Buyer Beware at Chrysler

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So, no disrespect intended, but educate me on this. Just how have they changed them and cheapened the design? I was there in the 60's &70's but spent a lot of that time working for
Uncle Sam in far off lands. My best friend in those days had a Plymouth Superbird that to this day, I still consider as one of the most awesome vehicles ever built.

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That is a great question. Beware any short answers to it. Only the people who work at GM And Ford know what they did wrong. I won't try to answer that. I can tell you this about scale. If you compare AMC, Chrysler, Ford, and GM over the last 50 years (or whatever, you pick) the effects of scale are dreadfully obvious in the area of style and quality, fit and finish. Especially if you look at the cosmetic quality of the cars after they hit 5 or 10 years old (you pick) they would fall right in line with who sold the most. Chrysler quality was horrendous in the 70's, and then the styling and paint were horrendous in the 80's. For their part, at no time did AMC have a car that could match the tactile quality of anything from GM. They had no styling leader, ever. The bottom line is GM had more resources, and they used them. They could spread the costs of styling, engineering, and research over more cars. Once in a while, like the 55 Chryslers, they'd actually hit a styling home run. But usually not.
So scale is a very real disadvantage for Chrysler. They have overcome it with huge strides, compared to where they were. If you looked at the paint on a 1985 Chrysler product after 5 years, they were peeling and flaking and just awful. By 1995, the paint was staying on, and only the mylar chrome was peeling off. You won't see any of that right now on a 5-year-old 2002. They used the same truck cab from 1973 for 25 model years, and it was ugly in 1973 when it came out. They canceled the 3500 trucks in 1980. Now, they've restyled twice since then, and they're introducing a 4500 and a 5500. All the while losing less money and suffering less than GM and Ford. They have actually driven GM and Ford out of the minivan market, and made them admit it. They've made some good choices. Management was apparently better. Maybe some guys in engineering just had more brilliant ideas per person. You can overcome the effects of scale some days. One thing I feel sure of, if so many experts didn't agree the Chrysler minivans were the best for the last 20 years or so, Chrysler would have gone broke. That has really helped, that they had one product that was the leader, even back when the paint all flaked off.
Today's product lineup from Chrysler is debateable. I think time will judge it. Resale value is still bad, and that is a really clear indication of Chrysler's product shortcomings of years past. I think it'll improve (the products did), or at least Ford will drop down and get under it.
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I saw Iacocca on TV promoting his new book. He blames management at Chrysler. He says his replacement did a poor job. He also believes executive salaries in the industry are outrageous.
If you follow the financial news you hear that employee health care expense drags down American manufacturing.
A recent news article says some conservatives are now in agreement with labor unions in that globalization and free trade policies are bad for America. Conservative Ralph Gomory at the Alfred Sloan Foundation says the focus on profitability and footloose corporations harm the US economy. The results include loss of industry, lower wages, lower living standards and the ever growing national debt. A weakening economy can't sustain super power status, space programs, the infrastructure, research and social programs.
While losing market share to the Japanese, companies pay excessive executive salaries and bonuses, pay for unreasonably high health care and have little resources left for engineering, styling and quality control.
Joe wrote:

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What's this got to do with global trade?
It has been said that a reason for Daimler Benz/DaimlerChrysler's eagerness to list in New York is tto let the top management to have 'legitimate' access to the outrageous American salaries.
DAS
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Think a bit. In a global economy, the contries where managment gouges the proceeds, government, health care and insurance do the same, manufacturers can't compete. Product price goes up while quality suffers. The Japaese and Chinese win.
Dori A Schmetterling wrote:

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Is that why Mercedes & BMW built so many vehicles in the USA?
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wrote:

That's a dumb question, but I'll answer it. The reason for building in the US is that American worker's salaries are lower than Germany's. They're also lower than Japans, and that's why Toyota, Nissan and Honda are so happy to be here also. In the world's biggest auto market, the wages are lower than in their own countries. Bigger market with lower wages.
I thought everybody knew that, but I decided to go ahead and answer it.
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wrote:

