Baloney, retorts Harvard Business School professor Daniel Snow, an expert on innovation and one-time employee for a U.S. car manufacturer. He argues that Detroit, which has learned its lessons from a series of poor decisions, is today just getting an undeserved bad rap.
"The decline of General MotorsIndependent analysts such as J.D. Power rate U.S. cars among the best in the world, he says.
, Ford and Chrysler can be traced to three causes: poor fuel economy performance, quality and reliability problems, and undesirable products. But on each issue the Big Three have learned from their mistakes and from the successes of their competitors."
Not that this was always the case, Snow concedes in an op-ed for Forbes.com. When he worked for a domestic car maker, "no one in my family--including me--took advantage of my discount to buy one of my employer's cars. Even those of us who were willing to sacrifice a little on quality were quick to heed other concerns about performance and aesthetics. In short, we didn't want the cars."
Not true today. Snow says his next vehicle will be a Chevrolet Cobalt SS.
In its much noted "apology" to consumers on Monday, GM admitted past mistakes but argued:
"Today, we have substantially overcome our quality gap; our newest designs are widely heralded for their appeal ... our new products are nearly all cars and crossovers rather than pickups and SUVs; our manufacturing operations have greatly improved productivity, and our labor agreements are much more competitive. GM is also driven to lead in fuel economy -- with more hybrid models for sale and biofuel-capable vehicles on the road than any other manufacturer -- and is determined to reinvent the automobileIs Detroit turning out products competitive with its overseas competitors? Is it already on the right track for the future? Will the new "car czar" have any work to do?
with revolutionary new products like the Chevrolet Volt extended range
electric vehicle and breakthrough technology like hydrogen fuel cells."
Snow argues the American automobile industry deserves your support. Do you agree?