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What will happen to Chrysler now?


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Chrysler was not sold to <span style="font-style: italic">auto</span> investors, it was sold to investors who understand one thing--money. This is about wringing more money out of Chrysler than the last guy, buy the process of making a product, which in this case happens to be cars.

Chrysler is no longer a publicly traded company, so the Three-headed dog has much more freedom than any previous owner. I get the feeling that the sun is setting on the American car companies. The American buyer is voting with their pocketbook, and sales of Toyota and Honda vehicles continue to improve, and they don't really care what happens to workers in the rust belt, they just care about themselves and the value/quality they are getting for their dollar. Chrysler, like Ford has invested a lot of energy in trying to re-create the magic of the 60's muscle car era, and "personal tank" SUVs-- products put forth by managers nearing retirement, wanting to strike gold one last time before heading to Naples, FL.

The idea of fuel economy and transforming the commuter car seems foreign to them, the wake up calls in 1973, 1978 and now haven't convinced anyone to stay the course on fuel economy.

I sometimes fear that Chrysler is now where AMC was in the late70's-early 80's, becoming that quirky, less relevant, and somewhat expendable car company.

Either way they are in for a big shock culturally, the UAW will be reeling from this sale for years. Time will tell.

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<div class="ubbcode-block"><div class="ubbcode-header">Quote:</div><div class="ubbcode-body"> The idea of fuel economy and transforming the commuter car seems foreign to them, the wake up calls in 1973, 1978 and now haven't convinced anyone to stay the course on fuel economy. </div></div>

Chrysler's best fuel economy vehicle is the 2.4L Sebring (24/32 mpg). Dodge's best is the Caliber (28/32 mpg), and it has only a 1.8L engine. Don't even ask about Jeep! <img src="http://forums.aaca.org/images/graemlins/shocked.gif" alt="" />

Ford's best non-hybrid is the now 8 year old 2.0L Focus (27/37 mpg). The hybrid Escape (36/31 mpg) uses a system leased from Toyota. GM's best domestic car is the 2.0L Chevy Colbalt (25/34 mpg).

Add Subaru, Mercedes, and Mitsubishi to that list and you have a complete inventory of all the car companies doing business in the U.S. who don't have at least one car rated for 32 mpg or more in city driving for 2007. By importing the Korean Aveo GM has the distinction of being the only "American" car company to even carry a true economy car. <span style="font-weight: bold">Neither Ford nor Chrysler carry or even import a subcompact car.</span> Chrysler doesn't even carry a compact car, both the Caliber and Sebring are mid-size models. Just how the heck were these guys going to win over first time buyers? <img src="http://forums.aaca.org/images/graemlins/confused.gif" alt="" />

They got a lot of nice trucks though, and an amazing capacity to build <span style="text-decoration: underline">them</span>. <img src="http://forums.aaca.org/images/graemlins/crazy.gif" alt="" />

At least AMC went out with their irons in many fires (Jeep/Alliance/Eagle). Chrysler and Ford just didn't read their own histories. I don't think there's been a time in the modern history of cars when it was more obvious that the industry was putting all of its eggs in one basket. Thinking they could go on building Explorers and Durangos with $7000.00 profit margins forever was their downfall. <img src="http://forums.aaca.org/images/graemlins/frown.gif" alt="" />

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People will always vote with their pocket books. Every one bitchs about how Walmart exploits their workers yet still flock to the stores. Perceived value will alway prevail in a free market and it is a GOOD thing.

In many ways the UAW is as much, if not more, to blame for the coming blood bath. Cerberus is not in this for the love of automobiles.......Bob

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<div class="ubbcode-block"><div class="ubbcode-header">Quote:</div><div class="ubbcode-body"> Just how the heck were these guys going to win over first time buyers? </div></div>

Dave, first time buyers rarely buy a "new" car unless their parents buy it for them. My 18 year old just "got" his first car, a 2002 Ford Focus. I can't hardly get into it as the door is too narrow. (No fat jokes, please)

Anything that gets over 30 miles per gallon would be great in my book. Sorry, I need a big car, one with big doors. My knees don't bend so well anymore. <img src="http://forums.aaca.org/images/graemlins/frown.gif" alt="" />

Wayne

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<div class="ubbcode-block"><div class="ubbcode-header">Quote:</div><div class="ubbcode-body">The UAW will kill whatever is left of Chrysler. <img src="http://forums.aaca.org/images/graemlins/frown.gif" alt="" /> </div></div>

This is an excuse that management has used for years. Yes union labor and legacy costs are a problem, around $2200 per car right now. Yet "Big Three" cars are generally less expensive than competing "import" brands.

