NEWS OF: 7/4/2006

Domestic Car Sales Running on Empty

VIEW ALL: Economy, Gasoline

Yesterday I stopped to fill up. Well, not “fill up.” More of splash, really. Twenty bucks and six gallons later I thought back to when I bought my Suzuki Sidekick ten years ago - back when I could fill it up for under $14. I love my old Sidekick. Four wheel drive and 20+ mpg. Easy to park because it’s so tiny. Oh sure, in a collision with anything but a Smart car I’d be toast, but those are life’s trade-offs.

It’s the same reason why I don’t have a panic room, bomb shelter or moat around my home. I can’t justify the expense.

Car companies flood TV with urgent jingles and “free gas” cash-back offers all summer long. Cars zip across the beach as the waves spray up (where is THAT legal?) … off-roading shots of Jeeps clambering through what looks like a national park to find that sweet fishing hole… slick, urban parents popping their youngsters into the equivalent of a luxury armoured tank.

You’ll never see an ad showing one of these gas guzzlers at a pump or the grim faces of the vehicle owners watching their kid’s college education go down the tank.

Billions was spent promoting these tinted-window cathedrals complete with wee DVD players. Hummers. Professional grade trucks that could tow an 18-wheeler. Sweeeeeet! Domestic carmakers for the month of June posted an 18.7% drop, while their Asian rivals saw an increase of 2.8%. We refuse to do even the simple math: big country + long commute does not equal super-expensive car + low mileage. Now Renault and Nissan are considering purchasing a majority stake in GM.

Those of us who remember the gas crisis of the 70s watched prices climb and the President shrug and claim there was nothing he could do. My Sidekick won’t last forever. Next car? Maybe the tiny, re-issued 2-door Yaris liftback ($11,000 and 34-39 mpg.) I’d hate to lose the 4WD, but again, it might be one of life’s trade-offs. The extra $10-30 grand? I’ll pop it into a retirement plan.

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4 Comments »

  1. I don’t understand your complaint. In my 1996 Saturn SL1, by slowing down on 295 from 65 MPH to 55 MPH I’ve gone from 31 MPG to 42.5 MPG. Not a problem, and in fact, better mileage than I get goin’ 65 MPH on my 1986 Honda Magna 750 cc motorcycle. And why are democraps screachin’
    about the Iraq war being about oil? WTF is that?

    Comment by Doc — 7/4/2006 @ 5:19 pm

  2. Who said anything about the Iraq war? Besides, I’m sure the price of oil going up 300% is just a coincidence.

    Comment by admin — 7/5/2006 @ 8:00 am

  3. The Smart Cars are already available in the US from ZAP www.zapworld.com ZP (NYSE). A California based company who is also planning on brining a Brazilian made car to the US, the Obvio! 828, that is a hybrid that can run on any combination of ethanol and gas. Zap is also the only car company who is selling a Chinese manufactured car in the US the 100% electric Xebra city car .

    Comment by aj gilbertson — 7/12/2006 @ 1:27 pm

  4. I am not sure why but I have always resisted buying anything but a good old American apple pie automobile but those days are now gone. I have driven Ford products since I was 17 (45 years ago) and tried to maintain my loyalty by trying to make a deal on a new one recently. The quality, mechanically and electronics) of my last two Fords a Taurus and my present ZR3 Focus have been extremely disappointing. I sent letters to the Ford.com customer email address three times but they didn’t have the courteousy to reply back even one time. I wasn’t asking for them to give me a new car because they sold me such shi- the last two times. I felt that it was important that I voice my opinion about these cars to help them get back to “Quality Job One” and being the top selling name plate in the business. Sure I complained loud as hell and felt that they could convince the local dealership I have done business with the past twenty of those years to take the piece of crap off my hands and give me a really good deal. Do you think the dealerships even care? Stopped in and they said they would get back to me in a day. That was a week ago. Well maybe Ford can begin to understand why Toyota has just outsold Ford for the first time ever. I just bought a Toyota Prius Hybrid. And guess what? The bad pr that Ford has instilled in me will hurt them as well. Does Ford now think that I would recommend that my children or grandchildren buy a Ford? Not that way I have been treated. So if Ford Motor Company doesn’t care then neither do I. I just hope this new Toyota meets all the hype. It is hard to me to imagine seeing a car invoice on the windshield that states that the car gets better milage (60 mph) city they it does highway (54). Goodbye Ford.

    PS: I was anxious a few years ago to see the Fusion which was going to be introduced this year. What is wrong with Ford? Where has their styling skills gone? I just saw one in the parking lot next door (Xerox) next to a Honda Civic. Hard to tell them apart and the civic was two years older.

    Comment by Tom Wollschleger — 8/10/2006 @ 2:37 pm

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