Not A Secret Formula

The 2007 Jeep Compass is shown at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit, Monday, Jan. 9, 2006. The vehicle will be availabe in U.S. dealerships in the third quarter of 2006. (AP Photo/Carlos Osorio)
This column was written by CBS News Early Show co-anchor Harry Smith.
Lots of pictures this week from the big auto show in Detroit. Claims from U.S auto makers that they can and will compete with Japan, while polls show U.S. consumers believe Japan makes better cars.

I remember riding in a Datsun for the first time in 1970 or so. They were called Datsuns before they were called Nissan in the U.S. The car was well made. Drove well and got unbelievable gas mileage.

Let me note that was 35 years ago. Detroit has been losing ground and market share ever since. To its credit, Detroit has improved the quality of its cars a lot, but it got fat selling pick-ups and SUVs.

Meanwhile more and more of the cars America has chosen to buy have foreign name plates, and here's what they have in common: They run well, almost never need service, look good enough, are relatively cheap to buy, and really cheap to run.

This is not a secret formula.

Harry's daily commentary can be heard on manyCBS Radio News affiliates across the country.
By Harry Smith