What kind of cars does America want?

On the news I keep hearing government officials and corporate heads say we must manufacture the kind of cars “Americans want.”

Do they know??? I know of NO ONE that wants a small crate of a car as some would advocate. Everyone I know wants a truck, SUV, Mustang or new Camaro, or mid-size car. There is a Smart car or two around here. The drivers use them on Saturday mornings to drive to McDonald’s for coffee – that’s about it.

No offense, but you must have a small circle of friends. The people I know want all sorts of different vehicles. Some want small econo-boxes, some want large luxury cars, some want 4WD trucks, some want sports cars, some want muscle cars, etc, etc, etc.

Some just want an inexpensive car, and don’t seem to care much who builds it or what it looks like.

I even know one person who claims to want a Smart Car. I have no idea why, but she wants one.

I don’t think there’s a particular kind of vehicle that “America” wants.

It will be interesting to see what kinds of vehicles these government officials and corporate heads think we want.

That’s How It Looks From Where I Sit, Too. That’s All That Sells Here, Too.

Funny how the government says we must manufacture the kinds of cars “America Wants” when the only Big 3 company not going bankrupt (yet) has been buoyed up by their truck sales (I believe over 50% of their profits).

The government should stick to screwing up other programs like Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, Banking Industry, IRS, NASA . . .

It’s classic, “I’m from the government. I’m here to help.”


I’ve always maintained that much of America’s facination with the SUV, coincided with the loss of the large RWD cars and wagons that provided flexibility of use. With the 70’s gas crunch and the mileage requirements and proliferation of FWD cars and non regulation of “trucks” and SUVs, it was a natural emerging market.

So this segment still wants 4wd, tow capable, upright seating and decent ground clearance these vehicles provide. I prefer electric power…but diesel(run on nat. gas)/electric hybrid will do.

My second car can be a very sporty all electric smallish Corolla size commuter/trip car. That’s not too much to ask and both available now with present day tech. if the right investments are made.

The answer to “what America wants” will vary considerably from one region to another.
Where I live, foreign cars predominate, and these range from econoboxes to luxury marques.
In other areas of the country, foreign cars are rarely seen, based on some posts that I have read in this forum. For many years, pickup trucks have dominated the national sales of US-built vehicles, yet the only pickups seen in my area tend to those driven by tradesmen.

So, while the answer is difficult to answer with uniformity in our very diverse nation, I think that the answer to the question may lie in the sales figures of the US car makers. If large numbers of the American public wanted the vehicles built by these companies, then their market shares would not have dropped continuously over the past 20 years or so. Sure, the US car makers still have their loyal customers, but those customers are certainly far fewer in number than they used to be, while the Japanese and Korean car makers have progressively increased their market share.

Ultimately, I do think that most Americans would prefer to buy a US-made vehicle if they have a decent assurance that it will be of high quality. In fact, for the last sales reporting period, Ford outsold Toyota in the US! I take this to be a reflection of the greatly improved quality of the Fusion, the Focus, and the Taurus, as compared to Ford’s products of just a few years ago, and this is a very positive sign.

If Ford and GM can continue to improve their quality and their customer support–while simultaneously providing good-looking and well-performing vehicles, they will succeed, and the fuel-efficiency of those vehicles will also be a major factor.

It’s complicated. GM is now going to build he kind of car Team Obama wants…whether we want it or not. THAT car will be defined as “what America wants”.

I sincerely hope I’m wrong.

If I’m wrong, then I’ll wager that they’ll build the same kind of car they’ve been building, because that’s what America has been buying from them. This, IMHO, is a seruous strategic mistake. As the others have pointed out, America’s “wants” vary wildly. However most of the categories (market segments) already have manufacturers filling the need. IMHO what GM needs to do is create a product for a market segment long ignored…those seeking a basic, no frills vehicle at a very low cost of ownership for mostly local use. I call that the “bottom end” market. The VW Beetle became a legendary success filling that need a few generations ago. Tata has done the same in India. If GM does not do this, I predict that Cherry or Tata WILL! And GM will miss out on that ,arket segment already.

Hoever, if I’m right and Team Obama forces GM to produce cars that he wants peoepl to buy rather than what they want, we’ll be pouring more money into GM in another 5 years…probably sooner.

One other thought: China has now become the world’s biggest automobile market. If GM is to be global, they also better look closely at what China wants, “Green” cars be damned!

Here’s what I want.

  1. I want a full sized 2 door SUV. My Bronco is getting up in miles and there isn’t a comparable vehicle on the market to replace it with. If Ford made a 2 door full sized SUV version of the F-250/F350, I’d the be the first one in line. I’ll take mine with the 3 valve 6.8L V10 or the new 6.2L “Boss” V8 and 5 speed automatic.

  2. I want a Mustang that it’s in between the Shelby GT 500 and the regular Mustang GT in terms of price and performance. a 380-400 HP normally aspirated DOHC 5.4L V8 coupled with a 6 speed manual would ideal. Funnily enough the new DOHC 5.0L “Coyote” V8 is rumored to be the new engine in the 2011 Mustang GT, it’s supposed to put out around 400 HP, so maybe I won’t have to wait too long for this one.

