By on December 10, 2008

Toyota spokesman responds in the Detroit News, asking “How do you tell a worker in Kentucky who’s producing a Toyota that his job is worth less than another American autoworker’s?” How indeed. And we thought the bailout was about fighting racism.

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85 Comments on “Ford Dealer: Japanese Cars “Rice Ready, Not Road Ready”...”


  • avatar
    carlisimo

    Socially responsible purchases are a luxury. No one’s buying luxuries these days.

    I, for example, don’t plan on buying a new car anytime soon; in my case that would be a stupid thing to do. Sorry, America.

  • avatar
    olivehead

    it’s been said many times before, but what the heck: the vast majority of those toyotas, hondas, and hyundais being bought are built in america, while those ford fusions, for example, are being built in mexico. buying those imports may not be helping the big 2.25 executives, but it is helping american workers.

    btw what does “rice-ready” mean? biggest “huh?” of the day.

  • avatar

    Jesus Christ.

    So let’s bring back anyone with a pulse loans so he can continue his standard of living and let America continue down the shitter.

    I guess I should avoid food shopping at Walmart and buy a Mustang from this guy instead this weekend. You know, impulse-buy an auto over food. Oh wait, I’d have to drive there in my Honda to do so. Crap! I’ve already failed!

  • avatar
    Edward Niedermeyer

    I’m loving the whole line about “If you buy a Toyota and lose your job and can’t make a payment, don’t come whining to me.” What, like if I bought a Fusion from this huckleberry and couldn’t make payments, he’d welcome my whining and help me out for the good of America? Please.

  • avatar
    Mrb00st

    Ok, let’s just do a rundown of where some certain cars are built for you Mr. Welch.

    Chrysler PT Cruiser: Mexico.
    Toyota Tundra: Texas.
    Chevy/GMC GMT900 trucks: among a few plants, including plants in Canada, the US, and Mexico.
    Honda Accord: Ohio.
    Ford Fusion: Mexico.
    Subaru Legacy: Indiana.
    Chrysler Crossfire: DEUTSCHLAND UBER ALLES.
    Hyundai Sante Fe: Montgomery, Alabama.
    Chevrolet Aveo: Korea. By Daewoo.
    Mercedes-Benz GL, ML, and R class: Alabama.
    Jeep Liberty: Ohio. Oh, and Egypt. And Venezuala.

    What I’m trying to say here, OC Welch… is that people like you are the reason the rest of the world thinks America is full of fat, burger-munching ignorant racists. Please die in a car fire.

  • avatar
    KatiePuckrik

    “….this is America and we need to act like it’s America…”

    True Americans doesn’t whine and bitch about a competitor, it builds a better product/service.

    This guy should keep his mouth firmly shut. If the whole of Europe (except, Germany, Spain and Belgium) decided to buy cars which helped prop their economies up (i.e supported jobs there), then Ford would have gone out of business a long time ago…….

  • avatar
    SupaMan

    Now this is interesting.

    So my buying a Honda or Toyota that’s actually built in America by American workers is not helping America? And I suppose buying a Focus or Cobalt that’s built in Mexico or…wait, an Astra that’s built in Europe is helping America any better?

    And if I buy an F-150 and can’t make payments, you gonna help me out? Can I come whining to you about it?

    This guy sounds like the essence of ignorance.

  • avatar
    John R

    Insane. This guy isn’t doing Ford any favors. Bigoted dumb asses like this schlub are one of many reasons why some consumers stay FAR AWAY from ‘Merican products.

    Go play in traffic, welch.

    Oh, Mrb00st, you can add the Hyundai Sonata (Alabama) to that list.

  • avatar

    Why do I hear Dueling Banjos playing in my head while I listen to that clip?

  • avatar
    MikeInCanada

    It’s guys like this that make it easy to say Buh-Bye to most of the local car dealers.

  • avatar
    rjones

    “Rice ready”? What in hell does that mean? Does this mean my Volvo is “meatball ready”?

  • avatar
    Geo. Levecque

    Dont you all think that the Dealer is a old style Dealer who thinks if its not a US Brand, then its no good?
    He appeals to a lot of uneducated people who dont do there homework when they decide to purchase a vehicle, such a shame eh?

  • avatar
    slothrop

    Maybe our lovely South Carolina Ford dealer can explain to those South Carolina workers who build BMWs like the X5 why the product of their labor is not road ready…

  • avatar
    Stingray

    Mrb00st :

    Jeep Liberty: Ohio. Oh, and Egypt. And Venezuala.

    Firstly it is Venezuela.

    Second, I doubt the local Chrysler plant has the volume to export to the US. As a matter of fact, other than possibly Colombia, Ecuador I doubt any Cherokee (your Liberty) gets exported.

  • avatar
    no_slushbox

    Can this dealership be put on “Deathwatch” so we know exactly when it fails.

  • avatar
    RayH

    A German car would be schnitzel-ready I guess? What would an American car be?
    True Americans doesn’t whine and bitch about a competitor, it builds a better product/service.

    Good point, Katie. I think Americans voting with their wallet should’ve been just as clear a sign to car companies than Americans vocalizing “build us something better.” Everyone always gets on GM changing the names of their products too much, but the new Malibu was a big WTH in why wasn’t the name changed? It might be competitive or better, but everyone associates the name with “semi-capable rental car” from years of it serving that role.

  • avatar
    geeber

    Smart move…the man just ensured that no Toyota or Honda owners will ever come to his dealership, no matter how much Ford improves its vehicles.

  • avatar
    Phil Ressler

    In his own ham-handed way, Welch has a point. But the crude and dishonorable way he makes his point undermines his ability to persuade.

    Of course, the reflexive response here is to point out that many Toyotas are built in the US while a Ford Fusion is shipped from Mexico. Let’s correct that: Many Toyotas are assembled in the US, and the Ford Fusion is likewise assembled in Mexico, a NAFTA country. Similarly, that Mexican-assembled Fusion takes pressure off our southern border while supporting the economic viability of a US headquartered company, and the US jobs it generates.

    Assembling Toyotas in the US doesn’t carry the same economic leverage as US companies designing, making components and building cars in the US. Yes, economic conditions derive from complex dependencies, and if you buy a Toyota — even an American-assembled one with US content — and lose your job, don’t go crying to Mr. Welch, for he’ll owe you no sympathy.

    With a car as mediocre and uninspiring as a Camry, Toyota has no actual product edge over GM and Ford in what is presently a substantial vehicle category, so there is neiher penalty to the consumer for choosing a competitive US brand product, nor does the US assembly of the Toyota make a choice in its favor economically benign. We have a market of free choice, which I certainly don’t want to disturb, but people have to face facts that there are material consequences to their purchasing decisions and if those consequences are either ignored long enough or incrementally accumulated to sufficient quantity, the country pays.

    US assembly of vehicles that are designed elsewhere, by companies that roll up profits and command global resources, including market cap, is enough to mitigate the politics of runaway imports, but it’s fantasy to believe that Toyota, Honda, Nissan, BMW or Mercedes assembly of vehicles here in the US fully compensates for the wealth leverage of lost market share by GM, Ford and Chrysler that transplants displace.

    How do you tell a Toyota worker in Kentucky that his job is worth less than a GM worker’s in Michigan? Straightforwardly. I’m glad that the Toyota worker has a job as opposed to not having one. And his job exists due to demand Toyota generated. It is buyers that have to understand their contribution to the problem at hand. Yes, the unfortunate reality of the situation is that the country will be stronger as a whole if GM wins back enough market share to instigate more hiring on its US payroll due to, perhaps, rising Malibu sales, at the expense of a layoff at Toyota in Kentucky or elsewhere due to Camry sales lost to Chevy.

    Welch’s inelegant outburst is an inchoate expression of an idea that people know intrinsically to be true, but mostly would like to believe otherwise.

    Phil

  • avatar

    rjones:

    Nope, sadly no meatballs with your Ford-built Volvo. You have to go to Ikea for those tasty treats.

  • avatar
    taxman100

    American owned companies should get preferential treatment in their home country. Every other country who has a viable manufacturing base does the same thing.

    It is as simple as that – home field advantage.

  • avatar

    I sent him an email and wanted to know why the Fusion I just test drove smelled like burritos and re-fried beans.

    OC Welch
    Tel : 843-288-0100
    Fax: 843-288-0105
    Email: [email protected]

  • avatar
    no_slushbox

    A stupid patriot buys a new mediocre (none of their cars are best in class), rapidly depreciating Ford from an asshole dealer.

    A smart patriot keeps their current car and buys Honda stock (dollar cost averaging through the recession).

    RayH: Big-3 cars are welfare ready.

    Phil Ressler: GM is moving design and engineering to South Korea and India as fast as it can, and Ford’s path to viability is to build European designed and engineered cars here. Ford’s pathetic-ness forced it to sell most of its stake in Mazda. Now because of Ford’s stupidity more money from every Mazda sale goes back to Japan.

    TheImportSpecialist: It smells like burritos and re-fried beans because one of his reject salesmen borrowed the car and took it to Taco Bell; it’s not fair to blame the Mexican autoworkers that built the car.

  • avatar
    Edward Niedermeyer

    @Phil

    Sure, consumers have to live with the consequences of their purchases. Granted. But how does that absolve Detroit of the responsibility to live with the consequences of their products?

    “With a car as mediocre and uninspiring as a Camry, Toyota has no actual product edge over GM and Ford in what is presently a substantial vehicle category, so there is neiher penalty to the consumer for choosing a competitive US brand product, nor does the US assembly of the Toyota make a choice in its favor economically benign.”

    Granting some level of product fungibility between brands (which may or may not exist… all mid-size cars are equally boring to me), I don’t see how you can conjure up dire economic consequences for not buying domestic. Toyota and GM both produce, design and engineer vehicles around the world. I can buy Toyota stock and share in their profits no matter where I live. Where’s the malignancy?

    Your thesis that “the country will be stronger as a whole if GM wins back enough market share to instigate more hiring on its US payroll” may or may not be true, but frankly it doesn’t matter. Proclaiming the nationalist intentions of multinational corporations makes you look like a sucker. Ford, GM and Chrysler look out for themselves and do business where it makes them money. Period. Their recent patriotic tone comes from a desire for American tax money, and nothing else. If their lost market share is bad for the country, why blame the consumers?

    As for Welch, he chose to to sell Fords and now he’s whining to us. Says it all, doesn’t it?

  • avatar
    Areitu

    Our family workhorse, a V6 Accord, was assembled in Ohio. It has the new car smell, 5 years and 65,000 miles later.

    rjones :
    December 10th, 2008 at 12:41 pm

    “Rice ready”? What in hell does that mean? Does this mean my Volvo is “meatball ready”?

    Lingonberry ready and arrives in flat pack boxes.

  • avatar
    Phil Ressler

    GM is moving design and engineering to South Korea and India as fast as it can, and Ford’s path to viability is to build European designed and engineered cars here. Ford’s pathetic-ness forced it to sell most of its stake in Mazda. Now because of Ford’s stupidity more money from every Mazda sale goes back to Japan.

