Sunday, May 25, 2008

Jay Leno: Quality and Design are the Key to America's Automotive Survival

Jay Leno, one of the worlds most notorious Motorheads, wrote a piece for, and tells Detroit how to fix itself. I think Mr. Leno makes a couple really good points, a couple of which I have posted on.

That is to say, Americans want to buy American but they've been let down so many times by shortcuts in quality, design and engineering by the Big Three (in an effort to offset costs inflicted by the unions) that they have stopped coming back. Now, the next generation of car-buyers have no loyalty to the American auto maker whatsoever.

The type of vehicles America makes best are, unfortunately, not the type of vehicles that people really want anymore.

Where we seem to lose it is in the low-bucks econocar.

...the one thing we used to do better than anybody else was build cheap, extremely high-quality cars.

When you get into a high-priced, well-made American car today and the key is in the ignition, you hear a melodic bong, bong. But when you get in a cheap American car, like a rental, and the key is left in, it goes plink, plink, plink. It’s just horrible. Every time you use the turn signal, it’s like breaking a chicken leg.

In order to make the more expensive car more appealing, U.S. companies feel as though they have to dumb down the cheaper car.

I believe that, all things being equal, Americans will buy American. It just has to be as good as the competition; it doesn’t have to be better. The classic example is Harley-Davidson.

The automakers are starting to think like Harley and understand that when you get into an automobile, everything should be appealing to you. If you see stitching that’s out of line on the dashboard, you’re going to get madder and madder every time you see it. That’s one place where the American car companies dropped the ball.


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