O'Connor: Buy U.S. cars? What a concept!

O'Connor: Buy U.S. cars? What a concept! http://www.detnews.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20080112/OPINION03/801120355/1148
Here in Motor Town, everyone who hasn't been laid off by an automaker is
abuzz about the upcoming North American International Auto Show, which means literally dozens of Detroiters are thrilled.
The highlight of the auto show is the concept vehicles, which are cars that will never be bought because they will never be built. This effort occupies a huge segment of the domestic auto industry devoted to beating foreign automakers in the vitally important field of creating pointless fantasy.
That's why I was taken aback when my phone rang yesterday. It was a mystic voice purporting to represent the American car-buying public:
American Car-Buying Public: "Mr. O'Connor, we have an important message for the auto guys in Detroit."
Detroit's Tallest Personal Finance Columnist (me): "Is it about our stunning new lineup of concept cars?"
ACBP: "Concept cars? No, but we do have a concept to share. It's that average household spending on car payments, gas, auto repairs and all that is more than 17percent of our spending. That's more than we shell out for food andhealth care combined, and second only to rent and mortgages.
"Buying a car is a huge expense for us, so we take it seriously. And we are buying a serious amount of Camrys."
Me: "Right you are. The Toyota Camry has been the most popular passenger car in the United States for several years. You folks bought more than 418,000 just last year."
ACBP: "Well has anyone in your town noticed?"
Me: "Sure -- especially now that Toyota has passed No. 2 Ford and is poised to beat GM as the world's leading automaker."
ACBP: "And when are they giving us a car like the Camry?"
Me: "Listen, American Car-Buying Public, it's not that easy. You consumers want vehicles that are bold, exciting and sexy, cars that reflect the endless optimism of the American Zeitgeist."
ACBP: "Gesundheit!"
Me: " No, Zeitgeist, refers to the intellectual, moral and cultural climate of modern life."
ACBP: "Unless the Zeitgeist gets 30 miles per gallon, you can keep it. Look: Gas is over $3. We drive 15,000 miles a year. We spend a lot of time in our cars and a lot of money on 'em. Can't you just give us what we want?"
Me: "And that is?"
ACBP: "A stinkin' Camry! Have you got rust in your ears!? We want a reasonably priced car that starts right up, doesn't break down or cost a fortune to maintain, runs trouble-free and doesn't fall apart in the driveway before trade-in time. It should have nice seats, a decent radio, A/C and some cup holders.
"To us, a car is just a transportation appliance -- it's a big toaster with wheels."
Me: "C'mon, what personal statement does a Camry make?"
ACBP: "That we want to get to work on time in the morning!
"Look, no one ever bought a Camry to impress a girl. Instead, we take the girl to a nice restaurant with all the money we save by not buying a $40,000 hot-to-trot overpowered V-8 behemoth that drags our payments out for seven years and guzzles gas like frat boys swill Pabst."
Me: " Are you trying to tell me that people don't love their cars?"
ACBP: "People don't love cars any more than they love their washing machines. People like the freedom cars represent in the same way they like not having to pound their underpants on rocks in the river. Our feelings about the actual machine involved falls between 'useful convenience' and 'necessary evil.' Put it all together, and it spells C-A-M-R-Y."
Me: "Dull, dull, dull. Don't you remember that old Detroit slogan? 'We build excitement!'"
ACBP: "If we want excitement, we get in the Camry and go bungee-jumping. Believe us, when we turn the key, excitement is the last thing we want. Otherwise, we'd still be buying Pintos."
Me: "So you don't think cars are a subconscious expression of your psycho-sexual personality?"
ACBP: "Only people in Detroit think a buying a car is like taking Dr. Sigmund Freud to a fashion show. You know what used to be hot in fashion? Nehru jackets. Leisure suits. Parachute pants. You know, sort of like Trans Ams and PT Cruisers."
Me: "So what's the Camry?"
ACBP: "Pleated Dockers."
Me: "Ouch. If that's what you want, American Car-Buying Public, I'll pass it on to our automakers: You just want reliable, comfortable, value-priced transportation. But what about something other than the Camry?"
ACBP: "The Honda Accord?"
Me: "Um I was thinking about the Chevy Malibu, Dodge Avenger or Ford Fusion."
ACBP: "In seven or eight years when it's time to trade in all these Camrys, if Consumer Reports still likes any of those cars and the resale value isn't down the sewer, we can consider it. But we'd need a reason to switch."
Me: "American Car-Buying Public, you're all heart. So you promise that someday you might buy American again?"
ACBP: "Oh, what the heck. Sure, we'll think about it."
Me: "Now that's a new concept!"
--
Civis Romanus Sum

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In seven or eight years the differance in retail value between a Camry and any of its American competors cars will be far less than the thousands MORE you paid to drive home your Camry. The differace in the whole sale price will be even less and when you go to buy another Camry you will be lucky to get even wholesale for it from your Toyota dealer who is offering you a Camry at MSRP or more. The fact is in just three years the average US car will return 15% moreof it orginal 'drive home price' than ANY import LOL

http://www.detnews.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20080112/OPINION03/801120355/1148
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Mike hunt wrote:

Not in this reality.
--
Civis Romanus Sum

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