Wednesday, 29 May 2013

Why don't people buy American cars anymore?

More than most people would like to admit, purchasing a car and the decisions involved in that purchase are emotional. We like to think we are rational, responsible, and reasonable when we buy cars. But are we? More often than not I think we purchase the car that we feel is right for us, even if we know deep down there is a better option.

So, what do the emotional influences involved in purchasing a car have to do with people not buying American cars these days? Plenty. Over the past 40 years people have developed, or been driven to develop, certain opinions about automobile manufacturers and the cars the make. Unfortunately for the Detroit automakers the opinions people have developed about them are a little unflattering to say the least.

First and foremost is the issue of quality and reliability. Ask ten people this simple question: Which are more reliable, American or Japanese cars? You wouldn't be surprised to find out that nine out of those ten people answer that they feel Japanese cars are more reliable. American automakers can place most of the blame for this perception on themselves. Simply put, they produced and sold horribly unreliable automobiles of poor quality throughout much of the 1970's and 1980's. At the same time, Japanese automakers were making their cars more and more reliable and continually improving the quality of their product.

Today American automobiles are independently rated as high or higher in reliability and quality tests as their Japanese counterparts. There is one problem though. Most consumers still feel that Japan makes a more reliable car. When buying a new car they want to know it will run forever if it needs to. They feel the Japanese cars will, and therefore they think they know.

There is also a more recent phenomenon that has given Japanese automakers a huge boost - the fact that many Americans now believe since Japanese companies build their cars and trucks on American soil they are more or less an American car. This is the result of massive, expensive, and well thought out ad campaigns promoted by the Japanese companies. The cars may be built here but at the end of the day the profits end up in Japan, not in America. Again, knowing that the car was built at a plant in the United States makes people feel better about choosing a Japanese car over an American one.

There is nothing wrong with purchasing a Japanese car and I sure don't want to discourage anyone from purchasing the car that best suits their needs. I do want people to stop and really think when they are buying a car or any other product. The perceptions and opinions you have may not be entirely correct and emotions may be driving your decisions.
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