By on May 24, 2008

jay_leno_tank_car.jpgJay Leno, NBC comedian and car fanatic, would like to offer Motown's maven some independent analysis. So he does, via msnbc.com. "The type of vehicles America makes best are, unfortunately, not the type of vehicles that people really want anymore… Where we seem to lose it is in the low-bucks econocar… I believe that, all things being equal, Americans will buy American. It just has to be as good as the competition; it doesn’t have to be better… If you look at the new line of G.M. cars, they are almost as good as what the Europeans are doing… America does technology well, and I think this is how the companies will bring those buyers back. I think cars like the Chevy Volt, which is entirely battery-powered, or hydrogen cars from Chrysler, Ford and G.M. will take off…. One last thing: No matter what happens, do not expect all American cars to go Eurosize. American buttocks are not getting any smaller." So, aside from Jay's belief that close enough for rock and roll is close enough for rock and roll, and setting aside the issue of what constitutes an American car (Aveo? Accord?), and the fact that the Volt is actually a hybrid and a whole bunch of other stuff, the funnyman nails it. What do you reckon: Bob Lutz Award nominee?

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46 Comments on “Jay Leno: “I believe that, all things being equal, Americans will buy American”...”


  • avatar
    timd38

    Things aren’t equal, the Japanese have figured it out and GM and Ford think they have and Chrysler doesn’t have clue.

  • avatar
    offroadinfrontier

    Most definitely.

    Again with this “American” crap.. Two minutes with Google is all it takes to completely trash the idea of an import and domestic automobile war. Toyotas and Nissans are now built in the great old US, while “American” manufacturers are importing from all over the globe. Mexico and Canada build more “American” cars than we do here in America.

    The battle has long been over: the reminants are idiots who still think that the brand-new (POS) “American” subcompact that they just bought a better choice because it was “built in America,” without looking up the facts.

    Living here in the Big Ol’ TX, I can’t tell you how many rednecks and backwoods @$$holes told me that my “piece of sh1t import” was, well, a piece of shit.. when I tried to explain that my Nissan was built in the great US and the (fill in the gap) that they were driving was built mainly in (Mexico, Canada), I just got more trash talk.

    It’s sad that people are still foolish enough to believe this crap, or even worry about it. Everything being equal, of course I would choose the American-built car – Everything being Equal.. what’s better for our economy is better for me. But when you get right down to it, there’s almost no way of knowing without doing extensive research. Besides, call me selfish, but my first concern about where my multi-thousands of hard-earned cash goes is whether or not the product does what I need, not who the hell makes it.

  • avatar
    dastanley

    offroadinfrontier:

    I totally agree. I don’t think you’re being “selfish” at all – I vote with my dollars and buy the best value regardless of where it came from. The D2.8 has had decades to figure this s–t out and are still lagging behind the Japanese. How long do they need? And if I buy from the D2.8, all I’m doing is subsidizing substandard product and telling them that I approve of their shoddy crap.

    No sir, my family comes first, and the best way I can ensure that my wife and daughter are better off with their vehicle is to buy them something that I know will last and run every time.

    After being burned in the 80s and 90s with D2.8 POS vehicles, the D2.8 is going to have to earn my business in the future. Toyota already has – therefore they win (for now).

  • avatar
    DearS

    Why the hell does someone want to buy American all things being equal. It sounds like pity. We do not need to pity each other. It sounds like a lack of faith. Americans can take care of themselves. I get really angry when I here this shit! I have a hard enough time getting through my own doubts, I don't need someone acting like I can't be challenged. I say challenge America, its the way to really proud success (not that I want to sound so black and white). How does one challenge America, by buying smart. Not that I do not appreciate help from my fellow Americans, but I don't need false customers. Again not that one cannot appreciate such things, but I’m not in a third world country.

    Then there’s the discrimination against foreigners. Talk about Ignorance and/or denial. Nothing wrong with liking Foreign trucks, Foreign styling, and Mexicans. Its Fucking UnAmerican, more importantly its unself-ish. Its not being loyal to ourselves. Its not living. Its unhealthy and self harmful (sometimes). Nothing wrong with wanting Americans to succeed. Nothing wrong with giving them handouts. Its actually a complicated affair. In the end one needs to be true to ones self, that means accepting who we are and doing whats best for our welfare overall to the best of our ability. That means saying fuck America when necessary, and not buying into unintentional or not BS.

