Re: Prius Chat
There was a big push to "Buy American" back in the late 1970's and early 80's; and I bought a Chevy Citation, "The First Chevy of the 80's", in 1979. Unfortunately, that car was a piece of junk. I also tried to buy a Pontiac Fiero (which had the Citation front-end turned around and bolted on backwards) in 1984, but that didn't pan out; and we ended up buying a Mazda Rx7. Needless to say, the Fiero turned out to be a piece of junk, too. That Mazda opened our eyes to the better quality of some foreign makes.
Over the years, I have owned several Chevy cars and trucks; and while they have given us reasonably good service and GM's quality improved over the years, they just don't match Toyota. We now own three Toyota's, a 1998 Camry that was built in Kentucky, a 2002 Prius that was made in Japan, and the new 2008 Tundra, which was built in San Antonio; and the two older cars have proven extremely reliable.
In the mean time, GM has given us the Hummer and numerous SUVs that are now a ball and chain around their necks; and they are suffering for being out of synch with the new push for fuel economy.
Toyota started work on the Prius in the mid-90's; and GM, Ford and Chrysler were working on bigger and more luxurious SUVs. What were they thinking? -- About making more profit (the margins are higher on trucks and SUVs than on economy cars). Were they looking to the future? -- Obviously not where we are now; i.e., $7.00 gasoline in two years.
We made a conscious decision to buy a pickup truck, mainly to replace an old tow vehicle. I certainly wouldn't buy a pickup as a commuter car. However, the Tundra makes sense in that it gets over double the fuel mileage of the 1978 Chevy pickup it replaces, and it's a whole lot cleaner for the environment. We aren't ready to abandon our RV lifestyle, and this was the best compromise when we needed to replace an aging pickup.
Plus, if you drive the new trucks, the Toyota easily surpasses the "American-made" models in quality and performance. And, if you think you are "buying American" when you buy a GM, Ford or Chrysler pickup truck, take a look at where it's made. Just a clue, it's not in Kentucky, Indiana or Texas (where some of the Toyotas are made) -- Try looking north and south of our borders. Also, Michelins are made in South Carolina; and Firestone is owned by Bridgestone, which makes some of the Firestones overseas.
It's a shame we don't really make anything in the USA anymore. Seen a TV, stereo, or just about anything, that's made here (except for Toyotas)? Where did RCA, Magnavox, Motorola, GE, Florsheim, Fruit of the Loom and all of the "MADE IN USA" labeled goods go? They disappeared when you and I started buying cheaper goods that were as good or better quality than those made here -- just a fact of consumer life. And, they probably aren't coming back.
I'm a displaced worker from the computer electronics industry. In the 70's and 80's, I was a quality manager in a factory that made PCs and peripherals (printers, etc.). I lost my job when our factory shut down, and America started buying products from Hong Kong, Korea and the Pacific rim countries. We couldn't find anyone to buy our American-made PCs for $2-3,000, when you could buy other foreign brands for under $1,000.
Luckily, I was able to start a new career; but a lot of my coworkers ended up doing landscaping or selling insurance. Now, look at the US job market; most positions are in service or sales -- no manufacturing. But, that may change. The Pacific rim is suffering from water and air pollution, like we did here in the last century. As soon as they come to grips with that problem, the combination of their increased production and rising shipping costs, and their growing middle-class, will level the playing field; and the pendulum will swing back this way. But, that may take some time.
Well, it's late and I guess I have rambled enough. We're just happy, loyal Toyota owners...
Road trip, road trip, road trip!