US Car Industry - just import european versions? - davidh
Hi All,

Most of us know that the big 3 manufacturers in the US are in trouble and have gone "cap in hand" to the government for 25 billion dollars so things must be bad.

Aside from pensions issues, and health care etc etc, why cant they just save a whole load of money and sell the european models in the US? May be they already do. If so then why are they bothering with duplicating design these days? Do honda build an Accors specifically for the States? Or indeed Toyota with the Camry?

I understand why american cars were big and understressed for the geography but surely with advances in car design we can have a one size fits all scenario these days?

I understand that there is now the Saturn Astra and Ford sells the Focus there but surely theres some scope for completely rationalising the whole glut of brands like Lincoln, Buick, Plymouth. It reminds me of the badge engineering British Leyland had for many years.

We hired a Ford Taurus a couple of years ago whilst in Florida and I thought it was okay in a white bread kind of way (if a bit cheap on the dashboard). I'm sure the latest mondeo would be able to compete with it on interior size so why not just brand the Mondeo as a Taurus in the US? My only thought would be that the Mondeo appears to be a much more sophisticated car therefore perhaps more expensive to make.


US Car Industry - just import european versions? - Rattle
Yanks seem to love 4.0 litre cars with 6 cylinders that produce 39bph. They seem to hate European cars like we hate American ones.

It is a matter of taste.
US Car Industry - just import european versions? - rtj70
"Do honda build an Accord specifically for the States? Or indeed Toyota with the Camry?"

They do I think.
US Car Industry - just import european versions? - jc2
And they build them in the States.
US Car Industry - just import european versions? - rtj70
e.g. the Accord saloon and coupe look nothing like the European ones do they:

automobiles.honda.com/accord/

And as jc2 says they build them there. And don't forget they get the premium Accura brand in the States too.

Ford are looking to build American versions of European cars starting with the Fiesta. The last Mondeo was available there too but they probably changed it too much for the US.

Edited by rtj70 on 20/11/2008 at 20:00

US Car Industry - just import european versions? - nortones2
The imports look similar, but they've taken out the oil from the dampers, the disc brakes, and added porridge to the steering. They don't need all that cornering stuff....
US Car Industry - just import european versions? - theterranaut
The Ford Focus is much the same in both territories, and has been a great success for Ford everywhere.

tt
US Car Industry - just import european versions? - Group B
They used to sell old shape Mondeos over there, badged as both Ford and Mercury. Looking on the Ford US website, they sell a Fusion (not the same as the Euro one), which looks to be bigger than a Mondeo?

Have a look at their website, I always find it interesting to look at the "same but different" model ranges. But would they be able to sell a UK spec Mondeo at a competitive price? And look at the US VW website - no Lupo, no Polo, no diesel engines..
scope for completely rationalising the whole glut of brands like Lincoln,
Buick, Plymouth.


Chrysler still make Chryslers and Dodges but they got rid of Plymouth several years ago. Similarly GM shut down the Oldsmobile brand a year or two ago. I could never really tell the difference between Buick and Oldsmobile (in terms of prestige/ target buyer) but to US buyers they must have had a different appeal?

Edited by Rich 9-3 on 20/11/2008 at 21:48

US Car Industry - just import european versions? - tawse
I'll love to see your average-sized American fit into a Fiesta or Yaris or similar. Having said that the Jazz - the Fit in the US - is a big seller. The US has several cities in the top of the fattest league. I think Houston is tops?

If you look online you will find numerous reports of Amricans complaining about the seats in the Prius and, IIRC, the CRV also.

Us 'bigger' and taller Northern Europeans seem to put up with cars made in the South of Europe or in Japan, or designed there and then made here, but I doubt that many Americans will put up with such tiny, cramped and unhealthy cockpits that us Brits do.
US Car Industry - just import european versions? - rtj70
"And look at the US VW website - no Lupo, no Polo, no diesel engines.."