It's not price that's keeping people from buying "American" cars. People are paying <span style="text-decoration: underline">more</span> to avoid them now.

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I also think one underlying thing is happening--the American public has just given up (is gradually giving up) on the American auto industry. Shoot, even "greatest generation" WWII vets are buying Toyotas now (those that should still be driving). The big three are experiencing what the independents went through in the fifties, a water cooler talk that reasons "why whould you buy one of those?, they are going out of business, you won't be able to get parts, no one will service it..........."

American buyers don't like buying what they perceive to be losers.

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I recently was in the market for a new car. We have driven imports exclusively for a while with the exception of a domestic (Dodge) truck that I keep for when I need a truck. We needed to get rid of our beloved MINI Cooper and get a minivan. (Hey, it happens.) I wanted to make this purchase as objective as possible. I only wanted the most van for the best price. I began the shopping process with the Honda Odyssey as my first choice based soley on looks and reputation. However, I feel minivans are like toasters or other appliances, just get the cheapest one that has the most features. I don't think anyone makes a really bad minivan. After shopping for Hondas, Toyotas, Hyundais, and Kias, we bought a Dodge Grand Caravan. It was a Certified Pre-Owned 2007 with 13k miles. The Honda dealer had a 2006 Odyssey with similar mileage for $5k more, and the Honda was a stripped model where the Dodge is loaded. My wife loves her Caravan.

But wait there's more. The Toyota dealer was so arrogant that his product was the best, that he was actually rude when I told him I was going to look at other brands. The Honda salesman, even though I insisted I only want to gather numbers, dragged me outside to show me the terrific features of the Odyssey such as a maintenance-free battery and teathered gas cap. What would we do without those!?

The local Chrysler/Dodge/Jeep dealer in my area has been selling Chryslers since 1927. It's a family run dealership that strives to make their customers loyal. I went in for a tube of touch up paint yesterday, and after the parts man looked all over for my color, he finally found one and informed me that they don't charge for touch up paint. Needless to say that I will be buying whatever they sell from now on. It's the little things.

To give a little perspective, my other car is a Suzuki Forenza Wagon. It's a fine car, and was very inexpensive to buy. I brought it in for a running problem under warranty, and they tried to sell me the 30k service for $550. I asked what it included, and was told: oil change, coolant flush, brake adjustment, emergency brake adjustment, tire rotation, and battery service. Now I'm not naive, I know there is no brake adjustments on a car with four-wheel disc brakes, and there is no service on a maintence-free battery. I asked for just the oil service, coolant flush and tire rotation, and it cost me $125. How many people get suckered? Oh, this dealer is also Nissan and Hyundai.

An educated consumer is a rare thing I guess.

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<div class="ubbcode-block"><div class="ubbcode-header">Quote:</div><div class="ubbcode-body">The writing is on the wall- we'll soon have the big 2. <img src="http://forums.aaca.org/images/graemlins/confused.gif" alt="" /> </div></div>

I don't think so. Ford and GM are not exactly raking in the profits. I think we will always have a "big three," it will be Honda, Toyota, and Nissan.

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<div class="ubbcode-block"><div class="ubbcode-header">Quote:</div><div class="ubbcode-body"> My 18 year old just "got" his first car, a 2002 Ford Focus. I can't hardly get into it as the door is too narrow. </div></div>

My wife got a Focus as a loaner car while her '05 Mustang went in for service. I had to fold up like an accordian to get in!

As for me, I stick with my '56 Ford Sedan.. 6cyl stick shift I get about 23-25 mpg in town. And it has plenty of leg room and a real trunk. It's my version of American Express, I never leave home without it!

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Pay me now or pay me later. I order the parts in our shop, today I checked the price of a compleat exhaust for a 98 Toy,cam. List is near 1100 bucks.We have a cust that owns a korea made dawoo. Front calipers had to come from Korea. took me almost 3mo. to get them. Should have fun next time, the auto maker is bankrupt and out of bus.I guess you know I love these forign picess of crap.Best thing would be to make the price of the import fee same as car. Buy american, the job you save may be yours

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<div class="ubbcode-block"><div class="ubbcode-header">Quote:</div><div class="ubbcode-body">Buy american, the job you save may be yours </div></div>

This line of thinking does not really work anymore. Both of my "domestic" cars were built in Canada and Mexico. Most Hondas and Toyotas are built in the US. My "Japanese" car was built in Korea with a GM drivetrain built in Australia. So tell me, how do I "buy American?"

