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Saturday, January 10, 2004

Went to the Show

I finally got off my duff and went to the LA autoshow. I could have sworn the manufacturers camped out in the same places they did last year. As I walked around, I debated on what I could write about the show that would be different from what hundreds of writers have written already. I decided to go with the obvious: Write about the people attending.

Los Angeles is a wierd place. It's really different from the rest of America, and the rest of the world in the number of races, and interracial couples that live here. This isn't going to be a politically correct essay or anything on how the manufacturers can appeal to minorities. Rather this is an essay on how the manufacturers could monitor the different groups that go to different manufacturers, and then advertise towards them.

Another factor that is important, is how Angelenos view certain brands favorably, and view others negatively. The car buying habits of people in Los Angeles are VERY different from other parts of America. I'll show this by making a list of the brands that had very little traffic going through them:

Oldsmobile
Mercury
Pontiac
GMC
Suzuki

Then there were the brands that had an okay amount of traffic, but not great:

Subaru
Saab
Ford
Audi
Mitsubishi
Chevrolet

Then there were the brands that were crowded:

Lincoln
Cadillac
Nissan
Toyota
Honda
Mazda
Porsche
Volkswagen
Scion

Then there were the brands that were so crowded, you couldn't see the cars:

BMW
Ferrari
(Any super luxo brand)

What's the point of this? The auto industry should take a cue from the movie theater companies, and post watchers in their auto shows to take counts, and see what ethnic groups and what genders, and what parts of the country like which cars. Cadillac has had a total resurgence from five years ago. The new Mustang was not that popular, while the Ford GT was much more popular. That's probably different from other areas of the country. I honestly don't know what conclusions to draw, without sounding like a Klan member, I'd like to make guesses based on solid numbers. The LA autoshow, and any autoshow have all kinds of people, from all different ages visiting. This is the only chance many will get to sit in cars they want to sit in, without a car salesman breathing over their should pressuring them to buy. It's a huge attraction. The car I was crazy about before, the Ford Mustang, I'm not as crazy about, and a car I kinda liked, the Saab 9-3, is something I would buy if I had the money.

The car companies should try to make centers all across the country, where you can just sit in a car and not be pressured to buy. There would guards around, to make sure people didn't hurt the cars. Free brochures could be given out, and contests could be raffled off there. It would be a huge draw. You could charge money to allow people to have test drives too. I rarely sit in luxury cars, and the difference in the seats from what I currently drive (Nissan Sentra '01) is enormous. You find out things about cars you never would have otherwise. And you won't get forced into buying a car you're not satisfied with because a salesman pressured you, and you caved in. This happens a lot more than people will admit.

And one final note--Pontiac and Mercury are on their way out in So Cal. The Pontiac GTO was virtually ignored, and I think this is a great car. I'm going to talk in a future blog entry on how I think the American car can be changed, to be successful once again. At this current rate, Mercury and Pontiac are going to be contracted on in ten years, following Plymouth, and Oldsmobile. It's that bad.

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