March 16, 2009 @ 9:36 pm by sean
Time magazine had an article of the 50 worst cars ever. I’m a little biased and judgmental of the non-automotive press trying to do an automotive story, but of the few bad choices, there was one significant problem with the critique of the Ford Explorer that is important beyond this article. This is what was said:
“How could the best-selling passenger vehicle in America 14 years running, the mother of all mom-mobiles, the beloved suburban schlepper of millions, wind up on this list? Forget about the whole Firestone tire controversy. In its very success, the Ford Explorer is responsible for setting this country on the spiral of vehicular obesity that we are still contending with today. People, particularly women drivers, discovered that they liked sitting up high. Even though more fuel-efficient minivans do the kid- and cargo-hauling duties better, people came to prefer the outdoorsy, go-anywhere image of SUVs. In other words, people became addicted to the pose. And, as vehicles got bigger and heavier, buyers sought out even bigger vehicles to make themselves feel safe. Helloooo Hummer. All of that we can lay at the overachieving feet of the Explorer.”
In fact, all of that cannot be laid at the feet of the Explorer, but at the feet of each and every person who purchased one when they could have purchased something else; those “addicted to the pose.” The Ford Explorer is nothing on it’s own – it’s very existence is completely dependent on everything outside it self. Without us, there is no Ford Explorer, one because a Ford Explorer can’t create itself, and two, if we didn’t buy it they wouldn’t build it. GM has come under scrutiny for missing the econo-car trend and faulted and blamed for continuing to build and sell gas guzzling trucks and SUVs. A GM engineer said that it would be completely false to assume that; how can GM be faulted for continuing to sell only what people will buy? There is no denying the fact that truck and SUV sales in this country directly correlate with the price of gas. Even when it dips the slightest amount truck sales rise and economy cars sales fall. Back in December when Ford had recently introduced it’s new F-150 pick up, they announced that in the beginning of 2009 they’d be adding another shift to the assembly; recently a Ford spokesman mentioned it was a good thing they did insinuating they’d be short on trucks if they didn’t. Notice the low gas prices. Sure, if Ford/GM/Chrysler never made SUVs and trucks than we couldn’t buy them, but there are people who genuinely need them so the had to, and everyone else bought them. There were people working for those companies who may have had no interest in participating in those programs, but I think most of us participate in obligations at work we don’t want. The one thing that could have solved this and taken care of this a long time ago, and the one group of people who deserves the largest portion of the blame, is the people buying them. People didn’t buy Toyota and Nissan trucks, so they practically stopped building them. It’s quite likely they weren’t buying hybrids instead.
Speaking of, Honda sold Civic and Accord hybrids before Toyota was selling the Prius, but they looked exactly the same as non-hybrid models, so they sat on the lots. The Toyota Camry hybrid wasn’t so much of a hot seller either. People only wanted a hybrid if it made sure everyone else knew they had a hybrid. GM’s EV1 did more to further the potential in viable electric vehicles, but since they were losing money on everyone and it was completely unsustainable and everyone was buying their trucks and SUVs instead, they “killed” it, and are unfairly absorbing an unnecessarily large amount of blame. Toyota had EVs too, but they were even less viable so they told less people so no one cared when Toyota killed their project. If the public showed more interest in GMs alternative fuel vehicles you can guarantee they’d have invested more in it, that’s how the market works, and is evidenced by where GM put their resources, trucks and SUVs, because that’s what people bought.
That stupid website from a few years ago FUH2 was completely misplaced. What, exactly, does flicking off an automobile accomplish? It seems they’ve finally added “and your H2″ to the name of the website, perhaps they’re catching on.
It’s time we recognized we can’t put all the blame for our problems on the products we buy, but ourselves for buying them.
It’s like the illegal elephant ivory trade, or shark fins when they catch a shark, cut off it’s fins and throw it back into the ocean alive to writhe and suffer and die an awful, slow, painful open-wound-in-saltwater death; if there was no market for elephant ivory or shark fin soup there wouldn’t be people mutilating these animals for these precious parts of their bodies. Or Christians who want to outlaw abortion. If they’d put as much effort into evangelizing instead of politicizing, maybe they’d get some people to change their mind on abortion in the first place and make a law redundant.