It's about time I talked about this. I work at a domestic (read: American) car dealership. We sell General Motors products. A lot of them. We have people that occasionally ask us, "Why should we buy American? Aren't foreign cars better?" A few of us cringe when we hear that question, because we already know that there is an extra wall of psychological mishmash that has to be dealt with, as well as a customer that already thinks our cars are no good.
I guess I should make one thing clear: I have no problems with people that buy import cars, as long as they do the following:
1. Research ALL the competition, not just imports. If you're looking at a Toyota Camry, you should also be looking at the Chevy Malibu and Ford Fusion. If you're looking at a Toyota Tundra (I wanted to use a different make, but Toyota is the only import make that actually has a real truck. Shut up, Nissan.) you should definitely be looking at a Ford F-150, Chevy Silverado/GMC Sierra, or Dodge Ram as well. Consider all the alternatives, especially given the level of quality coming out of American factories.
2. Have a need that a domestic car simply cannot fill. I had a customer one time that was looking at the Chevy Traverse and comparing it to the Honda Pilot. The Pilot would fit in her garage, the Traverse would not. I have no issues with her decision to purchase a Pilot based on that fact.
A lot of people think that import cars are somehow "better". I challenge this assertion with one of my own: Import cars now are not "better", they are simply different. The average consumer in this country has been buying American cars for most of their adult lifetime. If they lived through the all-but-implicitly-declared American garbage in the 80's and early 90's, and then a smug Honda salesman puts them in a brand new Accord, of course they are going to marvel at how well put together the Accord is.
But here's the thing: It's 2010. Everything is well put together now. The import manufacturers simply looked at what American makers were doing wrong in 1993, improved upon it, and released cars that were a notch or two better assembled. A brilliant move on their part, because General Motors (for example) didn't figure out how to build a good midsize car to combat the Camry and Accord until 2007 with the 2008 Chevy Malibu. That's enough time for a lot of midsize car customers to jump ship. And they did. Now American midsize cars are equal to if not better than the imports, and our fight is to get people to look at us again.
Back to my point about imports being different. I had a smartphone addiction for about a year and a half. I had every new phone that came out. Every phone did everything that the phone before it did, it just did it differently. I got addicted to the different-ness. Autos are the same, albeit with a far greater financial investment. People can get addicted to different.
What is far more important, at least for this country, is that the domestic automobile companies essentially created the middle class. By working with the United Auto Workers and getting higher wages, a new economic class was created and bolstered, allowing ancillary services and goods to flourish. Drawing the parallel, if not for Ford, GM, and Chrysler, would we have flat-panel TVs and smartphones? Maybe, but how many of us would be able to afford them?