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Thread: 7 myths about Detroit automakers

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    Elite Member B.C.'s Avatar
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    Default 7 myths about Detroit automakers

    7 myths about Detroit automakers

    BY MARK PHELAN • FREE PRESS COLUMNIST • December 5, 2008

    This column by Free Press auto critic Mark Phelan originally was published on Nov. 17 and has been updated.

    The debate over aid to the Detroit-based automakers is awash with half-truths and misrepresentations that are endlessly repeated by everyone from members of Congress to journalists. Here are seven myths about the companies and their vehicles, and the reality in each case.

    Myth No. 1: Nobody buys their vehicles
    Reality: General Motors Corp., Ford Motor Co. and Chrysler LLC sold 8.5 million vehicles in the United States last year and millions more around the world. GM outsold Toyota by about 1.2 million vehicles in the United States last year and holds a U.S. lead over Toyota of nearly 700,000 so far this year. Globally, GM in 2007 remained the world's largest automaker, selling 9,369,524 vehicles worldwide -- about 3,000 more than Toyota.
    Ford outsold Honda by about 850,000 and Nissan by more than 1.3 million vehicles in the United States last year.
    Chrysler sold more vehicles here than Nissan and Hyundai combined in 2007 and so far this year.

    Myth No. 2: They build unreliable junk
    Reality: The creaky, leaky vehicles of the 1980s and '90s are long gone. Consumer Reports recently found that "Ford's reliability is now on par with good Japanese automakers."
    The independent J.D. Power Initial Quality Study scored Buick, Cadillac, Chevrolet, Ford, GMC, Mercury, Pontiac and Lincoln brands' overall quality as high as or higher than that of Acura, Audi, BMW, Honda, Nissan, Scion, Volkswagen and Volvo.
    J.D. Power rated the Chevrolet Malibu the highest-quality midsize sedan. Both the Malibu and Ford Fusion scored better than the Honda Accord and Toyota Camry.

    Myth No. 3: They build gas-guzzlers
    Reality: All of the Detroit Three build midsize sedans that the Environmental Protection Agency rates at 29-33 miles per gallon on the highway.
    The most fuel-efficient Chevrolet Malibu gets 33 m.p.g. on the highway, 2 m.p.g. better than the best Honda Accord. The most fuel-efficient Ford Focus has the same highway fuel economy ratings as the most efficient Toyota Corolla. The most fuel-efficient Chevrolet Cobalt has the same city fuel economy and better highway fuel economy than the most efficient non-hybrid Honda Civic.
    A recent study by Edmunds.com found that the Chevrolet Aveo subcompact is the least expensive car to buy and operate.

    Myth No. 4: They already got a $25-billion bailout
    Reality: None of that money has been lent out and may not be for more than a year. In addition, it can, by law, be used only to invest in future vehicles and technology, so it has no effect on the shortage of operating cash the companies face because of the economic slowdown that's killing them now.

    Myth No. 5: GM, Ford and Chrysler are idiots for investing in pickups and SUVs
    Reality: The domestics' lineup has been truck-heavy, but Toyota, Nissan, Mercedes-Benz and BMW have spent billions of dollars on pickups and SUVs because trucks are a large and historically profitable part of the auto industry.
    The most fuel-efficient full-size pickups from GM, Ford and Chrysler all have higher EPA fuel-economy ratings than Toyota and Nissan's full-size pickups.

    Myth No. 6: They don't build hybrids
    Reality: The Detroit Three got into the hybrid business late, but Ford and GM each now offers more hybrid models than Honda or Nissan, with several more due to hit the road in early 2009.

    Myth No. 7: Their union workers are lazy and overpaid
    Reality: Chrysler tied Toyota as the most productive automaker in North America this year, according to the Harbour Report on manufacturing, which measures the amount of work done per employee. Eight of the 10 most productive vehicle assembly plants in North America belong to Chrysler, Ford or GM.
    The oft-cited $70-an-hour wage and benefit figure for UAW workers inaccurately adds benefits that millions of retirees get to the pay of current workers, but divides the total only by current employees. That's like assuming you get your parents' retirement and Social Security benefits in addition to your own income.
    Hourly pay for assembly line workers tops out around $28; benefits add about $14. New hires at the Detroit Three get $14 an hour. There's no pension or health care when they retire, but benefits raise their total hourly compensation to $29 while they're working. UAW wages are now comparable with Toyota workers, according to a Free Press analysis.
    7 myths about Detroit automakers | Freep.com | Detroit Free Press

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    Elite Member nana55's Avatar
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    yeah yeah yeah, too little too late.
    If I can't be a good example, then let me be a horrible warning.

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    Elite Member celeb_2006's Avatar
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    A good article with some interesting counterpoints. I agree quality of American cars has improved a lot since yesteryear but unfortunately the perception is that many people think the quality is not as good as foreign cars.

    Perhaps this is not fair but maybe nana55 is right, in that they took too long to address the quality issue? I'm sure a few people got burned, or read or heard about bad experiences, and it's really hard to shake that image fair or not. I mean, a car is one of life's biggest financial investments after a house, so it's only fair for consumers to purchase what they think best suits their needs and not on sentimentality.

    I was watching the news last night and they were saying that the American auto companies were far too overextended. By that they meant American car companies had far too many brands to juggle. For example GM has I think like 2-3 times the models and brands that Toyota corp. has. So while American car companies may outsell their foreign counterparts, it's a percentage game, and there's just too much oversaturation of the market.

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    Elite Member Mivvi21's Avatar
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    I don't believe for a second that the Chevy Malibu is all that great. I had one and even though I never had any mechanical problems with it while I had it,it was built with some of the cheapest materials I have ever seen in a car.

    I had to take it to the shop to have the carpet glued back down because it was coming up. Everything in the interior was made of cheap plastic. The buttons on the stereo were starting to wear so bad that you couldn't see the numbers anymore. The whole car was as cheaply made as possible. I got rid of it because I knew that the worst was yet to come and that I'd be in and out of the shop with it before I knew it.

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    Bronze Member Sunshine's Avatar
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    Ok, what about the crappy car colors? Went to the chevy dealer 2-3 years ago. They could't show me a real red or blue. They did have a baby poo orange brown.

    Also the car was for me and they only talked to the DH. He did show me the passenger side make-up mirror.

    Bought a Honda.

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