Alabama.

DickLeonard
01-11-2006, 06:59 AM
Wolfdancer written by a true Union Man who knows the roots of our problem. It is the thieves of Upper management,Corporate Raiders,Robbers of Pension Funds,States hostile to Unions.

Salaries of Upper Management at one time were 100 x the Workers Salary now it goes 1000x and higher and with Stock Options and Perks it ballons to astronomical heights. Some Execs are paid to broker selling your company to an unscrupulous buyer whose sole purpose is to dismantle your company to gain access to your pension,patents,inventions and other saleable items while destroying hundreds of loyal employees lives and dreams.

This is not for Eg8r eyes/brain.####

DickLeonard
01-11-2006, 07:14 AM
Wolfdancer I forgot to post that my last three cars were Buicks. I traded a 91 Century in for a used 93 Century with 23,000 miles. My car had 199,000 miles on it. The 93 now has 160,000 miles on it with minimal repairs. My other car is a 99 Park Avenue that is approaching 83,000 with 17,000 still left on it warranty. It also has been only used once for a minor detail that was recalled.
I keep telling my Dealer how can GM be in trouble I can't find anything wrong with their cars. ####

wolfdancer
01-11-2006, 10:33 AM
There is nothing wrong with american cars....except the perception that foreign cars are better.
Take NUMMI for example....i don't know about right now, but they were building the exact same car here as the Toyota Corolla,American workers, Japanese inspectors,.. and marketing it under Chevy's name. the corolla far outsold Nummi's model.
And then I remember that there was a model of ford's that was identical to a Mercury model, except for some trim. It cost a few hundred less, but an auto mag recommended the Mercury, because you got better service from their dealors.Again, just perception???
I have a Honda 2dr which is a very good car...and a Dodge Caravan, which I enjoy driving, and equally a good auto....
My friend racked up over 200k on his Plymouth Van, which still runs....but I found him a great deal up here on a van the same as mine. Bought the car for him and his wife, drove it to Reno, and said he could repay me whenever.....
30 years ago when I didn't have a car, he gave me the keys to his, to use when I needed it.....took that long to repay the favor....
Sorry, I strayed a little off topic

SnakebyteXX
01-11-2006, 10:51 AM
<blockquote><font class="small">Quote wolfdancer:</font><hr> There is nothing wrong with american cars....except the perception that foreign cars are better.
Take NUMMI for example....i don't know about right now, but they were building the exact same car here as the Toyota Corolla,American workers, Japanese inspectors,.. and marketing it under Chevy's name. the corolla far outsold Nummi's model.

<hr /></blockquote>

You're talking about the Geo Prizm. Major bang for the buck. Except for the name it was a duplicate of the Corolla. Great car! I bought one for my daughter eight years ago - before she went back East to go to law school. She drove it cross country - all over the East Coast for three years - back cross country to California and... even though she now commands a six figure salary she's still driving it today. She loves that car and tells me that she sees no good reason to trade it in --- yet. lol.

We got a second Prizm (ten year old car) for our youngest when he came of driving age. It's still going strong after three years.

I tend to agree that perception plays a big role in how people pick and choose what to drive. OTOH: For all intents and purposes, the Geo IS a Japanese car ergo the quality and performance rises to meet expectations for a Japanese car.

Don't get me started on my middle son's early ninety's totally American - Ford Explorer (known fondly in the family by its nickname: The Exploder). POS - POS - POS!

Snake

SPetty
01-11-2006, 03:08 PM
<blockquote><font class="small">Quote SnakebyteXX:</font><hr> Don't get me started on my middle son's early ninety's totally American - Ford Explorer (known fondly in the family by its nickname: The Exploder). POS - POS - POS!<hr /></blockquote>And yet, my 1993 Ford Explorer went over a quarter million miles in the ten years I had it, with no major issues. Of course, I had regular maintenance performed on it...