Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Cars... The Return

I searched for the tackiest dealership ad I could find. 
I found it in Norwood, MA.

Cars

Here in my car, I feel safest of all
I can lock all my doors, it's the only way to live
In cars


Here in my car, I can only receive
I can listen to you, it keeps me stable for nights
In cars


Here in my car, where the image breaks down
Will you visit me please, if I open my door?
In cars


Here in my car, I know I've started to think
About leaving tonight, although nothing seems right
In cars


Gary Numan - Cars

I find myself back where I have started several times before.  Over the past couple of years I've written quite a few posts with the word 'Cars' in the title. (i.e.:  Cars (Part I)Cars (Part II)Cars (Part III) )

Of course, there have been the obligatory posts about cars, sans 'cars' in the titles:  (i.e.:  Two Birds : One Stone, No Birds - No Stone, President Obama's Tax Cut for... Wealthiest ... , & It's Not Easy Being Green)

Why?  Well, because cars have quite a bit to say about we happy, happy Americans feel about the US Economy, ourselves, and the future of manufacturing here in America.  Over the past few weeks I've read many articles regarding 'cars' in America, and if cars have something to say about us, we just may want to take a moment to listen to 'them'.  


Boomers Replace Their Children as No. 1 Market for Autos - Bloomberg.com

For generations, car buying declined as consumers entered their golden years. Now, boomers are refusing to follow their parents’ lead and go quietly into the car buying night.

The 55-to-64-year-old age group, the oldest of the boomers, has become the cohort most likely to buy a new car, according to a new study by the University of Michigan’s Transportation Research Institute. Graying boomers replaced the 35-to-44 year old age group, who were most likely to buy four years ago.

...

Indeed, young people don’t seem that interested in driving. Just 79 percent of people between 20 and 24 had a driver’s license in 2011, compared with 92 percent in 1983, according to the Michigan study.

Conversely, the oldest boomers are trooping down to the Department of Motor Vehicles in growing numbers to remain licensed to drive. Almost 93 percent of those age 60 to 64 had a driver’s license in 2011, up from 84 percent in 1983.

That helps explain why consumers age 55 to 64 had the highest rate of vehicle purchases in 2011, while the youngest age groups had the lowest rate. Even consumers age 75 and above bought cars at a higher rate than 25-to-34-year-olds and 18-to-24-year-olds, the Michigan study found.



Translation:  The 'American Dream' of getting a job following college, buying a new car and starting your 'Independent Life' away from your parents is, at best, on life-support.  With more kids graduating from college, moving back in with the 'Rents, being deeply in debt with training for jobs which no longer exist, Peggy Sue and John Boy are prepping themselves for a life of 'mediocrity' and 'just scraping by'.  

Dreams die hard, but the do... die.  But I must say, your kid looks most-excellent in your handed-down 1984 Saab 900! 




A Hankering for Hybrids, NYTimes.com

DETROIT — When automakers rolled out their new electric cars three years ago, they had big plans. Even President Obama, in his State of the Union address in 2011, predicted there would be as many as a million of them on the nation’s roads by the middle of the decade.

Results have, so far, fallen way short of expectations. Only about 36,000 battery-powered vehicles were sold this year through July, according to the auto research site Edmunds.com. And many of those sales were spurred by heavy discounts from car companies desperate to move electric models off the lot.

But for hybrid cars, it has been a different story. Automakers have sold about 298,000 hybrids, which alternately run on gasoline engines and battery power, so far this year.

And while electric vehicles may be considered greener and more glamorous, hybrids have quietly entered the mainstream of the American auto market.

...

For many consumers, price is the biggest factor in choosing a hybrid over a vehicle that runs primarily on battery power, though a $7,500 federal tax credit is available for plug-in models and all-electric cars.

For example, the base price for a regular, gasoline-powered Ford Fusion sedan is $21,900. The conventional hybrid version of the car goes for $26,200. But the plug-in variation costs $38,700. Faced with sluggish demand for electric vehicles, auto companies have increasingly been forced to slash prices to stimulate demand. Ford, for example, recently cut $4,000 from the price of its all-electric Focus.

Manufacturers are also fighting an uphill battle to win over consumers worried about the distances they can travel before recharging an a purely electric car.

Despite the lukewarm acceptance of electric models, automakers are nevertheless pushing ahead with more of them. One critical consideration is the increasingly stringent fuel-economy rules set by the federal government, which mandate that a car company’s total fleet must average 54.5 miles per gallon by 2025, nearly double what it is today.

...

David Blum, a graphic designer from Lake Elsinore, Calif., bought a Prius last month to replace the older model he has driven since 2005. He originally purchased the Prius to take advantage of the incentives offered by California, including tax credits and a sticker that allows him to drive in the state’s car pool lanes.

“I got used to the mileage, and it was difficult to go back to a gasoline engine,” Mr. Blum said. “When you get 40 to 50 miles to the gallon, it just becomes the normal.”

He said he would not buy an electric car because the price was high and he would need to install a charging station in his garage.

“There is not yet an affordable electric option with enough range to make it viable,” he said.


Translation:  Try as hard as it will (with your tax dollars) Federally-created 'Incentives' to buy crappy products will encourage only either the 'profoundly stupid', or the 'profoundly stupidly wealthy', to invest in products not ready for prime-time.  When a vehicle has a range of fewer than 150 miles and costs THOUSANDS more than it's gas-powered equivalent, how can anyone be surprised that only a very small percentage of the US population is purchasing this flawed, unproven, and environmentally 'unfriendly' technology?  