What kind of cars do Americans want? They want the kinds of cars they buy! How hard is that?

According to U.S. News and World Report*, the top ten best-selling vehicles of 2008 were:

  1. Ford F-Series

  2. Chevrolet Silverado

  3. Toyota Camry

  4. Honda Accord

  5. Toyota Corolla

  6. Honda Civic

  7. Nissan Altima

  8. Chevrolet Impala

  9. Dodge Ram

  10. Honda CR-V

Six of these vehicles are made by Honda, Toyota, and Nissan. Personally, I would like to see GM and Ford do a better job of competing with these models. What’s the harm of that? I sure wouldn’t mind seeing some of those Hondas and Toyotas be replaced by Fords and Chevys, and that will only happen if Ford and Chevy learn to do a better job of competing. Otherwise, we will see the Fords, Chevys, and the Dodge be replaced by Hondas, Toyotas, and Nissans.

Helping GM and Ford become more competitive will save American jobs. Isn’t that what we all want?

One person cannot speak for all Americans and one car will not fit all Americans. In general I think Americans want cars that are:

made better, better fitting panels and interiors, less problems requiring a trip back to the dealer, less maintenance and repairs

more fuel efficent and utilitze new fuel efficient designs and technology sooner (perhaps this is why the new technology used by Honda and Toyota accounts for some of their popularity).

fun to drive and have some character

able to tow stuff for those of us who have stuff needing towing

flexible when it comes to seating and storage so that families can travel on vacation in comfort

built either in America or use substantial American parts and labor, currently the Camry is the most American built car so the manufacturer may be offshore. Americans working for foriegn companies get their paychecks cashed in America, buy houses and groceries in America etc. “Buy American” doesn’t simply mean buy GM, Chrysler, or Ford anymore. Toyota and Honda build a lot of cars in the US, so now it means buy cars built in America without regard for the manufacturers nameplate.

I want a vehicle that I am allowed to delete certain items and not be forced into buying “packages” to get the one option I want. I don’t want my cars electrical system to get overly complicated (like BMW’s usless I Drive system) and I don’t want a car with outragesly priced components like we saw earlier with that system for that womans Hybrid FORD that affected her brake system.

And most of all I want continuing evolution of the IC engine. I see the guys in the shop run when given simple electrical system faults to diagnosis, I wonder how much added technology the mechanics can handle.

So what is your problem? They are not suggesting not making any model that is selling well. They may be saying we should be making some form of car that is not now being seriously marketed. In the end it is the market that is determining what is made. If a car company does not make what people want, it will not be a car company much longer. In the old days they could get away with selling what they wanted to sell, but not today.

Personally I like small efficient cars and nearly every car I have owned fit that description. I don’t need a SUV to go to work or the grocery.

www.Saleen.com ???

"…government officials and corporate heads say we must manufacture the kind of cars “Americans want.” "

That’s code for “the kind of cars we want Americans to drive”. Surely you must know that.

There is often talk about reliability issues with the Detroit 3. However, their reliability has improved substantially. The article in today’s newspaper about GM’s return from bankruptcy said that the reliability issue is largely a perception problem. An industry analyst and JD Power were quoted as saying that the difference in reliability between the Detroit 3 and the traditional Asian reliability champs is not all that great today. It’s just that many (most?) Americans aren’t ready to believe it yet.

They may want cheaper gasoline, but last year at $4.50 a gallon, a small car with a roomy interior would have been ideal. Honda made an Accord like that back in 1982. We also want a car that doesn’t shake when we step on the brakes. I wanted a one ton truck one year but I traded it for an Escort and was then able to find the money to eat at restaurants three more times per week. There weren’t any big-money jobs in my neighborhood back then. I want drum brakes on the rear and NO ABS,stability control or air bags.

One thing is for sure, and that is American people want to be able to buy a car of there choice, whether that’s a Smart Car, or a Ford F-250.

Really what is an SUV. Cars from a Forester to a full size Hummer claim that title.

Given the example of what the Japanese manufacturers are doing I’d say they want increasingly bigger vehicles with ever decreasing fuel economy. At least given examples like the fact a modern civic gets close to 10 mpg less than a late '70’s accord.

The modern Civic weighs more because of safety equipment and because it is a larger car than the late 1970s Accord. Compare the late 1970s Accord with the new Honda Fit. They are a lot closer in size and weight.

Although Japanese manufacturers have added larger models to their lines, the models they sell the most of (see my list above), are relatively small and efficient.

Based on my list above, when people want something big and powerful, they buy something American. When people want something smaller and efficient, they buy something Japanese. Wouldn’t it be nice if all of these people could get both from an American car company?

My definition is a truck-based body-on frame vehicle that has an enclosed cargo area that can be accessed from the front of the vehicle without having to get outside of the vehicle. The only two exceptions to this rule that I can think of are the Grand/NonGrand Cherokee, which is unibody, and the 2nd gen Pathfinders.

The Saleen Mustangs that offer better performance than the factory Mustang GT tend to cost about as much as the Shelby GT500, in most cases even more.