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I'm going to look for the detailed article that explained that GM was no longer a auto company but a health insurance and pension administrator. I don't think there is anything wrong with the individual trying to maximize his worth in an open economy (hell, improving one's lot is what makes the USA go). However, I can't help but feel that the collective bargaining that created the existing health and pension benefits for the UAW memebers and retirees was a bit of extortion . Years ago, you retired and then died not too many years later. These days people live for a long time and the agreements made 25, 30 years ago between the big three and the UAW are no longer realistic. It is way to simplistic to argue that U.S. auto companies are going under because there are boobs running them. When the genius Germans were running Chrysler then couldn't make a profit either. The writing is on the wall when a worker in a socialist economy on a 36 hour work week is cheaper than one in the U.S.A.

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Concerning Chrysler not having a compact car. I just last Friday bought my wife a Chrysler Crossfire. She had a Reatta for the last eight years. She loves two seaters. I'd have to classify the Crossfire as a compact. But, maybe I'm wrong on my terminology. Maybe the Crossfire is classified as a Sports Car. What do you think?

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I've been in the printing business for almost 40 years. Back when I started we used nothing but American film & printing plates. Through the years we lost Kodak, 3M, Polychrome, etc. due to Fuji coming in and beating everyone's pricing. These companys could not match what Fuji offered. Well, now we are stuck with Fuji and they are terrible plates and expensive. I predict this will happen with the car business in the future. We are the only one's too blame.

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<div class="ubbcode-block"><div class="ubbcode-header">Quote:</div><div class="ubbcode-body"> I need a big car, one with big doors. My knees don't bend so well anymore. <img src="http://forums.aaca.org/images/graemlins/frown.gif" alt="" />

Wayne </div></div>

Wayne, look for a good used Pacer, you'll love those door sizes. <img src="http://forums.aaca.org/images/graemlins/grin.gif" alt="" />

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<div class="ubbcode-block"><div class="ubbcode-header">Quote:</div><div class="ubbcode-body">Concerning Chrysler not having a compact car. I just last Friday bought my wife a Chrysler Crossfire. She had a Reatta for the last eight years. She loves two seaters. I'd have to classify the Crossfire as a compact. But, maybe I'm wrong on my terminology. Maybe the Crossfire is classified as a Sports Car. What do you think? </div></div>

For my statement I ignored the Crossfire, Solstice, Viper, Corvette, and GT40. 2-seat sports models are not the kind of mainstream models the Big Three need. I also ignored the Mustang, which is technically a sub-compact by 1 cubic foot (but hardly an economy or mainstream model as well).

But if anyone wants to drop one off in my driveway...... <img src="http://forums.aaca.org/images/graemlins/smirk.gif" alt="" />

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<div class="ubbcode-block"><div class="ubbcode-header">Quote:</div><div class="ubbcode-body"> We have a cust that owns a korea made dawoo. Front calipers had to come from Korea. took me almost 3mo. to get them. Should have fun next time, the auto maker is bankrupt and out of bus. </div></div>

Actually, Daewoo is quite well and healthy as a GM Division now. They make the Chevy Aveo, the entire American market Suzuki car line, and many others sold worldwide under the Chevrolet and Holden brand names. Parts for the old Daewoo-badged cars can be bought and located through their web page.

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Dave,

Yea and nobody wants the Cobalt. I worked most of last year at one of the largest Chevy dealers in America. We had maybe 15 Cobalts to pick from at any one time, and 2 Aveos. They didn't even have a 2wd truck. Basically, it was a Chevy SUV and Silverado dealership, with oh-by-the-way a few cars.

Chevy had decontented the Cobalt so much it was like sitting in a hard plastic closet.