    That being said, I seems to some degree Mr. Leno is saying Americans want to give Americans hand outs all things being equal (what does equal mean?). Which brings up some issues, whats wrong with foreign profit and advancement? Nothing per say. What wrong with giving Americans more money, Again nothing. Still what has GM done with extra money? What have foreign advancements meant for us? I want a good answer for the latter.

  • avatar
    50merc

    Nominee for the Bob Lutz award??? Criminy, that’s for the “most outrageous, politically incorrect or just plain dumb public pronouncements.” OK, so he erred on the Volt’s motive power. But otherwise, Leno is speaking truth to power, as they say nowadays, and Detroit ought to listen. They didn’t buy Deming’s advice and they suffered for it. If you read the MSNBC article, you’ll see Leno has a lot of sound observations.

  • avatar

    50merc: If you read the MSNBC article, you’ll see Leno has a lot of sound observations. Such as? "In order to make the more expensive car more appealing, U.S. companies feel as though they have to dumb down the cheaper car." "Even though the bikes [Harley} might not be technically superior, they’re bulletproof and they’re American. People will buy American if given the chance." 

  • avatar
    Potemkin

    Whether Jay is on the mark or not he has a vested interest because GM sponsors his Jay Lenos’s Garage website. It’s not good to bite the hand that feeds you.

  • avatar
    thoots

    Well, I mainly think that “Detroit” has truly “lost” all of the Americans who they’ve shooed away with crap-quality vehicles. So, I disagree with Jay’s main point, totally.

    Though, he pretty well nails one thing in the article — “Detroit” essentially makes a conscious decision to build crappy vehicles. Oh, you bet — unrefined, unreliable vehicles made in Mexico is sure going to win all of those Honda and Toyota buyers back.

    Sheesh.

    I tend to think that the only path to survival for the domestic brands is to do what every other manufactured-good US company has done — outsource the manufacturing to China, and just slap their names on the things and ship ‘em over here. Quality-wise, “Made in China” couldn’t possibly be any worse than what these brands are producing now. Just close the North American plants, let the workers try to get jobs at the import-owned plants, and stop digging these companies into ever-deepening holes.

    Oh, and the same-old “Murrican” buyers will still buy that Made in China stuff — they won’t know the difference between Made in Mexico and Made in China, anyway….

  • avatar
    thoots

    Here’s the real story:

    DearS:

    Why the hell does someone want to buy American all things being equal. It sounds like pity. We do not need to pity each other. It sounds like a lack of faith. Americans can take care of themselves.

    Yep. Toyota/Honda and the rest have done so well because of only one reason:

    THEY EARNED IT.

    “Detroit” has done so lousy because they utterly let their customers down.

    THEY LOST IT.

    It’s all so utterly simple:

    JUST EARN MY BUSINESS.

    Utterly, utterly simple.

    Of course, bear in mind that one big thing that earns my business is something like a three-decades-long record of bulletproof reliability. Ford’s current three-month “We’re as reliable as Toyota” survey ain’t gonna cut it.

  • avatar

    Judging by the responses to this piece it’s safe to say Jay is wrong.

    American companies are assembling excellent vehicles here in America right now (as well as elsewhere, oh no how awful) and people couldn’t care less.

    Funny that “American” Toyota and Honda have their global HQs in Japan and all the shots are called in Japan by Japanese people but consumers here consider them “American” because they assemble some of their products here for our market. Funny that a good percentage of the money they make off of us goes back to Japan to suppor them at home, just as the money Ford and GM make abroad comes back here (only to disappear in the red ink of their sales here at home).

    Last I checked every major global automaker assembles and tailors their products for specific markets worldwide, every last one of them.

    What I don’t understand is why people who claim to prefer their Japanese but “American” as apple pie cars get all hot and bothered by examples like the current Camry, which pretty much suffers from every negative thing people have traditionally said about American cars from it’s cheap plastic interior to spotty workmanship to forgettable styling and uninspiring driving experience.

    Oh well.

    Obviously to make money again the Big Three must restructure to a size that reflects their new marketshare reality and allows them to profit in our market, in other words drastically shrink.

