Wow! This is real news! Toyota takes the #2 spot from Ford as the 2nd biggest U.S. automaker, after Ford held it for over 75 years.
First off, Toyota is considered a U.S. automaker??? Wait a second, I thought the only U.S. automakers were the "Big 3" GM, Ford and Chrysler. Well, they were until 1972 when Toyota built it's first manufacturing plant in Long Beach, CA and now has 7 manufacturing plants with another one scheduled to be finished in the Spring of 2009.
What does this mean and how did it happen? There are probably several reasons why GM and Ford have both taken a beating to foreign auto makers. But the one that sticks out in my mind is that after the "Muscle Car" era, which ended in the early to mid 70's, American auto makers started making junk! Both Toyota and Honda started catching appeal because of there great gas mileage (Google: ARAB OIL EMBARGO), but more notable than that was the fact that they would go 250,000 miles plus. They were an industructable and cheap. On the other hand American cars seemed to have a 100,000 mile limit to their success.
For Instance, when I opened my first Dismantler location in Rio Linda, CA in the early 80's. We dealt in all Toyotas! One the biggest issues we had in selling Toyota Drive-Trains was that nobody needed them, we had stockpiles of engines and transmissions that we could not get rid of; mainly because of their amazing longevity. In addition, I will attend auto auctions to this day and see old Toyota trucks and cars on a regular basis with over 250k miles and the cars are still running strong and they still demand top dollar. However, if I see a GM/FORD/CHRYSLER with those same miles it's usually located in a Pick n' Pull type operation (If I am lucky enough to even see one).
Now let me say this, American cars reliability wise have come a long way in the past couple of years, but they've had too. With companies like Toyota, Honda, and Hyundai making reliable and inexpensive cars with great warranties, it's surprising to see that they are still competitive.
Here's the deal: You can't go wrong with buying a Toyota or Honda because they will last forever and are very reliable. But, you will also pay top dollar for these cars; especially, when your buying them used.
Hyundai and Kia's are a great alternative to buying a Toyota or Honda if you want to still go foreign. Hyundai actually owns Kia and some of there vehicles are built on the same platform. In addition, they are a fraction of the cost of Toyota's and Honda's and in my opinion similar in reliability.
And if you are debating on whether to buy a Ford, GM, Chrysler you can still get a great deal because of the low resale values these cars provide. But also remember if your buying a Toyota you are buying "AMERICAN" still. OTIS
Full Article Link on Toyota being #2:http://biz.yahoo.com/ap/080103/auto_sales.html