There has been considerable debate over whether the federal government should step in and help the ailing auto industry to the tune of $25 billion dollars. It seems most people I talk to realize something needs to be done, because a collapse of General Motors, Ford, and Chrysler would be catastrophic to the economy. In fact General Motors put out this video that really spells out what will happen if the Big Three go under.
Kara is from Detroit and I used to work as an anchor in Michigan, so we have probably seen the auto industry from a closer vantage point than many folks here in Connecticut. I think that’s why we tend to be a little more defensive and protective of the auto industry. The folks who design, build, and test these cars were our neighbors, friends, etc.
What really bothers me is when people say “I will never buy an American car.” What kind of statement is that? They’ll say things like “my father had an Oldsmobile that had all sorts of problems.” You know what, that’s ancient history. The cars General Motors builds today are not your father’s Oldsmobile. The Japanese killed thousands of Americans at Pearl Harbor and Americans have forgiven them and now drive their cars. Why is it so hard to forgive American car companies for the mistake of making some bad cars back in the 1970s?
It’s also maddening when people say they WANT to see the Big Three go under. Huh? To me that is really unpatriotic.
I’ll be the first to admit the Big Three have made plenty of mistakes that helped create the mess they are in today. They signed very generous contracts with employees. They mysteriously dropped the nameplates of cars that Americans trusted and sold really well: Taurus, LeSabre, and Cherokee come to mind. They offer cars to the rest of the world that are not sold in the United States. Check out the Ford Fiesta in Europe and the Buick lineup in China and you’ll know what I’m talking about. They design totally “wow” concept cars that grab all sorts of attention, and then never build them. The Big Three were also slow to the hybrid craze.
But that was then, and this is now. Some of the best cars out there are made by Ford, GM and Chrysler: the Ford Mustang, Buick Enclave, and Cadillac CTS. The electric Chevrolet Volt is coming next year, that many predict will revolutionize the industry.
Bottom line is, you can buy what you want, but at least be educated about purchasing a car.
The Detroit Free Press printed this list of myths about the U.S. automakers, that is pretty eye opening.
November 17, 2008
6 myths about the Detroit 3
BY MARK PHELAN
FREE PRESS COLUMNIST
The debate over aid to the Detroit-based automakers is awash with half-truths and misrepresentations that are endlessly repeated by everyone from members of Congress to journalists. Here are six myths about the companies and their vehicles, and the reality in each case.
Myth No. 1
Nobody buys their vehicles.
General Motors Corp., Ford Motor Co. and Chrysler LLC sold 8.5 million vehicles in the United States last year and millions more around the world. GM outsold Toyota by about 1.2 million vehicles in the United States last year and holds a U.S. lead over Toyota of about 560,000 so far this year. Globally, GM in 2007 remained the world’s largest automaker, selling 9,369,524 vehicles worldwide — about 3,000 more than Toyota.
Ford outsold Honda by about 850,000 and Nissan by more than 1.3 million vehicles in the United States last year.
Chrysler sold more vehicles here than Nissan and Hyundai combined in 2007 and so far this year.
Myth No. 2
They build unreliable junk.
The creaky, leaky vehicles of the 1980s and ’90s are long gone. Consumer Reports recently found that “Ford’s reliability is now on par with good Japanese automakers.” The independent J.D. Power Initial Quality Study scored Buick, Cadillac, Chevrolet, Ford, GMC, Mercury, Pontiac and Lincoln brands’ overall quality as high or higher than that of Acura, Audi, BMW, Honda, Nissan, Scion, Volkswagen and Volvo.
Power rated the Chevrolet Malibu the highest-quality midsize sedan. Both the Malibu and Ford Fusion scored better than the Honda Accord and Toyota Camry.
Myth No. 3
They build gas-guzzlers.
All of the Detroit Three build midsize sedans the Environmental Protection Agency rates at 29-33 miles per gallon on the highway. The most fuel-efficient Chevrolet Malibu gets 33 m.p.g. on the highway, 2 m.p.g. better than the best Honda Accord. The most fuel-efficient Ford Focus has the same highway fuel economy ratings as the most efficient Toyota Corolla. The most fuel-efficient Chevrolet Cobalt has the same city fuel economy and better highway fuel economy than the most efficient non-hybrid Honda Civic. A recent study by Edmunds.com found that the Chevrolet Aveo subcompact is the least expensive car to buy and operate.
Myth No. 4
They already got a $25-billion bailout.
None of that money has been lent out and may not be for more than a year. In addition, it can, by law, be used only to invest in future vehicles and technology, so it has no effect on the shortage of operating cash the companies face because of the economic slowdown that’s killing them now.
Myth No. 5
GM, Ford and Chrysler are idiots for investing in pickups and SUVs.
The domestic companies’ lineup has been truck-heavy, but Toyota, Nissan, Mercedes-Benz and BMW have all spent billions of dollars on pickups and SUVs because trucks are a large and historically profitable part of the auto industry. The most fuel-efficient full-size pickups from GM, Ford and Chrysler all have higher EPA fuel economy ratings than Toyota and Nissan’s full-size pickups.
Myth No. 6
They don’t build hybrids.
The Detroit Three got into the hybrid business late, but Ford and GM each now offers more hybrid models than Honda or Nissan, with several more due to hit the road in early 2009.