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Old 05-26-2008, 02:24 PM   #1
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Question Jay Leno, Harley Davidson, American and Airstream

I read this article and it seemed to hit very close to home.

While Jay is addressing the major car manufacturers, he may have well been writing a poignant letter to Airstream.

Full article here Jay Leno tells Detroit how to fix itself - Autos - MSNBC.com

My excerpts from the article;

It ain’t that hard folks — make better cars (or Airstreams, insert mine)
Jay Leno advises Detroit on how to get Americans to buy American

..."In order to make the more expensive car (or Airstream) more appealing, U.S. companies feel as though they have to dumb down the cheaper car. (unit.)
I believe that, all things being equal, Americans will buy American.(Airstreams.) It just has to be as good as the competition; (SOBs) it doesn’t have to be better. The classic example is Harley-Davidson. Throughout the ’70s, the motorcycle maker had huge quality-control problems. Then Harley-Davidson said, “Look, let’s take our time. Let’s build fewer bikes. Let’s build them properly, so they don’t leak oil and they’ll run forever.” Harley-Davidson won back the market share it had lost, and it continues to dominate today.
Even though the bikes might not be technically superior, they’re bulletproof and they’re American. People will buy American if given the chance. "

..."The automakers are starting to think like Harley and understand that when you get into an automobile,(Airstream,) everything should be appealing to you. If you see stitching that’s out of line on the dashboard, you’re going to get madder and madder every time you see it. That’s one place where the American car companies dropped the ball. " (Sound interesting QC thread readers and writers? )

..."The problem with what's happened over the past few decades is that you have a whole generation of kids who have no brand loyalty. They've grown up on Honda, Hyundai, Kia and Toyota. To lure them to the American brand, you’ve got to give them something exciting, something bold, something different.
America does technology well, and I think this is how the companies will bring those buyers back." (end of excerts)

Airstream would do well to heed Leno's observations and solution and take note of the rises and dip of Harley Davidson, often equated in quality to Airstream, at least it was in the past.
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Old 05-26-2008, 03:43 PM   #2
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Quote:
Originally Posted by wheel interested
I read this article and it seemed to hit very close to home.

"The problem with what's happened over the past few decades is that you have a whole generation of kids who have no brand loyalty. To lure them to the American brand, you’ve got to give them something exciting, something bold, something different.
[/COLOR]
This isn't just limited to kids. It has to do with quality, as you point out, WheelInterested. I'm afraid that "something exciting, something bold, something different" is just that, which doesn't equate to quality - just packaging and showroom looks. Seems like what we have is a "whole generation" of marketers who are all flash & appearance. Wow 'em and sell 'em. Caveat emptor.

"Knock-off" brands are a good example. Make it look like the original and people will buy it. When I look at the new Airstreams in comparison to earlier models, the quality is just not there and the materials are cheaper. But damn! That unit sure looks good! Functional? Find out when you take your first trip...

Why is it that manufacturers, in their efforts to stand out, seems to focus mainly on the appearance of the packaging (sales), vs. quality of the assembly and product?
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Old 05-26-2008, 05:20 PM   #3
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Challenger

Look at the new Dodge Challenger. It's beautiful. And it's fast. And it handles. And the QC is good. At least it is on the Charger and Chrysler 300 that my two friends own, and the Challenger comes from the same plant so I'd assume it'll be just as good. And come next Fall, you'll be able to get it in a myriad of forms. Right now, you can only get one engine and an automatic.

Americans can do well. We are the ones that came up with SPC. We gave it to the Japanese after the WWII. They used our own techniques to whup us. Why did we not use them? After the war we were fat and happy and had very little competition. Japan and Germany basically have no factories older than 1945.... but anyway, we are finally applying the lessons again that we learned during WWII to crank up the production.

I toured the Corvette plant in Bowling Green, KY, and I'd put it's QC right up there with the Toyota and BMW plants down south. At the vette plant, each supervisor has a "tone". If there's trouble on that guy's line, the tone is sounded. Even if the guy is at the water cooler, if he hears his tone, he knows its his line in trouble. And they QC checks they do there are pretty good. I used to work in QC. We can do it. It's just a matter of process.

Anyway, Leno is right.

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Old 05-26-2008, 05:23 PM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jaxon

Why is it that manufacturers, in their efforts to stand out, seems to focus mainly on the appearance of the packaging (sales), vs. quality of the assembly and product?
Because the marketing people will tell you appearance is everything, and reliability is boring. That is why there is planned obsolescence, so there can be an "all new model" next year so they can sell more cars, boats, trucks, even washing machines. Usually more is spent making things "look" new, than any real improvement.
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Old 05-26-2008, 05:53 PM   #5
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Do you think a t-shirt that says "I'd rather push my Airstream than pull an s.o.b" would sell very well?
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Old 05-26-2008, 06:15 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by cosmotini
Do you think a t-shirt that says "I'd rather push my Airstream than pull an s.o.b" would sell very well?

