Buy local, - if not - buy used - but better - buy interesting.
Like a stunned rabbit transfixed by oncoming headlights, you could see what was going to happen. So it was with the crash of 2008.
But it’s time to look at the future and considering the cars at the Detroit Motor Show the future doesn’t seem too bad. Chrysler just roll over…. let us move on.
It is simple maths really. There are hundreds of manufacturers; many with multiple brands and each of those brands make many models. The trouble is many look exactly the same. They have been designed by committee and have had focus groups (6 people with lives so boring they are happy to sit in a room with marketeers and useability experts discussing the name Aurion or the placement of the intermittent widescreen wiper speed controller). The cars that result are packed with soul destroying usability and are so mind numbingly boring…. Do the opinions of these six really constitute a good cross section of what the broader buying public really care about in a car…. I like design by individual, Sergio knew so much more about what I would like than I ever did before he showed me.
Except for the boutique and designer Marques, manufactures are all trying to build as many cars as possible and grab as much market share as possible. With the cycle that this puts in place there will be points in time where naturally occurring adjustments happen to re-balance the cycle and let it continue So it was last year.
Cars are not as disposable as other product lines such as TVs, MP3 players and computers. A car has a much longer life and people in most cases are happy not to replace it as regularly as they do their mobile phones. The other simple fact is that cars have a second paying market after their life with the original purchaser. Unlike the vast majority of mobiles, MP3 players, computers and TVs they get sold-on rather than handed down or put in a cupboard to be forgotten about until the next clean-up.
So back to the simplicity of this problem. The big manufacturers have been building too many boring cars too well for too long. Simple.
The second-hand market has started catching up with them. For many people a three-year -ld car is a great alternative to a new car. I for one would much rather buy a five-year-old Merc than a new Legend. (the likelihood of me buying a Legend is less than me winning Lotto. And if I were to win Lotto my Legend would be a true one in the form of a 250GTO).
Again the maths is simple and obvious. How many used car lots are there in the world, how many do you yourself drive by daily. How many cars are in those lots. Now how many people do you know that are in a position to buy a car that haven’t already got a reasonably good car with a continuing life. That is without even the new cars being pumped in to the market place. I also catch a train past a new car dealership storage lot, literally football fields full of new white Camrys and Aurions.
This whole problem was always eventually going to happen even without the financial sector issues. It boils down the type of CEOs being employed by the big manufacturers. A number have been run by Gordon Ghekos and what they have needed is a Steve Jobs or a Luca Di Montezemolo. Managers that know their market, know their brand and know the limits associated with both. Mulally though through this whole mess is gaining my respect with his management without hand outs and therefore keeping independence from the Car Tzar.
Except for the personal cost to thousands of people whose income has been affected by the mess created by incompetent CEOs such as Wagoner, I am not overly unhappy about the situation. Holden looks OK, which is important to me. Ford globally looks pretty good and they have always consistently built the most interesting cars, they have kept the Mustang going continually. Chrysler is as good as dead, - oh well, As long as the Viper brand finds a good home I will be happy. Jeep can shrivel up and die as there are just too many SUVs.
And I really don't care what happens with Toyota and Honda. Sorry however to all you Toyota factory workers that live in the Toyota-owned housing. Life on the street in Japan is going to be harsh for some time.