    First, this is non-sequitur to my point. GM is global and some production will be moved closer to points of consumption, and some will move to areas where production economics are more favorable. BUT what GM has been doing in the absence of help and under current management may not be the same as what GM does in the context of help, oversight and a change of executive management. The point remains, GM and Ford make competitive US built products that carry more domestic economic leverage than does a US-assembled Camry. Ford’s use of global platforms nevertheless supports thousands of US headquartered jobs that are undermined or lost by transplant gains that do not replace them 1:1 nor in equal compensatory value.

    Phil

  • avatar
    CarnotCycle

    Just tried stuffing a burrito (authentic burrito from taco truck) into a Ford Fusion that had run out of gas, and it started right up.

    Now I get it.

    Perhaps this explains why a Caddy DTS is so fat yet empty, or why the Tacoma, Tundra, Accord, and Camry have all been packing on the pounds over the years since they started making them in the ‘States…all those Big Macs! The Honda Fit won’t be so fit once they make’em in Ohio…have you seen the locals in Cleveland lately? Uh-oh, Honda Fit LTD here we come!

  • avatar
    y2kdcar

    Toyota spokesman responds in the Detroit News, asking “How do you tell a worker in Kentucky who’s producing a Toyota that his job is worth less than another American autoworker’s?” …

    That’s easy. Just point him to http://www.nytimes.com/2008/12/10/business/economy/10leonhardt.html?_r=1. The article states, in so many words, that “General Motors, Ford and Chrysler workers make significantly more than their counterparts at Toyota, Honda and Nissan plants in this country. Last year’s concessions by the United Automobile Workers, which mostly apply to new workers, will not change that anytime soon.”

    The Toyota worker is being paid less than his counterparts at the Detroit 3, so his job is obviously worth less to the company that employs him. Simple, no?

  • avatar
    Phil Ressler

    Sure, consumers have to live with the consequences of their purchases. Granted. But how does that absolve Detroit of the responsibility to live with the consequences of their products?

    Detroit isn’t absolved of their end, but what’s the point of me using my time to pile on Detroit criticism here? What is usually lacking in the TTAC community response is holistic perspective. I’m filling in.

    Toyota and GM both produce, design and engineer vehicles around the world. I can buy Toyota stock and share in their profits no matter where I live. Where’s the malignancy?

    Toyota’s market cap is participatively driven by investors, sure. But Toyota is not based in the US. Its resources both direct and implied by that market cap are controlled by Toyota HQ, not Toyota USA. Toyota’s highest-value engineering and executive positions are in Japan. Their core domain expertise is in Japan. Their cash reserves and market cap give them power to artificially undermine competitors, just as the EU argued against Microsoft. It may not be openly malignant to buy a Toyota in the US, but it’s fiction that doing so doesn’t carry a net domestic economic cost when competitive domestic production exists as an alternative.

    Proclaiming the nationalist intentions of multinational corporations makes you look like a sucker. Ford, GM and Chrysler look out for themselves and do business where it makes them money. Period. Their recent patriotic tone comes from a desire for American tax money, and nothing else. If their lost market share is bad for the country, why blame the consumers?

    First, I’m really not concerned about whether someone here perceives me “a sucker.” A lot of life is lived by deciding what problems you want not to be part of irrespective of majority. Of course the D3 look out for themselves, and that self-interest can lead them back to US production as shipping costs rise (notwithstanding the current energy lull) and labor costs migrate to mean. Fact is, if people in the US return to D3 products, the net *gain* economically to the country will be readily felt. US consumption of competitive US and NAFTA production by US HQ’d companies has more domestic economic amplification than the alternatives. But they have to earn it.

    What you miss is that I am not blaming consumers exclusively. But consumer behavior that reflexively embraces a mediocre Camry over a current Malibu is part of the problem, and if people truly understood their self-interest, a Ford Taurus, Chevy Malibu, Saturn Aura or even a Cobalt or Focus might seem compelling compared to the transplant and import alternatives. When you look at the sheer numbers of mediocre car models that are bought from any maker, the notion of market wisdom fades quickly.

    Phil

  • avatar
    Martin Albright

    I’m glad that the Toyota worker has a job as opposed to not having one. And his job exists due to demand Toyota generated. It is buyers that have to understand their contribution to the problem at hand.

    And therein lies the difference. To you, for a rational consumer to choose what he percieves as a superior product over an inferior one is a “problem.” To me, it’s just common sense.

  • avatar

    I called it. The ugly xenophobia against the imports was going to happen, and if any of the Big 2.5 declare chapter 11, it’s only going to get worse.

    I’d better call Allstate and see if my coverage includes jerkasses taking a sledgehammer to my Civic, or my mom’s 350Z Roadster…

  • avatar
    stryker1

    Reason number 4,365,246 not to buy American…

  • avatar
    Phil Ressler

    To you, for a rational consumer to choose what he percieves as a superior product over an inferior one is a “problem.” To me, it’s just common sense.

    To the contrary. We’re in the realm in this example where the Toyota product is neither superior to D2 alternatives, nor the rational purchase, and that’s even before one expands their buyer conciousness to consider the macro social and economic context. We are beginning to see the consequences of fetishizing automotive interior plastics, for example. What are small differences worth? Well, now you can see and decide.

    Phil

  • avatar
    lawmonkey

    That’s it – I’m hiding in a Pontiac Vibe until this all blows over.

  • avatar
    CarnotCycle

    To the contrary. We’re in the realm in this example where the Toyota product is neither superior to D2 alternatives, nor the rational purchase, and that’s even before one expands their buyer conciousness to consider the macro social and economic context. We are beginning to see the consequences of fetishizing automotive interior plastics, for example. What are small differences worth? Well, now you can see and decide.

    Actually, its the entire car…if you fetishize compact, reliable automobiles that get good gas mileage and drive with some spirit at all. Or a RWD sedan that costs less than $50k. Or an actual hybrid car.

  • avatar
    rtx

    I can’t really think of a reply for the “rice ready” comment, but I’m sure it got a laugh at the last cross burning that “O.C.” attended. BTW…what exactly does “O.C.” stand for? Anyone??
    I can enlighten “O.C.” about his concern that the Japanese cars don’t have that “new car smell” that he is so familiar with.
    As a plastics engineer with a large Japanese manufacturer I feel qualified to comment on this.
    The dashboard “pleather”on a new car is exactly that. It starts out as a slurry (picture a huge milkshake and you’ll get the picture) To keep all this great stuff in a liquid injectable form several really potent chemicals (benzines, isocyanates etc.) are mixed in with the plastic compounds and color dyes. This mixture is then injected under high pressure into a mold. It is cooked for 30 seconds and presto…..you have a dashboard covering which can then be stretched and shrunk around the dashboard core.
    The problem with this process is that the benzines and cyanates are not totally released from the material and can take weeks and sometimes months (depending on ventilation) to release into the atmosphere.
    Recognizing this my company put in place an extra step in the process which is a reheat of the full dash assembly within a well ventilated enclosure. This effectively burns off the trapped solvents and cuts the “new car smell” to a fraction of what it would have been.
    Ford knows about this but because of the extra cost chooses to skip this step and let nature take its course.
    So…”O.C.”, when you are basking in the aroma of a brand new Ford, that euphoria you are feeling is nothing other then the effects of the solvents releasing themselves from the dashboard and working on your questionable cerebral cortex. You’re HIGH buddy……..enjoy!!

  • avatar
    ericthejet

    Mr. Welch has used imports for sale on the company website.

    Let’s be thankful that not all of the manufactures operating inside the USA and CANADA need a bailout.

    I consider myself very car savvy and the last thing I would purchase would be a product produced by the Big 2.8.

  • avatar
    Martin Albright

    To the contrary. We’re in the realm in this example where the Toyota product is neither superior to D2 alternatives, nor the rational purchase, and that’s even before one expands their buyer conciousness to consider the macro social and economic context.

    You missed the point entirely, Phil. You claim that the D3 products are now “equal” to the transplants, but the market says differently.

    Even assuming arguendo that a Camry is the equal of a Malibu, should the fact that the Camry is likely to be worth more at resale time not be considered as a factor when buying? It is perfectly rational to pay slightly more for the transplant that is only likely to lose 20% of its value to depreciation as opposed to the domestic that is likely to lose 30% or more.

    And as for the “macro social and economic context” as someone who doesn’t live in the rust belt why should I feel any more loyalty to the Detroit auto worker than to the Kentucky or California auto worker? Why is it in our interest as a nation to protect the former at the expense of the latter? You state that it benefits the US to have a strong domestic auto industry as if it is a self-justifying argument but I’m not seeing it.

    If I choose between two US built cars and buy the one that I perceive will give me more value, is that not the essence of a good economic exchange? And if one wears a Honda badge and the other a Chevy badge, what difference does that make?

    You argue that the domestics employ more Americans and pay them a higher wage – isn’t that part of the problem? A bloated, inefficient management and an overpaid workforce are not going to bring the D3 back from the dead unless they can brainwash customers into buying their products, which won’t happen as long as they have an alternative.

  • avatar
    Edward Niedermeyer

    Phil: I think the fact that the domestics have survived as long as they have on their pre-CTS and Malibu products proves that Americans did favor American products despite their (now admitted) shortcomings. The problem is that Americans did follow your argument, bought American cars out of patriotism or “enlightened self interest” as you portray it, and got burned. Now that the Malibu is “as good as” a Camry, they simply don’t trust GM.

  • avatar
    RedStapler

    I’m with Lawmonkey about laying low in the Pontiac Vibe. Its the ultimate “domestic” sleeper with Corolla reliability.

  • avatar
    Pch101

    Mr. Ressler, is there some reason why you haven’t found a way to work the word “bigot” into your posts on this thread? If there was a place where the word would be done some justice, it would seem that it would be about this dealership, where the racism is palpable.

  • avatar
    CarPerson

    How come those new Toyota’s don’t smell like new cars???

    Because they and the other Japanese auto manufacturers have spent MILLIONS to cut the outgassing from the upholstery, carpets, dash, trim, and everything else inside the car.

    Maybe, Mr. Welsch, you’ve been sitting in your new Fords with the windows up too long.

  • avatar
    Geotpf

    y2kdcar :
    December 10th, 2008 at 3:14 pm

    Toyota spokesman responds in the Detroit News, asking “How do you tell a worker in Kentucky who’s producing a Toyota that his job is worth less than another American autoworker’s?” …

    That’s easy. Just point him to http://www.nytimes.com/2008/12/10/business/economy/10leonhardt.html?_r=1. The article states, in so many words, that “General Motors, Ford and Chrysler workers make significantly more than their counterparts at Toyota, Honda and Nissan plants in this country. Last year’s concessions by the United Automobile Workers, which mostly apply to new workers, will not change that anytime soon.”

    The Toyota worker is being paid less than his counterparts at the Detroit 3, so his job is obviously worth less to the company that employs him. Simple, no?

    That’s not true. Your average Toyota worker makes about the same as your average GM worker. Stats that say otherwise include the pension and medical costs of 80 year guys who retired from GM during the Reagan administration. GM’s sales have been shrinking, so they have more retirees per active worker than Toyota, who’s sales have been growing. Plus, those stats only include workers in the US; that is, the pension of a similiar 80 year old retiree living in Toyota City, Japan isn’t counted.

