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post #1 of 30 (permalink) Old 04-12-2008, 10:50 PM Thread Starter
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FoMoCoNews.Com Opinion: The Detroit Comeback

FoMoCoNews.Com Opinion: The Detroit Comeback
Detroit About to Turn on the Overtake Indicator on Imports

By Ndwariga (San Diego, Ca.) Since the 1970’s Detroit has been loosing market share to Japanese and to a lesser extent European automakers. There is no intention of rehashing the Detroit is going down the tubes story here since we are constantly bombarded with that side of the story constantly. What this article would like to explore is the amazing revitalization of products that has been sweeping across the Detroit three and how the technology and design leadership is shifting back to American automakers
Design Leadership.
The last 4 years have seen the re-awakening of Detroit design innovation. Compare a Ford Sedan from four years ago to today. The dawn of this milliner saw a shift in automotive leadership. To get to the top Japanese and Korean Automakers have copied with liberty designs from North America and Europe. Suddenly they found themselves at the top, and could no longer copy “lesser” Vehicle. They have been forced to do something that they had not contemplated they would find themselves required to do. That is innovating design languages for their brands devoid of American or European styling. This has proven rather difficult. They are still reeling from the mess and no end is in sight. Asian vehicles have become ugly blobs and blocks. Meanwhile, Detroit automakers have realized they are the underdogs, and their transformation has been nothing short of stunning, from the Mustang, to the CTS to the New Cross over, virtually all offering from Detroit are huge leaps from the models they are replacing. Those that are not are finding themselves condemned to astonishingly short product life cycles such as the current Ford Taurus or the Buick Lacrosse.
Technology Leadership
On the technological front, Detroit two automakers have finally began doing what America does best. That is innovating. Ford is just about to roll out Ecoboost, and GM’s ecotec engines are churning out 260 HP easily with turbo charging. Recently a Ford 4 banger Taurus mule was filmed out running a BMW 5 series. A sign of things to come. Powetrain leadership is emerging. Instead of one or two eight speed gearboxes in vehicles costing well north of 50K, GM and Ford are putting 6 speeds in bread and butter vehicles, with Camry and Accord trying to catch up from their five speeds.
Systems like Ford’s Sync are currently on base vehicles while; Mercedes and Lexus do not offer anything close. Onstar is also a leading innovator with features no import can touch; its available in vehicles priced thousands less than the cheapest BMWs. Mild hybrids and e85 capabilities also top the list of innovations. Though the mild hybrid systems are not headline grabbing, the second generation is about to roll out, and people better start paying attention to this innovation. Its not going to be laugh at for long. The two mode hybrid system offered by GM is way more advanced than anything from the east and the Volt is going up the notch. Ford and GM also have very advanced hydrogen systems that do not get as much coverage as Hondas, but are quietly undergoing field tests.
Quality
Ford recently made headlines by virtually tying Japanese titans on quality. On the same token there was a headline about GM dealers complaining of a cash crunch resulting from repair shops that revenue is down as a result of quality improvements. The one area where imports could claim superiority without blinking is crumbling around Japan. Toyota in 2007 overtook Ford and Chevy as the most recalled brand. Perceptions on Japanese superior quality still exist in the market place, but they cannot be sustained for long.
Detroit still has a lot of work ahead of it to be on top again, but, finally there is light at the despair tunnel, that the worst may be behind Detroit. Focus on product, design quality and innovation has almost eliminated imports from car of the year awards.

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post #2 of 30 (permalink) Old 04-12-2008, 11:02 PM
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Re: FoMoCoNews.Com Opinion: The Detroit Comeback

Design will be the great differentiator for Detroit. Particularly GM has been very design-driven with new products. For example, the CTS Coupe was -not- a planned product. Instead, the design team doing the CTS Sedan did the exact coupe design we see just for fun...Lutz and Wagoner loved it so much, they approved it. They no longer take new designs through marketing or clinics...it goes from the designer/engineering...to the driveway.

That is how this business ran in the 1960's, during the golden age of design. And now it's back.
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post #3 of 30 (permalink) Old 04-12-2008, 11:12 PM Thread Starter
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Re: FoMoCoNews.Com Opinion: The Detroit Comeback

I am glad that while brands like Lincoln have refocussed on design, they have taken care to put quality, and execution at the front burner too. Just like Cadillac is doing with its platinum series. Top notch vehicles, inside out

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post #4 of 30 (permalink) Old 04-13-2008, 12:28 AM
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Re: FoMoCoNews.Com Opinion: The Detroit Comeback

From a cost perspective we have the advantage, from a global manufacturing footprint, Ford GM has a leg up, Nissan used to have a San Diego design center that they just closed, so watch that Nissan Design prowess go down, what else, There really is nothing much to show for Japan,
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post #5 of 30 (permalink) Old 04-13-2008, 12:35 AM
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Re: FoMoCoNews.Com Opinion: The Detroit Comeback

I agree that styling will play a big role in Detroit's comeback, but not as big as quality, perception and technology. Ford has matched the best out there in quality and I happen to know that it won't be long before they beat it too. It is the number one goal at Ford and we have been busy as heck trying to get there.

