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Big 3: Why Don't You Believe They'll Come Back?

GM logo, General Motors logo
GM logo, General Motors logo

It came out left field. There I am Saturday morning at the gas station when the guy behind me said, "You keep saying GM's getting better. I'll believe it when I see it."

At first I wasn't sure he was talking to me, but after a few seconds I asked him why he he doubts GM is coming back. The guy ran down the usual list: Quality still lags foreign competitors, it's getting dusted in car sales, it's barely making money, and it's struggling to hold market share in the U.S.

We went back and forth for a bit before I realized this guy was not gonna change his mind. After that I thought to myself how I've heard variations of this "Big 3 skepticism" for months. Just last week while covering Chrysler executives meeting in Las Vegas a man in my hotel lobby said, "Those guys (Cerberus Capital, the new owners of Chrysler) made a mistake buying that company."

All of this has me wondering what it will take for people to start buying into the turnarounds in Detroit? Clearly investors are starting to do that withGM, with shares of that automaker at their highest since '04.

But beyond that, why are so many people doubting Alan Mulally and Jim Press can turn around Ford and Chrysler respectively? Every time these guys make a solid move (Mulally hiring Toyota executive Jim Farley) or say something positive (Press proclaiming Chrysler can win) people scoff. Why?

I'm not a cheerleader for Detroit, but I do think some people have made up their minds, and are unwilling to see things may be changing with the Big 3. Why? You tell me.

Questions? Comments? BehindTheWheel@cnbc.com

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