  • avatar
    Demetri

    It’s an interesting strategy. Tell import buyers that they’re bad people to try to make them your customer.

    People like this is why I will never ever buy a D3 automobile.

  • avatar
    Phil Ressler

    Actually, its the entire car…if you fetishize compact, reliable automobiles that get good gas mileage and drive with some spirit at all. Or a RWD sedan that costs less than $50k. Or an actual hybrid car.

    All of which does not have enough volume to sustain a car company in the US. The meat of the market is FWD sedans below $50K and trucks (still). We can easily address the fringes plus the compact market in progressively better fashion once the heart of the market is buying.

    You claim that the D3 products are now “equal” to the transplants, but the market says differently.

    Markets are reality, like it or not. But markets are also frequently wrong.

    …should the fact that the Camry is likely to be worth more at resale time not be considered as a factor when buying? It is perfectly rational to pay slightly more for the transplant that is only likely to lose 20% of its value to depreciation as opposed to the domestic that is likely to lose 30% or more.

    And it’s also perfectly rational to come to the conclusion that a retained value difference does not sufficiently offset the larger costs of allowing it to drive an anti-domestic decision. No, resale value is not relevant today. Cars plunge in retained value when you buy them and as you use them. If you keep a car through its payment period, or for a nominally “spent” mileage of 100,000 miles, the retained value differences are relatively small. What’s the point of worrying about a minor difference in resale value, if destruction of domestic manufacturing raises your taxes, amplifies social disorder and causes you to take losses in other ways? Resale value is a red herring. The percentage of people in the market that pay any attention to this is small, though perhaps such people are disproportionately represented here.

    Further, resale value differences are purely driven by perception. The used car market is not a set-price market. Americans have a choice about the value they assign to used cars. Currently, people here *believe* a domestic used car is worth less than an equivalent from Honda, Toyota and some others and therefore it is, because they believe this belief will persist. But if a combination of better cars (already in market and coming) from the D3 and a change of conciousness on the part of consumers about what comprises “cool,” “desirable,” and “smart,” all of this can change. It’s not like you can make any case whatsoever that the market psychology awarding more retained value to a Toyota than to a Chevrolet or Ford has any rational underpinning whatsoever. It’s just perception.

    And as for the “macro social and economic context” as someone who doesn’t live in the rust belt why should I feel any more loyalty to the Detroit auto worker than to the Kentucky or California auto worker? Why is it in our interest as a nation to protect the former at the expense of the latter? You state that it benefits the US to have a strong domestic auto industry as if it is a self-justifying argument but I’m not seeing it.

    In the United States, states have economies primarily in a statistical sense corresponding to their political borders. There are tax implications to this, for instance. But on the global stage, the problems of an American in Ohio are as pertinent to a Californian as are those of an Arizonian and even a fellow Californian. Same with the opportunities and successes. All of the US benefits from California’s innovation engines in Silicon Valley and Southern California, for example. All of the US benefits from agricultural prowess and exports from Iowa and Minnesota. All of the US benefitted from a robust domestic automotive manufacturing sector. All of the US suffers its decline, as well, but the concentration of pain is closest to the centers of destruction.

    Now, I don’t want that Toyota worker in Kentucky to be unemployed, but if he were instead employed by GM, for example, his job would have greater amplifying effects throughout the domestic economy. The point is, anyone who believes that transplants merely *assembling* cars in the US has the same economic value as GM, Ford and Chrysler functioning as full-spectrum automotive manufacturers within our borders is sadly mistaken, and the persistence of this erroneous belief makes it more convenient to rationalize buying an Accord, or to operate to bias in purchasing rather than consider the true costs of a decision to buy, say, a Camry over a Malibu or Taurus.

    If I choose between two US built cars and buy the one that I perceive will give me more value, is that not the essence of a good economic exchange?

    It’s a good economic exchange transactionally. If in fact you rejected an equally good domestic choice, it’s a bad exchange macro-economically, socially and politically. The “US built” Toyota is not the same economically as the US built Chevrolet.

    And if one wears a Honda badge and the other a Chevy badge, what difference does that make?

    See above. And above that. And above that. Amply covered.

    You argue that the domestics employ more Americans and pay them a higher wage – isn’t that part of the problem? A bloated, inefficient management and an overpaid workforce are not going to bring the D3 back from the dead unless they can brainwash customers into buying their products, which won’t happen as long as they have an alternative.

    Actually, I said nothing about domestics paying same workers higher wages. The D3 do employ more Americans, including many high-value HQ jobs that Toyota doesn’t bring here. More to the point, the D3 job has more non-D3 domestic jobs tied to it. You see, even if the labor pools of GM, Toyota and Tata had the same compensation, the economic amplification of the GM job in the US exceeds that of a transplant. Nothing about what I suggest here supports any notion that bloat or inefficiency should continue. No. But the customer side of the equation has to come to terms with the fact that *not* rewarding product competitiveness by the D3 where it exists, has deleterious consequences to the economics and social circumstances of that purchasing individual.

    I think the fact that the domestics have survived as long as they have on their pre-CTS and Malibu products proves that Americans did favor American products despite their (now admitted) shortcomings. The problem is that Americans did follow your argument, bought American cars out of patriotism or “enlightened self interest” as you portray it, and got burned. Now that the Malibu is “as good as” a Camry, they simply don’t trust GM.

    Conjecture. Those cars sold for a variety of reasons, and competing cars were still improving. Some were sold because the deal was right. Others because the dealership location was right or the buyer had a continuing relationship with said dealer. Some were simply better cars than their reputation. Some were surely bought because they were American. Neither every Toyota nor GM car was bought solely on the merits nor rejected solely on the liabilities. We all know the genesis of the element of trust or lack of it. My point is that this lack of trust in the face of vastly-improved products is dramatically costing Americans who nurse their D3 grudges, in other ways.

    …is there some reason why you haven’t found a way to work the word “bigot” into your posts on this thread? If there was a place where the word would be done some justice, it would seem that it would be about this dealership, where the racism is palpable.

    I’ve already said I’m not defending his delivery or articulation. Welch may or may not be a bigot. He’s certainly frustrated and angry, which prompts people to say all sorts of things that might not reflect who they are. If I give him benefit of doubt, he’s crude and divisive. If I assume the worst, his cultural resentment has gotten the best of him. In any case, I don’t condone the ad as it is expressed, but underlying his frustration, resentment, bigotry or whatever it is, there is a serious point that he makes hard to take seriously.

    Phil

  • avatar
    y2kdcar

    Geotpf :

    … Your average Toyota worker makes about the same as your average GM worker. Stats that say otherwise include the pension and medical costs of 80 year guys who retired from GM during the Reagan administration. …

    Go back to my original post, follow the link, and read the article in the New York Times. The Times backed the retiree pension and medical costs out of the GM wage scale and concluded that there was still a $10 gap between what the General pays its hourly workers and what Toyota pays. Most of the gap, but not all, is in benefits for active hourly employees.

  • avatar
    carsinamerica

    Phil, on top of the previous critiques, you’re also ignoring the fact that not all Toyotas are simply “assembled” in the US. A number of Toyota models are designed and engineered in the States. Examples include the Tundra, Sequoia, and Avalon, all of which are products specific to America. Other US models have distinct US sheetmetal, implying additional design input from North America, and cars like the Camry (which is no longer sold in parts of Europe, and is not that big a seller in Japan) is clearly engineered for American needs, with, one suspects, American input.

    Further, your claims that the quality gap has vanished altogether are still not borne out by CR and JDP long-term tests, as of 2008.

    Your assumption of NAFTA production is also flawed. Do you honestly believe, as the cost gap between USA and LDCs continues to grow, that GM wouldn’t move production even further afield? Perhaps to China? Be serious. More American market share for GM will not guarantee any American jobs, except in the design studio and engineering office, and we have seen that several of the Asian transplants already do the same.

    Finally, anyone who calls the Chevy Cobalt “compelling”, in any context, loses all his points.

  • avatar
    GeorgeM

    @Phil:
    >Actually, its the entire car…if you fetishize
    >compact, reliable automobiles that get good gas
    >mileage and drive with some spirit at all. Or a RWD
    >sedan that costs less than $50k. Or an actual
    >hybrid car.

    All of which does not have enough volume to sustain a car company in the US.

    Perhaps not – but at least Honda, Toyota and others are actually capable of making a profit on Civics and Corollas. Servicing that part of the market isn’t a drain on their profitability, unlike the companies that were sucked into the SUV Sinkhole.

    You’re entitled to consider anything you like when you make your purchases – but don’t forget that the D2.8 have created, through their actions and their products, a sizeable segment of the auto market who will not even consider them. I’m one of them.

    I will grant that perhaps they’ve improved since the last time I was treated poorly by one of their “service” departments – but why on earth should I take a chance on them, when I know my local Honda dealer considers the service-department experience a key component in getting me to buy my next car from them?

    Given the D2.8’s horrific reputation – while the Malibu might be an OK car now, I wouldn’t trust GM as far as I could THROW a Malibu to keep the car at its initial level of quality. They’ve simply proven over and over again that except for a few halo cars like the Corvette – most of what they make turns to crap eventually.

    If we ever see the Detroit automakers clean up and fly right, producing vehicles with a level of initial quality, durability, TCO, clean emissions and fuel efficiency at – or (shall we dream) above – the standard set by Toyota and Honda and maintain that record – across their entire fleet of models – for a good 10 years… maybe then I’ll consider them again.

    Of course, what’s more likely is that by the time Detroit gets to where Toyohondissan is now – they’ll have advanced to the point where they’re still far ahead.

  • avatar
    olivehead

    a lot of great points have been made on both sides of the argument. i’ve looked at CR and JDP long term reports and it would still seem that the domestics are lagging behind in reliability (which to me always means “long-term”; if it doesn’t hold up over time it’s not “reliable” by definition). three weeks ago i bought an ’09 accord for about $4,000 more than i could have paid for a comparably equipped ford fusion. did i consider the fusion? yes. did i spend as much time online and at several dealers looking for a fusion as i did for an accord? not exactly. why not? no selection. the 4 ford dealerships within a 10 mile radius had between 5 and 9 fusions total each to choose from. either someone beat me to the punch on the $3,500 rebate being offered at the time or, more likely, there just wasn’t any product being shipped in. one of the dealerships looked like it was in the middle of a going-out-of-business sale. i did a drive by to confirm the online inventory showing 9 fusions total and kept on driving. it was not exactly confidence-inspiring. meanwhile, the 2 honda dealerships had inventory and traffic and looked like business was as good as ever. right now in my sizable work parking lot there are more than a dozen ’08 & ’09 accords…and one fusion. apparently in the car business as in politics, perception is reality.

  • avatar
    Giltibo

    1) The “new car smell” this idiot is talking about is mostly the noxious fumes of plastics and glue. That’s what the Japanese manufacturers have pioneered the elimination of. The “smell” is now less than it used to.

    2)The Big 3 engineered the predicament they are in now by not having a long term vision: they’ve been overproducing like crazy vehicles that people cannot afford to buy or maintain when the gas gets too expensive.

