Yes, Let’s

I saw this op-ed today titled Let Detroit Go Bankrupt by Mitt Romney, and in spite of how much I think he’s a crazy nutjob I actually agree with most of it. American car companies are failing, and a bailout won’t do anything but give them more money to lose.

I recently bought a new car. I love it more than anything else I’ve ever bought, except for education. When I decided I was ready for a new car I had already secured a car loan, so I had few limitations. I try to buy local as much as possible, so it made sense to get an American car. I’ve only ever owned American; a Chevy Camaro, a Ford Taurus and a Ford Focus. I never had trouble with any of them, they all lasted a long time. The Focus was the only one I wasn’t thrilled about in the snow. My brother-in-law works for GM and every other day I read about plant closings in the news.

I was pretty shocked by what I found. Not only were there not any American cars that looked particularly appealing, most of them weren’t priced all that differently from their foreign counterparts, and in some cases were only a couple thousand dollars difference from a luxury brand.

Car Comparison

The prices shown reflect similar options and trim levels. These cars were basically the same, except the Volkswagen beat most of them on mileage and horsepower. If money were no object I’d want a BMW 328i or an Audi A4. So which of the cars pictured above looks the most like those two? And which of them had the most standard features comparable to those two?

Ding ding ding. If you said the Volkswagen Jetta you answered correctly. Most of the other cars more closely resembled Buicks. Now did I really buy the car because it looked like an Audi? No, but I did pick the car I thought looked the most elegant and stylish out of the bunch and was the most bang for my buck.

I opted for the limited edition Wolfsburg which had similar standard features to the Audi and BMW; a turbo engine, premium sound system, heated seats, defrosting side mirrors, auto-adjusting windshield wipers etc. Additionally Volkswagen offers 30,000 miles of free maintenance, something else BMW, Audi and Lexus are doing.

American companies are serving up Kmart when customers want Banana Republic. Their cars aren’t priced to compete. The design both exterior and interior are dull, and their brands are lackluster.* Mileage is a joke when GMC can call their Cadillac Escalde Hybrid “fuel efficient” at 18mpg. None of the American companies offer free maintenance. No wonder the industry is failing, it’s not because they don’t have enough money, it’s because they’re selling an inferior product. Maybe the car companies should hire Steve Jobs instead of begging the government for welfare.

*The possible interior exception would be cars including SYNC technology, which would be a whole lot more appealing were it not from Microsoft. I was a little sad how Volkswagen was lacking in the bluetooth and voice recognition department. Their navigation system was pretty archaic too.


  1. Heidi Cool

    I’m on my 4th car now, A VW Cabrio (convertible is great in summer, but this time of year, its the heated seats that please me most.) My first was a Honda Accord, then a VW Fox, then a VW Golf. I’ve developed a penchant for VW’s but like you it isn’t due to being anti-American or being a Euro-car snob. It’s that VW makes cars that suit my needs. Mine is small, has a 5 speed manual transmission, is more fuel efficient than many American cars, and on top of that it’s solid and rather cute.

    Detroit should be able to build something like that, they just don’t seem to be doing so–esp. when it comes to trying to find a manual transmission. Until they do I’m sticking with German engineering.

  2. Kevin

    I agree completely with your article. American car companies are failing and it is there own fault. Back in the day American car companies were second to none in design, quality, and value and now I would actually consider purchasing a Hyundai over some of their modern cars. I went to a car show a few weeks back and was astonished at how bland and boring the exterior of the American cars. It was also astonishing how cheap the interior of the American cars looked and felt. Cheap synthetic plastics all over and I often felt I had to be careful when messing with some of the radio buttons and controls because I thought I might brake them. In comparison the German engineered cars were a tad bit more expensive but the quality and craftsmanship involved far surpassed the American cars. Even my good friend who is a die hard American car fan finally remarked that he would rather pay a tad more and purchase an Audi A4 then the comparable Ford Fusion or Malibu. It also irritates me when they pay their CEO nearly 2.2 million a year! As a corporation if I am paying a guy that kind of money he damn well better be turning water into wine so to speak. I also think that a big part of the American car makers problem is their reliance on gas gussling trucks and SUVs. These use to account for the majority of their sales but with gas having tipped $4 a gallon this summer people finally realized that a gas gussling vehicle is stupidity.

  3. TigerTom

    “18mpg”????? Ha hah ha!

    Destroy them!

    On a more moderate note, it’s folly to give public money towards a good which is inessential and a bad example of its kind.

    The Cubans have been using the same cars for decades and doing it in style. If all car production stopped now, we’d still manage.

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