Technology is of course another big differentiator that will help sales. Everything from fuel efficiency to cool gadgets and features will win people over and that has already started with sync. There is so much more coming, especially with powertrain.

Perceptions will certainly change as a result of all the above, that much is certain, although it is difficult to know how quickly. Personally, I think it will happen much sooner than many expect, as I will bet that this whole American Comeback Story will just sweep this country in the next couple years. Everyone loves an underdog, especially from their home team.

America and it's workers are second to nobody.
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post #6 of 30 (permalink) Old 04-13-2008, 12:44 AM
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Re: FoMoCoNews.Com Opinion: The Detroit Comeback

By the way, that Honda Pilot in that pic is really ugly. Honda has some of the most horrible deisngs in CUV/SUV and certainly pickups. That just makes me feel good. I will never...EVER...feel bad for a Japanese company losing sales and closing plants in this country. America is happy to take those sales and build more plants and hire more workers and keep the money here rather than send it to Japan.
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post #7 of 30 (permalink) Old 04-13-2008, 12:21 PM Thread Starter
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Re: FoMoCoNews.Com Opinion: The Detroit Comeback

The malibu just looks soo superior

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post #8 of 30 (permalink) Old 04-13-2008, 04:05 PM
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Re: FoMoCoNews.Com Opinion: The Detroit Comeback

Quote:
Originally Posted by _nsap_ View Post
Design will be the great differentiator for Detroit. Particularly GM has been very design-driven with new products. For example, the CTS Coupe was -not- a planned product. Instead, the design team doing the CTS Sedan did the exact coupe design we see just for fun...Lutz and Wagoner loved it so much, they approved it. They no longer take new designs through marketing or clinics...it goes from the designer/engineering...to the driveway.

That is how this business ran in the 1960's, during the golden age of design. And now it's back.
Thank god for that.
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post #9 of 30 (permalink) Old 04-14-2008, 10:39 PM
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Re: FoMoCoNews.Com Opinion: The Detroit Comeback

It was a nice surprise to see your editorial, NDW - - in that I was thinking the same thing - - somehow betwn the superTaurus spypic, Raptor news, diesel info, and today the C2 being confirmed for the U.S.;
it just seems like a snowball-landslide is about ready to start!

Quote:
Originally Posted by wingsnut View Post
Perceptions will certainly change as a result of all the above, that much is certain, although it is difficult to know how quickly. Personally, I think it will happen much sooner than many expect, as I will bet that this whole American Comeback Story will just sweep this country in the next couple years.
Yup. Imho once the perception change starts, it's going to gain momentum very fast.
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Originally Posted by wingsnut View Post
I will never...EVER...feel bad for a Japanese company losing sales and closing plants in this country. America is happy to take those sales and build more plants and hire more workers and keep the money here rather than send it to Japan.
^^ DITTO

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post #10 of 30 (permalink) Old 04-15-2008, 10:28 AM
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Re: FoMoCoNews.Com Opinion: The Detroit Comeback

Chrysler being the grease stain in the domestic table cloth. Neither design, nor quality there. I see Chrysler going down in two years time with only Jeep surviving in the hands of other automaker, more likely than not foreign. as GM has Hummer and Ford frankly has its hands full right now.

What do you guys think?

I think its too soon for Detroit to tout a comeback yet but the signs are loud and clear that the efforts by Ford and GM are on the right track. However a shaky economy, raising gas prices and the **** perception problem conspire against this comeback big time. Still in 2008 we see how month after month the overall sales figures do NOT improve. We see very encouraging signs at Ford though, will they be enough? that, this time, is the question.

I for one am tired of comebacks. There was a huge one in the 90s from which Ford benefited the most. During the entire 90s Ford outearned every single other car maker. What did they do? Ask Tata, ask Hertz, ask Th!nk, ask Aston Martin, ask the euro Jiffy Lube (whatever its name was), ask the countless of failed investments and reorganization plans by Alex Trotman (+) and Jacques Nasser.

This time, if the comeback materializes, I want to see investment in long term sustainability. I want to see investment in new technologies, in clean fuels, and product, product an more product.

Ford with its new pint size business plan is poised to succeed big time and I for one, really hope they don't screw it up again. Mulally, Fields and Farley look like the right team. Lets hope they are. The three of them should have a picture of Nasser and Trotman in their refrigerators and probably give a call or two to Don Petersen.





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