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More Arguments on Buying American

February 14, 1992

Re "The Drive to 'Buy American': Will It Endure?" (Feb. 5): As long as car buyers are of the perception that, dollar for dollar, cars produced by Japanese manufacturers are superior to those of GM, Ford and Chrysler, American car makers will simply have to do more than cry, "Buy American."

Let's assume a car buyer must be persuaded to buy a Ford Taurus instead of a Toyota Camry or a Honda Accord, all made in America. Further, assume each car, identically equipped, costs $16,000. The following objections must be overcome. My solutions are in parentheses.

* Japanese cars are of better quality and construction. (Place a Taurus and Camry side-by-side and prove the Taurus is superior.)

* The Taurus will have a lesser resale value in years hence. (Guarantee to meet the Camry's resale value during each of the next 10 years.)

* The Taurus will be in the shop more often for repairs, inconveniencing the owner. (Promise, after the second repair visit, to pick up and deliver the Taurus for the next 60 months.)

* Toyota repair departments are better organized, their employees more courteous and efficient than a Ford dealer's. (Copy the Toyota system and agree to buy back the Taurus within the first year if the buyer can provide evidence that the Ford dealer goofed.)

Of course, simply equaling the Japanese product may not be enough. American car makers may have to go one better and produce autos of far superior quality, design and performance as an inducement to "buy American." That's the rub.


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