    Case in point: the Dodge Challenger. It’s a good looking car, with proven mechanics, but it’s still a gas guzzler and, being a sports car, it’s expensive to maintain and insure. Chrysler built way too many of them and now, dealerships can’t give them away, much less make a profit. (Check the inventory of most dealerships if you don’t believe it)

    3)Honda, Toyota, Hyundai, Mazda etc… have built a huge market over the years on the niches that the Big 3 neglected: Economy cars, midsized cars with good gas mileage, etc… Now, to regain that market share, the Big 3 should have offered products that are competitive in these markets. What did we get instead? The Cavalier/Sunbird/Sunfire/Cobalt/G5, the Avenger/Sebring, the Aveo/Wave/G3 and other unrefined metal.

    Case in point: the Taurus/ Sable. For years, this platform was among the best, if not the best-selling on the market. What happened? Ford let its product get stale and reduced its once proud (and profitable) platform to a mere shadow of its former self. Toyota and Honda took the market and did not surrender it since.

    I could continue on and on, but one thing we don’t need in these hard times is some blowhard from RedneckVille who will not admit that as long as money will talk, people will vote with their wallet. Big 3, offer us a better product, let us rebuild our confidence in you, and we might return to your showrooms. Meanwhile, we will drive the products from the companies that satisfied us when you let us down for so long.

    Signed:

    An ex-GM Fanatic (Capital F) who now drives his 3rd Honda.

  • avatar
    Phil Ressler

    Phil, on top of the previous critiques, you’re also ignoring the fact that not all Toyotas are simply “assembled” in the US. A number of Toyota models are designed and engineered in the States. Examples include the Tundra, Sequoia, and Avalon, all of which are products specific to America.

    First, just because a vehicle model in Toyota’s line is specific to America, doesn’t mean it’s not merely assembled here. Second, Tundra, Avalon and Sequoia aren’t Toyota’s volume strength.

    Other US models have distinct US sheetmetal, implying additional design input from North America, and cars like the Camry (which is no longer sold in parts of Europe, and is not that big a seller in Japan) is clearly engineered for American needs, with, one suspects, American input.

    “Additional design input from North America.” Your words, not mine, and implicitly recognizing that “additional input” isn’t primary design. Distinct US sheetmetal? Really? Tell me, where was the engine designed? The transmission?

    Further, your claims that the quality gap has vanished altogether are still not borne out by CR and JDP long-term tests, as of 2008.

    Differences between #1 and #50 on these lists are now smaller than differences between #1 and $10 from 15 years ago. There are differences and then there are meaningful differences. If you choose critically, there are quality-parity mainstream category vehicles from the Detroiters. And I can’t help but add that only a minority of the annual new car buying public references this data anyway. Certainly I’ve had no trouble buying completely reliable domestic vehicles while completely ignoring CR and JDP.

    Your assumption of NAFTA production is also flawed. Do you honestly believe, as the cost gap between USA and LDCs continues to grow, that GM wouldn’t move production even further afield? Perhaps to China? Be serious. More American market share for GM will not guarantee any American jobs, except in the design studio and engineering office, and we have seen that several of the Asian transplants already do the same.

    The cost gap between US and LDCs will *shrink* in real dollars. We’ve seen this happen in software, coomputer hardware and consumer electronics. India and China aren’t as cheap as they were just a few years ago. In any case, there is more than labor cost to decisions about where to locate production. GM is global and some production will move elsewhere. But Malibu, as an example, is made here and selling more of them isn’t going to result in production moving offshore. Moreover, more market share makes D3 HQ stronger. You assume coping tactics from the last several years will persist as the strategic context changes.

    Finally, anyone who calls the Chevy Cobalt “compelling”, in any context, loses all his points.

    Who’s counting? But I didn’t write that the car itself is compelling. I’ve driven Cobalt’s vehicle segment in the US. It’s not like any competitor is stellar. In a budget sector bereft of desirable choice, the compelling purchase becomes the one with the most domestic economic benefit, and that’s Cobalt or Focus. Certainly the rationale for a Corolla is vapor by comparison.

    Phil

  • avatar
    Kevin Kluttz

    Phil: The net gain if we buy American will only be felt by the repair shops. Lots more business for them. Lots. 195000 miles on my 2001 Accord (I bought it with 24 miles on the odo) and the driver’s side door window motor failed in ’07, and just replaced the front engine mount in ’08. Pretty good repair record, wouldn’t you say? I did both repairs myself. Oh, and I just checked my 7000 mile oil and you could say the oil looks almost new. Conventional oil.
    Buy ‘murrican, but definitely don’t come whining to me.

  • avatar
    Phil Ressler

    Perhaps not – but at least Honda, Toyota and others are actually capable of making a profit on Civics and Corollas. Servicing that part of the market isn’t a drain on their profitability, unlike the companies that were sucked into the SUV Sinkhole.

    Yes, they’re making a profit on the budget sector with a different cost structure. The whole point of the bailout is to bridge to the point where revised economics for the Detroiters kick in.

    You’re entitled to consider anything you like when you make your purchases – but don’t forget that the D2.8 have created, through their actions and their products, a sizeable segment of the auto market who will not even consider them. I’m one of them.

    A point made ad infinitum here. So give up your grudge and reset the reputation clock running in your head. The product mix is quite different now, better, and more is coming. As an American you will bear the consequences of being among those who will not consider a D3 vehicle regardless of its merits. Now, it is your choice, but you can’t escape your contribution to the market dysfunction of good product ignored.

    I will grant that perhaps they’ve improved since the last time I was treated poorly by one of their “service” departments – but why on earth should I take a chance on them, when I know my local Honda dealer considers the service-department experience a key component in getting me to buy my next car from them?

    Because you can find domestic auto dealers who have exactly the same priority for service. I know they aren’t so scarce — I’ve had exclusively cooperative, helpful, quality-committed service from D3 dealerships in 25 years of buying American vehicles in five widely-separated metropolitan markets. And it didn’t take any special effort to find them.

    Given the D2.8’s horrific reputation – while the Malibu might be an OK car now, I wouldn’t trust GM as far as I could THROW a Malibu to keep the car at its initial level of quality. They’ve simply proven over and over again that except for a few halo cars like the Corvette – most of what they make turns to crap eventually.

    When exactly is “eventually?” I’ve yet to see a production automobile by anyone on this planet that doesn’t “turn to crap eventually.”

    If we ever see the Detroit automakers clean up and fly right, producing vehicles with a level of initial quality, durability, TCO, clean emissions and fuel efficiency at – or (shall we dream) above – the standard set by Toyota and Honda and maintain that record – across their entire fleet of models – for a good 10 years… maybe then I’ll consider them again.

    If you’re American, your own economic interests are to stop posturing on the 10 years of proof requirement, and act on the merits much sooner. By the way, the actual numbers generated on a smog check by my Cadillac XLR-V were lower in every category than a similar mileage Lexus SC430 checked at the same time. My last Ford pickup was LEV rated and also generated actual smog numbers lower than similar Toyota and Nissan trucks. My current supercharged V8 delivers better gas mileage than a Mazda RX8, Suburu WRX STi or Mercedes SL55 or 65 or AMG. My last Corvette was still at new/broken-in emissions performance at well over 100,000 miles, with no measurable oil consumption between changes. Cars from the D3 today are as clean and in most segments as efficient as anyone’s with same-spec drive train. They ony lack state-of-the-art efficiency in the smaller budget segment, and have to complete retirement of some of their older models, to have what you ask for today. If you require 10 years of proof, you are effectively saying you will delegate the problem of righting Detroit to someone else.

    Phil

  • avatar
    Phil Ressler

    The net gain if we buy American will only be felt by the repair shops. Lots more business for them. Lots. 195000 miles on my 2001 Accord (I bought it with 24 miles on the odo) and the driver’s side door window motor failed in ‘07, and just replaced the front engine mount in ‘08. Pretty good repair record, wouldn’t you say? I did both repairs myself. Oh, and I just checked my 7000 mile oil and you could say the oil looks almost new. Conventional oil.

    Yes, good record on your 2001 Accord. I have numerous vehicles made in the US by the D3 in my ownership history over the last 25 years that match or exceed it.

    Buy ‘murrican, but definitely don’t come whining to me.

    Over 25 years of no reason to whine about buying American is a pretty good track record, don’t you think?

    Phil

  • avatar
    John R

    Conjecture. Those cars sold for a variety of reasons, and competing cars were still improving. Some were sold because the deal was right. Others because the dealership location was right or the buyer had a continuing relationship with said dealer. Some were simply better cars than their reputation. Some were surely bought because they were American. Neither every Toyota nor GM car was bought solely on the merits nor rejected solely on the liabilities. We all know the genesis of the element of trust or lack of it. My point is that this lack of trust in the face of vastly-improved products is dramatically costing Americans who nurse their D3 grudges, in other ways.

    No. It isn’t. The number of anecdotes in the “I got burned by my Ford, GM, or Chrysis” are a mile long and ten feet deep. Also, a lot of these aren’t the “man, that Vega I had 20 years ago SUCKED!” variety either. I would like to conduct the research on this, but I graduated from university over 3 years ago and I work for a living so like most go by personal experience. My parents just now are driving an Accord, purchased last year. The last piece of Japanese steel my parents owned was a Datsun 280Z. Everything in between was a domestic. And every single exampled sustained some sort of catastrophic failure after 2-3 years while they were paying a note. We performed the maintenance required, but 26 years of abuse is enough.

    And apparently some of the newer domestics still need a bit of polishing.

    I’ve driven Cobalt’s vehicle segment in the US. It’s not like any competitor is stellar.

    Amusing, I guess you haven’t driven a MINI. The Corolla is, unfortunately, an easy target. The toaster is a sales leader. However, I’ve driven a Pontiac G5, a Mazda 3 5-door and a Civic. The difference between the Mazda/Honda and the Pontiac is NIGHT AND DAY. “Stellar” is hardly an adjective I would use as it is barely appropriate to illustrate the difference. Driving dynamics, appearance, and materials in these make the G5 look 10 years old out the box. Even the Fit makes that thing look sad. Either you haven’t driven those mentioned or you are being dishonest.

    I haven’t driven an Astra, but seeing as how Saturn’s days are numbered it may be a moot point.

    In a budget sector bereft of desirable choice, the compelling purchase becomes the one with the most domestic economic benefit, and that’s Cobalt or Focus. Certainly the rationale for a Corolla is vapor by comparison.

    I noticed you state that you drive some interesting metal (XLR-V and etc…), so you may or may not drive a compact on a daily basis, many do. Not only by choice, but because it is what’s affordable and appropriate given their lifestyle and station. So while for you cars in this segment are merely an appliance and desirability is negligible, for others autos in this segment are their only choice. In that context the “compelling” choice is the one that is more desirable. Mazda 3 > Cobalt.

    I find it really interesting that you talk about this segment as if the products in this niche are purchased without ANY emotion. If that is true. How do you explain the success of the MINI, Golf, Mazda 3 and others? If these are merely rational purchases how do these cars continue to exist in the market?

  • avatar
    nudave

    Once again, it’s people like O. C. Welch who are responsible for the USA acronym – “Unlimited Supply of Assholes.”

