International -- Readers Report
IN JAPAN, DETROIT HAS A LOT TO REGAIN (int'l edition)
In the commentary "Even if Japan backs down, Detroit won't win much" (Focus: Japan, May 29), David Woodruff writes that the Big Three never developed the dealer network or invested enough to gain a sizable market share in Japan. This is incorrect.
Ford and Chevrolet dominated the Japanese automobile market throughout the 1920s and 1930s. Ford maintained its position in Japan until Dec. 8, 1941.
After World War II, Ford exhausted every available means to reenter the Japanese market. The U. S. government and the government of Japan placed numerous barriers in the way, however, forcing Ford to all but give up its attempt in the 1960s.
Ford and Chevrolet both enjoyed considerable product loyalty in Japan even after the war, but this has declined to nothing more than name recognition today.
Henry Ford's policy was to compete everywhere that profit might be found. History shows us that U.S. manufacturers attempted to do this in the past and would do it again if the opportunity for a reasonable return on investment were present.
J. Scott Mathews
American Graduate School of
The commentary seems almost correct regarding the Big Three's strategies in going into the market in Japan. However, I feel it necessary to add that U.S. carmakers have a poor dealer network, which affects not only the quality of their products but also of the parts needed to repair the U.S.-made automobiles sold in this market. The rate of defects is another reason why Japanese use Japan- or Europe-made parts.