Diesel cars are still illegal to sell in some states at the moment aren't they. They were in California. Not long after my brother got his VW diesel - he still has it partly for this reason.
US Car Industry - just import european versions? - Group B
"And look at the US VW website - no Lupo no Polo no diesel engines.."


I tell a lie, they sell one model, the Jetta, with a TDI option.

Diesel cars are still illegal to sell in some states at the moment aren't they.
They were in California.


I think they tightened up the emmisions regs in California didnt they, which meant a diesel could only be sold if fitted with a DPF (or similar)?
US Car Industry - just import european versions? - Pebble
They used to sell old shape Mondeos over there badged as both Ford and Mercury.


Yes! The Ford Contour and Mercury Mystique. They sold reasonably well, and you still see them around, but Ford pulled the plug on them in 2000 or so. Nice cars, but probably underpowered--didn't some of them only have a four cylinder engine?





I could never
really tell the difference between Buick and Oldsmobile (in terms of prestige/ target buyer) but
to US buyers they must have had a different appeal?


Buick is, by and large, the brand for the middle-aged executive who's too cheap to spring for a Cadillac. Oldsmobile was GM's experimental division, I guess--they had the Toronado and 442, both ahead of their time. That is kind of a generalisation on both counts, however; Buick while known for luxury cars occasionally had something more sporty like the Wildcat, while Olds had big executive models like the 98 along its sporty cars. Clear as mud?
US Car Industry - just import european versions? - AlastairW
But they still sell the Mk1 Focus in the USA - they havn't upgraded to the Mk 2 yet have they?
US Car Industry - just import european versions? - Group B
If you look on the website, their 2009 Focus doesnt look like ours. And theres no hatch, just saloon and coupe.
snipurl.com/63wj3 [www_showroom_fordvehicles_com]

Out of interest, their "Mondeo and a bit" sized Fusion gets a hybrid version for 2010; no doubt of interest to Californians but nobody else?
US Car Industry - just import european versions? - CJay{P}
If you look on the website their 2009 Focus doesnt look like ours. And theres
no hatch just saloon and coupe.
snipurl.com/63wj3


I have seen a couple of Focuses (yes, the hatch back version) in Canada.

Generally speaking the North American's don't get the concept of hatchbacks. Come to think of it, neither do the Asians.
US Car Industry - just import european versions? - tawse
Generally speaking the North American's don't get the concept of hatchbacks. Come to think of
it neither do the Asians.


Honda's big mistake with the Accord IMPO - no hatch.

Hatches are catching on in the US. There have been numerous reviews in recent years praising them and reviewers have been shocked at their versaltility. The problem with US motoring is how much the size of your car is tied up with perceived size of your willy - and that is just the gals.

Same is true here though sadly.

US Car Industry - just import european versions? - CJay{P}
"Do honda build an Accord specifically for the States? Or indeed Toyota with the Camry?"

sometimes they do.

For instance, the UK Accord is badged Acura TSX.

The North American Accord is completely different, but you find the same version in Asia.

The North American Civic is identical to the civics that you see in Asia, but not Europe.

US Car Industry - just import european versions? - ukbeefy
alot of US people are used to large cheap cars and those don't really feature over here eg 3litre v6 engined family saloons and they are not the expensive top of the range ones. I am not sure if European models would have the right size engine for what they want. Plus absolutely everything has to be available as a proper auto.

I can't see many Americans coming down in size so much to a Golf sized car. Those sort of cars in the US seem to be only bought by educated just out of college types or leftie liberals and then generally only in the blue trim states. the red bit in the middle is still wedded to large vehicles - a camry is considered a basic average car not an especially big one. Also alot of youngsters there go straight for a truck or one of those funny box on wheels Scion things and never do run of the mill cars the way we do.
US Car Industry - just import european versions? - rtj70
I thought the VW Rabbit (Golf) sold reasonably well but the booted Jetta did better. And the Beetle (built in Mexico) is cheap.

