Go Ford

by Russ Roberts on September 16, 2011

in Crony Capitalism

Our family has two Hondas. My first car was a Honda. But I’ve owned a Ford Explorer–it was our first kid car before we got a minivan. I tend to buy Hondas because I like the way they feel and drive and when I try out American cars, particularly GM or Chrysler, they have a boxier less interesting interior and I don’t like the way they drive. That’s just me.

But after the bailouts of GM and Chrysler, I said to myself that I should try a Ford sometime again and I’d never buy a GM or Chrysler product. At least for a long while. It’s not much of a pledge because as I said, I’ve never bought one. So no big deal.

But I was shocked to see the following commercial. It is very rare to see a major American corporation take a pro–real-capitalism and anti-crony-capitalism stand and use it in their marketing. I saw this the first time on TV and it blew me away. As Milton Friedman liked to point out, business leaders tend to be against capitalism. It makes them compete and they sometimes fail. Business prefers being coddled and protected. Anyway, watch the ad if you haven’t seen it.

 

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{ 73 comments }

Speedmaster September 16, 2011 at 10:39 am

I saw that a couple days ago, brilliant move. ;-)

Ken September 16, 2011 at 10:45 am

Saw this Last week. Awesome! And my reaction as well towards GM.

Regards,
Ken

Jeremy September 16, 2011 at 10:49 am

Ford would have taken that money if they needed it. I remember one of the first congressional meetings where Peter Morici was the “expert” on C-Span, and the CEO of Ford was there lobbying for money in case Ford needed it. Like the ad, but Ford is still acting self-interestedly.

Mikenshmirtz September 16, 2011 at 10:57 am

Self-interestedly… Do you mean they acted like any intelligent corporation or individual would act?

Ike September 16, 2011 at 11:31 am

I believe Ford was in the position to NOT need the bailouts because it had already done a lot of restructuring.

In other words, Ford made adjustments based on market signals, and it paid off.

My understanding of Ford’s position was that it was there to support its fellow Detroit-based rivals.

Dan J September 16, 2011 at 11:16 pm

Family worked for Ford. They began restructuring a while back. Ford fronted money towards 2 yrs of college for those who took buyout. And we are talkin tens of thousands. It was conditional. At any time did you not meet your end of bargain, your out. Thousands didnt make it past 6months. That is the individuals fault.
Ford learned what govt offered in exchange for ‘bailout’ and walked away. They did get a loan of $9 billion. It was an open line of credit. They had already began threading the needle. I drive two Hondas. Two hundred thousand miles and little issues, minus an imploded air unit.

Greg Webb September 16, 2011 at 11:27 pm

Honda makes a great car! I drove mine for 234,000 miles before selling it. I never had any issues beyond normal maintenance and a stuck sun roof.

Dan J September 17, 2011 at 1:08 am

Toyota and Honda spent many years playin third fiddle in US.
While my Detroit heritage wants to see a strong and vibrant American industry, I cannot support govt interventionism. Chevy Volt? 3000 sold with govt subsidies? What a joke. And with tax free GM. GM may survive, but needs twenty years of gov support to do it.
My Grandfathers are lowering their heads in shame……

Greg Webb September 17, 2011 at 1:21 am

Yep! And, it never should have happened! The American automakers and the unions were fat, dumb, happy, and arrogant. They refused to compete with those inferior foreigners and got their asses beat bad. But, instead of upping their game, they ran crying to big daddy government to protect them from those evil foreigners making them compete to make better cars for American consumers. And, American idiots called liberals and progressives fell for the crony capitalists and their racist propaganda.

Methinks1776 September 16, 2011 at 12:01 pm

I’m with you, Jeremy.

What irks me is that Ford is not standing on principle, but that’s what it would like potential customers to believe.

On the other hand, if it gets more people thinking about free markets, I’m happy to live with their hypocrisy.

Dan J September 16, 2011 at 11:19 pm

I’m happy they are sticking it to govt bailouts. It’s great when a major player posts commercials about demeaning govt money. All else is irrelevant. Love it when a major company will spend money attacking govt.

