Sunday, November 15, 2009

Why won't Americans buy American cars?

What's the last American made car that you wanted for under $30k. Okay, maybe you like the Mustang or Camaro. Aside from these exceptions to uncool American cars, what else is there???

I mean, have you seen recent tv ads for GM? What's with the "let the better car win" crap? What has GM won in the past decade? Maybe Motor Trend "truck of the year," and lately those Motor Trend awards have been going to foreign cars. Seriously though, why won't Americans buy American cars?

Let's start by breaking down the competition for GM, Ford, and Chrysler. GM offers plenty of cars between $15-30k. Take for instance the Chevy Cobalt starting just under $15k, and the Pontiac G6 starting just under $20k, and the Saturn Aura starting just under $23k. There are plenty more to choose from but the problem is they're all basically the same car and they're not very desirable cars.

So who are these cars for? GM has 42 SUVs and trucks, 18 sedans, 8 coupes, 4 convertibles, 2 wagons and 1 hatchback. That's right 1 hatch! Out of hundreds of cars and trucks to choose from there is 1 hatchback and 8 coupes.

The Saturn Astra is the only hatchback GM has and the Volvo C30 is the only hatch that Ford has to offer (I still don't consider Volvo a Ford). Personally, I like both but would I buy either? The last new cars I was looking at were affordable hatches, coupes, and few (sport) sedans. I had very little choice of American hatches in a sea of VW GTI's/Golfs/Beetles, Mazda 3's, Honda Civic Si's and Mini Coopers.

Which coupes do GM, Ford, and Chrysler have to offer? Okay here goes...So who are these cars for? That's what the GM marketing team needs to ask themselves. What competitor cars are similar but better and possibly cheaper?! Don't get me wrong, I am not just criticizing to hate on the US Auto industry. I want to see it improve and I'm sure there are plenty of Americans out there that would agree.

Ford: Mustang & Focus
Mercury: 0
Lincoln: 0
Chevy: Camaro, Cobalt, Corvette
Pontiac: Solstice, G6
Cadillac: XLR
Saturn: Sky
Buick: 0
GMC: 0
Chrysler: 0
Dodge: Viper, Challenger

Okay, the Corvette, XLR, and Viper are out of my league along with most people. The Focus, Cobalt and G6 are ugly, not very sporty and cheap looking. So I have the Mustang, Camaro, Challenger, Solstice and Sky to choose from. As much as I like the Camaro, I probably would never buy one because of the price and sheer principal. The day of the muscle car was over 30 years ago. If I want a muscle car I'll go buy a '69 Camaro for the same price and have a piece of automotive history.

I like the Mustang more because ford has incorporated a modern aesthetic that doesn't necessarily into the muscle car category, plus I like the design better than the Camaro aside from gaudy chrome wheels. The Challenger is just too retro for me. And the Solstice & Sky, well they're cool looking cars but what's the difference between the two?

Within my price range I had the Mustang, Camaro, and Soltice/Sky to choose from in the American market. Get ready for the competition now...Audi TT(Germany), VW Eos(Germany), BMW 1-series(Germany), Honda Accord coupe/Civic coupe/S2000(Japan), Nissan Z/Altima coupe(Japan), Hyundia Tiburon/Genesis coupe(Korea), Mazda Miata/RX-8(Japan), Mitsubishi Eclipse(Japan), Scion tc(Japan).....If you increase the budget by $5k there are a mess load of other imported cars to choose from.

I was also looking into a few affordable, sporty sedans. In the American market there are only the Volvo S40 (not American to me) and the Cadillac CTS which costs more than a BMW 3-series.

Some sporty sedans that I was looking at were:
Mitsubishi Lancer
Volkswagen Passat
Acura TSX
Subaru WRX/STi
Nissan Sentra SE-R
Saab 9-3 Sport Sedan

Why doesn't GM or Ford offer sporty little sedans? Why is there no Audi A4 killer in the American line-up? I think it's pretty simple. Develop a car to compete with the best sellers and sell it for less, believe me GM, Americans will buy it! And sorry, the Chevy Malibu is too Motherly and big for me, and the Ford Fusion is just plain boring.
What happened to cool American cars or just nice cars in general?

Here is my list of cars that GM, Ford, and Chrysler(which is not American owned anymore) need to at least try to compete with in order for Americans to buy:

Toyota FJ-Cruiser: The Ford Flex was a good attempt at creating something new but a completely different car. Not very utilitarian.

Subaru WRX/STi & Mitsubish Lancer EVO: Subari has an image. Rally, sporty, compact. What image does GM or Ford have? Ford offers the Focus RS in Europe but not here. Let's see it!

Mazda Speed3:Pontiac has the vibe...just change the face of it, give it a sport-tuned suspension, add a supercharger and call it a day.

Toyota Prius & Honda Insight: If you noticed, the best selling hybrid in America is the
Toyota Prius. Why not the Fusion Hybrid or the Malibu Hybrid? It's because they are half-assed. The Prius is it's own car as well as the Insight. The Fusion and Malibu are just different versions of what's already available. Give it a whole new name and body and they'll sell a ton. Or if you want to be different, make a hybrid V8 Mustang.

Volkswagen CC: GM and Ford better answer to this as soon as possible because this car is going to
change Volkswagen's position in the United States for good. Volkswagen is going to be the Toyota that everybody wants.
I can think of hundreds more that GM and Ford need to be competing with but this is a great starting point.I want to buy American and I think it's vital for our economy but I don't want the reason I buy one to be that I'm
"patriotic." I'm a human being/consumer that wants the best product I can find for the best price so why settle?

It seems as if GM and Ford (and many other American companies) think the only U.S. consumers are between the ages of 40 and 80, live in the suburbs with 4 kids and a dog and like big, bulky, heavy cars that can't go around a turn without massive balance issues. That may have been true 35 years ago but look at all the imports on the roads these days compared to 35 years ago.

If Volkswagen/Audi, Honda/Acura, Nissan/
Infiniti, Toyota/Lexus/Scion keep making better cars than U.S. auto makers there will be no U.S. auto makers left.

So please GM and your eyes and give us something desirable!

And if you think that Ford and GM are incapable of much cooler cars here are models available in other countries that we don't get here.



  1. I agree with you 100%.

    I drive a Porsche because the American auto makers don't (won't?) make anything that compares. A Corvette ZR1, maybe, but for $100,000, I'd rather have a 911 Turbo. Its racing pedigree is stronger and longer, it pulls similar performance from an inline 6 cylinder that Chevy has to cram a 6.2L V8 to achieve. Chevy seems real proud of getting 638HP out of 6.2 litres, but take a look at the 911 Turbo motor: 480HP out of 3.6 litres!

    Now, why should I buy a Corvette ZR1? To be patriotic? You're right - that's a stupid reason to choose a car. I want the best value and bang for my buck, and I hate to say it, but the Big Three just can't cut it.

    The Viper is just a big ball of untamed raw power, but do I really want a V10 that uses as much gas as four Porsche Caymans? And who needs 600 horsepower anyway? That's just obscene.

  2. Good analysis!!

    Dan, I need that Viper, of course it's obscene, and gets twice the mpg as my 1969 R/T. It's a step in the right direction huh?!

  3. I think the analysis is a little off. You're assuming most Americans give a crap about what they're driving.

    Ever been to Texas? For better or worse, it's full of SUV's and Pick-ups!

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