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If 2009 was the downfall of the American automobile, 2010 may be its renaissance. Last year, GM and Chrysler, two big-name American car companies, declared bankruptcy. One Wall Street Journal article claimed this not only proved our auto industry was on the ropes, but that America’s very love of all things automobile was nearly extinct.

And then something big happened. Toyota (Stock Quote: TM) rang in the new year by announcing one recall after another until there were too many to count. Prius? Check. Tacoma? Check. Even the Toyota Camry was affected by the recall. To make things worse, Toyota reportedly knew about the safety issues well in advance, but tried to avoid fixing them in order to save money.

Recently, Toyota agreed to pay a $16.4 million fine to the U.S. government as a penalty for this “notification delay.” But a new study reveals that Toyota may be paying a more serious price in the future.

According to a new poll conducted by the Associated Press, more Americans now believe the U.S. produces better cars than those churned out in Asia. Of those surveyed, 38% said U.S. cars are best while 33% said Asian cars were better.

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That may sound like an insignificant margin, but compare that to a 2006 survey, which found that 46% of Americans favored Asian cars while just 29% favored American cars.

It’s a fair assumption that the slew of Toyota recalls probably had something to do with that change. Of course, it’s not just Toyota’s fault; Honda also recalled hundreds of thousands of cars this year, further damaging Asia’s reputation for quality cars. (American car companies have had their share of recalls this past year too, but none have been as widespread or well-publicized as those of their Japanese competitors.)

Now, many are speculating that this could spell a resurgence for recession-stung Detroit. All that American car companies need to do now is make some quality affordable cars… and avoid any more recalls.

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