"Why can't they make a Corolla?" That quote from President Barack Obama came just after his 2008 election, as he was mulling whether to extend more bailout funds to General Motors and Chrysler Group. It was among the juicy behind-the-scenes anecdotes from last year's book from Obama car czar Steven Rattner.
Last week, GM CEO Dan Akerson had a belated response, when he brought up Obama's comment in an interview on National Public Radio's "Marketplace."
"Well, the No. 1 car in that [compact] segment today is the Chevy Cruze," Akerson politely reminded the audience.
"That's a statement about a company that was largely known for trucks, large SUVs and crossovers," he said. "An American company is standing No. 1 in that segment."
Granted, the Cruze has had an advantage over Toyota's Corolla, which has been plagued by short inventories from the Japanese earthquake. GM sold 24,648 Cruzes in July vs. 17,577 for the Corolla/Matrix.