October 23, 2006

Today In Automotive History

1973 : America gives Toyota its full attention

Only five days after 11 Arab oil producers increased oil prices and cut back production in response to the support of the United States and other nations for Israel in the Yom Kippur War, Toyota U.S.A. held its first national news conference in Los Angeles, California. Central on the agenda for the three-day conference was the discussion of the remarkable fuel efficiency of Toyota automobiles. In the days following the oil crisis, concerned American consumers suffered gasoline rationing, a quadrupling of prices, and huge lines at gas stations. The small percentage of Americans who owned a Toyota, a Honda, or a Nissan found themselves the envy of other domestic car owners, whose American automobiles typically averaged less than 15 miles per gallon. Even after the oil embargo crisis was resolved, American consumers had learned an important lesson about the importance of fuel efficiency, and foreign auto manufacturers flourished in the large American market. The public turned to imports in droves, and suddenly Japan's modest but sturdy little compacts began popping up on highways all across America. The Big Three rushed to produce their own fuel-efficient compacts, but shoddily constructed models like the Chevy Vega and Ford Pinto could not compete with the overall quality of the Toyota Corollas and Honda Civics. It took years for the Big Three to bounce back from the blow, eventually winning back American consumers with their introduction during the 1980s of quality compacts like the Chevy Cavalier and Ford Escort, that proved on level with the quality of the foreign competition.

Posted by Quality Weenie at October 23, 2006 07:32 AM | TrackBack