Just spotted they have something called the Routan. Swap the R and T and you have Touran... Is that what it really is? Looks similar.

Edit: maybe not it has rear sliding doors.

Edited by rtj70 on 21/11/2008 at 00:12

US Car Industry - just import european versions? - TheOilBurner
Half the problem is that European spec cars would need some modification to be sold in the US, e.g. different emissions systems, lighting and even bumpers.

This all costs money, so they need to be sure the cars will sell to get the money back.

It seems that every time Ford has tried selling smaller Euro cars over in the states it has failed miserably, only the Focus seems to be the exception and that's not exactly a massive seller. GM has tried similar things recently with little success.

After having had their fingers burnt so many times, who can blame them for not falling over themselves to introduce Euro cars over there?
US Car Industry - just import european versions? - madf
I do not agree with oiburner.
The US auto industry made poor quality smaller cars for years in order to induce buyers to trade up to bigger more profitable models.
Of course imports cam ealong and took the smaller car market as the designs were better and more up to date.

Since Cadillac introduced the starter motor in the 1920s? the US car industry has been 100% backwards and always behind in innovation.
See disk brakes, fuel injection..

And when they have innovated (catalysts ) it has been due to legislation.

Anyone want a cart sprung rear axle with a box section chassis?

You can get one in the States.. several million if you want.


Edited by madf on 21/11/2008 at 13:13

US Car Industry - just import european versions? - 659FBE
Well said, madf. To stick the knife in a little further, the Americans have shown no interest in the fuel saving potential of the diesel engine as fitted to a passenger car.

The European divisions of the American car makers have all had to turn to European or Japanese suppliers for diesels that are remotely competitive with those from the likes of VAG and PSA. In the case of Ford, buying their way into the fuel systems business in order to reduce casts has backfired badly.

There have been no American innovations relating to safety or longevity (corrosion) - all fitments such as airbags have been a response to legislation. To rephrase madf's penultimate paragraph:

"Anyone want a rusty cart sprung rear axle vehicle with a box section chassis and the most wasteful engine and transmission system in the business?" They have fields full of them.

659.
US Car Industry - just import european versions? - tawse
Well said madf. To stick the knife in a little further the Americans have shown
no interest in the fuel saving potential of the diesel engine as fitted to a
passenger car.


Because they are quite rightly seriously concerned about the serious health risks.
US Car Industry - just import european versions? - TheOilBurner
I think you're missing my point madf. I didn't imply that the US cars are better than European ones (in fact I think most US cars are awful, just like you do), simply that since Ford tried to introduce the Fiesta into the US in 1978 and failed, there have been many attempts by GM and Ford to introduce European cars into the states that have gone nowhere fast (Mondeo another famous one).

Given that track record, it's no wonder bosses in the US aren't keen to simply introduce the Euro product range for US customers, although I believe Ford are having another crack with the new Fiesta, but this time offering a saloon version (not to be sold over here). That might just work, given the Yanks strange (to us) preference for saloon bodies over hatches.


However, put a european badge on a car like VW, Audi or BMW and sales seem easier to find over there. Very odd.
US Car Industry - just import european versions? - rtj70
My personal view on all of this is that those who wanted a cheap truck (and many did) went for something from the big three. Those who wanted a convential type car went for either a European marque or Japanese. And because there as demand for the latter they build production facilities in the States - this includes BMW, Mercedes, Mazda, Toyota, Honda, etc.

Bringing a GM/Ford badged European car in did not work (IMO) because people didn't want those cars because perhaps they associated the brands with cheap trucks etc.? The Toyota Camry was one of the best selling cars there wasn't it.

But I think the States has woken up and realised (a) they don't need and therefore want trucks and (b) do want a more normal car. Trouble is the huge production capacity they have for the cheap to produce trucks which generated a lot of their profit.

