Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Oh mercy

It appears that people in Detroit have turned to divine intervention for a Big Three bailout. The story is from the New York Times.

We've got an inter-family mini-debate going on about whether the Big Three should be saved or allowed to slip into oblivion.

My one sister, who drives a Toyota Echo (I don't believe they make them anymore), is not entirely sure about a bailout. My second, youngest, sister thinks letting the automakers go under would be a disaster.

I found this interesting story from a January edition of Fortune, which was on CNNMoney.com. It's about so-called Echo Boomers.

Echo Boomers are generally described are those born between 1980 and 1994. There are a lot of them. More than four million children were born in 1989 - the largest number of births since 1964 - and even more in 1990.

Now aged 14 to 28, Echo Boomers are mostly motoring in used cars but soon will be in the market for new ones. Their arrival is driving a lot of planning in the auto industry -- and a fair amount of consternation as well ...

According to Erich Merkle, an analyst for Michigan-based IRN, Echo Boomers want affordable vehicles that are small and fuel efficient, and packed with electronics that can be linked with iPods and laptops.
So American automakers just kept making cars for these people's parents: SUVs, minivans, etc., while foreign automakers ... well, things got tough overseas long before they were here.

Last time I was in England, some 8-10 years ago now, I remember being floored by the price of gasoline (no pun intended).

If you watch a lot of TV, you'll notice that SUVs figure prominently. The only television character I can think of who drove a small, fuel efficient car was Larry David in "Curb Your Enthusiasm." He drove a Prius.

When I'm driving around town here, I wonder why anyone needs a Range Rover in Newburyport. But then, I always wondered why that person on Beacon Hill needed a Hummer.

It was the same 25 years ago, when a Jeep was the off-road vehicle of choice for roads.

Oh the joys of marketing and industry.

(By the way, that Echo is a bomb, in the good sense of the word. It's small but comfortable, has I think 8 different cubbies that are handy to the driver and usable cup holders - things sorely lacking in my Jetta. It's great to drive, too, with a poppy little clutch.)

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