  • avatar
    Phil Ressler

    Amusing, I guess you haven’t driven a MINI. The Corolla is, unfortunately, an easy target. The toaster is a sales leader. However, I’ve driven a Pontiac G5, a Mazda 3 5-door and a Civic. The difference between the Mazda/Honda and the Pontiac is NIGHT AND DAY. “Stellar” is hardly an adjective I would use as it is barely appropriate to illustrate the difference. Driving dynamics, appearance, and materials in these make the G5 look 10 years old out the box. Even the Fit makes that thing look sad. Either you haven’t driven those mentioned or you are being dishonest.

    Mini isn’t in the same segment. It’s certainly compact, but for many Corolla/Cobalt/Focus customers it’s both too expensive and too small. Fit is a vastly overrated car that if fuel prices hadn’t spiked would be widely ignored. Mazda 3 and Civic lead the segment in driving dynamics, but again the real world pricing of each is a step higher than Corolla/Cobalt/Focus and the non-enthusiast majority don’t tend to value their specific advantages. Generally, I am underwhelmed by the alleged differences in interior materials touted by fans of Honda and Mazda over the rest. The entire segment dissatisfies but it is what it is.

    I noticed you state that you drive some interesting metal (XLR-V and etc…), so you may or may not drive a compact on a daily basis, many do. Not only by choice, but because it is what’s affordable and appropriate given their lifestyle and station. So while for you cars in this segment are merely an appliance and desirability is negligible, for others autos in this segment are their only choice. In that context the “compelling” choice is the one that is more desirable. Mazda 3 > Cobalt.

    No, I don’t drive FWD compacts on a daily basis. I’m not the target customer. Yet I know people who are; some of whom prefer a Focus or Cobalt to a Corolla or the Korean entries. That a Mazda 3 exists is barely relevant since most people in the segment *don’t* buy it. Civic is the anomaly — generally recognized as best in segment but unable to dominate, and it’s not quite as cheap. A Mini is interesting but again it is not quite in the same class as the mass market bottom. While there are differences and Civic / Mazda 3 / Mini have specific appeal among driving enthusiasts, this is not what drives the bulk of buying in the segment. Corolla is an easy target because it reflects mainstream buying criteria and sells. Still, compacts are not the meat of the market in the US by any measure.

    Even in a dessicated market, F150 somehow leads.

    Phil

  • avatar
    KixStart

    Phil, much earlier: Let’s correct that: Many Toyotas are assembled in the US,…

    Phil, earlier: “What is usually lacking in the TTAC community response is holistic perspective. I’m filling in.”

    Phil, My holistic perspective on this is that the new Tacoma that I noticed parked next to my trouble-free 9-year-old Rav4 (the dealer oil change is a good value) was assembled in the US of 90% US parts. There are plenty of good jobs to be found in engineering and manufacturing parts.

    And I can repatriate more dollars by shopping for value in a car and plowing my savings into buying stock in successful foreign automakers.

    Now, like you, I could go on for hours but the bottom line remains, Detroit has treated too many people too badly for too long.

    Arguing on behalf of the rest of us doing a million personal bailouts with our own money is futile.

    You’ll have better luck lobbying the Congress, where our representatives seem willing to consider using other people’s money for a dubious bailout of Detroit.

  • avatar
    KixStart

    By the way, John R’s link on “polishing,” went to Edmunds and their review of the 2007 Saturn Aura, Saturn’s new flagship, included this (edited for space):

    But as soon as this was fixed, a new problem cropped up at 14,686 miles. A clunk near the end of the steering wheel’s rotation to full lock emanated from somewhere deep in the belly of the steering system. … it’s not the result of wrenching the wheel to full lock.”

    The complete repair had the car out of service for more than two weeks as Saturn flew out techs and generally did every single thing in its power to fix our car. … “The diagnosis was [wrong]… This was covered by the warranty but unfortunately the repair did not fix the issue…[T]hey called in the specialists from Tennessee.

    “Another few days passed and the dealership called. It was finished. We could pick the Aura up the following day; he wanted another night to triple check that it was A-OK. And it was!…

    “The fix was to replace the entire steering rack.” (For the full report of this service please check the blog entry.)

    That’s a real disappointment for Saturn’s best effort. And, at first glance, we see that Saturn did what was necessary to fix the problem. But I wonder, even with Saturn’s better than average rep for working to make the customer happy, would they go to those lengths for Joe Saturnbuyer? Or did they do this for Edmunds?

    I think we can guess the answer to that. And, given the problems reported, do you really want a Saturn?

  • avatar
    Pch101

    Perhaps I can help. As I am familiar with Mr. Ressler’s arguments, allow me to briefly summarize them:

    -Consumer Reports, JD Power, etc. are irrelevant, except in those few instances that they show Detroit quality to be equal. Otherwise, don’t use them, they are bad, bad and bad.

    -Only data that supports Detroit can be used in these discussions. All other data isn’t “holistic”, which is apparently defined as anything that contradicts Mr. Ressler.

    -Your personal anecdotes about bad Detroit cars are irrelevant. Only positive anecdotes count; anything else shows you to be a bigot.

    -You need to buy a “Detroit” vehicle, even if it is made in Mexico, Korea or Timbuktu. Workers who have jobs in Kentucky and Ohio building Toyotas and Hondas don’t really count. (Maybe the jobs are fake, I don’t know.)

    -There is a Detroit vehicle that will serve your needs and make you do cartwheels, and if you don’t agree, you’re a “bigot.”

    -Yet a car dealer who panders to anti-Asian sentiment isn’t a bigot. He’s misunderstood, and wounded, and just having a bad day. If he’s so upset that he goes home and burns crosses, just buy a car from him, hopefully he’ll feel better.

  • avatar
    John R

    That a Mazda 3 exists is barely relevant since most people in the segment *don’t* buy it.

    Wow. Those Mazdas I see everyday must be a figment of my imagination.

  • avatar
    JuniorMint

    *listens again* Haha! It’s COMICAL how bad this gets! I’m, like, surprised he didn’t bring up 9/11 or Katrina or how if you buy a Corolla the terrorists have already won.

    “All you TERRIBLE, SHORT-SIGHTED, STUPID PEOPLE! Drive here RIGHT NOW and give me your money! And then give me your money AGAIN when your transmission falls out!”

    His reasons for buying domestic are altogether unconvincing and reek of racist elitism and whiny “sore loser” complaints. …you know what? I kind of feel like I’m listening to an auditory version of the Autoblog “comments” section. o_0 Creeeepy!

  • avatar
    Phil Ressler

    My holistic perspective on this is that the new Tacoma that I noticed parked next to my trouble-free 9-year-old Rav4 (the dealer oil change is a good value) was assembled in the US of 90% US parts. There are plenty of good jobs to be found in engineering and manufacturing parts.

    Yes, but just not as many as are supported by purchase of an F150, Silverado or RAM.

    And I can repatriate more dollars by shopping for value in a car and plowing my savings into buying stock in successful foreign automakers.

    You’re not repatriating dollars if you just buy and sell stocks. You repatriate if you buy, hold and take dividends. Let us know if that’s how you roll.

    Now, like you, I could go on for hours but the bottom line remains, Detroit has treated too many people too badly for too long.

    Arguing on behalf of the rest of us doing a million personal bailouts with our own money is futile.

    You’ll have better luck lobbying the Congress, where our representatives seem willing to consider using other people’s money for a dubious bailout of Detroit.

    True, the D3 treated many people poorly for too many years. Many is a fair statement. It’s not “most” nor “all.” There are good reasons to put lingering resentment aside.

    However, the groupthink represented by your suggestion that arguing a different point of view is a waste of time falls on deaf ears. Change in behavior begins by individuals arguing the unpopular. Further, content on TTAC isn’t merely directed to this crowd. Search engines ensure that point of view expressed here finds wider distribution.

    Perhaps I can help. As I am familiar with Mr. Ressler’s arguments, allow me to briefly summarize them:

    Unsurprisingly, you’ve misrepresented every one of them.

    -Consumer Reports, JD Power, etc. are irrelevant, except in those few instances that they show Detroit quality to be equal. Otherwise, don’t use them, they are bad, bad and bad.

    CR and JDP aren’t bad. Their data is interesting. It’s just not actionable. I’ve done fine ignoring both for decades. Neither ensures you won’t get a lemon from any manufacturer, in any case. And the differences between rankings are progressively narrower to the point of being meaningless to your personal experience in the early 21st century.

    -Only data that supports Detroit can be used in these discussions. All other data isn’t “holistic”, which is apparently defined as anything that contradicts Mr. Ressler.

    If a data source lacks credibility for me, it is equally unactionable irrespective of whether the data supports or denigrates the D3.

    -Your personal anecdotes about bad Detroit cars are irrelevant. Only positive anecdotes count; anything else shows you to be a bigot.

    Your personal anecdotes about any experience good or bad are just that — personal anecdotes. I suggest their influence on future decisions should have an expiration date.

    –You need to buy a “Detroit” vehicle, even if it is made in Mexico, Korea or Timbuktu. Workers who have jobs in Kentucky and Ohio building Toyotas and Hondas don’t really count. (Maybe the jobs are fake, I don’t know.)

    You don’t need to buy a car at all. I’ve never recommended an Aveo, by the way. My point on NAFTA production is that the economic leverage is murky and the translplant product made in a US factory isn’t the default winner when buying on that criterion in the US. Further, the Toyota job in Kentucky doesn’t fully offset what was lost by the D3 job deleted.

    –There is a Detroit vehicle that will serve your needs and make you do cartwheels, and if you don’t agree, you’re a “bigot.”

    More often than import bigots admit, there is a competitive D3 product. Drop bias that inhibits you from honestly considering them. That’s it. Not all import brand buyers are import bigots, btw.

    –Yet a car dealer who panders to anti-Asian sentiment isn’t a bigot. He’s misunderstood, and wounded, and just having a bad day. If he’s so upset that he goes home and burns crosses, just buy a car from him, hopefully he’ll feel better.

    Actually, I didn’t say Welch isn’t a bigot. I said he may or may not be but he is certainly frustrated, angry and making an argument crudely. His appeal is inappropriate.

    Wow. Those Mazdas I see everyday must be a figment of my imagination.

    It’s in the sales figures. More people in the segment don’t buy Mazda 3 than do. It’s not even the segment volume leader with a plurality, however good it is. In fact the compact segment as a whole isn’t leading the market, either.

    Phil

  • avatar
    olivehead

    here’s a bit more anectodal evidence, for what it’s worth. i had a cobalt rental for a few days a couple years ago while my 2002 taurus was in the shop (since then i’ve had a 2007 accord and currently a 2009). my wife had a protege, since replaced by the mazda3, which i have been in. i’ve also at least seen in person the interiors of the corolla, civic, and fit. i don’t see how anyone could legitimately compare the materials and fit and finish of the 3, corolla, civic, or fit to a cobalt. even taking into account that it was a rental and not maintained in the manner one might expect or hope of a one-driver personal vehicle, the appearance and apparent workmanship was dismal, even without the named imports to compare it to. i can’t see any reason why anyone would choose a cobalt over other choices in the segment unless a $1000-2000 price difference attributable to rebates was the deciding factor. if you have to buy based solely on price or with price as the deciding factor, so be it. i’ve been there myself. but taking that out of the equation, the cobalt isn’t even an also-ran compared to other cars in that particular segment. without going into specifics in this post, i’d say much of the foregoing would apply in segments other than the compact.