    Also product is king and all three of them make products I wouldn’t think twice about owning as well as products that you couldn’t buy for me and put in my driveway. But then again I feel that way about most manufacturers. They need to learn to make distinctly and proudly American vehicles again, especially in four-door sedans which they do off and on but it’s never reflected in an entire product range.

    As good as the Malibu is it really looks too Japanese to me and it lacks the charisma of Chevrolets of yore, something that should have never been lost. They need to examine their history and bring back the type of cars, the type of style and the names that each is really known for and stop coming up with “original” Asian copy-cat stuff that nobody cares about when new or in three years when they change the name on it again.

    All of them have the engineering and styling talent to be successful, it’s just the management has to have the cojones to drastically reform each company and let the talent loose with a passion for the product.

  • avatar

    TriShield:

    All of them have the engineering and styling talent to be successful, it’s just the management has to have the cojones to drastically reform each company and let the talent loose with a passion for the product.

    It’s too late. The 2.8’s management blew it and they can’t shrink fast enough to find their footing.

  • avatar

    That looks to be the case Robert. Even though each will probably go bankrupt and stay in business I still don’t think any of them really understand or “get” their brands.

    Knowing your brand, it’s history, it’s place, and the type of products that really define it is vital in producing excellent vehicles with personality that people want to buy.

    Jay mentioned Harley-Davidson as an example. H-D knows their brand and their customer base. They focus their products and do very well because of that. Automakers that handle their brands the same way as H-D tend to be successful as well.

    Does GM really get Pontiac, how can you produce a new Camaro and NOT have an in-your-face Firebird? Why is Chevrolet selling Korean cars and immensely bland mainstream cars like the wrong-wheel drive Impala? Does anyone really want a cheap Cadillac below the CTS, wasn’t that done before? What is Buick without the Park Avenue, Riviera, Regal and LeSabre? Where’s Saturn’s warm and fuzzy feel-good image and advertising?

  • avatar
    DearS

    Management has a lot of power I guess.

  • avatar
    Philip Lane

    Here’s the deal. I agree with Leno. I believe that, all things being equal, Americans will buy American. The problem for the American Automobile industry is that equality stretches beyond products themselves and covers brand perception as well.

    The 2.8 have been losing the brand perception war for over thirty years, and while they show brief glimpses of progress, there is no reason to believe that the tides are anywhere near turning. Personally, I will choose an American car if it is at least close to a Japanese or European substitute. The problem is that the number of people who continue to agree with me is falling daily.

    As to the question of what constitutes an “American” car, for the average consumer, the answer lies solely within what badge is on the hood. This points back to the brand perception thing. Even your country of origin is subject to perception within the minds of consumers.

    Also, don’t knock Leno’s assessment of the Volt as “battery-powered”. Technically, the Volt is a series hybrid, and all energy for propulsion comes directly from the batteries. The batteries are charged by an internal combustion engine, but how is that any different from an EV1 whose batteries were charged by a coal-fired power plant? The Volt’s electricity is probably cleaner.

  • avatar
    carguy1964

    That’s just it….American auto manufactures has got to make cars ( small cars ) as good if not better than the Japanese cars Corolla..Sentra..Subie..Mitsu..Mazda.. shall I go on…which is pretty much why they, the 2.8 are running to their European brothers for a winner there to rebadge here…because they can’t make a great 4 cyl car here period! No instead they just want to fatten up their wallets and play the blame game..on the economics, the stock market..the Unions…but not on their own enept selves…might as well buy Tata…It’s amazing that a Indian car company can turn out a 2300.00 4 seater car for the masses…the big three has no chance whatsoever making that happen…

  • avatar
    jaje

    Jay Leno has the money and clout to buy the best of the best. If he’d have to spend $20k – $30k then let him restate that “buy american”. Also his collection of Porsches, Ferraris, etc. – they’re made in America right?

    Jay is just in a world of his own. I’m still upset that he got Brammo motorsports (Ariel Atom importer) to install GM’s ecotractor engines in them instead of the Honda CTR engine. Jay knows GM very well and fits within their obtuse management – that leaves me to ignore anything he says.

  • avatar
    KixStart

    I also think Jay’s right but one of the things that must be equal is their track record.

    That takes time. And today, there’s no real reason to believe that the “perception gap” is only “perception.”

  • avatar

    Shorter Jay Leno:

    Known as a car buff, his show attracts substantial advertising from US carmakers. He’d like them to keep advertising.

