During the sixties, when I first moved to Panama City, about 95 percent of the cars on the street were American cars. The rest were European and Japanese cars. The German VW beetle was very popular then, but that’s another story.
Some of the brands I stilll remember are: Ford, Studebaker, Lincoln, Pontiac, Cadillac, De Soto, Buick, Oldsmobile, Chevrolet, Mercury, Cougar and others that slip my mind. Now, it’s the other way around. If you go outside and take a look at the cars that are being used, they are Japanese and Korean cars. Toyota and Nissan are the leaders of the pack.
Why is that? I think it has to do with several factors like usability, dependability durability and efficiency. When the gasoline was sky high selling at $4.00 a gallon last April, American companies were manufacturing gasoline guzzlers like the SUVs, while the Japanese were cleverly designing hybrid cars. The Japanese and Koreans knew that SUVs had their days counted and that people would demand fuel-efficient cars. Even a first grader knew that, but not Detroit; they were too busy enjoying their multi-million private jets and spending their astronomical annual bonuses.
Detroit is having a big headache because they lost their sense of competition at a global scale. Paying exorbitant salaries to top management, erroneous marketing strategies, excessive brands, complacent and irresponsible relationships with industry unions killed the goose with the golden eggs. While GM was busy killing the EV1, the Japanese were getting ready to launch their hybrid car. What a contrast of visions.
In 1990 I purchased a second-hand car for $5,300. It was a 1985 Nissan Bluebird which belonged to a doctor’s wife. The car looked like a million bucks. It had electric windows, automatic transmission, 1.800 cc motor, large trunk, electric rear mirrors and a whole lot of other features. This Japanese car is now 23 years old and working like a Swiss watch. This is why I will never buy an American car. They just are not as good as Japanese cars, and most people in Panama will agree with me.
If Detroit wants to keep on manufacturing cars, they will have to re-learn from the Japanese and Koreans how to build cars people will buy over and over again. In a nutshell, the American car makers will have to learn how to compete with heavyweights like Toyota, Nissan, Mazda Hyundai, and KIA to name a few, on a global scale.
Just to give you an idea, how well my 23-year-car looks like, I took some photos yesterday to share them with you today. Take a look at my ole Bluebird.
I plan to keep this car as long as I can get spare parts. When that is not possible, then I’ll have to buy another Nissan. There’s a model that I like, the Nissan Almera. In Panama they have a price tag of $14,000 which is reasonable.
Would you buy an American or Japanese/Korean car? Good Day.