Friday, December 12, 2008

Forgive Me For Being Stupid

I suppose you could say that I'm a product of the automobile industry in the United States. My dad was the breadwinner in our house and he worked at a tire factory where he eventually retired. He took care of me and my two brothers. He paid for most of my college education. So, you could say that somehow the automobile industry took care of me and my two brothers and the automobile industry paid for most of my college via my dad's hard work. Dad was also a consumer of the automobile industry. He was one of those guys that had to have a new car at least every two years. I never remember being in an old or junky car as a kid.

And yet I've never purchased a new car. I'm not sure that I ever will. These are my cars...

They look much more beat up in real life today than in these pictures. They've been well-used and I guess that we've been fortunate to get so much out of these used vehicles.

And that's what I don't get. How many new cars does this country really need every year? I just read today that Honda was originally planning to build 1.46 million vehicles in 2009 and now they've reduced their plan to 1.3 million. GM was originally planning on building 3 million cars & trucks in 2009 and now they plan to build just 2 million. Notice that I'm not even including Ford and Toyota and all of the other automakers in the world.

It doesn't take an economic genius to figure out that the automobile industry is going to be hurting severely this year (and perhaps in the years to come). And as I can attest to as a product of the generation, it's much bigger than just the factories that make the cars. Think about all of the components and accessories and you have a huge economic impact.

In our lifetime, my wife and I have had the following vehicles:

  • 1974 Nova (ugly green with a three on the tree manual transmission--I should blog about this some time)
  • 1987 Plymouth Horizon (referred to as "The Hor")
  • 1985 Honda Accord
  • 1990 Mercury Sable (like a Ford Taurus, but uglier)
  • 1992 Chevrolet Corsica
  • 1998 Plymouth Grand Voyager (pictured above)
  • 1996 Honda Accord
Of these seven cars only six have been around during our marriage (we've been married over 16 years) and only four were actually purchased during our marriage. So why do we need so many cars? I don't see the current changes/struggles in the automobile industry as all that surprising. Am I missing something here?


Elephantschild said...

I learned to drive in a '76 Nova. It was burgundy.

We're used car people, too. We'll never buy a new car.

I think the auto industry out-quality-ed themselves. They should go back to making cruddy junk that rusts out in 2.35 years and falls apart at 92,000 miles.

HEY! They can just start building MGs and Land Rovers!

Toni said...

I can't think straight on this one. I guess it's because the government told the airline industry (whose very survival is highly tied to the the cost of fuel) to "figure it out" after that industry began struggling financially post 9/11 in a way that was entirely unprecented. There have been layoffs, station closings (a la Cleveland, OH), vacations taken away, sick time, holiday pay and overtime pay cutbacks, insurance premium hikes, etc, etc, etc., all in an attempt to stay out of chapter 11 and/or to just keep the doors open for business.

My dh has to listen to groans every day over the checked baggage charge (which is directly related to, you guessed it, the cost of fuel and then some). Yet, it's at least a creative attempt to ease their own financial woes and to avoid going belly up. And yet, we, the tax payers, are to bail out certain industries and businesses which the goverment deems worthy. Like I said, can't think straight on this one. I'm really just grateful dh is still working and his airline is still flying. Sorry for the downer response. :(

Randy said...


My thoughts exactly. By the way, where are all these cars going? They could stop producing cars today and there would be enough cars to last this country for many years. However, the big thing of "status" comes into play. I've bought only two new cars in my life. Not again.

Sure, I'd love to own a Mercedes or a BMW. I have steak tastes on a hamburger budget. But really, isn't a car a means of getting from point A to point B?


Rebekah said...

I've wondered the same thing. How many cars do we need in this country. They cant poss sell all that they make, and what about all the trade-ins people make in order to get the 'new' ones? Where do all the cars go?

Randy said...


There must be some kind of "black hole" effect going on. Really, when a person thinks about the masses of autos being made, they have to be going somewhere! Maybe I'm not cognitive enough in that area to figure it out. I'm glad you were on the same track as me on that thought. I was wondering if I was the only one out there with those same thoughts!

Have a great day,


Rose Starr said...

interesting indeed...where do all those cars eventually end up?

I enjoyed your list and wanted to share ours: In 9.5yrs of marriage:
1986 Honda Civic (my 1st car)
1989 Honda Accord (hubs 1st car)
both broke down/accident same day so we bought a used
1996 Toyota 4 runner (nicest car yet-sold 3 yrs later for down payment for house)and later a
1969 Crysler Newport ($500 and a beast of a car!)
1995 Chevy Astro (currently own, rocks in the snow)
1994 Toyota Previa (currently own, given to us 4 yrs ago, transmission going out, bumper duct taped together).
2002 Vespa Scooter (currently own)

Our big dream is another newer but used Chevy Astro! Someday, she said wistfully :)

JAM said...

We always buy semi late model used vehicles to let others take the brunt of the devaluation that happens so quickly to new cars. It saves us money and we drive them puppies into the dirt, though we do have all routine stuff done as it should. They last and last. The thought of buying a new car now freaks us out worse than when we bought our first house.

I won't get started on the American auto industry.