My brother and wife have two cars where they live near San Fransisco - a VW Beetle diesel and a Honda Civic Coupe VTEI (or whatever the model that's fuel efficient was called). He used to have a 5.2l V8 Jeep Grand Cherokee but got rid of it in 1998 when he realised how much fuel it used - he used to live very near work in Silicon Valley but moved to the coast.
US Car Industry - just import european versions? - uk_in_usa
Aside from pensions issues and health care etc etc why cant they just save a
whole load of money and sell the european models in the US?


This has always baffled me too. If you find out, you let me know!

At the very least GM has some excellent technology outside the US, in producing a lot of power efficiently from a small engine. I can't understand either why they don't leverage it.
US Car Industry - just import european versions? - mattbod
I think it is a matter of taste. Americans like laid back comfort and tend to go for cars with plenty of space and big lazy engines. Although they moan about fuel costs they really do have it easy compared to Europe. From what I have read the European taste is for smaller cars with plenty of agility. Americans don't care if a car rolls about like a doped up hippo on corners, as long as the car has a smooth ride. From what I have read the Euros like a firmer set up and more response.

Americans just not interested in Diesel either. The VW TDI has a loyal following over there and the biggest TDI resource is a U.S based site (www.tdiclub.com) butin general the only time Diesel is considered is for big pick up trucks. Having said that Saturn are flogging the Astra over in the States and the Focus is on sale over there too.

Edited by Mattbod on 21/11/2008 at 17:24

US Car Industry - just import european versions? - Group B
Having said that Saturn are flogging the Astra over in the
States and the Focus is on sale over there too.


Also the 2009 Saturn Aura is a re-badged Insignia.

Several years ago the top VX Omega was badged as the entry level Cadillac Catera, which "...while it received good reviews from the automotive press, sales did not meet GM's expectations..."
en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cadillac_Catera


With regard to diesel car engines, this article blames the Oldsmobile diesels you mentioned a while back Mattbod.
snipurl.com/68lf2 "The Ghosts of Diesels Past"
Says the GM diesels were so bad they destroyed consumer confidence enough to affect sales of other marques' diesel cars, including Mercedes.

More recently GM had the partnership with Isuzu for diesel engine development which sired the very successful Duramax V8, and a few DI but non-CR designs, but it seems the venture was cancelled, and Isuzu have paired up with Toyota instead?

Edited by Rich 9-3 on 21/11/2008 at 18:23

US Car Industry - just import european versions? - Pebble
Americans don't
care if a car rolls about like a doped up hippo on corners as long
as the car has a smooth ride.


Oh, you've been in my Chrysler then? Haw!!! That's the best description I've ever heard of my land yacht coming around the Hwy 95 curve at a blistering 53 mph. And yes, it rides SMOOOOOTH...ahhhhhh.

And for the record, diesel is a real non-starter unless you've got a huge Dodge truck with a Cummins. Diesel passenger cars would just confuse people.
US Car Industry - just import european versions? - Bagpuss
Poor old GM. It was only 12 months ago when I last saw the odious Rick Wagoner (GM CEO) on US telly preaching to the viewing public that proper americans buy underengineered, badly built, gas guzzling Chevrolet and GMC trucks. Sadly, having milked the SUV cash cow dry to pay shareholder dividends and executive salaries the last 10 years, there isn't anything left in the kitty anymore to make the necessary engineering changes to the cars and structural changes to the sales outlets to sell european made cars in the US.

Getting type approval for the US for imported cars is not easy and needs to be engineered into the products early on. This is what the japanese manufacturers and the likes of BMW and Mercedes do. Also, US GM dealers are used to selling and servicing low tech SUVs and pickups. The japanese manufacturers spent years building up R&D, manufacturing and sales competences to bring their nicely engineered products to a mass market in the US, whilst being quietly sneered at by the likes of Wagoner and Mulally (Ford CEO). GM would and probably will have to play catch up in order to survive.
US Car Industry - just import european versions? - mattbod
Hmmm both Ford and GM have now got good product line ups over here in "Yuuurrrrp" I just hope the whole sorry mess doesn't lead to a collapse that drags down the Euro concern. Somehow I believe that no matter how hard it gets, these Titans will not be kicked out of the heavens. Uncle Sam just won't allow it. I'm no economist but if the U.S can bail out banks they can bail out the domestic motor industry.
US Car Industry - just import european versions? - jase1
Would you buy a car set up for US roads over here?