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Dave thanks for that web site, I knew of Van Brunt, thats where I got front brake calipers from, but they still had to come from Korea.This was one or mabe one and a half years ago. But I still have the cust. I want to keep the cust. , but wish to hell he would sell that p.o.s. Thanks again Dick <img src="http://forums.aaca.org/images/graemlins/grin.gif" alt="" /> <img src="http://forums.aaca.org/images/graemlins/grin.gif" alt="" />

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Sky, I still have 3 Caprices in the yard, all with less than 90,000 miles on them. I'm in the market for any other low milage ones that come by. Insurance is near nothing, no property taxes, BIG doors, what's there not to like. <img src="http://forums.aaca.org/images/graemlins/grin.gif" alt="" />

Wayne

Oh, the wife would still like a new Vette though! <img src="http://forums.aaca.org/images/graemlins/shocked.gif" alt="" /> <img src="http://forums.aaca.org/images/graemlins/smile.gif" alt="" />

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Even spending what some might think is a paultry sum for a 1990s or 80s more fuel efficient car, is not really available to many. Coming up with $5000 to buy a car is near impossible for people who cannot save due to the size of their income and out going cost of living. And there are those of us, either on fixed income or small income that could not get $800 without tapping a family member. Typically, buying on credit at this level is impossible or the interest rate is so high, it ends upside down.

And yes, most Americans under the poverty level put themselves in that fix. Even if you worked 35 years and tried to save, one serious health problem could wipe you out leaving the person with Medicare and Social Security, <span style="font-style: italic">if they are lucky!</span>

I would love a new Smart. Or an old VW. But I cannot get anything without someone else buying it for me. Why? While my credit rating is 'Excellent', I cannot get a loan if I tried due to my income status.

It is nearly impossible to win this.

Try looking at the rolls of the under-employed and poor since 2004. Their ranks are growing each year. So if they have an old car that runs, they appreciate the fact that it is available.

Wayne, I am not saying you are one of those... us... so no offense meant. You are just cheap. <img src="http://forums.aaca.org/images/graemlins/laugh.gif" alt="" />

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I have never been much of a Chrysler fan, I have usually owned Oldsmobiles, Buicks, or Fords. I have never bought an imported car (with the exception of one Canadian assembled GM product back in 1984).

Since I can't drive my Model A all of the way to the Grand National, I have to have a vehicle capable of towing a car hauler trailer, so we own a 1999 Chevrolet Tahoe, (and we are thinking of buying a new or newer one.)

I am not going to waste too much of your time with ALL of the reasons why I drive an American built vehicle, but, here is a small sample of why I do things the way I do them..... <img src="http://forums.aaca.org/images/graemlins/wink.gif" alt="" />

I am an Eagle Scout, I work as a Police Lieutenant, I fly an American flag on the front of my house, I love to drive my Model A Fords, I grew up Southern Baptist, and I am an Elder in the Presbyterian Church. I guess you won't find too many people who are any more conservative than I am. I am from a state that is not considered very pro-union, but as long as I can I will continue to only purchase vehicles that are made in the USA by US owned companies.

OK, off of the soapbox now....

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<div class="ubbcode-block"><div class="ubbcode-header">Quote:</div><div class="ubbcode-body">

Chrysler's best fuel economy vehicle is the 2.4L Sebring (24/32 mpg). Dodge's best is the Caliber (28/32 mpg), and it has only a 1.8L engine. Don't even ask about Jeep! <img src="http://forums.aaca.org/images/graemlins/shocked.gif" alt="" />

Ford's best non-hybrid is the now 8 year old 2.0L Focus (27/37 mpg). The hybrid Escape (36/31 mpg) uses a system leased from Toyota. GM's best domestic car is the 2.0L Chevy Colbalt (25/34 mpg).

Add Subaru, Mercedes, and Mitsubishi to that list and you have a complete inventory of all the car companies doing business in the U.S. who don't have at least one car rated for 32 mpg or more in city driving for 2007. By importing the Korean Aveo GM has the distinction of being the only "American" car company to even carry a true economy car. <span style="font-weight: bold">Neither Ford nor Chrysler carry or even import a subcompact car.</span> Chrysler doesn't even carry a compact car, both the Caliber and Sebring are mid-size models. Just how the heck were these guys going to win over first time buyers? <img src="http://forums.aaca.org/images/graemlins/confused.gif" alt="" />

</div></div>

I think this goes way beyond gas mileage. Don't forget, not everyone is buying Civics, Corollas or Prius's. Most imports today get the same or even less mileage than the Big 3 get. So I think saying that people are buying imports today because of gas price's is an understatement. I really believe that it's drilled into people's minds that the quality is better, and I still don't believe this to be true.