  • avatar
    John Horner

    Jay is hardly in Lutz award territory with these ones. Doing a Lutz is a high verbal bar to clear :).

  • avatar
    KatiePuckrik

    Americans ARE buying American:

    Hyundai Sonatas built in Alabama.
    Honda Accords built in Ohio.
    Nissans built in Mississippi
    Toyotas built in Kentucky and California.
    BMW’s built in South (or is it North?) Carolina.

    You get my point. These companies didn’t set these plants up in America for “export only” models.

    As for Jay Leno being up for a Lutz award I reckon that’s a possibility. But let’t not forget why he turned down the American Top Gear job. He does hit the mark once in a while…..plus he’s waaaayyy better than David Letterman!

  • avatar
    Zeitgeist

    Philip Lane:
    a Japanese or European substitute

    Maybe the “substitute” is the real thing.

  • avatar
    Gardiner Westbound

    Detroit’s biggest challenge is building an image for quality and integrity.

  • avatar
    Pch101

    Mr. Leno’s point is not that far off from what you read here. He is saying that Big 2.8 products are not equal to the competition, and they won’t sell well until they get better.

    Where I differ with him is with the level of improvement that will be required for sales to increase. He thinks that the products need to be on par. I would argue that they need to be better than the competition, and that parity is not good enough.

    Over the last 30 years, Toyota and Honda have built a loyal customer base, while the domestics have made a lot of enemies. As Kixstart notes, it will take a lengthy track record of quality to overcome this, because consumers need a good reason to switch, particularly when it requires switching to products built by companies with bad reputations.

    They need superior products and at least a decade of sustained superiority to undo the damage that they have done. That’s how bad it has gotten. Ten or twenty years ago, they could have done less, but now the hole’s pretty deep.

  • avatar
    sitting@home

    hydrogen cars from Chrysler, Ford and G.M. will take off

    Whoa, are they gonna start making Zeppelins ?

  • avatar
    blowfish

    Is harsh reality, what goes around comes around, the D2.8 had been screwing us around for the longest time. From service, to workmanship, they’re so nave that we will never figure out all the s*it that they had fed us.
    Now buying a ToyodissanDa is buying just as American as buying D2.8
    Unlike the 80s when Chrysler was waiting for the Laetrile badly, Lee could sell us to buy American, but now everything has changed so much.

  • avatar
    50merc

    Mr. Farago —
    Such as:
    “The type of vehicles America makes best are, unfortunately, not the type of vehicles that people really want anymore…
    Where we seem to lose it is in the low-bucks econocar…
    When you get into a high-priced, well-made American car today and the key is in the ignition, you hear a melodic bong, bong. But when you get in a cheap American car, like a rental, and the key is left in, it goes plink, plink, plink. It’s just horrible. Every time you use the turn signal, it’s like breaking a chicken leg…
    In order to make the more expensive car more appealing, U.S. companies feel as though they have to dumb down the cheaper car…
    Even though the [H-D] bikes might not be technically superior, they’re bulletproof and they’re American. People will buy American if given the chance…
    The automakers are starting to think like Harley and understand that when you get into an automobile, everything should be appealing to you. If you see stitching that’s out of line on the dashboard, you’re going to get madder and madder every time you see it. That’s one place where the American car companies dropped the ball…
    ..you have a whole generation of kids who have no brand loyalty. They’ve grown up on Honda, Hyundai, Kia and Toyota. To lure them to the American brand, you’ve got to give them something exciting, something bold, something different.I predict that Toyota will probably become the dominant force, and the other companies will have to become leaner to survive. They’ll start reining in some of the more unprofitable models…
    The overhead at most of the U.S. firms is crazy, and they’ll have to figure out a way to fix that. They’ll ultimately survive, but I think that they’ll need to change how they do business…
    ..do not expect all American cars to go Eurosize. American buttocks are not getting any smaller.”

  • avatar
    blowfish

    Lets be realstic, the Japanese, German didnt just being looky to sell us their cars. They always work overtime and all the time.
    Is us the bg 3 that had been fell asleep on the wheel for many many yrs.
    The Japanese work rlentlessly IE they re-did the Rotary engine where everybody had thrown in the towel.
    GM is the prme example of quitting by 9 o’clock before midnight. Look at Fiero and MR2. They came out about the same time, Fiero had been F***ing around since day one until everybody fed up and near the end GM put in the good stuff which is too too late. Whereas MR 2 had been using the right stuff since day 1.
    Or go back a bit the Corvair our answer to the Fuhrer’s mobile. If they had put in a better rear ant roll bar , less people would have died ( I am sure that was one of the culprit correct me f wrong).