No.

So why expect an American to buy a Eurobox.

Get over this arrogant pish about the European cars having the best engineering, for pity's sake. The US cars are merely different.
US Car Industry - just import european versions? - nortones2
Some US roads are as twisting as European, some are as fast. If the American 3litre V6 Chevrolet I drove around Boston etc was typical, they seem to be designed for wide freeways. Not very good on winding roads. Needed to be very careful as there was no feel at all, and the ride was squishy. As its not that they can't build cars that corner, I presume the American public don't want them. Hence the SUV plague. If the ordinary cars can't steer or handle, might as well drive a huge thing that can't:)
US Car Industry - just import european versions? - DavidHM
Having hustled this Chevrolet Imapla

preview.tinyurl.com/barkcampimpala

along this road

preview.tinyurl.com/barkcamproad

to get the photograph, you'd be surprised how capable it actually is. Of course there is little or no steering feel but on a good road and driving "quickly" (about 45 mph) it was still fun to drive, if a little like playing a video game, with some roll but lots of control and a decent amount of grip. However if you drive it like a (good) European car and equate loss of communication from the steering with loss of grip then you will get nowhere.

On the 400 mile freeway drive down there, I cannot imagine anything more capable (except possibly the V8 version, which should still manage over 30 mpg Imperial) due to the long, long gearing (1,800 revs at 70 mph), decent fuel economy and sense of insulation from the road. Even after the collapse of the pound it's only £10k for an ex-rental 2008 model, as opposed to £7k+ for a Chevy Aveo of the same age.
US Car Industry - just import european versions? - oilrag
Remember when we were having cars `ziebarted` in the 70s? If you look the company up these days it seems to still have centres all over the USA. That tells me all I need to know about the difference in cars bodywork..

Oh hang on -- ka ka - cough..

Edited by oilrag on 22/11/2008 at 12:34

US Car Industry - just import european versions? - nortones2
If hustling equates to 45mph, on a not especially taxing road by its bend appearance, the Chevrolet is more Impotent than Impala. We'll have to agree to differ.
US Car Industry - just import european versions? - Pica
Europeans don't really get the US cars and keep going on about build quality whatever that is and sloppy handling. I have a 2006 Ford Mustang GT, I have sorted out the suspension using 20% harder and lower springs and it is truly sorted, it's superb. For me a car has to be fun. I am not bothered about what plastic they have used on the dash and whether it is soft touch and auto lights/wipers etc. Every time I start that V8 my face grins and keeps grinning long after I stop driving it. The car is FUN and I like having FUN :)

The Mustang seems to get respect from old and young alike. Repairs and servicing are easy and virtually everything can be done DIY. You do not have to take the front bumper or battery off to change a headlight bulb and if you do have to take the bumper of you can in 10 minutes. My last yearly service was £140 according to the handbook the real expensive service is at 100,000 miles which will cost around £500.

I brimmed up with petrol today and it has done 27.6 MPG just tootling around about this is the same as my mates 5 series petrol BMW (which is an 05 and has been back and for the dealer with various electrical problems over the last few months costing him a fortune). My Mustang has only cost me to buy what the 5 series has depreciated.

I am now contemplating a supercharger which will add and another 125Bhp and keep me grinning as I get older. And if my boat comes in I will import a Camero SS it is so beautiful.

Euro/Jap boxes are very good, all look quite similar to each other, they get you around and do their job but to me they are as much fun as a dishwasher.
 

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