I saw this op-ed today titled Let Detroit Go Bankrupt by Mitt Romney, and in spite of how much I think he’s a crazy nutjob I actually agree with most of it. American car companies are failing, and a bailout won’t do anything but give them more money to lose.
I recently bought a new car. I love it more than anything else I’ve ever bought, except for education. When I decided I was ready for a new car I had already secured a car loan, so I had few limitations. I try to buy local as much as possible, so it made sense to get an American car. I’ve only ever owned American; a Chevy Camaro, a Ford Taurus and a Ford Focus. I never had trouble with any of them, they all lasted a long time. The Focus was the only one I wasn’t thrilled about in the snow. My brother-in-law works for GM and every other day I read about plant closings in the news.
I was pretty shocked by what I found. Not only were there not any American cars that looked particularly appealing, most of them weren’t priced all that differently from their foreign counterparts, and in some cases were only a couple thousand dollars difference from a luxury brand.
The prices shown reflect similar options and trim levels. These cars were basically the same, except the Volkswagen beat most of them on mileage and horsepower. If money were no object I’d want a BMW 328i or an Audi A4. So which of the cars pictured above looks the most like those two? And which of them had the most standard features comparable to those two?
Ding ding ding. If you said the Volkswagen Jetta you answered correctly. Most of the other cars more closely resembled Buicks. Now did I really buy the car because it looked like an Audi? No, but I did pick the car I thought looked the most elegant and stylish out of the bunch and was the most bang for my buck.
I opted for the limited edition Wolfsburg which had similar standard features to the Audi and BMW; a turbo engine, premium sound system, heated seats, defrosting side mirrors, auto-adjusting windshield wipers etc. Additionally Volkswagen offers 30,000 miles of free maintenance, something else BMW, Audi and Lexus are doing.
American companies are serving up Kmart when customers want Banana Republic. Their cars aren’t priced to compete. The design both exterior and interior are dull, and their brands are lackluster.* Mileage is a joke when GMC can call their Cadillac Escalde Hybrid “fuel efficient” at 18mpg. None of the American companies offer free maintenance. No wonder the industry is failing, it’s not because they don’t have enough money, it’s because they’re selling an inferior product. Maybe the car companies should hire Steve Jobs instead of begging the government for welfare.
*The possible interior exception would be cars including SYNC technology, which would be a whole lot more appealing were it not from Microsoft. I was a little sad how Volkswagen was lacking in the bluetooth and voice recognition department. Their navigation system was pretty archaic too.