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Randall, don't worry about it. We'll all friends here. <img src="http://forums.aaca.org/images/graemlins/smile.gif" alt="" />

I'm not cheap! I'm "tight" <img src="http://forums.aaca.org/images/graemlins/smile.gif" alt="" />(a family word), and stubborn. <img src="http://forums.aaca.org/images/graemlins/tongue.gif" alt="" />

Buying new cars to impress anyone is a little rediculous. Even though Dave keeps pushing his fuel efficient cars, I'd guarantee my wife and I together with all of our cars, use less gas than his one car in a year. Therefore we polute less than Dave. We both work at home, go to the grocery store once a week. Sorry, this isn't Misc Chat, so I'll stop.

I'm sorry about Chrysler having hard times. They always took bold steps in new car styling, way ahead of everyone else in my opinion. Good luck to them.

Wayne

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I was hoping Magna Corp. would buy it since they are a Canadian company and in the car business. This buyout by a "buyout" company like Cerberus has me worried for my hometown of Windsor, Ontario. Typically these types of "investors" loot a comapny of it's assets and then declare bankruptcy and have no interest in the long term survival of the company or the welfare of it's workers. Sad to see since Daimler Chrysler has really been trying to stay afloat with very stylish and well engineered products. I would rather see it sold to a company which is already in the business. It reminds me of the 1956 Curtiss- Wright buyout of Studebaker-Packard which also was at the forefront of engineering and style but went under in a few short years after it's buyout by a non automotive company.

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It is sad, and certainly unfortunate that Chrysler- Dodge gained the reputation for following rather than leading design schemes, and having a reputation for poor, tacky and cheap interiors with bad quality control in their assembly. During the 60s, we had several and they were fun, but poor vehicles. The 1964 Valient convertible, the only convertible we ever owned, was a lovely little car but was worn out totally by 48,000 miles, and that was with strict adherence to maintenance schedules. Dad is like that. The next, a 1965 Barracuda was a total thrill ride, but again, poor maintenance training kept the leading edge disc brakes from operating correctly; it rattled right off of the lot, and wore thin early on. It was also totally useless in wet and snow. Dangerous really since it had incredible torque and no weight in the rear. Oh and that lovely rear window looked great but acted like a microwave in the hot, humid, Missouri summers. No A/C naturally... Dad did not believe in it.

The best Chrysler he ever owned was the 1948 Chrysler New Yorker, with suicide doors and deep, thick seats. It had an excellent engine, and a slush box tranny that worked well enough on the roads.

But it was bullet proof. After that, the 1956 Plymouth Savoy was a heck of a car. Great engine, solid transmission, good brakes, plenty of room for a medium sized sedan; but the worst interior... the cloth on the seats was threadbare when they bought it, and had to cover it in clear vinyl seat covers. Those were happy during those hot, humid summers I can tell you.

Ugly at times, definitely ahead of the curve with disc brakes very early on; hemispherical designed engines, unique, well designed push button transmissions (I thought they looked weird but Mom liked the one in my GrandDad's basic Dodge... which otherwise was a total POS). But that creeping cancer of poor quality control and cheap, taudry interior materials followed the company from the 1960s.

It is sad. I never liked their interiors after 1950. Prior to that, WP Chrysler's interiors were well designed, handsome, and in the upper end cars, luxurious as well as beautiful.

I always loved the Imperials. It is a sad end... with some hope. But knowing the character of men like ex-secretary Snow as far as money is concerned, I fear the old company is on its last breath. They will suck it dry,

sell out portions, and like Studebaker-Packard, die a slow, painful death. Such a shame.

Oh Wayne... you mentioned the unmentionable. We do not talk about that... remember? <img src="http://forums.aaca.org/images/graemlins/tongue.gif" alt="" />

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Skyking- I spent a few years in printing as well and can confirm your sentiments about film and plates. They came in with the same concept as their auto industry- give product away out of deep pockets till you gain a foothold. You know, a free imagesetter if you sign your life away to use their film and plates exclusively. I can't tell you the enending hassles we had with imagesetters and the output of film for plates.

