According to James Suroweiki, writing in The New Yorker, Chrysler's woes lie not in oft credited health care legacies, but rather in poorly judged products. The recently purchased automaker lost $1.5 billion last year. American car companies commonly cite the legacy costs - which for Chrysler work out at about $1,100 per vehicle more than Toyota - as the reason they can't compete with the Japanese. While this cost is signifigant, finds Suroweiki, it doesn't come close to the premium Japanese manufacturers are able to charge for their vehicles, the average profit earned by Japanese companies on cars sold in the U.S. was $2,900 greater than that earned by their American competitors. The reason for this? Suroweiki says, "their cars are better designed and more reliable, and because their mix of products is smarter."

Car Trouble [The New Yorker]