Here's the perception: Detroit's automakers are paying customers more than ever before to buy cars and trucks, presumably because they'resubstandard to German and, especially, Japanese competitors. Here's a fact: The cars and trucks coming from General Motors Corp., Ford MotorCo. and DaimlerChrysler AG's Chrysler Group are perhaps the best Detroit has ever produced, measured in terms of quality, reliability andefficiency of production, according to the Detroit News
. And in some key segments they score higher than their foreign rivals.But here's the problem: Until fact catchesperception, which is demonstrably possible in the auto industry (witness the turnarounds of Mercedes-Benz in the 1990s and Nissan Motor Co. more recently), Detroit will continue to appear the perennial laggard while competitors Toyota and Honda look invincible, according to the News
."The market finds you out," says Gary Dilts, Chrysler's senior vice-president of sales. It's"too slow when you're doing something right and too fast when you're doing something wrong."