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<div class="ubbcode-block"><div class="ubbcode-header">Quote:</div><div class="ubbcode-body">Does anyone not find it a little bit unsettling that the company is named after the three-headed dog that guards the gates of Hell? <img src="http://forums.aaca.org/images/graemlins/frown.gif" alt="" /> </div></div>

Not Hell really... just the Land of the Dead ruled by Hades. But yeah... an undying, preternatural beast with three slathering heads to endlessly chew on the unwary. Kind of how I saw Snow's handling of the Treasury <img src="http://forums.aaca.org/images/graemlins/grin.gif" alt="" /> <img src="http://forums.aaca.org/images/graemlins/grin.gif" alt="" /> <img src="http://forums.aaca.org/images/graemlins/grin.gif" alt="" /> <img src="http://forums.aaca.org/images/graemlins/grin.gif" alt="" />

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<div class="ubbcode-block"><div class="ubbcode-header">Quote:</div><div class="ubbcode-body"> I think this goes way beyond gas mileage. Don't forget, not everyone is buying Civics, Corollas or Prius's. Most imports today get the same or even less mileage than the Big 3 get. </div></div>

The reason most people (and it is <span style="text-decoration: underline">most people</span> now <img src="http://forums.aaca.org/images/graemlins/frown.gif" alt="" />) are buying "imports" has nothing to do with gas mileage. The lack of sub-compacts marketed by American companies was just given as an example of how they dropped the ball product-wise in terms of diversification. GM has what, 23 SUVs and NO affordable converitbles, true minivans, wagons, or coupes (<span style="font-style: italic">The Monte Carlo goes bye-bye this year.</span>)? The same small and mid-size sedans have been allowed to continue with (at best) a facelift every 5 years for decades? Jeep Wranglers/CJs used a 1968 AMC designed door handle for <span style="font-weight: bold">36 years!</span>

If you think about it, Chrysler introduced the Omni in 1978 and the K-Cars in 1981. Since then <span style="text-decoration: underline">EVERY</span> new car introduced was larger and more powerful than the one it replaced with <span style="text-decoration: underline">NO</span> new lower tier models introduced to fill in the line. That's 25 years of unchecked product line creep. And worse, those new introductions came at intervals of 8 to 12 years at times. I con't think of a single "import" car line that lasted 5 years without a major redesign, with facelifts comeing at least every 2 years.

Meanwhile the more profitable (<span style="font-style: italic"><span style="text-decoration: underline">then</span></span>) truck lines were lavished with revamping continuously. Whole truck lines, with multiple iterations and restyles, come and go during the life span of a single car line. Remember when a truck line went unchaged for 15 years and cars were redesigned every 4 or 5 (minimum)?

A Toyota Prius or (current) Honda Civic in no way looks like a car from the same era as a (current) Ford Mustang or Jeep Liberty. They're almost artifacts of a bygone era. Studebaker found out in the 1960s that you can only tart up the same old stuff so long. The bunch of them are learning the same lesson today.

As for quality, you had to have driven both at the time to understand the difference. I put many miles on both "imports" and "domestics" in the 1980s and 1990s. There's little quality difference now, but back then it was a huge gulf. That gulf is being paid for now. <img src="http://forums.aaca.org/images/graemlins/frown.gif" alt="" />

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<div class="ubbcode-block"><div class="ubbcode-header">Quote:</div><div class="ubbcode-body">It is sad, and certainly unfortunate that Chrysler- Dodge gained the reputation for following rather than leading design schemes, and having a reputation for poor, tacky and cheap interiors with bad quality control in their assembly.

</div></div>

See, this is the same old mind-set that's drilled into people's heads.....Jeeze! this was 45 years ago........let it go! Chrysler has some of the best engineered and best looking cars & trucks on the planet. There's no reason they should be in trouble. Their big mistake was in 1998 when they sold out.

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<div class="ubbcode-block"><div class="ubbcode-header">Quote:</div><div class="ubbcode-body"> There's little quality difference now, but back then it was a huge gulf. That gulf is being paid for now. <img src="http://forums.aaca.org/images/graemlins/frown.gif" alt="" /> </div></div>

I remember back then that the Toyotas & Hondas were rusting away on the showroom floors............for some strange reason, that didn't hurt their image, and you <span style="font-weight: bold">never</span> hear of that by anyone today. People forget only what they want to forget!

