Are American Cars Back at the Top of Their Game?

For the first time since 1993, all of the Big Three Detroit automakers — General Motors (NYSE:GM), Ford (NYSE:F), and Chrysler — gained market share in the United States in the first quarter. As market share grew, sales did as well. The U.S. automakers posted bigger sales gains than both Toyota (NYSE:TM) and Honda (NYSE:HMC), with sales increases of 10 percent, 17 percent, and 10 percent for GM, Ford, and Chrysler, respectively. The momentum built in April; the Michigan-based companies exceeded sales forecasts last month and led the industry to its best April since 2007. So it seems American automakers have regained a foothold at the top of the market.

The renaissance in Detroit is real,” AutoNation Chief Executive Mike Jackson told Bloomberg last month.

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Further evidence that lends support to this idea was given to investors in the form of Strategic Vision’s 18th annual Total Quality Index, which ranked vehicles manufactured by General Motors, Ford, and Chrysler Group first or tied for first in 12 of 21 categories included in the vehicle quality survey. It was the first time in more than a decade that a majority of winners were Ford, GM, and Chrysler models, according to the press release announcing the results.

For thirty years, these manufacturers produced vehicles that were below standard, and that practice lost them the loyalty of the 75 million-member baby boomer generation. But that poor reputation is falling by the wayside as management at these automakers implement across-the-board improvements in quality, which have enabled them to close in on the once-dominant Toyota.