    So GM deserve a chance or let Charlie Manson join the NRA?

  • avatar
    taxman100

    I believe there is a large segment of Americans who won’t buy an American car, or other American products for that matter.

    It is a case of elitism – they think of themselves as superior to the average American, so they would rather show their disdain for their fellow citizens by purchasing foreign goods.

    I see it every day where I work.

  • avatar
    Terry

    Methinks you have an inferiority complex(then again, I’m not Freud).
    Is disdain for fellow citizens the reasons move to better school districts, try to move upward in the company, and generally try to better their lot in life? Why, who the F do they think they are!! LOL

  • avatar
    Bozoer Rebbe

    Terry,

    American elites have disparaged America and Americans as crude, vulgar and not nearly as cool as Europe (or Asia, or India, depending on the era) since the 1800s.

    Just as a measurable number of Jews exhibit Jewish self-hate, perhaps up to 25% of Americans are self-hating Americans.

    They buy European appliances and Japanese cars and think that if a corporation is headquartered east of the Atlantic or west of the Pacific then, by Gaia it must be more moral than crass American capitalists.

    What’s interesting is how American elites ignore how racist and sexist Japan is. American companies will hire a foreign CEO. Will a geijin ever be CEO of Toyota?

    I worked for DuPont for 21 years and while HR was oh so politically correct and Refinish had to stop making calenders with girls in bikinis for collision shops because the women chemists complained (even though they were a very successful marketing tool), it was interesting the way the company would accommodate Japanese racism and sexism. The company was careful to not send women to negotiate with Japanese customers. Also, the only way DuPont could get a crack at business from the Japanese companies was to enter into a JV with a Japanese company, in this case Kansei Paint. DuPont had more advanced technology, but Kansei was Japanese. Because of the JV there was an office of Kansei engineers and managers on our site. While DuPont had many female chemists, engineers and executives on site, the only female employees of Kansei on our site were secretaries.

  • avatar
    blowfish

    We can look at it from a Bell curve, the centre chunk are Joe & Jill Average Americans who will buy whatever they can afford, in the old days they buy American cars to support our own country. But the D2.8 repeatedly screw them around so bad.
    Corvairs, Vegas, Pintos, Exploders with Firestone tires. Does it instill a lot of confidence into the average public at large?

    The affluent folks will buy Mercs, RRs, Bentleys inorder to separate the men from the boyz.

  • avatar
    Dave Ruddell

    American companies will hire a foreign CEO. Will a geijin ever be CEO of Toyota?

    I don’t think any Japanese car company will ever have a foriegn CEO. Especially Nissan.

  • avatar
    nino

    Jay Leno is another in a long list of celebrities that feel their opinion is somehow important even when their knowledge on the subject is limited.

    Still to the point, why am I being guilted into having to buy American when the American car companies are allowed to buy foreign? I mean, haven’t we read here how US car companies are forcing their suppliers to offshore their operations, costing American jobs in the process? Haven’t we read where US car companies are planning to import all their cars from other countries and reduce their US manufacturing capabilities costing American jobs? Is this what we REALLY NEED TO SUPPORT; a business model that is based on eliminating American jobs?

    Those that cite the transplants that manufacture in America as foreign companies because “all” the money goes back to Japan (or Korea, Or Germany, etc.), need to really crunch the numbers. Transplants, pay taxes (although, many of them are subsidized locally) to various US government agencies, they are responsible for spending large sums of money toward plant construction and ongoing infrastructure improvements, and employ AMERICANS in their operations. Also, cotrary to some opinions, there are transplant plants which have union employment.

    My question would then be; should we support companies that see American workers as the problem with their inability to make a competitive product or a profit, or should we support companies that are eager to locate here using American labor to make world class products that the majority of us can afford?

  • avatar
    prndlol

    I believe that, all things being equal, Jay Leno sucks the bag.

