GM/Ford/Chrysler Deserve Another Look From Car Buyers

Last Updated Apr 30, 2009 11:03 AM EDT

American made vehicles are getting a bad rap and should be given another look by the one-third of domestic buyers who flat out won't even consider purchasing a car from a U.S. company.

This, of course, is an argument made by GM, Ford, and Chrysler. But's it's also the opinion of Daniel Arturo Heller, a visiting scholar at Harvard Business School. Here is what he writes in Give the Big Three Another Chance, published in the Boston Globe:

"If more people would give Detroit's cars and trucks a second chance by going to showrooms and taking test drives, they might like what they see -- from fuel-efficient engines to new safety and convenience features to comfortable interiors."
Ironically, GM vehicles have enjoyed sustained growth in overseas markets while declining at home, he writes.

Even a few hundred thousand more car sales "would be enough to save an assembly plant or two. It would also go a long way toward reviving the sagging fortunes -- and public perceptions -- of GM, Ford, and Chrysler."

Do U.S. car makers have a bad wrap? Are consumers selling themselves short (as well as hurting an important domestic industry) by not at least considering a U.S. vehicle? After all, this is the second largest investment we are likely to make, next to housing. Shouldn't we do ourselves the favor of looking at all alternatives?

  • Sean Silverthorne

    Sean Silverthorne is the editor of HBS Working Knowledge, which provides a first look at the research and ideas of Harvard Business School faculty. Working Knowledge, which won a Webby award in 2007, currently records 4 million unique visitors a year. He has been with HBS since 2001.

    Silverthorne has 28 years experience in print and online journalism. Before arriving at HBS, he was a senior editor at CNET and executive editor of ZDNET News. While at At Ziff-Davis, Silverthorne also worked on the daily technology TV show The Site, and was a senior editor at PC Week Inside, which chronicled the business of the technology industry. He has held several reporting and editing roles on a variety of newspapers, and was Investor Business Daily's first journalist based in Silicon Valley.