Thursday, January 27, 2005
They're both v8, rwd, premium priced vehicles, with names from the past. And they're both failures.
Heritage is something the Big 3 should be proud to have. It's something the Japanese for the most part will never have. You won't be seeing retro Accords in the year 2050.
Retro is something you should never avoid. Some might argue, like Bob Lutz has about the current GTO, that it didn't want to be just a redoing of an old design. But quite frankly that's what some European marques have been doing since their creation. BMW, with the dual kidney grills, Jaguar with the virtually identical XJ series, its S-type which looks like a Mark IV. Ok Jag's not a good example, but BMW sure is, in terms of financial success. Ford has learned its lesson by building a super retro Mustang that will be super profitable. I figure the upcoming Chevrolet HHR will do somewhat well, but hopefully the next generation GTO, or Camaro will really be retro.
David Wassmann wrote a response to one of my entries below, and left a link to his blog and a company he runs. He's basically the first CEO who's ever written to me; most of my letters are from consumers asking for advice on models. So I'm going to brown nose.
But what's interesting about his site, Motor Alley, is that it takes away the nervousness of the car purchase. I've bought a new car before from a dealer, and been witness to purchases a few other times, and the cheaper the car, the more high pressure the salesperson. A luxury car has sales people who are the kindest you'll ever meet. Japanese dealerships will attack you.
So it's hard to buy a car, without being psychologically preyed upon, and if you liked the car in the slightest, you'll probably end up buying it that day once you appear at the dealership, barring your credit approval of course.
MotorAlley brings the dealers to you, reviews the cars, reviews the dealers, and makes them fight each other. Now if they can just make test driving a car, a no pressure event, then everything would be complete.
For most of us, reviewing the previous year means filling out tax forms. But for those who write for a living, or wish they were writing for a living, sigh, it means an inane look at the past year's events.
Jerry Flint, an auto writer who I disagree with strongly and agree with strongly in basically every column he writes, talks about the year 2004, and sets up high hopes for Chrysler and Ford. But not for GM. I agree.
What's really interesting in his synopsis is how the sales figures for niche sporty vehicles, like the 350z, S2000, Miata, were all doing poorly. Why is that interesting? From what you probably have read in magazines like Car and Driver, Autoweek, etc., is that these are the cars companies should be making. They see them as halo cars, cars that help the brand name as a whole. But the problem is, the buyers of these are finicky, and jump from sporty vehicle to sporty vehicle with regularity. It's mainstays like the Accord, Impala, and Camry that are important.
All in all, a good read, and Flint readily admits his mistake at thinking the youth market was a joke, i.e. his prediction that Scion would fail. No market is a joke, as long as the cars you make for it are high quality. And Scions are very high quality.