The following video is part of our "Motley Fool Conversations" series, in which Austin Smith, consumer-goods editor and analyst, and Brendan Byrnes, industrials editor and analyst, discuss topics around the investing world.

Last year was an interesting one for automakers. The domestic automakers had a great year in terms of sales, as the big Japanese automakers were hit by multiple crises including the Japan earthquake and tsunami. But why then did shares of the two big Japanese companies outperform the shares of the big Detroit automakers? And which automaker do we declare the winner of 2011?

Austin Smith has no positions in the stocks mentioned above. Brendan Byrnes and The Motley Fool own shares of Ford. Motley Fool newsletter services have recommended buying shares of Ford and General Motors and creating a synthetic long position in Ford. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. We Fools don't all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.