Perhaps you might explain SomeOtherBrand, and maybe show a picture... otherwise, the reverse might hold true...
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Old 05-26-2008, 06:40 PM   #7
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American Made

I recently toured the Toyota plant in Georgetown Kentucky where almost all the camrys sold in America are made. The Honda Accord my wife drives was built in Ohio. These are very well built cars built in America by American workers. The big difference I see is the strategic planning and leadership of these companies value their employees and their customers.

While Toyota and Honda are giving us hybrid cars to meet the demands of high energy cost. GM, Ford, and Chrysler continue to pump out gas guzzlers because the margin on these vehicles is high.

Also note on the window sticker of many GM, Ford, or Chrysler cars that a large percentage of the materials and assembly is done outside the U.S.

It is not the abilities of the skilled American workers that are lacking, but rather our acceptance of poor Corporate leadership and their desire to provide short term returns to fickle investors.

Same goes for Airstream. You have to wonder if the Thor Leadership ever logs into Airstream Forums to get a feel for what the customers are saying about the product and what the customer wants.

Wow, I feel better now.
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Old 05-26-2008, 07:19 PM   #8
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A few years ago wt toured the United Motors plant in Fremont, CA. At United Motors,(NUMI) They were producing several models of Toyota, Chevrolet and Pontiac passenger cars, as well as Toyota Tundra trucks. The Chevrolet and Pontiac models were identical to the Toyotas in every way except the name badges. I don't remember the specific models, I think it was Toyota Corolla and Chevy Nova. The Toyota models were selling 100 to one over the same cars with the Chevy name plates.

All of the parts were made here in the US. Their "Parts on Demand" system was really something. Trucks from all over the country were unloading at the docks in back. They have no "Parts Department". No part is in the building more than 24 hours before it is used in production.

My point is, these cars are all "American Cars". It's just too bad that people have been brain washed into thinking the American cars are inferior, so the buy the model with the foreign name.

If you add together the numbers sold in the 2007 (or was it 2006) model year of the Chevy Silverado and the GMC pick-up (really the same truck) they outsold the number one passenger car seller, Toyota Camry. Amazing, check it out.

The Silverado by itself was #2 to the Camry.
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Old 05-26-2008, 08:01 PM   #9
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Funny thing is, the two least reliable cars I've had were a Honda Accord and a Toyota made at the NUMI plant.

I agree with the basic premise, though. Part of the problem is marketing thinking they're more clever than buyers. Took a class at work with a marketing segment, and the instructor was using an example of how to eke money out of customers by using roof rails that required a special part to mount a bike rack, for example. I raised my hand and mentioned that that was the precise reason we did not buy a particular vehicle in 2001. He looked pithed.

That notwithstanding, look at cars that are generally well regarded, Beemers, Hondas, and you'll find solidly designed vehicles that work. Engineers and designers who understand what a car can and or should be working together to bring it into existence.
Look at poorly regarded cars (insert your favorite here), and you'll find the heart and soul of a toaster. Or maybe a refrigerator.

It's true, even Top Gear say so
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Old 05-28-2008, 07:47 PM   #10
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America can build best quality. No doubt about it but it takes a certain mentality to get it done. Just look at heavy trucks that regularly make 1,000,000 miles and it suprising how many great Japanese cars are built by Americans. I think its great that Japanese industry can hire Americans and make the kind of car they want right here in the states.

Too bad AS seems to have fallen down in quality, I hate it that a nearly new trailer can leak or have a floor separation--blame it on the bean counters that run THOR looking to cut corners where they can. But, it doesn't have to be that way, look at New Horizons. I have heard they have built 800 RVs in their 15-18 years and all but one (99.875%) are still on the road. No, I don't own one but I appreciate how durable something can be made and its not impossible it just takes an owner that wants it done right.
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Old 05-28-2008, 11:13 PM   #11
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I am enjoying the premise of this thread, that, given a brand I want (and that is practical) I would be a loyal customer. Well, once I was, to MOPAR. And still am to some degree. The Charger (actually, the Magnum, the wagon) is close to what I like for it's suspension, drivetrain, overhang, wheelbase and weight.

But I'd like to (as with the cars of the 1950's) have a roof tall enough for me to wear a hat, and for it to be a car that I sat up in, not crouch down into.

For those of you who missed out on these cars, there was much to be said for an upright car with two living room couches. While sitting still. But todays engineers could come up with something (and help to overcome the aerodynamics problem).

That I would go for. Let me get in and out with dignity, drive with my Stetson on, and be able to stretch out and relax with one to five passengers with a trunk big enough to carry something in.

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Old 05-29-2008, 05:04 AM   #12
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Toyota and Honda have a big advantage. They don't have to charge thousands right of the top to fund decades of retirees.
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