Are we entering a new Golden Age of Automobiles? American domestic auto makers just might be. Shocking, I know — but read this, from MotorTrend:
“In fairness, the Japanese probably still lead the industry,” says Hossack, “but I think Americans will close the gap to the point where it’s not really significant.”
Reliability, of course, is not the only factor consumers consider when buying a car. Nowhere is that more apparent than at this week’s New York International Auto Show, where Ford, GM, and Chrysler are showing off their latest designs. They are introducing a flashy new Mustang, redesigned sedans, and even a sexy Buick convertible to win back buyers who have turned to imports because of style, innovation, and efficiency as well as quality.
While imports have taken over the small-car and crossover sport-utility markets, Detroit has clearly made gains, too. Cadillac, for one, is surging. It ranked seventh in reliability in the J.D. Power survey out of 37 brands.
European manufacturers, on the other hand, have declined sharply in quality in their rush to expand model lineups to match US and Asian competitors. For the first time, European brands such as Mercedes-Benz, Volkswagen, and Audi have fallen behind the Americans in both J.D. Power and Consumer Reports studies.
Most shocking, is what’s coming up in 2007. . .
. . . from none other than Buick.
That’s right, kids — that’s a Buick. It’s called the Velite, and it’s a rear-wheel drive droptop, so pretty it almost hurts to look at it.
And did I mention it’s a Buick?
If the domestic Big Three really are reinventing themselves, they have one man to thank: Bob Lutz. Lutz is responsible for the stylish turnaround at Chrysler/Dodge in the ’90s (think Prowler, PT Cruiser, Viper, 300M, etc) and now he’s working his magic at GM. New vehicles with his fingerprints on their shiny new paint include the Velite, the Pontiac Solstice, and damn near everything else desirable — and there’s lots of desireable stuff coming out of GM these days.
If you ever meet the man, buy him a drink for me.