Detroit’s boom-and-bust history was built on a dependence on big, fuel-thirsty vehicles. Now, with freshly stocked showrooms of new cars and more-efficient trucks, U.S. automakers are gaining ground on their Asian competitors with the best lineup in a generation.
Each time An Fu Ford, a dealership in the western Chinese city of Chongqing, sells a car, workers fire a confetti cannon, showering the parking lot with colorful scraps of paper. There’s a lot of paper to sweep up these days.
Chrysler Group LLC’s newly redesigned Jeep Cherokee is the “obvious choice” to become the first Jeep built in China in six years and could double the brand’s sales there, according to Mike Manley, head of the sport-utility line.
Ford Motor Co. is on a tear in China, with sales up 54 percent this year on the strength of its Focus small car. Long an also-ran in the world’s largest auto market, Ford is now outselling Toyota Motor Corp. there.
At his Houston Cadillac store last weekend, Carl Sewell had an unusual experience: He helped a mother secure a baby seat into a car she was considering. Young- shopper sightings were once a rarity for Sewell.
Sheila Cockrel remembers one early sign of Detroit’s decline: The retailer J.L. Hudson’s turned off the lights on floor after empty floor as shoppers abandoned the world’s tallest department store for new suburban malls.
Toyota Motor Corp., which last year overtook General Motors Co. to become the world’s largest automaker even as its profit margins lagged behind the industry, is riding a weakening yen that has Detroit executives concerned.