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I have had a fair number of foreign cars, some well built, some not. I tend to buy what I find that's fun. This time around I wanted a convertible. It had been awhile since I'd had one. Looking at JD Power there were 3 convertibles with above average relaibility figures. Those were the Honda S2000, the Corvette, and the Thunderbird. I now drive a 2004 Thunderbird as my daily driver, and it's been a reliable car, fast, fun, unique, and for a V-8, I figure 20 MPG around town isn't bad. I have to admit that buying American for a change did give me a good feeling.

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Not that my words are wisdom or anything but I have been watching and wondering about the US auto industry for a while. I average 33K a year commuting and until last fall I always had an American car. My last car was a 94 Buick Century, basic model and got 222K before the tranny went. Before that it was 94 Ford Escort that got 294K in 10 years before the tranny went(no 5th or reverse makes it tough to go!). Before that was an 88 Escort that went 215K. I could go on but you see my point- I drive a lot and if you do the maintenance ALL cars seem to last 200K or so, even in NY winters!

I bought an 01 VW Golf diesel this time just for the mileage and have to say I LOVE it! It is a blast to push the turbo diesel and it gets 50 or better mpg with a drop to 45-46 this winter. I looked at the American cars and not only did I not see mileage to my liking but I did not really jump at any of the cars styling either. With 30 years in product design and engineering I have some certain preferences that even the foreigns do not meet but the economy is my main selection point in a commuter car. My old cars are for fun, I need my everyday car as cheap as possible per mile to fund my habit, er, hobby!

I do not feel the foreigns make a better product but they sure have done better marketing in the last two decades... No one cares about the Toyota recalls or the JD Power rankings on new car defects where US wins most years now. Perception is everything and especially with the younger designers I work with they all think US cars are crap and Honda in particular is godlike. That does not bode well for the big three. Also I believe the costs from years of union abuse of contracts has made a very uncomfortable bed for the big three to lie in- it is unconscionable that Ford was paying union scale of $33+ benefits/hr for janitors that I read a few years ago. I feel the unions have been a big factor in killing the golden goose of Detroit but that is just my opinion from never having been around a union based business.

So I guess my opinion is that Detroit has gotten it from both ends (poor planning and ridiculous costs)but all the foreigns have done is to do a better job of marketing- a VERY important thing to the US consumer!

Hupp was a good solid car too!!!

Guess I got long winded but a great thread here!- Bill

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<div class="ubbcode-block"><div class="ubbcode-header">Quote:</div><div class="ubbcode-body">I also think one underlying thing is happening--the American public has just given up (is gradually giving up) on the American auto industry. Shoot, even "greatest generation" WWII vets are buying Toyotas now (those that should still be driving). The big three are experiencing what the independents went through in the fifties, a water cooler talk that reasons "why whould you buy one of those?, they are going out of business, you won't be able to get parts, no one will service it..........."

American buyers don't like buying what they perceive to be losers. </div></div>

I don't know that people are resistant to buying American cars because of the perception of quality. Things have come a long way in the past 3-4 years. Of course, it'll take years and years to overcome the decades of crap they put out too, so it won't be an overnight change. But if they can weather the storm, they have hope to come out leaner and meaner. GM with 35% of the market is on life-support. GM with 20% of the market can kick some butt.

I think one big problem is that the domestic automakers took their eye off the ball. Gas was cheap and they were making a LOT of money selling trucks with huge profit margins. They figured that gravy train would last forever and let their mainstream products languish. Trucks got a facelift or redesign every 5 years. The cars didn't. Toyota got on the truck/SUV bandwagon just as big as anyone, but hedged their bets and covered the market with up-to-date products at all levels. They were on the gravy train, too, but understood that it just couldn't last forever. Domestics tend to worry about the next quarter's profits. Toyota worrys about the next decade's.

Good products will sell at a profit, no matter who is building it. Chrysler hit a home-run with the 300/Magnum/Charger and rested on their laurels after that. The rest of their lineup is tepid at best, and their trucks lost steam faster than the others. Daimler-Benz couldn't turn it around because they're facing the same problems with the Mercedes.

Unfortunately, it looks like these new guys will pick the corpse clean, sell the bones and move on. Look for sell-offs of profitable segments like Jeep and the rest of the company joining Oldsmobile. Without Mercedes backing and engineering, it's not like they have any platforms to build on for the next generation 300/Magnum/Charger, and they don't have the cash to develop something new. The cars will be obsolete with nothing current to replace them, let alone something to leap-frog the competition.

This makes me very sad.

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