  • avatar
    KixStart

    Y’know, Phil, you’re using the term “import bigots,” here, to describe people who are, more often than not, burnt (or at least disappointed) by the domestics, and/or with close ties to people burnt by the domestics, who have simply found satisfaction with some import car and are sharing the word with their friends.

    So, why aren’t you down on Welch’s case a bit more than you are? You’re unwilling to pull the “bigot” trigger on a guy who’s made an overtly racist stataement. Strangely, you seem all full of love and understanding and compassion:

    “He’s certainly frustrated and angry, which prompts people to say all sorts of things that might not reflect who they are.”

    You know, Welch didn’t go home one evening, have just one more Scotch than is good for his judgement, dial up some radio talk show and let loose for a minute or two, venting a little, in an unplanned and unpremedidated way. He ordered up, recorded, almost certainly listened to (at least for a sound check), released and paid for a racist radio spot and then apparently didn’t call up when the first one hit the airwaves and pull the ad. Nope, he likes the message and he’s staying on message.

    Sure, his business is down and my heart pumps purple Kool-Aid for him…

    But for an Average Joe, a $3200 transmission repair (maybe times two) or some other automotive financial setback… that’s gonna hurt them, too, probably worse than the hurt Welch is getting at his Ford dealership. And our buddy Welch has almost certainly leaned across the service desk any number of times and told the customer that he was just plain out of luck in those circumstances. And I’ll bet in any number of cases, he low-balled a customer with an immobile vehicle, ran him up a nice tidy new 7 year loan on an equally likely to self-destruct vehicle, sent him bleeding back into the street and then fixed and resold the incoming hulk at a profit.

    But, for some reason, it’s not OK with Phil Ressler for these Average Joes to remember that experience (never mind the advanced idea of learning from their neighbor’s unfortunate experience) and, likely enough, the ill treatment and inconvenience that went along with it. No, by God, they’ve got to get back in there and give Ol’ Henry or The General or Dodge’s descendants another opportunity to ream them again.

    No, by God, those people are Import Bigots and they are acting against their Best Interests and must be Set Straight!

    Hey, Phil, get real.

  • avatar
    Phil Ressler

    Y’know, Phil, you’re using the term “import bigots,” here, to describe people who are, more often than not, burnt (or at least disappointed) by the domestics, and/or with close ties to people burnt by the domestics, who have simply found satisfaction with some import car and are sharing the word with their friends.

    You’re selectively assimilating my sentences. I clearly stated here and elsewhere that not all import buyers are import bigots. However, if you won’t consider a credible domestic alternative because it’s domestic and you *heard* about or “know” someone who had a bad experience, but didn’t have one yourself, your certainly trending to import bigotry.

    So, why aren’t you down on Welch’s case a bit more than you are? You’re unwilling to pull the “bigot” trigger on a guy who’s made an overtly racist stataement. Strangely, you seem all full of love and understanding and compassion:

    “He’s certainly frustrated and angry, which prompts people to say all sorts of things that might not reflect who they are.”

    Going back to my original posit of the term “import bigot” over a year ago here, you will note that I have not specifically directed the term to individuals. We know each other through this forum and mostly not beyond that; haven’t met; most people don’t even post under their own name. I don’t know enough about individuals to say whether they are bigots or not. But I can and do know enough about an aggregated behavior to describe it and name it. I also know enough about some individuals in the physical world who are import bigots and freely admit it. But Welch, I don’t know him. We have a snippet of him in a paid outburst. As I said, he might be a bigot (a kind much worse than car origin bigotry, which is not really a moral issue at all). But it also may not be legitimate to extrapolate the full implications of his advertising outburst to the man in toto.

    I don’t know what “…rice-ready, not road-ready…” means in the slightest, nor is labeling the Asian compact FWD customizer sub-culture “ricers” a sign of bigotry by itself. It’s often the benign equivalent of “…Kids, these days…” It means different things in different contexts of expression. But there is a legitimate idea threaded through Welch’s if-you-buy-a-toyota-and-lose-your-job-and-can’t-make-your-payments-don’t-come-crying-to-me rant, which isn’t bigoted in the slightest.

    I wouldn’t have used this as a marketing angle, and in any expression of the legitimate idea, would have expressed it differently (and have).

    You know, Welch didn’t go home one evening, have just one more Scotch than is good for his judgement, dial up some radio talk show and let loose for a minute or two, venting a little, in an unplanned and unpremedidated way. He ordered up, recorded, almost certainly listened to (at least for a sound check), released and paid for a racist radio spot and then apparently didn’t call up when the first one hit the airwaves and pull the ad. Nope, he likes the message and he’s staying on message.

    Sure, his business is down and my heart pumps purple Kool-Aid for him…

    Yup. I listened to the Youtube clip posted above here, and frankly I do not hear any racist language in the ad excerpts ad interview exchange. He referred to “Japan” not “Japs.” The “rice” reference is to a car not a people, and it’s in a context widely accepted in popular vernacular without protest from the Asian community, and I say that from a seat in California. Cheese-eaters, bagel-eaters, rice….it’s always the food, isn’t it? This is not remotely like established, venal, and discredited racial epithets. Look, today in car subcultures, many caucasian kids are “Ricers.” So, no….I don’t know Welch well enough to know whether he’s a bigot. I do suspect that if his exact words heard above were spoken by someone without a southern accent, he’d be receiving less criticism.

    His premises in the interview snippets are sensible: We have to take more responsibility for our own economy. Domestic manufacturing is good. Bailouts won’t work if buyers won’t fairly step up and banks won’t loan. He has no reason to order more cars if he can’t sell what he has.

    But for an Average Joe, a $3200 transmission repair (maybe times two) or some other automotive financial setback… that’s gonna hurt them, too, probably worse than the hurt Welch is getting at his Ford dealership. And our buddy Welch has almost certainly leaned across the service desk any number of times and told the customer that he was just plain out of luck in those circumstances. And I’ll bet in any number of cases, he low-balled a customer with an immobile vehicle, ran him up a nice tidy new 7 year loan on an equally likely to self-destruct vehicle, sent him bleeding back into the street and then fixed and resold the incoming hulk at a profit.

    Yup, a $3200 transmission repair hurts. Nobody, least of all me, is advocating someone should have to sustain that. As for Welch, to be fair you have no idea what kind of auto dealer or businessman he is, neither good nor bad so any commentary about what you’d bet on is just noise.

    But, for some reason, it’s not OK with Phil Ressler for these Average Joes to remember that experience (never mind the advanced idea of learning from their neighbor’s unfortunate experience) and, likely enough, the ill treatment and inconvenience that went along with it. No, by God, they’ve got to get back in there and give Ol’ Henry or The General or Dodge’s descendants another opportunity to ream them again.

    As I said, there has to be an expiration date on the future influence of a bad buyer experience. When enough changes in product and business practices, it’s time to put past grudges aside. Even Toyota / Lexus burns a customer from time to time.

    No, by God, those people are Import Bigots and they are acting against their Best Interests and must be Set Straight!

    Yes, some of them are

    Phil

  • avatar
    KixStart

    Phil, “bigot” is a loaded term and you know it. You’ve used it on people who have reasons, real or imaginary, personal or statistical, to avoid domestic cars. Yet, you’re strangely reluctant to apply it to someone who’s either the genuine article or willing to use a racist reference to appeal to the genuine article.

    Ressler: “Yup. I listened to the Youtube clip posted above here, and frankly I do not hear any racist language in the ad excerpts ad interview exchange.”

    You’re in denial. “Rice ready?” Please return to the real world. Phone ahead and tell us what flight you’re coming in on.

    Ressler: “As I said, there has to be an expiration date on the future influence of a bad buyer experience.”

    Why? A car is a big purchase for most people (perhaps an XLR owner doesn’t really understand or appreciate this). An auto manufacturer gets a chance only so often to satisfy the customer. Boot that chance a few times – or even once, maybe – and the customer moves on.

    Human behavior isn’t going to change just because it’s inconvenient for Detroit. And this was hardly a secret kept from Detroit all these years. They coasted on a strong domestic bias for many years. That’s pretty much played out and can no longer sustain the market share they need to survive. Bad plan.

    Ressler: “Even Toyota / Lexus burns a customer from time to time.”

    I’m sure they do. If they don’t do it as often as Detroit, they’ll be winning their customers away. That seems to be the case.

  • avatar
    Phil Ressler

    …“bigot” is a loaded term and you know it. You’ve used it on people who have reasons, real or imaginary, personal or statistical, to avoid domestic cars. Yet, you’re strangely reluctant to apply it to someone who’s either the genuine article or willing to use a racist reference to appeal to the genuine article.

    “Racist bigot” is a loaded term. “Bigot” alone is not, especially when used in the realm of commerce. Welch’s reluctance to see people shipping dollars to Japan or any other country for something that can be bought domestically doesn’t automatically make him bigoted — just opinionated and outspoken. “Rice” isn’t enough to automatically slap him with the racist bigot label. Other terms would be. We don’t have enough to prosecute though he does look goofy using it, along with the dopey new-car-smell reference.

    You’re in denial. “Rice ready?” Please return to the real world. Phone ahead and tell us what flight you’re coming in on.

    Sorry, “rice-ready” just doesn’t have epithet status in popular vernacular. Lots of other terms he could have used still do. “Rice” might have epithet intent on his part, but there’s not enough uttered in this clip to tell. Look, the guy’s a little nutty in the ad, but he’s sensible in his explanation why he ran it.

    Why? A car is a big purchase for most people (perhaps an XLR owner doesn’t really understand or appreciate this). An auto manufacturer gets a chance only so often to satisfy the customer. Boot that chance a few times – or even once, maybe – and the customer moves on.

    I well remember when I struggled to pay for my life, so I fully relate to how big a purchase a car is for people. But when circumstances change in the offering, and larger social considerations align your self-interest with open-mindedness about a vendor who once wronged you, it’s time to put away outdated notions.

    Phil

  • avatar
    KixStart

    Ressler: “I well remember when I struggled to pay for my life, so I fully relate to how big a purchase a car is for people. But when circumstances change in the offering, and larger social considerations align your self-interest with open-mindedness about a vendor who once wronged you, it’s time to put away outdated notions.”

    Outdated notions? Value for a dollar? Buying products from companies with proven track records? When did those go out of date? I didn’t get the memo.

    Are you a member of the Trickle-Down School of Economics? Your “larger social considerations” involve making sure the management and stockholders of a company that’s been providing substandard products for thirty years get a piece of the action. Are we building up the economy by ensuring that there will still be a market for yachts? For the autoworker, a Toyota is as good as a Chevy. There’s, at best, a very marginal difference in the value and economic benefit to the US of a Chevy over a Toyota and it certainly depends on exactly which Toyota and Chevy you compare. An Aveo? No benefit at all to that.

    Is GM just as good in terms of long-term reliability? Better? No killer warranty, you tell me if that expresses faith in the product. 5/100 is a bad joke based on a numbers game (it’s similar to Chrysler’s recent gas price guarantee; another bad joke).