  • avatar
    Skooter

    American auto products don’t get a fair shake and that is reality. As I’ve said before, it is now stylish to be anti American. Whether its our military, presidency or products you can rest assured the bashing will continue…

  • avatar
    Pch101

    Still to the point, why am I being guilted into having to buy American when the American car companies are allowed to buy foreign?

    That wasn’t Jay Leno’s point at all. He is actually in agreement with much of what you can read on this website. His message is that if Detroit wants to sell more cars, they need to improve them.

    American auto products don’t get a fair shake and that is reality.

    The opposite is true. You have a certain core group of Americans that willingly buy inferior Detroit products simply because they are made in Detroit.

    Let’s face facts — if the Cobalt was sold by Toyota, it would probably sell in half of its numbers because buyers wanting a better car would buy something else. GM only sells what it does because the bowtie still gets support from the heartland.

    Detroit gets a pass because it’s Detroit. Within the US, it gets the handicapped parking space of the US car market. This has allowed them to build inferior products, because they know that they can build second-rate stuff and still sell it to some portion of Americans, no matter what.

    Nobody in the US is buying Hondas because they love the Japanese people. Yet some buy “American” only because it’s “American,” no matter how bad it gets. Those compromises don’t get made for anybody else.

  • avatar
    KatiePuckrik

    American companies will hire a foreign CEO. Will a geijin ever be CEO of Toyota?

    I don’t think any Japanese car company will ever have a foriegn CEO. Especially Nissan.

    Or Mazda. Or Mitsubishi, for that matter…..

    Let’s face it, Toyota and Honda will probably choose another Japanese CEO next time, but is that a bad thing?

    Toyota and Honda are storming ahead with their Japanese idealogies. Maybe there’s something in it….?

  • avatar
    Robstar

    The problem with the American companies, quality aside, is they need to REALLY make something I WANT.

    I’m not small, but not huge either (5’11” 200, but get down to 180 from time to time)

    My last car purchase was a beater. It was a dodge. It has been reliable, but it is NO LONGER MADE (Neon). In the last 40k miles (120-160k), I have averaged just under $0.10/mile for repair/maint. It’s reliable, it’s cheap, and I pulled 38mpg+ going 60mph coming from the Indy 500. Why was this discontinued? The 3 speed transmission is horrendous, but outside of that it gets the job done.

    The car before this (my first “new car”) I wanted a rally 4wd car with sub 0-60 of 5 seconds and AWD.

    The only players I could find were……..Subaru & Mitsubishi – Both japanese. At least the WRX’s (IIRC) are made in Indiana. I got the STi.

    I have the Subaru (now 3.5 years old at ~ 7k miles/year) with 0 problems outside of a valve spring getting stuck (fixed under warranty @ 12k miles, no problems since).

    My next car will be a (sub)compact 30’ish mpg city, 40ish mpg highway diesel or gas car with a 5 speed manual option for sub 15k. What is available…

    According to Fueleconomy.gov, 30mpg+:

    Civic Hybrid
    Toyota Yaris
    Mini cooper
    Mini clubman
    Toyota Corolla
    Honda Fit

    In other words – NOT.ONE.AMERICAN.CAR.

    If I go down to “25mpg mixed” I now have the choices of:

    Chevy Cobalt
    Pontiac G5
    Ford Focus
    Chevy Aveo

    In other words, American choices are only 1/3 of the total choices at 25mpg average mixed.

    Motorcycles are in the same boat. When I bought my first bike, I wanted something that revved to at least 13-15krpm that was sporty, and under $10k. I bought a gsx-r 600.

    The common choices are:
    Kawasaki
    Suzuki
    Honda
    Yamaha

    Where are the American choices? BUELL? I can’t name one person out of the 20 people I know who ride who has one.

    American car companies can easily earn my business – MAKE SOMETHING RELIABLE & CHEAP. I don’t need an interior, I need reliability and cheapness, with preferably a manual option. Get me close to 30mpg mixed. Give me some real options besides the “cheapest car in America”. I don’t need an mp3 player. I don’t need over sized cup holders. I don’t need heated bun warmers. I don’t need backup cameras, I don’t need bluetooth, xm radio or a built in toaster, steering wheel volume controls, gps, keyless entry, power windows or power mirrors.

    Give me front & side airbags & 30mpg and a 5 star crash safety rating with good reliability (or how bout an 5 year no hassle warranty to beat the imports?) and you have a sale.

    It’s simple. Why don’t the big 2.8 get it?