Economiser September 16, 2011 at 12:01 pm

Re: Ford’s lobbying:

Put yourself in the shoes of Ford’s CEO. You have fiducuary duties to the company. There’s a chance you may need additional financing or face bankruptcy. The government is offering to provide you with better terms than you can get anywhere else. Aren’t you potentially breaching your duties to the company and its shareholders if you snub the government?

The root problem is the politicians offering the bailouts, not the companies accepting them.

ChrisN September 16, 2011 at 12:36 pm

Ford needs to look at the long term too …that’s what the commercial is emphasizing. Just because someone offers steroids (not currently banned) to a professional athlete, the ball player needs to look to his long term health, not just his stats. If he’s smart, he’ll work on his fundamentals and lay off the juice.

Economiser September 16, 2011 at 1:11 pm

Of course they do, and Ford did the right thing by restructuring before the sh-t hit the fan. But it’s unfair to criticize Ford’s CEO for lobbying for a potential bailout in the midst of the crisis. If the government stands there as a backstop, and the ONLY other alternative is bankruptcy, any executive could be breaching his duty to shareholders if he doesn’t entertain the offer.

Methinks1776 September 16, 2011 at 2:11 pm

Economiser, Of course you’re right. And that fact that you’re right illustrates the decay introduced into the economy and society by an all-powerful, meddling government. We are all rent seekers now.

Economiser September 16, 2011 at 4:44 pm

“We are all rent seekers now.”

Better than being all Keynesians.

Economic Freedom September 17, 2011 at 12:24 pm

“We are all rent seekers now.”
Better than being all Keynesians.

A difference without a distinction. Policies of the latter cause behavior of the former.

Dan J September 17, 2011 at 1:14 am

Unfortunately, rent-seeking is means of survival. By not doing so, a business risks punishment in form of competition getting tax reductions, govt. contracts, etc.,…. Phoenix police dept has gone heavy into chevy Tahoes.
John McCain maybe part of problem, but he will call it right sometimes. He recently mentioned how govt may be beyond repair on a radio show. A slip of tongue?

Slocum September 16, 2011 at 3:27 pm

Maybe so. But they figure that their self-interest lies in making an explicit declaration against crony capitalism? I count that as a good sign regardless of whether the sentiment is calculated or sincere.

mobile September 16, 2011 at 5:38 pm

If your prior is that Ford is a noble ally in the crusade against crony capitalism, then this commercial will support that point of view.

If your prior is that Ford will cynical and opportunistic company who will take cheap shots at their competitors whenever they can, then this commercial will support that point of view.

But at least Ford’s management has raised the costs to themselves of accepting a future bailout, and that’s enough reason for me to approve of this commercial.

Dan J September 17, 2011 at 1:17 am

But at least Ford’s management has raised the costs to themselves of accepting a future bailout, and that’s enough reason for me to approve of this commercial. – mobile

Ford has raised the cost of future bailouts for all with the acknowledgement and belittling of govt bailouts. I agree, that this has raised Fords stock with me.

Michael September 16, 2011 at 10:52 am

While I prefer my bimmer (I’m kind of a car snob), a lot of what Ford has been doing in the past couple of years is pretty cool. From the Fusion Hybrid, to Sync, MyFord, and the resurrection of the 5.0 badge–I’m liking Ford more and more.

Mikenshmirtz September 16, 2011 at 11:00 am

I’ve never had much allegiance to an auto maker, but if I did it would be to Ford. In order, I’ve owned Dodge, Chrysler, BMW, Ford, Ford, Volvo. The only one I reeeeally miss is my second Ford (F-150), though I enjoyed the Ford Exploder before it.

Rich September 16, 2011 at 3:02 pm

I am with you Mike. My wife and I have owned at least one of almost every manufacturer over the years and the only ones I wish I would have kept are the Fords. I currently drive a Toyota but only because Ford does not make a small fuel efficient convertible. If they did, I would buy one in a heartbeat.

vidyohs September 16, 2011 at 11:23 am

Good ad and Ford put itself in a position of being able to run it without fear of contradiction; however, the skeptic inside me always pops up when I see something like this. Is the guy a real customer and how many real customers did they have to go through to find one who said the right words? But it is just my skeptical self, because as I said, Ford put itself in the right position to run the ad.

