Behind the Wheel with Phil Lebeau

American Cars: To Buy Or Not To Buy--Would You?

2007 Lexus LS

We all know them. The person who swears they'll never drive anything but Mercedes,BMW, or Lexus. When it comes to brand loyalty and the prospect of considering different brand cars and trucks, the foreign guys have enjoyed the type of loyalty American car companies crave. But I suspect there are many in Detroit who would love to have more people give their cars and trucks a shot.

Well, the latest survey on buyer attitudes has good news and bad news for the Big 3.

The good news, according to CNW Marketing, is a greater percentage of buyers are willing to at least consider buying a GM , Ford , and Chrysler. The bad news is that the percentage of people who swear they'll never touch a Detroit brand has declined, but is still 4 times higher than the big three Japanese brands.

I find this interesting in light of how I spent Monday talking with Ford executives in Seattle who believe they can win over buyers, IF they just can get them in the showroom. Ford's President of the America's Mark Fields told me he believes the company's new Sync program, the first feature in a car to allows drivers to send and receive text messages through their car, will spur people to visit Ford showrooms and buy a new car or truck.

He might be right. Though I think it will take a lot more to close the perception and consideration gap. For years the Big 3 made many models with inferior quality and styling. Over time, those lackluster models left a legacy the Big 3 are still trying to shake off.

It's not impossible. Hot rides like the Chrysler 300C show that people will come back if you give them a compelling reason. Americans love a good comeback story. Let's see if Detroit can give them a few and in the process change the minds of those who have sworn they will never again drive American.

Questions?  Comments?