Trials and Travails of Toyota: Now, is “Buy American” getting easier?

Buy Liberty Loans poster from 1917

Is the Detroit auto industry poised for a comeback?

I’m not sure if all the players will survive, but Ford is making a comeback. The only automaker that didn’t need a bailout posted record sales in February, according to sales figures released this week.


Ford’s sales are up 43.4% from a year ago, while GM’s are up only 12%. Ford surpassed GM in the U.S. market—a position that GM held for years.

The same thing happened in Canada. Ford of Canada’s sales are up 51% from a year ago, placing the company ahead of GM in all of North America. This makes nine consecutive quarters of gains.

How did Toyota do?

Sales fell by 9% in the past twelve months. Recalls of millions of vehicles for accelerator and braking problems, coupled with its mishandling of quality issues, took their toll. Whether the breach of trust will have lasting effects depends on how well the Japanese automaker responds to its crisis. (Scroll down to read this week’s posts on Toyota.)

Perhaps the stars are realigning in Detroit’s favor. The quality of American cars now rivals Toyota’s. Toyota’s vaunted reputation for quality is tarnished, and may have lasting effects on customer demand. More than ever, it’s easy to “Buy American.”
Did you know that waves of “Buy American” sentiments have rolled through our culture for more than a century? The image above, for example, was part of a 1917 American Liberty Loan campaign—asking immigrants to show their love of this country by investing in our future.

Are you considering a new-car purchase? If so, how does all of this play into your decision making? Does “Buying American” motivate you?

Even if you’re not in the market for a new car, what’s your wager on the future of Detroit automakers—now that Toyota has stumbled?



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