Totaly agree, the press is by and large very forgiving to foreign companies. Both Asian and European manufactures have turned out some pretty goofy designs lately, but they are quickly forgiven or glossed over. A reviewer might say "contraversial styling" or "ecclectic" or "not for everyone" and then cover that with how great the car performs, it's engineering gimicks or it's reliability record. American cars are given more the "what the hell were they thinking" treatment.Fformula88 said:Sorry AztekzRpurty about using the Aztek in my post above! It was just a good GM example. Apparently the new Buick LaCrosse would have been another because Lutz ordered it restyled when he arrived.
I cannot believe that the Honda Element has not received more criticism from the auto press. It just goes to show they are somewhat biased when it comes to American and Japanese products. Both vehicles are essentially squared off boxes, with generous amounts of side cladding. The Aztek's nose treatment is a little more aggressive, but its not like the Element is pretty.
It is great to see importance being placed on styling. With Chrysler putting a lot of emphasis on styling, and now GM getting back to styling, I think the domestics are in for good things. Now Ford needs to step it up a little on its regular cars. The GT and '05 Mustang shows they can create some good looking cars, but some others, the 500, Freestyle, etc look a little plain to me.
Oh, I know the Aztek and Element are not exactly the same car, or aimed at exactly the same buyers. The Aztek is certainly more aggressive and in your face. But the Element, minus the really aggressive grille, is not all that different. Both use liberal amounts of plastic cladding. Pontiac has always been ripped apart in the press for cladding. Yet Honda’s use earns them credit for making a “durable” vehicle. I guess I fail to see the Element’s use of cladding as good when the Aztek’s is bad. They do it for engines too. That element makes do with a 4 cylinder (I think 160 HP) and it scoots along fine and has “pep”. But if GM drops in a 180-200 HP V6 into a similar vehicle, it’s a “low tech” underpowered vehicle.Darkhamr said:While I agree, the press does seem to cut the imports more slack, it may be due to years of better quality products and vehicles that just keep selling more and more. Tough to tell an automaker to spiff up their designs when the general public seems to be voting for boring Honda / Toyota designs with their wallets.
Also, I don't see the Aztek and the Element in the same vein at all. You may not like the silhouette, but The E is clean compared to the Aztek. If GM would ditch the two-level hood look, clean-up the headlamp / awful turn signals and change the triangulated looking hatch to something more convential it would probably sell just fine.
I think there is a perception that because GM is the biggest car maker (by volume) that it should do better. The perception might be that if they are that big, they must have great resources to develope world beating cars, and the only reason they don't do that is corporate greed. I think nothing could be further from the truth. GM is big, but it's messed up, and how it got there is a whole nother rant, but it's car division in America is now a big money loser, they lost several hundred dollars on every car they sold last year due to incentives to get them off the lot. If it weren't for the trucks, SUVs and GM finance divisions, they'd be looking for a government bailout about now. Honda on the other hand made about $1200 dollars on each car and Toyota a whopping $1500. Toyota is by far the most profitable car company in the world bar none.Fformula88 said:The fact is the press is very hard on the domestics, and especially so on GM. Maybe they just expect better from them, and will not accept average. That’s ok to a point, but it really hurts the domestics when they do put out a very good vehicle.
These are great points and brings something else to mind. I'm only 35, but for a good portion of those years, I recall the mantra from the domestics being "we are building the next import fighter". Or "this platform/vehicle is designed to compete with *Accord/Camry/Maxima, insert name here*" It makes me wonder if they often come up short by trying to match another vehicle rather than picking a segment or target group and build the best you can within that and stop worrying about others.AeroDave said:GM has been working on quality and productivity, they also are good at innovating new technologies, but they are losing. As darkhamr pointed out, people are voting with their pocket books. This is why I believe that design and styling is so critical for them. If you can't boost your productivity much more, you don't have R&D money for new engines and platforms every five years or so, there isn't a profit margin there to allow top notch materials and components, you can't cut the cost of labor much more and gimmicks and new technologies aren't enough to get them to the showroom, then what's left? Simple, work with what you have, and make cars people really want because they provoke an emotional response.
Good design costs about the same as losey design, but the good gets people to order cars sight unseen (like some on this board) and bad ends up in $5000 rebates to get 'em off the lot. It's a relatively low cost way to get people to buy your cars. Lots of customers buy cars on emotion, so if you make a car that looks hot, and looks good in people's driveways, they have a good time when they're in it, and when they step on the gas it goes like snot, they're probably willing to over look the push rods, slightly cheaper materials and the spotty reputation, because it makes the feel good and it didn't cost a fortune.
I agree with that statement. By making a comparison to a foriegn competitor, the draw attention to the short comings of their design, short change themselves by trying to copy too closely and not playing to thier weak points, and the others definately have weak points. I believe they should just make great cars that people really enjoy and let others draw comparisons. The best situation is when you have a vehicle that is very desirable and has no comparison. This is what they should shoot for, not trying to make a cheaper Camry or Accord. :bangheadDarkhamr said:These are great points and brings something else to mind. I'm only 35, but for a good portion of those years, I recall the mantra from the domestics being "we are building the next import fighter". Or "this platform/vehicle is designed to compete with *Accord/Camry/Maxima, insert name here*" It makes me wonder if they often come up short by trying to match another vehicle rather than picking a segment or target group and build the best you can within that and stop worrying about others.
Agree 100% which is why I was dismayed by the recent Autoline program that said the domestics are spending more than twice as much on marketing and incentives as they are on development. I believe that great cars sell themselves. Let's hope GM decides to shift some more funding back into the products.AeroDave said:.... I believe they should just make great cars that people really enjoy and let others draw comparisons. The best situation is when you have a vehicle that is very desirable and has no comparison. This is what they should shoot for, not trying to make a cheaper Camry or Accord. :banghead