  • avatar
    tech98

    As I’ve said before, it is now stylish to be anti American. Whether its our military, presidency or products you can rest assured the bashing will continue…

    It is now stylish to think for yourself, and to analyze the world around you with some semblance of objectivity, instead of blind-obedience tribalism in support of mediocre American cars or politicians and denouncing any criticism as heresy.

  • avatar
    BTEFan

    Jay Leno can handle the colossal depreciation that comes as standard equipment on any new American car. The American product might be at least as good as the foriegn built cars, but its let down by a dealer system that has bright spots of great customer service drowning in a sea of plaid jackets and King Of Cars wannabes.

    If I was to buy American, I would buy it ex rental and save myself a ton of cash or buy it 5 years old with some pocket change and expect things to go wrong.

    Foreign brand names are a great fashion statement across a broad section of products – my Saeco coffee maker makes me feel much more international than Mr. Coffee.

    And its not just American elitists – when we would visit family in India, they woudl request certain items (clothes, shoes, bar soap etc) that would have to say ‘made in Canada’ or ‘made in USA’ on the label. It will make them seem superior amongst thier peers. Human nature, maybe.

  • avatar
    nino

    In my whole family, we buy an average of three new cars per year. They run the gamut from imports, to American cars, to transplants. The one theme that regularly comes to the fore is that the foreign and transplant cars are just a cut above the American cars purchased. In fact, if it weren’t for the deals on the many American cars we do buy, I’d venture to say that there would be less of them being bought by my family members.

    This isn’t a perception, but a fact based on side-by-side comparisons of vehicles bought among family members.

  • avatar
    Brendino

    I had a bit of a revelation about the “what makes a car an american car” question.

    What makes a film an American film? Is it location? No, otherwise The Last Samurai would be a Japanese film. Is it the director? No, otherwise Lord of the Rings would be a Kiwi film. Is it the actors? No, otherwise Gladiator would be an Australian film.

    What makes an American film an American film? Follow the money. American films go through Hollywood and are funded by American corporations. Even though Saw was written and directed by Aussies, and starred a British actor it went through Lions Gates and so it was an American film.

    What makes an American car an American car? It’s not about where the car is made or even necessarily where it’s designed. Follow the money. The money from American cars goes through Detroit, not Japan.

  • avatar
    thoots

    TriShield :

    What I don’t understand is why people who claim to prefer their Japanese but “American” as apple pie cars get all hot and bothered by examples like the current Camry, which pretty much suffers from every negative thing people have traditionally said about American cars from it’s cheap plastic interior to spotty workmanship to forgettable styling and uninspiring driving experience.

    Well, mainly, it’s because your information is WRONG. Perhaps Camry/Toyota is held to a higher standard, and probably a lot of it is due to venomous hatred towards Camry/Totota by the “reviewers,” but the Camry has received quite a bit of “bad press” that it really doesn’t deserve.

    Let’s look at the truth, from the perspective of people who actually BUY the current Camry:

    1. Cheap plastic interior? It’s not “cheap” at all. Materials are generally better than anything else on the market. Yes, there’s “more plastic” and less “fake wood-looking plastic trim” than previous generations, but it’s not cheap, crappy, econobox-type stuff. Take your eyes off of the dashboard, and you’ll find seat leather and fabric that is best in the class, switchgear that is best in the class, and ergonomics that are best in the class. Also, there’s far more sense of “design” to the interior as compared to the far-less-adventurous designs of a lot of other competing interiors.

    2. Spotty workmanship? Yes, I suppose there have been a few more problems reported than in previous generations, but significant problems are very rare. I don’t think the average Camry owner is reporting anything even remotely resembing “spotty workmanship.”

    3. Forgettable styling? Well, that’s better than the Abominable Honda — the really quite ugly new-generation Accord. Others in the segment, like the Sebring, have truly awkward proportions. I think you could say that the Camry has the most “cohesive” styling compared to anything in the segment. Many “new to Camry” buyers are buying Camry BECAUSE of the new-generation styling.