The only question remaining is:  Will you call to tell President Obama, or should I???  Oh, never mind, you do it, as I'm sure the President's NSA has been reading my posts for the past few years.  Silly me, he already KNOWS...

   


American Automobile Glut? Unsold Cars Are Piling Up, Businessweek.com

Even with U.S. car sales zooming along, there are some signs automakers might be stepping on the gas a little too hard.

Some 3.27 million new cars are now sitting on lots across the U.S., more than there have been in almost five years, according to Automotive News. That’s a lot of cars—just enough to equip every man, woman, and child in the state of Iowa with a new vehicle, and just slightly less than the number of iPhones added to Verizon’s network last quarter. A year ago at this time, by contrast, there were 2.7 million vehicles lying in wait across the country; summer 2011 saw an inventory of about 1 million fewer cars.

...

But August isn’t the best time for dealerships to be full, as most 2014 models will be rolled out in September. Some carmakers are flirting with a potential glut. General Motors (GM), for example, has enough Cadillacs finished to meet demand for more than four months. It also has 85 days’ worth of Buicks ready to roll. (At the other end of the spectrum, Toyota and Subaru (9778:JP) are running lean—current U.S. inventories for both companies should be gone in less than 60 days.)

Looking for a deal on a vehicle in the next month or two? Dealership lots that stock American automakers appear to be ripe for bargain seekers.


Translation:  If you are a 'seasoned' American with money (from when the economy was 'good'), time, and a valid driver's license, get ready to buy your NEW 2013 _____________________ (Insert vehicle name here) on the CHEAP because its 2014 cousin is mere weeks away from delivery!  

And, if it's a Government Motors vehicle, knock an extra $500 off because, well, just because!  After all, you already gave them a bunch of money a while back (courtesy of the 'ObamaCars' program). 




Meet the one city in America where cars have been banned since 1898, Treehugger.com

When early automobiles first arrived on the scene in the late 19th century, few people could have imagined that they would one day take over the world. In fact, some towns found the noise and exhaust from these novelty 'horseless carriages' so off-putting that early cars were actually outlawed in some places.

In time, of course, restrictions were lifted and the car soon became ubiquitous across the country -- but there is still one place in the United States that has yet to change its mind. Meet Mackinac Island, where cars have been banned since 1898.

...

One resident at the time was quoted as calling cars "mechanical monsters" -- clearly not a glowing review.

Although the small island is home to only around 500 people, in the summer, that number swells to 15,000 during tourism season; aside from a couple of emergency vehicles, there's nary a car to be seen. Transportation on Mackinac is limited to walking, horse-drawn carriages, and bicycling -- a pleasant departure from the car-centric society that exists beyond its borders.

"The air is cleaner and injuries are fewer," writes Jeff Potter, who published an article about Mackinac. "Island residents are healthier due to the exercise. There’s a cherished egalitarianism: everyone gets around the same way. They also save a tremendous amount of money that would normally go to commuting by cars."



Translation:  This is the TreeHugger version of the future (firmly 'rooted' in the past).  

I have a couple of questions to leave you with:

ONE:  How'd they get those buildings put up and nice-looking asphalt road laid down if motor vehicles were banned for the past 100+ years?  Did they make horses pull that heavy construction / road-building equipment?  If so, I've got the ASPCA on speed dial and I'm ready to make THAT call.  (Although, if the NSA could call on my behalf, that'd be great too as I'm REALLY busy today.)

TWO:  I kind of like the idea of an area devoid of working motor vehicles.  It reminds me of current-day Detroit.  

THREE:  The last time I looked / sniffed, horses (presumably pulling these carriages) make create both 'noise' and 'noxious odors' (not to mention leaving large, steamy, piles of poop in their wake).  While vacationing on the Island, do you wear sandals, or rubber boots?

FOUR:  The women in the last photo here look very 'sturdy' (and I really do like their hats!).  Yes, I kind of like the idea of a sturdy woman who can use her thighs to crush walnuts.  Although, I believe there are few men, besides myself, who would ever attempt to marry one.  

It'd kill a 'lesser man'.

FIVE:   Hey Mackinac Island, why stop at eliminating automobiles?  Lose the electric and TV while you're at it.  Those electric plants throw off a lot of heat and noise AND they burn evil fossil fuels.  Shut off the lights, cut the cable networks, and now that I think about it, plug up the dang plumbing.  

If 'TreeHugger' folks want to 'get away from it all' in 2013 - let's give them the authentic 'nature' experience.  Sure, they'll never come back again in the Summer of 2014, but there are plenty of 'Treehuggers' lined up behind them to take their place (for a singular season, at least).

But you won't, will you?  

You, you, wacky TreeHugging-Egalitarians...

        
Yeah, that's what I was thinking you'd say.  

Have a nice day folks, as for you still reading this really long post, please don't kill yourself, I, and everyone else you know, will miss you.  

You are unique - keep doing what you do best - being yourself.  

The World is a better place for it. 

I'll be moving my son into college tomorrow, I'll be off for a bit - be nice to each other while I'm away.  Seriously, I'm NOT kidding.  Don't make me come down there...

Mike (a.k.a.:  Moos)



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