If you can't beat 'em, berate 'em.
With Japanese and European automakers capturing more U.S. car and truck sales each month, and the nationalistic vitriol of the United Auto Workers contract talks still fresh, Detroit automakers appear to be willing to talk a little trash to foreign rivals in the spirit of the "Buy American" campaign of the 1980s. But it's not just the factory guys issuing challenges this time, according to the Detroit News
Still smarting after Toyota Motor Corp. passed DaimlerChrysler AG's Chrysler Group in U.S. car and truck sales for the first time in August,
Chrysler manufacturing chief Tom LaSorda drew cheers from a group of 2,000 union workers at a Chrysler factory in Newark, Del., last week by
promising, "We're going to kick Toyota's ass, Honda's ass and everybody else's ass," according to the News
LaSorda's comments during ceremonies marking the production launch of the redesigned 2004 Dodge Durango sport utility vehicle followed a speech by Delaware Sen. Joseph Biden. The Democratic senator got a rise out of the crowd by, according to the News
, encouraging workers to succeed in "beating the living hell out of the Japanese and beating the living hell out of the Europeans."
The rhetoric is reminiscent of the 1970s and
1980s when former Chrysler Corp. Chairman Lee Iacocca railed against encroaching foreign competition, the News
Chrysler said the comments from LaSorda were little more than heat-of-the-moment hoopla, aimed at boosting the morale of the workers in Newark. But some industry officials and analysts say such statements likely reflect a bit of pent-up frustration, according to the News
. Chrysler only narrowly regained its status as the No. 3 U.S. automaker in September after Toyota's U.S. sales eclipsed
Chrysler's in August, the News