To bad you didn't get my point. It's all about exchange rates my friend. With the USA $ continually dropping the situation gets even better for building in the USA. If things continue the Bush way the USA will become bankrupt.
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That is a disadvantage USA manufacturing has compared to Canada. Labor costs in the two countries are similar, but Canada has a Gov. run lifetime basic universal health care system.
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who wrote:

But who pays for that "free" health care system? If wages are the same, then the extra taxes that have to be taken to pay for the health care system have the effect of less take-home pay (also known as lower standard of living). In effect, though the nominal wages are comparable, the net take home would be less.
Bill Putney (To reply by e-mail, replace the last letter of the alphabet in my address with the letter 'x')
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wrote:

are assured of adequate health care. Although the take home pay is less Canadians still have a purchasing power in the top few countries of the world.
Our HC is too good as CDNs who are living and working in the USA fake their CDN residency so they can return for health care. Eventually in their later years when they may need emergency care they return to CDA to live.
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wrote:

Of course. No need for debate on this subject: The Canadian standard of living is somewhat less than the US. The last time I had something made in Canada, the wages were actually lower too, even before the workers paid those high taxes. So it's not even a case where the wages are the same. I would assume that the automakers also find that to be true.
Anyway, when things are obvious, they don't need to be brought up in a debate. It is what it is.
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Joe wrote:

Except that people keep debating and promulgating false information on what you say is obvious and needs no debating. When people are spouting lies, whether it's about "free" health care or global warming, it needs to be clarified so that enough of the gullible public doesn't get tricked because their gullibiity ends up costing everyone dearly.
Bill Putney (To reply by e-mail, replace the last letter of the alphabet in my address with the letter 'x')
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Your question was about why GM fell so far behind... There are multiple reasons, of course, but some of the things GM did in the 90s were just dumb.
They put all their effort into trucks. They kept car designs around for way too many years without restyling them much (e.g. Chevy Cavalier the same from 1982-96), and really never did much advertising for their formerly strong selling makes like Buick and Oldsmobile.
All the effort seemed to have gone into trucks. What effort was put into cars was done for Chevrolet and Cadillac, and the other makes were forgotten.
I do think that people no longer wanted the American type of car- e.g. soft riding, wire wheels, chrome trim, etc- and GM kept that around longer than most. People were shifting towards "world" type cars that were sportier and had more of a focus on handling than soft ride. I think this is why Buick and Olds came to be seen as an older person's car- whereas before they had been highly respected.
Pontiac- well, I don't know what happened there. They always had a sporty, youth riented focus. I suppose there were just other choices, such as VW and Honda, that younger people gravitated towards... although GM cars across their makes were often too much like one another in terms of styling. Same body, just with different nameplates.
Also, even though quality improved greatly by the late 80s, people still bashed American cars well into the 90s, and the authors in magazines certainly didn't give them credit for making the improvements they did make, though they really did deserve credit for that. E.g. making the cars more fuel efficient, making them more reliable and needing less maintenance by switching over to fuel injection and distributorless ignition. The magazines never seemed to have anything positive to say about GM, but I think they chose not to see anything positive.
What is more amazing to me is that the Japanese were able to improve their products so quickly, and respond to market changes as quickly as they did. Perhaps they did it because their volume at the time was smaller so they could respond more quickly. So many Japanese cars in the 70s and 80s were buzzy four cylinder cars with a poor ride, cramped interiors, and few options. For them to have been able to expand their dealer networks and offer more luxurious, sophisticated cars as quickly as they did, well, it's pretty amazing.
But they obviously reinvested in research and development properly and came out ahead.
Getting back to GM, I really think they focused too much on trucks (as did Ford, by the way) and not enough on cars, and they let foreign makes just take over the car part of the market by not advertising enough or updating their products quickly enough.

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njot wrote:

GM sowed the wind and now they reap the category 5 Hurricane.
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