Good on ‘em.

SweetLiberty September 16, 2011 at 11:46 am

Yeah, my skepticism is peaked here too. But nonetheless, even if completely staged, the message is a good one.

Anotherphil September 16, 2011 at 11:28 am

Ford (Fix or Repair Daily), (Found on Road Dead).

Still not Honda, sorry.

Disclosure: On my third Impreza. Run like tops. Great in snow, great on diminishing radius curves (no oversteer, no understeer). 30MPG on highway if you keep it at 65 or less.

Dad is a Ford man. Even after his “foreign cars don’t have V-8′s” excuse wore away. Taurus inshop now. Loaner is a Camry. Mom likes. I expect them to have first serious argument in 50 years of being married, not going to passively accept Dad’s slobbering over Edge.

erp September 16, 2011 at 11:29 am

We started off in 1956 with a Mercury Monterey and since then we’ve had 2 Chryslers, 2 Honda Accords, 2 Chevies, 5 Beetles, and a big Ford Country Squire. They were members of the family and we loved them all, especially the Dodge Caravan, but I’ll never buy another Chrsyler or GM car.

Our cars are 16 and 10 years old and we’ll need to make a decision about replacing at least one of them soon, so I guess Ford will get the nod — unless they do something stupid like taking the ads off the air and apologizing for them.

Michael OBrien September 16, 2011 at 11:32 am

I’m surprised you’re so keen on this, Russ. This is political opportunism at its worst. Buying a car because the manufacturer is the most ‘murican? The tribalism disturbs me.

Also, see Jeremy’s comment. Ford would have taken the money if they needed it.

SweetLiberty September 16, 2011 at 11:51 am

I don’t think the main message being supported here is Ford or even “buy American”, but rather tha companies should stand on their own, “win, lose or draw”. That’s the point that I appreciate most anyway.

Russ Roberts September 16, 2011 at 1:01 pm

As Sweet Liberty noted, there’s nothing about buying ‘murican. I assume they would have taken the money. That’s not surprising at all. What’s surprising is that they have made an ad decrying the bailouts of their rivals. I can’t think of an analogous ad. And the wording they used (or the customer used–it’s allegedly unscripted but it doesn’t matter either way) is perfect.

Frank33328 September 16, 2011 at 1:13 pm

I think everyone is missing a more basic point. Ford, and by this I mean their employees, management and share holders, faces brutal competition from other automakers, including from GM and Chrysler. These succeed in driving GM and Chrysler into bankruptcy. (Hurray!!!)
Then along comes Uncle Sam and bails out Ford’s rivals and puts them back in the game as Ford’s competition. At one point Uncle Sam even guarantees GM warranties if I remember correctly. If I am Ford, or a Ford Share Holder, I would be ROYALLY PISSED!!! The wisdom of my investment has been destroyed. The relative superiority of my business model has been crushed. I have to compete against rivals that I cannot overcome no matter how efficient I am because their pockets are infinitely deep. Talk about unfair competition….. I don’t blame them for crying FOUL.

Dan J September 17, 2011 at 1:33 am

Indeed! Ford would have done what is necessary to remain solvent. They did so long before the doom of govt interventionism in housing crashed the system.
But, they did not succumb to the easy money and allure of advantages from govt., this time.
But, Ford got shafted. This was an opportunity to gain huge market share, from Chryslers demise and GM takin a backseat. Govt screwed Fords wise, albeit lucky, decision to make proper business choices early.

Not to mention the shenanigans that occurred to get ‘first in line debtors’ to relinquish their promised and legal returns in lieu of a bankruptcy. Without these investors, GM would not have made it to 2008.
All of the Obama years have been quite disturbing.

