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When car shopping, you may begin with the question: Should I buy a foreign car or domestic car? If you do some general research online, you may find that most recommendations would point you in the direction to buy a foreign car. That has seemed to be the overwhelming opinion of most for decades. I’d like to compare the ethnicity of other vehicles to American vehicles. And provide some information that would encourage you to develop your own opinion based on real data, and not just what might seem like the bias opinion of others. Before we compare these two markets, let me give you a little context.
Beginning with the introduction of henry fords model-T in 1903, the auto industry would never be the same. Although it took a while for European countries to let horse and carriage go and get into the Us market themselves, it wouldn’t be long before they were competing for sales to the richer demographic starting in the 1930’s (wheelsTV, YouTube channel) , eventually with the later introduction of the first Japanese car in 1959 (Toyopet sedan catalog, pg . Cover). This would give birth to an ongoing battle for place of hierarchy in the world’s automotive industry. Ford’s story is one the most iconic American stories, and if his product had any reflection of his name, it would be hard to move him out of that leading position for as long as he was alive.
Throughout the first 50-60 years of U.S. auto sales, several American companies, especially General Motors, would keep Ford motivated by their hunger to take his spot, and offer the perception of better value to the U.S. market. But it wasn’t until the 60’s That not only ford would be in trouble, but the entire Domestic auto industry. They would soon feel the pressure from Foreign auto makers. Over-sea’s manufactures where strongly drawn to the U.S market. Now, as more developed auto manufactures, it was only a matter of time before they would come and try to dominate the market.
Since the early 60’s, and the beginning of foreign car market, gave birth to the question: Which vehicle should I buy, Foreign or Domestic? With Japanese and German manufactures marketing the first imported car as value driven. In hind sight, this seemed to be a great marketing strategy to gain market share because they knew there was a demand from the lower-class people who couldn’t afford the nice cars Ford and GM where selling. In contrast to the now established luxury market that the domestic manufactures currently lead, U.S citizens questioned foreign quality. With gearing their cars to the middle lower class, offering a very low price on basic cars, this proved controversial at first but ultimately effective. Year over year sales grew and stole market share that was flooded with the American full-size, full-featured, high priced vehicles that only the more well off citizens could afford. European, Japanese and American manufactures marketing strategies worked, compared to the sliver of the market American manufactures held.
It’s obvious as time went on, foreign manufactures found their niche with in the US market. Asians filled in the gap to provide a more affordable family sedan and Europe’s manufactures offering sportier and more exhilarating vehicles to drive. While domestic manufactures continued to appeal to the lazy, more well off sector of the population, making large, luxurious comfortable rides, which ultimately proved detrimental in later years as the tables would eventually turn, as people would eventually prefer foreign over domestic by a land slide, due to market share growth with cheap, reliable cars. I guess with the introduction of foreign cars, we would now have the full spectrum of options available to us for the time being, until foreign manufactures decided to enter the luxury market as well.
Looking back, domestic manufactures had some “rough roads” in keeping market share in the US compared to foreign manufactures, which allowed people to draw their own conclusion of which is the better buy. It appears, in the beginning of competing with foreign auto makers, Domestic auto manufactures had a hard time trimming the fat of the luxury line up, cutting corners to make their vehicles less expensive to compete and hold market share proved devastating. And would earn Domestic brands a less than appealing history that would affect future sales. And give the opportunity for foreign auto makers to completely engulf the market, leaving no domestic brand having its own niche.
Which is why most people recommending foreign vehicles over domestic when it comes to dependability and overall value. Because they have been constantly gaining market share since they entered the U.S market. But this idea may be outdated. Yes, the data proves otherwise. As of 2014, on an overall manufacture level, J.D. Power’s Vehicle Dependability Study shows major improvements made by American automakers. Four Domestic brands placed in the top 10. Equal to Japanese brands, four in the top 10 also, and then two European brands rounding it out. So, although most the market still has a bad taste in their mouth form previous years, it seems that domestic brands are making a come-back. Especially General Motors with eight segment awards, more than any other automaker in 2014 but with Lexus holding the very top spot for dependability. (J.D Power’s VDS 2014)
As sales of foreign vehicles grow because of the perceived reputation, supply and demand kicks in and forces prices up, domestic automakers are forced to drop prices and in affect gain market share. We saw this originally with the entrance of foreign manufactures to the US market in the 60s. and so goes on a continues long term vicious cycle of supply and demand changing market shares, cutting costs and ever fluctuating quality amongst both suppliers.
The numbers, done by professionals, put domestic manufactures even in terms of dependability, reliability and units sold compared to foreign manufactures. I think it’s a matter of opinion at this point, and most importantly educating yourself on what to expect from curtain manufactures and what their ethnicity would specialize in. If I wanted a sports car I wouldn’t buy a truck, and it most definitely wouldn’t be a European truck. If I needed to move dirt, I wouldn’t buy an American sports car. And although they are both fruit, if I was craving an apple, I wouldn’t buy a pear and expect it to taste like an apple, just because the pear was 4 cents cheaper. I think it is up to people to educate themselves on what fits their needs from a practical standpoint, because of course there are cheap sports cars out there, but if you go buy a Chevy and expect it to perform like a Ferrari, you are going to be disappointed. Because you always get what you pay for. And blaming a manufacture for your mistake in purchasing the right vehicle for your needs, and expectations, and trying to save a few bucks, might just be the old opinion and formed mindset that has given the domestic brands a bad name.