    Where was this “greater social good” for GM when times were good? Were they building excellent product and backing it with excellent service? Or were they paying out the largest possible bonuses and dividends? Were they staying ahead of the curve technologically? Doing their best to reduce unsupportable strategic dependence on foreign oil? Are their vehicles shaped for best aerodynamics or styled for an aggressive look? (*)

    And the cost? Easily calculable… look at GM’s warranty disadvantage over Toyota and multiply it out over the life of the car and factor in the abbreviated life of the car and the resultand accelerated depreciation. The reliability disparity isn’t going to tilt in GM’s favor with age. The market realizes this and rewards GM with tanking resale value.

    And, of course, going with a vehicle that you distrust, that costs you peace of mind. Sleeping soundly at night? Priceless.

    Here’s the bottom line, Phil: Detroit had its chances. Lots of them. They blew them all. They refused to get the message, they refused to respond to the threat, they refused to adapt, they cynically exploited America Firsters until they were too few in number and too poor to give any more.

    Game over. Yes, it may hurt the economy. So does buying an unsatisfactory car.

    (*) – Although it’s a newer design than the Prius, the Volt’s CD is significantly higher than that of the Prius. What does this tell us?

  • avatar
    Phil Ressler

    Outdated notions?

    Outdated notions about vehicle design, construction, reliability, quality, etc.

    Are you a member of the Trickle-Down School of Economics?

    Not remotely.

    Your “larger social considerations” involve making sure the management and stockholders of a company that’s been providing substandard products for thirty years get a piece of the action. Are we building up the economy by ensuring that there will still be a market for yachts?

    That management responsible for many mistakes gets either rewarded or not sufficiently punished if consumers act in aggregate self interest in buying domestically is an unimportant by-product of salvaging and reviving an ecosystem that benefits millions.

    For the autoworker, a Toyota is as good as a Chevy. There’s, at best, a very marginal difference in the value and economic benefit to the US of a Chevy over a Toyota and it certainly depends on exactly which Toyota and Chevy you compare. An Aveo? No benefit at all to that.

    For one autoworker building a Camry or a Malibu, there appears no difference. But to the economy as a whole, the amplifying effects of building the Malibu trump the truncated ripple benefits of assembling the Camry. Let’s stay focused on the aggregate consequences.

    Is GM just as good in terms of long-term reliability? Better? No killer warranty, you tell me if that expresses faith in the product. 5/100 is a bad joke based on a numbers game (it’s similar to Chrysler’s recent gas price guarantee; another bad joke).

    My own experience indicates GM can be “just as good” if you buy one of their more recently-engineered products. Ford even more so and no exclusively recent.

    Where was this “greater social good” for GM when times were good? Were they building excellent product and backing it with excellent service? Or were they paying out the largest possible bonuses and dividends? Were they staying ahead of the curve technologically? Doing their best to reduce unsupportable strategic dependence on foreign oil? Are their vehicles shaped for best aerodynamics or styled for an aggressive look?

    No question GM executive management was not continuously operating in our best interests nor theirs. We can deal with that later. In the meantime, executive incompetence or even malfeasance are not reasons for the rest of us failing to act in the greater social good voluntarily. The sins of a few score executives do not warrant abandonment of millions.

    And the cost? Easily calculable… look at GM’s warranty disadvantage over Toyota and multiply it out over the life of the car and factor in the abbreviated life of the car and the resultand accelerated depreciation. The reliability disparity isn’t going to tilt in GM’s favor with age. The market realizes this and rewards GM with tanking resale value.

    The market isn’t as analytically sophisticated as you surmise. Resale is perception-driven, with many intangibles acting. Warranty term might influence resale, and certainly that’s a marketing option GM can change from current policy. But it’s not the differentiating driver for most purchases.

    And, of course, going with a vehicle that you distrust, that costs you peace of mind. Sleeping soundly at night? Priceless.

    Rolling my eyes now.

    Detroit had its chances. Lots of them. They blew them all. They refused to get the message, they refused to respond to the threat, they refused to adapt, they cynically exploited America Firsters until they were too few in number and too poor to give any more.

    All of which is irrelevant to the matter of what’s best for the economy now.

    Although it’s a newer design than the Prius, the Volt’s CD is significantly higher than that of the Prius. What does this tell us?

    It tells us, rightly, that there’s more to designing a competitive, desirable next-technology car than Cd.

    Phil

  • avatar
    KixStart

    Ressler: “I well remember when I struggled to pay for my life, so I fully relate to how big a purchase a car is for people.”

    KixStart: “And, of course, going with a vehicle that you distrust, that costs you peace of mind. Sleeping soundly at night? Priceless.”

    Ressler: “Rolling my eyes now.”

    Then, clearly, you don’t remember what it’s like to struggle to pay.

  • avatar
    Phil Ressler

    Then, clearly, you don’t remember what it’s like to struggle to pay.

    Actually, I do. When you sleep only 4 – 5 hours a night, you just don’t lose sleep over problems. I didn’t then, and I don’t now.

    Phil

  • avatar
    GeorgeM

    @Phil:
    A point made ad infinitum here. So give up your grudge and reset the reputation clock running in your head.

    Based on what, exactly? Trust is earned. Why should anyone just “reset” anyone’s reputation? Honda’s earned my trust the hard way.

    The product mix is quite different now, better, and more is coming. As an American you will bear the consequences of being among those who will not consider a D3 vehicle regardless of its merits.

    Really, a claim you keep making without any real support. You keep claiming “good,” “better,” “comparable” – I don’t see that in the reviews, the long-term tests, and so on.

    When exactly is “eventually?” I’ve yet to see a production automobile by anyone on this planet that doesn’t “turn to crap eventually.”

    When they figure they’ve made it over the hump and start dumbing down/costcutting the design. I’m talking about NEW cars, not about the fact that any given car that is actually driven will eventually wear out.

    If you require 10 years of proof, you are effectively saying you will delegate the problem of righting Detroit to someone else.

    Well, I’m sure not going to gamble my money on ’em. Obviously, no car company is perfect – but Honda, Toyota and a few others have PROVEN to be a vastly safer bet across the board. I don’t have to ponder if a particular model in their lineup is one of the “good ones” or a model to avoid.

    No one with brains looks on a mass market car as an investment – but that doesn’t mean one has to flush one’s money down the sewer, either. I have had excellent experiences with the three Hondas I’ve owned and the Honda dealerships I’ve dealt with. The last two Hondas were built here in North America (either in Alliston, ONT or E. Liberty OH). I don’t accept your unsupported premise that I’d be doing more economic good for the USA by purchasing a Mexico-built Focus (for example). I see absolutely NO reason to assume a risk for no return.

    Mazda 3 and Civic lead the segment in driving dynamics, but again the real world pricing of each is a step higher than Corolla/Cobalt/Focus and the non-enthusiast majority don’t tend to value their specific advantages.

    However, they might value the fact that over 5 years – despite the higher sticker price – the Civic is cheaper to own than the Cobalt. At least if you believe Edmunds.com’s numbers. For anyone who doesn’t flip cars like pancakes, TCO is at least as important as the sticker price, if not more so.

    I’ll conclude with this – every CEO of Honda has been an engineer who’s worked his way up through the company and thus knows from personal experience what they make and how they make it. They’re an engineering driven company, and it shows – whether you can see it or not. They ARE the reigning wizards of 4-stroke gasoline IC on the planet, making almost anything you can think of that’s powered by one. (The only thing I can think of offhand that they don’t make are snowmobiles.) That broad experience feeds into why their car engines excel.

    I’ll give Ford thumbs-up for hiring Alan Mulally – an engineer by training. But they’ll still have to earn my respect, and that’s going to take time. Given GM’s behavior, I think the sun will burn out before they ever produce a car I’d be willing to buy.

  • avatar
    Phil Ressler

    Based on what, exactly? Trust is earned. Why should anyone just “reset” anyone’s reputation? Honda’s earned my trust the hard way.

    There comes a time when conventional notions of time-tested trust must be put aside for the greater good, and one has to take a chance. That time has been now for a few years, but for the laggards who haven’t caught on, the present is the moment of truth.

    Really, a claim you keep making without any real support. You keep claiming “good,” “better,” “comparable” – I don’t see that in the reviews, the long-term tests, and so on.

    Well, as a person who has bought anvil-reliable US production D3 cars for the last 25 years, I just don’t see reality in either reviews nor survey data. Really, it’s not difficult to discern a poor car from a good one, and vice-versa. I simply made good choices on criteria that are easily discernable to anyone who paying attention. Put another way, I don’t need no stinking reviews or long-term tests to know a good car when I see it.

    Well, I’m sure not going to gamble my money on ‘em. Obviously, no car company is perfect – but Honda, Toyota and a few others have PROVEN to be a vastly safer bet across the board. I don’t have to ponder if a particular model in their lineup is one of the “good ones” or a model to avoid.

    This is exactly the problem, isn’t it? People have become so self-centered and selfish that “I’m not going to gamble *my* money…” is the new anthem for turning away from a community problem. Well, sir, you’re gambling your money anyway, for we are now at the point of payment for our own culture’s progressive abandonment of D3 automobiles — at least as often because it’s nt cool to own one, as due to alienation by products or services.

    The last two Hondas were built here in North America (either in Alliston, ONT or E. Liberty OH). I don’t accept your unsupported premise that I’d be doing more economic good for the USA by purchasing a Mexico-built Focus (for example). I see absolutely NO reason to assume a risk for no return.

    Your last two Hondas were *assembled* in the United States. A Mexican-built Ford supports the US HQ’d company and the high-value jobs it maintains. And the car contains US content. It’s not an unsupported contention — it’s reality.

    However, they might value the fact that over 5 years – despite the higher sticker price – the Civic is cheaper to own than the Cobalt. At least if you believe Edmunds.com’s numbers. For anyone who doesn’t flip cars like pancakes, TCO is at least as important as the sticker price, if not more so.

    I have no particular reason to regard Edmunds’ statistics as worthwhile, but they’re probably as good as any (which means “not much.”). But the TCO advantage claimed by the Honda is partially reliant on presumptions of resale value. The long-term owner who doesn’t flip cars will see this alleged differential decline with length of ownership. The long-term owner has the least to gain by the artifice of resale value.

    I’ll conclude with this – every CEO of Honda has been an engineer who’s worked his way up through the company and thus knows from personal experience what they make and how they make it. They’re an engineering driven company, and it shows …

    I agree. I admire Honda as a company for its operating acumen.

    They ARE the reigning wizards of 4-stroke gasoline IC on the planet, making almost anything you can think of that’s powered by one. (The only thing I can think of offhand that they don’t make are snowmobiles.) That broad experience feeds into why their car engines excel.

    Sure, but a Corvette 6.2L V8 in its various iterations, my Cadillac’s 4.4L supercharged, or an Ecotec Turbo 4 2.0L are equally interesting. Honda doesn’t exclusively own engine wisdom and creativity.

    I’ll give Ford thumbs-up for hiring Alan Mulally – an engineer by training. But they’ll still have to earn my respect, and that’s going to take time. Given GM’s behavior, I think the sun will burn out before they ever produce a car I’d be willing to buy.

