The ever littler big three
Matt Zeitlin goes on a rant about the awfulness of Detroit’s products:
American cars, for the most part, are an inferior product. They also have the potential to destroy the world. At the low end, their Japanese (and ever Korean) competitors are cheaper, better designed, more fuel efficient and have better technology. While the Ford Focus is one of the better low end American efforts, it is only popular overseas and is still beaten out by a comparable Civic at home. Comparable Ford and Chevy’s to Corey Spaley’s favorite, the Honda Accord simply can’t compete with it’s higher gas mileage and superior design. When American companies try to make more expensive, performence cars — like the Mustang GT, they are inefficient, overpowered brutes. The GT has a lame 65 hp/liter, which pales in comparison to similarly powered Japanese cars, which manage to get around 100 hp/liter (Subaru WRX STI and Mitsu Evo). Though the GT has an aluminum engine block, American companies have been late to using anything besides heavy cast iron in engine blocks. Not to mention the poor gas mileage, 15/23 highway city.
Okay, Zeitlin, I’ll see your rant and raise you one: nobody ’round these parts under the age of 50 seems to even consider buying American (save in the USV category). I actually kinda like the new high end caddies, but not much else.
I’ve long been of the opinion that plain old marketing and branding bears a lot of the blame for Detroit’s decline. Look at one pretty successful Japanese automaker, Honda. They’ve got, like, four or five principal models that account for the bulk of their sales. Compare that to General Motors, which has, like, 30 or 40 to choose from. I mean, hello!?! Can you say “dillution of brand”? Has it really occurred to nobody in Detroit that a strategy that made sense in 1957 doesn’t work anymore? They’ve literally had decades to study their own decline and formulate strategies to reverse it. If I were dictator of GM I’d rename the company “Chevrolet”, I’d get rid of most of their divisions, and I’d cull the models down to a number comparable to what Toyota or Honda have to offer.
Modern, busy consumers simply can’t wrap their very harried brains around the dozens of possible models that GM can sell them. Thing is, it’s a total waste anyway, because anybody with an IQ over 70 can plainly see that the “Pontiac” and “Buick” and “Chevrolet” (or Pymouth, Dodge and Chrysler, etc) versions are pretty much the same product. Their lack of respect for the intelligence of the car buying public is simply astonishing. If ever there existed a firm that deserved to go out of business (and doesn’t deserve a dime of public money should the need arise) it’s General Motors, closely followed by Ford and Chrysler.