Last post on Jul 06, 2010 at 1:00 PM
You are in the Automotive News & Views-Archives
What is this discussion about?
#1 of 64 Will Detroit Ever Regain The Middle Market?
Apr 16, 2006 (4:14 am)
The Camry, Accord, and, recently, the Sonata now control the lucrative and strategically important sweet spot of the family car market, replacing the once dominant mid and high-level trim Chevys, Fords, Plymouths, as well as the Pontiac Catalina, Olds 88, Buick LeSabre, Mercurys and Dodges. What are the chances that such models as the Chevy Malibu and Impala, Pontiac Grand Prix, Buick LaCrosse and Lucerne, Saturn Aura, Ford Fusion and 500, Mercury Milan and Monterey, Chrysler Sebring and 300, and Dodge Stratus and Charger will eventually take the sales crown back from the best selling Asian models?
I believe this is an important challenge if the domestic manufacturers are to avoid becoming niche players. It seems to me that while not all of the domestic models need to be huge sellers, some will have to achieve comparable volumes to their leading Asian counterparts for GM, Ford, and the Chrysler component of Daimler-Chrysler to succeed long-term. Your thoughts?
The rapidly growing markets outside North America must be included in a comprehensive discussion, of course, but this discussion is about North America only.
#2 of 64 American cars and Gen X & Y
Apr 16, 2006 (3:25 pm)
I think a major issue for domestic automakers is that so many Gen Xers and Gen Yers grew up with the perception of American cars being inherently inferior in terms of reliability to Japanese cars and inferior in terms of style and driving dynamics to European cars. These perceptions are-- let's face it-- based on fact. Those individuals of my age that I know who bought domestic vehicles did so on one factor and one factor alone-- they couldn't afford anything else. All of them appear to have the sense that they settled for an inferior car. In our area, domestic cars frequently appear to be sold at prices below even the Korean makers (just bought an Elantra and probably could've gotten a Cobalt for a little less) once you factor in all of the incentives and so forth.
I think it's an major uphill battle for domestic car makers to capture our market. In any sales situation, perception is everything. I do feel, having ridden in domestic vehicles and driven a few for short periods of time, that the perception is correct. In the end, when I bought a car -- and I prefer driving compacts-- the only domestic car in that class that didn't look and drive like a pile of random parts thrown together was the Ford Focus and I didn't want to buy that because of what I know of it's reliability history. At that point, I wound up buying a Mazda PR5 and loved it until it was totalled and I wound up being sold on this Hyundai (desired, but couldn't quite afford a Mazda 3). I think as the Koreans begin to prove themselves more and more with quality products, we may see dmestic cars fall further and further behind because they will have no advantage. It's kind of sad, but look around, I think we're beginning to see that it is true, as goes General Motors, so goes America. I mean, at risk of being incindiary, look at who is running this country right now...
#3 of 64 Re: American cars and Gen X & Y [wonderwall]
Apr 17, 2006 (7:03 am)
I think the "perception" point is spot-on.
It's one of the big reasons why Detroit sells as many middle-ground cars as they do these days...older consumers who remember the firms from their glory days, and still have the perception that American cars are the best out there. After all, these consumers remember when the time when Japanese cars were inferior and cheaply-made, and seemed like utter wastes of money compared to solid and dependable American vehicles. Neither situation is the case anymore, but try telling that to your old Uncle Fred, who's still angry that Oldsmobile is gone...
Apr 17, 2006 (2:14 pm)
my grandfather recently bought a 1998 Camry, but at the beginning of his search, he was a little perplexed because Olds was, for the most part, out of the running because he didn't want to buy an orphan. My grandmother convinced him to buy her a 1989 Honda Accord about 15 years ago, but he put up tons of resistance because of Pearl Harbor. I remember telling him, "I think they paid for that many dozens of times over at Nagasaki and Hiroshima." He wound up loving the car and its "sporty" driving dynamics and to replace his dying 1988 Olds 98, he bought the Camry and is in LOVE. They still have that Accord. Something like 150,000 miles and it's just now starting to nickle & dime them, mostly cosmetically. He's still marvelling at the fact that the digital clock in it still works perfectly.
#5 of 64 it's the imports' to lose
Apr 17, 2006 (2:52 pm)
At this point... if Detroit does a great job, they'll regain a fair share of the market. But to take control of the market again, the other players would have to really drop the ball. All at the same time. Simultaneously with strokes of brilliance from GM, Ford, and/or Chrysler. What are the odds of that?
I also don't think "the domestics" will share equal fates. Sure they have things in common (past mistakes, truck dependence, UAW), but they're taking different paths (especially globally). Just in the same way that "the imports" operate as a unit, either. It's just an easy, simpleton division for us to make...
#6 of 64 They're still not competitive.
Apr 18, 2006 (11:09 am)
GM and Ford really screwed themselves with two entirely different generations.
Baby boomers: 100% crap product in the 70s and 80s. Many of those cars were so bad, people twitch when they talk about their 1982 Dodge Aries K.
Gen X: The SUV craze in the 90s. They put zero dev money into anything that didn't stand a mile above traffic and have 4WD, so what are people who hate trucks like myself supposed to buy.
The answer for both generations was imported cars, mostly Japanese, all vastly better than their American competition. Back in '03, I bought my aspirational car at the time, which was a Nissan Maxima. No American mfg in early '03 had a car that came close.
And you know what? In the past 3 years, the Nissan has proved itself to be the best car I've ever owned. Guess what my next car is going to be? Oh sure, I'll test drive anything I perceive to be serious competition to my car, but it is entirely possible that I will be a lifelong Nissan customer based on how incredible this car is. Their stock will certainly be heads above all others when I'm out shopping. Any GM or Ford will have to blow me away to get me to switch, and the slow/dull Five Hundred or boring Impala is going to get me to take a look.
At 32 years old, I am a Gen-Xer, and as such have many car buying years in front of me. It was Gm and Ford's obsession with SUVs at the expense of their car lines that cost them my business - for the sake of their businesses and America, I hope they turn the corner.
#7 of 64 One could make the case...
Apr 18, 2006 (11:21 am)
that the domestics DO have a competitive share of the midsize sedan market, but that they dilute that position by spreading it through half a dozen models and a bazillion trimlines, rather than one model and three trims like their Asian competitors do.
#8 of 64 Re: One could make the case... [bumpy]
Apr 18, 2006 (11:58 am)
They do sell a large number of cars, but they haven't made much money on them. Giving up profits has kept their numbers high. That's fine in terms of market share and presence, but it's a downward spiral of red ink.
#9 of 64 Re: One could make the case... [carlisimo]
Apr 18, 2006 (2:28 pm)
Chevy's "most popular car in America" or whatever tagline is ringing increasingly hollow these days. I laugh every time I see it...talk about fiddling while Rome burns...
#10 of 64 if this says anything...
Apr 18, 2006 (2:31 pm)
and i alluded to it in my first post, i feel less of a stigma driving my Hyundai than if I had a Chevrolet or a Pontiac. GM, in particular, seems to carry a big stigma in cars with young people. But then again, me and most of my friends eat sushi, majored in the Humanities or Social Sciences and voted for the smart guy in 2004, so we're probably "unAmerican".