    A lot of engineers make horrendous CEOs, but we’ll see about Mullaly. He’s shown some traction relative to what he inherited. As for GM’s cars….too bad. You’ll miss out on some compelling machinery.

    Phil

  • avatar
    KixStart

    Ressler: “There comes a time when conventional notions of time-tested trust must be put aside for the greater good, and one has to take a chance.”

    That devalues trust. Shall I trust the drug addict? The escaped prisoner? The “reformed” car company? Every one sets trust at levels with which they are comfortable. Detroit’s in trouble because they didn’t meet the requirements. That’s most unfortunate. Hey, it’s not like they couldn’t see this coming.

    Ressler: “Well, as a person who has bought anvil-reliable US production D3 cars for the last 25 years, I just don’t see reality in either reviews nor survey data.”

    I don’t smoke. I might die of cancer, anyway, but I like my odds better this way.

    Ressler: “This is exactly the problem, isn’t it? People have become so self-centered and selfish that “I’m not going to gamble *my* money…” is the new anthem for turning away from a community problem.”

    Strangely enough, the three transmission repairs that drove me into the arms of the imports weren’t a “community problem” for Detroit. The fellow up the street with a dead Chevy… is that a community problem? I’m certainly willing to help him out; I can offer a ride. What’s GM’s part in this community problem?

    Ressler: “I have no particular reason to regard Edmunds’ statistics as worthwhile, but they’re probably as good as any (which means “not much.”).”

    Unless and until they say Detroit is “better,” and then, I’m quite sure you’ll be all over that. We’re supposed to have some sort of faith in Ressler’s personal survey that finds D3 cars to be “anvil-reliable,” as opposed to our own personal surveys that find they’ll make good anvils, after suitable recycling.

    Ressler: “But the TCO advantage claimed by the Honda is partially reliant on presumptions of resale value. The long-term owner who doesn’t flip cars will see this alleged differential decline with length of ownership. The long-term owner has the least to gain by the artifice of resale value.”

    You are out of touch with “the struggle.” There’s more than one reason for wanting very good resale value in a car… situations and plans change and emergencies arise. When that happens, good resale value is very important, unless you can keep the XLR and buy whatever other vehicle is needed.

  • avatar
    KixStart

    Ressler: “As for GM’s cars….too bad. You’ll miss out on some compelling machinery.”

    GM’s problem is that GM’s bread-and-butter line of cars people need is not compelling. If I wanted a goes-like-hell and could afford it, sure, I’d consider a Corvette. There’s not much that can touch that, especially for the price.

    But a Malibu? Or an Impala? Or an Aveo? Even a G8 isn’t particularly compelling unless you’re one of the few that demands a crazy amount of horsepower (a Camry V6 is about 260hp… more real power than you could get in most cars twenty years ago).

  • avatar
    Phil Ressler

    Strangely enough, the three transmission repairs that drove me into the arms of the imports weren’t a “community problem” for Detroit. The fellow up the street with a dead Chevy… is that a community problem? I’m certainly willing to help him out; I can offer a ride. What’s GM’s part in this community problem?

    And when that’s been he case, shame on them. But community problems aren’t solved by holding grudges for past offenses. GM’s part is to improve, which they have, across the board.

    Unless and until they say Detroit is “better,” and then, I’m quite sure you’ll be all over that. We’re supposed to have some sort of faith in Ressler’s personal survey that finds D3 cars to be “anvil-reliable,” as opposed to our own personal surveys that find they’ll make good anvils, after suitable recycling.

    I really don’t pay attention to Edmund’s nor anyone else’s statistics on reliability for my personal decisions, regardless whether they support or denigrate the D3. I haven’t said all D3 cars are anvil reliabile. But I have said mine have been over the past 25 years and it’s not difficult for others to have the same experience if they simply vet what’s good from what’s bad, which they should do with any maker’s catalog.

    You are out of touch with “the struggle.” There’s more than one reason for wanting very good resale value in a car… situations and plans change and emergencies arise. When that happens, good resale value is very important, unless you can keep the XLR and buy whatever other vehicle is needed.

    I specifically wrote that for the long-term owner, resale value fades as an issue. The differential effectively disappears. For the short-term owner, it might matter for reasons you say, especially to avoid going into negative equity against a note. Still, most people just don’t pay much attention to this. And yes, my next car may *join* the XLR-V rather than replace it.

    But a Malibu?

    Yup. Drive it back to back with the two leading imports/transplants. The current Malibu excels, particularly outclassing the Camry. And it’s not the only GM car that’s equally credible in its market. Ford has others, too.

    Phil

  • avatar
    KixStart

    Ressler: “But community problems aren’t solved by holding grudges for past offenses. GM’s part is to improve, which they have, across the board.”

    Our relationship with GM, Ford and Chrysler is not “neighbor.” They are a vendor. We are potential customers. That’s how they treat me; that’s how I treat them. In fact, not only are we not neighbors, I haven’t even been a “valued customer.” As someone remarked, once the check clears, you become the enemy.

    In this relationship, as you say, GM’s part is to improve, so as to persuade me to make a deal. Once persuasive evidence is offered, then we can look into a purchase. Now, GM can either wait 5 years or so for the broad surveys to show that GM’s just as good – or better – or they can do something that shows how much faith they have in the product: a killer warranty. They don’t do that. Draw your own conclusions.

    Ressler: “But I have said mine have been over the past 25 years…”

    We heard you the first time. And the subsequent 25 times. You’re not the only person in the world who ever bought a car from Detroit, you know; the surveys that rate them “not as good” are – and this may surprise you – filled in by people who bought cars from Detroit.

    Ressler: “…and it’s not difficult for others to have the same experience if they simply vet what’s good from what’s bad, which they should do with any maker’s catalog.”

    Examining the automaker’s current catalog tells you nothing useful about the quality of their vehicles. Quality comes from consistent application of good processes and controls. If they “get it,” you’ll be able to tell.

    Ressler: “Drive it back to back with the two leading imports/transplants. The current Malibu excels, particularly outclassing the Camry.”

    I did. It doesn’t. And you promised “compelling.” Where’s the “compelling” in a Malibu? Some think it edges the Camry but… so what? Most people will trade a few bucks here and there for a feature or an edge or other minor difference. “Compelling” overwhelms that willingness to accept a substitute, at any price. The Malibu has none of that.

    To be “compelling” in that class, the car must feel rich. It must satisfy. It must outclass in every way… the engine must be smoother and more powerful, the transmission better, the handling AND ride an improvement, the feature list long. You must get into this car, shift it into gear, hit the gas and say, “I could have this for the price of a Camry? Sold!” Which is how it went when I bought my first Toyota, a Sienna, by the way. “I could have this for the price of a Venture? Sold!”

    The Malibu has, perhaps and according to some, managed “competitive.” But even if it does manage “competitive,” “compelling” is what changes market share.

    Do you sit on any parole boards? I’m thinking it would be great for the inmates if you did… “Oh, I’ve changed. I’m better. Just turn me loose and I’ll show you.”

  • avatar
    Phil Ressler

    Our relationship with GM, Ford and Chrysler is not “neighbor.” They are a vendor. We are potential customers. That’s how they treat me; that’s how I treat them.

    A longer discussion, but this thinking is what Americans have to get past.

    Examining the automaker’s current catalog tells you nothing useful about the quality of their vehicles. Quality comes from consistent application of good processes and controls. If they “get it,” you’ll be able to tell.

    And, in fact, examining and vetting the current catalog tells you what you need to know. Most people just aren’t truly examining the evidence in front of them, so they delegate their vetting to a disconnected crowdsourced impression. Not me. Obviously, my method works, as I’ve had no notable problems.

    I did. It doesn’t. And you promised “compelling.” Where’s the “compelling” in a Malibu? Some think it edges the Camry but… so what? Most people will trade a few bucks here and there for a feature or an edge or other minor difference. “Compelling” overwhelms that willingness to accept a substitute, at any price. The Malibu has none of that.

    Well, we disagree. I can extrapolate from driving both that a ten hour road trip in a Malibu will be pleasureable, but same in a Camry will be onerous. Malibu has better interior space utilization, more impressive structure, more precise steering, better suspension control, seriously more attractive interior assembled with better precision. I can’t think of a single aspect of a Camry I prefer or consider equally competitive. After the last Malibu, I had no expectations for the new one. If I were in the market for that class/type of car (I’m not) Malibu is a compelling choice. By the way, I’d take a Taurus over a Camry too.

    Do you sit on any parole boards? I’m thinking it would be great for the inmates if you did… “Oh, I’ve changed. I’m better. Just turn me loose and I’ll show you.”

    No. Do you know of any openings?

    Phil

  • avatar
    toy4me

    Strange…at the start this was about a racist comment claiming that import cars were “rice ready”. I read the article with interest and hoped to read other’s thoughts on the topic but quickly found myself reading VERY long ramblings defending D3 cars. I own one of each. Both seem to work fine after 4 years of use. But my Grand Caravan is worth FAR less than my Tacoma. I paid about the same for each. I’m in the market for another car now and was considering a D3 product but the UAW and D3 arrogance shown at the hearings is too much. And the dealer in SC??? I’m now buying another Toyota and I hope I’m not alone.

  • avatar
    lashbera

    Anyone fool enough to by Toyota or any jap based vehicle deserves to be jobless during this recession. How can anyone think a japanese based company would do anything that doesnt put money in their own bank accounts in japan. The rice based companys are very smart and have managed to brainwash a great number of americans into thinking they are helping the U.S. Go ahead, Buy that new rice burner and be ready to prolong the current recession. THINK. Oh and also Toy4me, no mini van is holding value, if your comparing vehicles dont put a truck and a mini van against each other, thats just plain FOOLISH.

  • avatar

    Ah, the blowback is starting to reach TTAC…

  • avatar
    KixStart

    Ressler, when you get a minute, let’s hear your take on “rice based companys [sic].” For extra credit, compare and contrast with “rice ready, not road ready.”

  • avatar
    Phil Ressler

    …let’s hear your take on “rice based companys [sic].”

    Uncle Ben’s comes to mind.

    …compare and contrast with “rice ready, not road ready.”

    I wrote previously that I have no idea what this means.

    Phil

  • avatar
    KixStart

    Ressler: “Uncle Ben’s comes to mind…”

    What? Is this TheTruthAboutCerealsAndGrainsDotCom, Ressler?

    Ressler: “I wrote previously that I have no idea what this means.”

    Sure you don’t. Even though lashbera spelled it out for you, right there, with “jap based vehicle,” “japanese based company” and “rice based companys [sic].”

    Yeah. Nobody knows what “rice ready, not road ready” means. Especially those that don’t want to know.

  • avatar
    toy4me

    lashbera:… “Anyone fool enough to by Toyota or any jap based vehicle deserves to be jobless during this recession. How can anyone think a japanese based company would do anything that doesnt put money in their own bank accounts in japan. The rice based companys are very smart and have managed to brainwash a great number of americans into thinking they are helping the U.S. Go ahead, Buy that new rice burner and be ready to prolong the current recession.”

    Alright, I will. And hopefully the Big 3 (not so big anymore) will be the first to fall and take the UAW with them. Jap-based? Rice-based? FOOLISH?…no, look in the mirror and you’ll see racist ignorance.


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