    4. Uninspiring driving experience? True, some reviewers (there are some here on TTAC) will curse at anything that doesn’t handle as well as a BMW 3-series, but that’s not what most Camry buyers are actually looking for. You must be reading Car and Driver, which in its last comparison test reamed Camry big-time about handling, though it mentioned how Camry was easy to drive smoothly, was by far the quietest on the road, and was otherwise EXACTLY like the kind of driving experience that its buyers were looking for. Plus, of course, the anti-Camryites generally find some way to never bother testing the Camry SE, which actually HAS some actual handling prowess. Finally, these folks never seem to mention how the Camry’s V6 engine provides plenty of power, if that’s what floats your boat.

    And so on. Get in a room full of Camry owners, and you might find mentions of a few minor issues, but few reports of real problems, and probably something like a 99% satisfaction with their vehicles. Yes, there has been negative “press.” Meanwhile, more people continue to buy them and are satisfied with their cars than any other car in the US.

    Along the same vein, there was the oft-repeated mention that “If you put a Cobalt on a Toyota lot, it’d sell as well as Corolla,” or something close to that.

    BS.

    People don’t buy Toyotas because they are STUPID and clueless. No, those people are buying Cobalts. People who buy Toyotas have had trouble-free experiences with previous Toyotas. They read information like Consumer Reports reliability records. They test-drive new vehicles before they buy them, and easily comprehend how the Cobalt pales compared to the much-more-refined Corolla. And so on.

    Bottom line, these viewpoints are essentially based upon opinions that the domestics are just as refined and reliable as the “import brands” are. All I can tell you is that the people who buy the import brands aren’t buying it. And vehicle sales are easily showing that the public at large isn’t buying the domestic equivalents to the import brand cars.

  • avatar
    KixStart

    Bozoer Rebbe,

    The phrases “Jewish self-hate” and “American self-hate” are an invention of Jewish and American rightists and are used to describe Jews or Americans who don’t agree with the rightists’ politics.

    I don’t hate America or Americans, although I certainly prefer Toyotas to GMs and I’m certainly unhappy with our current foreign policy.

    The reasons are simple, my Toyotas put money in my pocket (money which gets invested in the US, as it happens) and our foreign policy is clearly counter-productive. This isn’t self-hate, it’s just awareness of the world around you.

    thoots,

    I’m very much in agreement with you on the current state of the Camry. My b-i-l was happy and proud to loan me his last year and it (an LE) is an excellent car. The 4-cylinder moves it along nicely (five plus luggage), it gets great fuel economy and the interior was very nice.

    He bought it because his ’01 Sienna treated him very well. Six years of abuse from his kids and it still looks new and hasn’t been into the shop once.

    If I had to criticize something about it… well… the front end isn’t all that attractive. But it’s similar to many others, so it makes no difference. And the visiblity out the rear is a little restricted but that’s also due to the current style of broadly arched roofline and high rear deck (the only midsize car that really looks a bit different to me is the new Accord – and the Fusion but that’s an older design at this point).

    My four Toyotas, ’99 through ’01’s, fairly high miles at this point, have also treated me very well. Comes time to look for a new car, I’ll be checking Toyota first. They’ve put money in my pocket.

  • avatar
    jackc100

    I really enjoy TTAC.

    Where else could I read defenders for, “All things being equal”, (as if it can be between the Detroit 2.8 and the other major players from the Asian rim), that most Americans would rather defy belief, urban survival skills and experience, and would buy something from the 2.8.

    I may be an elitist, uninformed, perceptually wrong and some other things referenced here, but the chances of the 2.8 competing with Toyota, Honda and Nissan in my life time is not realistic. The 2.8 have had at least 25 years and
    I doubt they will turn it around in the next 25, plus I probably will not be around.

    Before I would buy another 2.8 product that is not a used PU truck, I want an explanation for the leaky water pumps, sprung door hinges, out of round Firestones, falling off body pieces, mystery squeaks and rattles, cracking windshields, chassis water leaks and a few more pages worth I could list on.

    And where else could I read a seriouis sounding report that Camry’s are now a POS and owners are really unhappy. I sure do not hear that in my neighborhood. Must be a lot of elitists, uninformed and historically perceptively incorrect people in my part of the southeast USA.

  • avatar
    Martin Albright

    One point needs to be made: The Harley-Davidson example simply won’t work for cars. Harley-Davidson’s are valued for a number of reasons that don’t have anything to do with technology, but the real point is that in the US, a motorcycle is always an emotional purchase, not a logical one.

    Motorcycles in the US are toys, not essential needs of daily life and as such, different criteria for judging them will apply.


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