Thursday, May 14, 2009

If Lil Jon drove a Chrysler, he'd be gettin' clunk

Analysts wonder why American car companies are in such bad shape. I have a few theories:

1) Jellybeans taste good, but they don't give you much street cred.

2) When you drive a classic or otherwise old car, it can be fun to tinker with the guts and rebuild it from the inside out. But you shouldn't have to do that with a new car.

3) If American-built fuel systems could vote, Dick Cheney would be president.

4) The golden age of American cars died with federal emissions standards. Instead of taking that as a sign that the next wave of innovation would have to not destroy the environment, they just gave up and blamed the hippies.

5) I owned a 1993 Chevy S-10, built in Shreveport, from 1999 to 2005. I loved it. But I took it to the shop no fewer than 1,546 times. I lost the ability to use my brights when pulling the lever caused a giant chunk of plastic to fall out of the steering column. I was told fixing it would entail removing the entire steering wheel, and that the cost would probably not be worth being able to see in the country at night. Also - and, granted, Toyota does this as well - other S-10 keys could open and start my truck. I noticed this when a mechanic drove my truck up while I had my keys in my hand. By the time the truck died on me on a deserted highway 44 miles from home at 3:30 a.m. right after a caravan of six tow trucks passed me, I had replaced pretty much every part. It was like losing an old friend. An insanely high-maintenance old friend.

6) Chryslers, Buicks and Cadillacs all look like cars you'd take to the prom. GMCs, Hummers and Chevy Silverados scream, "I hate gas and I hate liberals even worse!" The truly exciting models coming out of Detroit tend to be murdered quickly amid the utmost apologies for ever inflicting such a good idea on the public.

7) Every time I like an American car (or, hell, any car), whether it's innovative or otherwise, car companies discontinue or bastardize it. And the press says something to the effect of, "The automaker is finally growing out of its bland/geeky phase to make a car America actually wants." Thanks, guys! Personal taste aside, though, aren't Cars That Americans Want exactly what America doesn't need?

Come on, Detroit. Make some wheels worth kicking again.


twodiddle said...

Ian - interesting take, but how bout the one where government is involved, and has been since before our current econimic crisis. It has been noted many times that if the government would make up thier mind about fuel consuption, that the manufacturers would follow suit. But take the current example where now the government is saying they want less hydro cars, after they told the manufacturers to re-tool for hydrogen cars. How bout big brother step asisde, and let a company sink or swim on it's own.

Ian McGibboney said...

The auto industry is failing because it refuses to keep up with the times and because its products are too high-maintenance for cash-strapped buyers. The causes you mention are a tiny fraction of the problem.

I've written before about how the auto companies could have said no to government involvement, because they're such proud businesses, but in reality they couldn't rush to the trough fast enough because their shoddy business practices led to failure.

I'm not a huge fan of bailouts, but this industry's failure is devastating entire major cities. If federal investment in the companies is what it takes to keep them afloat until they get smart (and it's not free money, by the way), then I say give it a chance.

To oppose it merely out of blanket anti-government hatred is irresponsible.

rhonda said...

i see newer edition scions on the road and i just sigh. they're ugly, and that's when you can even discern one from the sea of SUVs. you can give 'em bettie page, but all the bastards ever really want is donna reed. it never fails.

Hathor said...

My five year, low maintenance, low mileage Saturn(Ion), is going to sacked. Go figure.