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Detroit inches closer

Posted by: David Welch on August 14, 2007

Here’s a sadly familiar story line coming out of Detroit today. The Big Three are narrowing the gap, but still lag key rivals Toyota and Honda. We see that in quality surveys, productivity studies or customer satisfaction indices all the time. Witness the latest American Customer Satisfaction Index put out by the University of Michigan.

The good news for Detroit is that its brands are getting closer to the best of the Japanese. But as Professor Claes Fornell, who heads the study, said, “American automakers are narrowing the gap with Asian manufacturers, but they’re still coming
in last.”

Toyota’s top-shelf Lexus brand finished first with a score of 87, narrowly beating Cadillac, Buick and Lincoln-Mercury, each with a score of 86. Honda and Toyota brands actually slipped this year, proving that their brands aren’t infallible. But they still lead American mass market brands Chevrolet, Ford and Dodge.

There’s the problem. Given the hyper competition in the car business and finicky nature of car buyers, Detroit brands need to start winning in surveys like this one, as well as J.D. Power & associates studies and recommendations from Consumer Reports. And they must win consistently. Only then will loyal import owners seriously think about trading for Detroit metal.

Reader Comments

Dr. D

August 15, 2007 8:01 AM

Yeah, yeah, yeah. All the surveys in the world won't help when the truth is born out by the pocket books of those who actually purchase, own and drive autos. According to the mechanics in my area, the Detroit vehicles are still no better than 10 years ago-why because my mechanic tells me that the repair rate for the newest Detroit autos is still the same as it was 10 years ago. Once the Detroit vehicles get past 60,000 miles it is one thing after another. My mechanic says, if everyone drove Toyotas and Hondas he would be out of business. He says it is the Detroit vehicles that keep him in business. Bottom line, media reports and surveys and JDPower etc. etc. may tell some truth, but the pocket book of the customer tells the unvarnished truth. Nuff said.

Blue collar retiree

August 16, 2007 4:56 PM

Are the UAW's elders going to have the companies sell-out health care VEBAs forced upon them by UAW officials?

Here are a couple of links for your consideration.


August 18, 2007 10:12 PM

Total Cost of Ownership is still less for an American car! The European & Asian cars are so expensive, total cost divided my miles driven. My Ford was $11K off MSRP, 0% interest, and if all holds true I will dirve 100K miles with only oil changes every 15K using Mobil 1 15K synthetic oil. Did 325K on a 87 T-Bird with a TCO of 31 cents per mile. Hard to beat!


August 29, 2007 11:51 PM

This reminds me of a book I just read checkout the new Ford book -Ford and the American Dream by Clifton Lambreth at This author throws political risk out the window! he risk it all to save Ford and the American automobile industry!

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Want the straight scoop on the auto industry? Our man in Detroit David Welch, brings keen observations and provocative perspective on the auto business.

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