American vs. foreign cars: Which are better?
- The first gasoline-powered automobile was invented in Germany by Karl Benz in 1885.
- The top-three best-selling vehicles in America for 2021 were all American-brand pick-up trucks.
- The top-selling car brand in the US in 2021 was Toyota.
- A National Highway and Traffic Safety Administration report revealed that, as of 2019, there were no cars on the market 100% made in America--as some parts in all vehicles originate in other countries and are assembled here.
Foreign vehicles are superior to American cars from a design standpoint. European and Japanese designers have traditionally focused on efficiency, economy, and technology, while American manufacturers have focused on size and power. While American companies were busy building large V8 engines and bouncy suspensions, foreign manufacturers created power and speed by turbocharging lean, efficient four-cylinder engines.
Method of production is another reason why foreign cars are superior to American vehicles in terms of quality. The Toyota company invented what it calls the Toyota Production System (TPS), sometimes called lean-manufacturing. TPS is a system of rigorous quality checks along each step of the manufacturing process, ensuring no part passes on with even the slightest irregularity. This is in contrast to the typical North American model, where quality checks happen at the end of the production line. This fundamental difference means that cars built with TPS are more reliable and easier to repair.
European manufacturers have long led the world in CO2 emissions reduction, primarily due to government standards. And as American consumers have become more conscious of the environment, domestic manufacturers have followed suit by adopting size and efficiency standards common to foreign manufacturers. American cities have become more congested, and fuel prices have skyrocketed, making efficiency ever more critical.
Finally, foreign cars are simply more stylish than American-made vehicles. Features such as leather and heated seats, power accessories, moon roofs, and temperature zones were made standard on foreign cars long before domestic ones. Further, the extra attention to detail that it takes to make a small car highly functional and comfortable means that foreign cars are much more clever in their designs.
According to a recent Harris Poll, 76% of respondents said they buy American cars because of 'patriotism,' but could there be other reasons why buying American makes sense?
Although for decades, people have regarded American cars as being more expensive, less efficient, and less dependable than imported automobiles, the tide has changed in recent years. Jeff Youngs at JD Power, said, 'Not only are American car companies building higher-quality cars, the cars they are building are more stylish, more rewarding to drive, and contain more technology than many consumers give them credit for.'
Domestic cars and trucks have more space, better quality, and superior handling and braking factored into manufacturing. Ford's tagline is 'Built Ford Tough,' and it's that toughness that gives American cars the advantage over their foreign counterparts. In fact, Ford’s F-Series pick-up has been the number-one selling truck in America for 43 years straight.
It's easy to forget that perhaps one of the most successful American automobile companies has been Tesla, with its domination in the electric car market. Car & Driver gave its Model S five stars, while its Model 3 made it into Consumer Reports’ '10 Top Picks of 2020: Best Cars of the Year.'
But, aside from sales figures, quality, or performance factors, there's a certain nostalgia associated with American cars that foreign cars just can't match. From the iconic Chevrolets of the 1950s to the Ford Mustangs that have been in continuous production since 1965, American cars are interwoven into our cultural experience--even playing essential roles in television shows such as Knight Rider and The Dukes of Hazzard.
Whether buying for patriotism, quality, environmentalism, or even nostalgia, American cars zoom past the foreign competition.