Another silly article that ignores reality.
Explain the difference between Ford and Toyota's Strategies for the last 15
years. Both have emphasized trucks and SUVs at the expense of passenger
cars. Both companies highest volume car line is an old lightly refreshed
design. So what makes Toyota so successful?
For the first time in 14 years, the Camry is actually different. Sure they
changed the sheet metal significantly once and had a couple of refreshes,
but from the early 90's till now, the differences were trivial. The Echo was
a bust. The Corolla is a dull over priced small car that is not as good as a
Focus and costs more. The Tundra is a second rate copy of the old generation
F150. The Sequoia isn't even as good as the previous generation Tahoe. The
new 4Runner is a good truck, but nothing special and ridiculously
overpriced. The Tacoma is also a nice truck, but, like the 4Runner, wildly
over-priced. The Prius is interesting, but plagued with glitches and over
hyped. The RAV4 is third or fourth best in class. I suppose the Highlander
is OK, but what makes it better than a Ford Freestyle? For sure the Sienna
is one of the best mini-vans, but how long did it take Toyota to get it
right (the old Toyota Previa mini-van was horrid, and the first generation
Sienna was non-competitive).
And yet, despite crashing customer satisfaction ratings and plunging
reliability ratings, people still overpay for second and third rate Toyota
products. Why? Stupidity?
I have had painful experiences with American car company products-Chevy Vega
('nuff said), Ford Escort (pistons wearing down in cylinders, despite
religious maintenance), Chevy Cavalier engine (dissimilar head and block
metals-manifold and block cracks), Buick (repeat transmission troubles). I
have been badly stung on domestic car companies and I see NO reason
whatsoever to give Detroit more money for inferior engineering. The best
cars my wife and I have ever owned were VW Beetle, Bus, Golf and my '98
Chevy Prizm (think Toyota Corolla-that is where the engineering came from).
Detroit is way behind the curve but their quality has improved over the last
few years, but not enough. Detroit does not have a product that I think is
worthwhile. Perhaps in a few years but does Detroit have a few years? No.
There are lots of opinions regarding why American cars suck. The one that
makes the most sense, I think, is that American companies overpay for their
executive "talent" and underpay for actual talent: engineering, design,
manufacturing, facilities maintenance, etc. As a buyer, any fool knows that
a Toyota holds value far better than a Ford, GM, or Chrysler product. You
can argue value, reliability, or appearance until you are speechless, but
the fact remains. If that fact is based on poor consumer information, it's
up the American manufacturers to prove it. I think an occasional consumer
report finds that some models of American cars actually perform to Japanese
standards, but many do not.
Detroit lost the quality battle long ago and has been playing catchup ever
since. Even more disappointingly, they are now losing that same battle to
Korea. Yet they still overpay execs for stupid decisions and lousy
management skills. These companies don't invest in their labor skills,
their facilities, their technology, or their public relations in the
communites that support them the strongest. Their management, like our
political and military "leadership," seems incapable of embarassment.
These are the reasons why Ford, GM, and little buddy Chrysler are dying.
Why anyone feels sorry for them is beyond me. The first move for a real fix
would be to divest, without golden parachutes, these companies of most of
the current management.
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