As The Garage is so close to GM Canada’s headquarters, and a large number of Durham Region’s population depend on The General, I have spent some time over the years justifying my position that Traditional Domestics (ie American cars) SUCK. They ask “how can you say that when your neighbour’s income depends on those cars” or “we take great pride in the quality of our cars”.
It’s true, that the Oshawa plant has the highest quality rating of any of GM’s plants. That’s right, us Canadian’s build better cars up here than are built south of the border. These guys & girls have a right to be proud. They build the best cars they can, within the parameters that are set out for them. That’s right, this high end production facilty is predetermined to build crap.
The traditional domestics have some pretty inspired stylists too. Is it their fault? Not on your life.
The technical designers then? Well, let’s face it. Some of the best cars in the world (think Accord & Camry) are built and designed in North America with North American designers. I’m pretty sure the designers and engineers bred here in North American are equal to or better than those from any other country.
So, why are American cars crap?
Because the companies profit structure dictates that the accounting staff decide the quality of the end product. The stylists design a prototype. The engineers put the technology into the car. The accountants determine what quality of raw materials will be used in the manufacturing facilty. Have you ever compared the quality of plastics used in a Traditional Domestic (ie American) with that of a similar quality Traditional Import (ie Japanese)? The Japanese Domestic will always have a richer feel, because a higher quality of plastic is used.
Japanese manufacturers build long term relationships with their suppliers that are based on a mutual goal. “We need this widget. Can we build it for X dollars? If not, How much?” American manufacturers put out a tender for a product and then choose the cheapest bidder. Anyone with any inkling of business sense knows that the cheapest supplier is going to be cutting corners somewhere. In essence, you get what you pay for.
If the Traditional Domestics want to start building cars of the same quality as the Traditional Imports, they should allow their designers and engineers to do their jobs. Give the suppliers and the guys on the line the same raw products that the designers specify. Now that will mean a vehicle with a higher cost. Tough. Rearrange the proft structure. If you are building fewer quality cars that actually sell instead of building cars to keep plants working, the company will make more money. Toyotas are typically a bit more expensive than Fords and Toyota doesn’t appologize. They built cars that sell without sitting on a lot for a year. When was the last time you saw Toyota offering Employee pricing?
Instead of allowing the accounting departments to hold a leash around all the other departments, reign in the accountants and allow the design and productions teams to build great cars. Then we might start seeing some great American cars instead of American cars that SUCK!