Itchy September 16, 2011 at 11:34 am

I’m a Ford guy, I love my Mustang and thoroughly enjoy downshifting and passing some hypemiling Prius driver. However, through some foresight and good timing, Ford needed money before the Sh!t hit the fan. Alan Mullaly made decisions to get cash and start to correct problems in Ford earlier, in part because they needed to earlier. Worth Every Penny Ford pays him…always my counterargument when my progressive friends start whining about executive compensations

That being said, love the commercial.

Ben September 16, 2011 at 11:42 am

Great message and I’m sure it will play well in today’s anti-government environment.
But two things come to mind:
1. Like Jeremy said, Ford would have taken the money if they needed it.
2. Ford benefited from the govt bailout indirectly. Had the govt not stepped in, the whole supply chain would have likely been impacted. Ford would have to have been affected, in my opinion. I don’t know enough about the business to say for sure, but if companies making parts for all of the big 3 all of a sudden lost 2/3-ish of their business, many would have gone bankrupt too. I am willing to accept evidence that refutes this theory if anyone has it, but it seems logical to me.

SweetLiberty September 16, 2011 at 11:59 am

Had GM and Chrysler not been bailed out, certainly a number of businesses supporting these two giants may have failed or restructured as well. However, the offset is that, with 2 fewer players, the market share of all other competitors would grow, including Ford. Of all manufactures, it seems that Ford would have the easiest time converting a GM or Chrysler plant selling for pennies on the dollar into a Ford plant that could retool to meet higher demand. Would Ford’s increased market share be enough to compensate for other factors? Don’t know, but it is certainly something that should be taken into account.

Justin P September 16, 2011 at 3:02 pm

Minor point but what you have is a hypothesis not a theory.
I don’t think they all would be using thee exact same suppliers. Certainly Ford had a few exclusive suppliers, which seeing the other suppliers going out of business could have seen a good opportunity to buy those suppliers out for pennies on the dollar. The increase is productive capacity would decrease the cost to Ford, which could sell cars for less. The thereby increasing business for everyone in the supply chain and be good for customers. It’s just a hypothesis but it’s just as plausible as yours, although I think more plausible.

SaulOhio September 17, 2011 at 8:38 am

Maybe Ford could have bought out those bankrupted suppliers. At low prices, providing Ford with savings they could pass on to the consumer. Ford customers might now be buying better cars for less.

Daublin September 19, 2011 at 3:05 pm

If the competitors went completely bankrupt, Ford could buy out and sell their car models, too, if it wanted them.

This is something often overlooked when discussing major bankruptcies. It’s not like the assets of the company are going to disappear. They just get transferred to new management.

Rob O. September 16, 2011 at 12:16 pm

Nothing against Ford, but “American made” doesn’t hold too much water. Both of our Hondas were built by hard-working folks in Ohio.

PrometheeFeu September 16, 2011 at 12:39 pm

That’s only one of the many stupid things about “buying American”. I just don’t care where most of my products are made. The only exception is agricultural products because climate can play a really big impact as to what grows where and what grows into the tastiest food. But even then, the effect is limited to a rather small subset of products.

Gil September 17, 2011 at 2:56 am

That reminds of a recurring gag in “Married . . . With Children” – where American-made means a heap of garbage.

Ken September 17, 2011 at 12:07 pm

Gil,

So your claim is that Hondas are “heap[s] of garbage”?

Regards,
Ken

Jack Givens September 16, 2011 at 12:24 pm

Buying American sounds appealing but the unions are so anti-freemarket that I loath the idea and think it is more american to buy a Honda (Which we did last year). Having said that nobody makes a Jeep so we will likely replace our 14 year old Jeep this year.

Vikram September 16, 2011 at 12:41 pm

wow

colson September 16, 2011 at 12:58 pm

While Ford didn’t get the same kind of bailout GM and Chrysler did (namely – a custom, extra-legal bankruptcy), Ford was in line (Ford Motor Credit) for the handouts along with Toyota, BMW and Harley Davidson at the Fed’s feeding trough, sucking up loans throughout the whole mess.

I love the commercial, in the customer’s own words. But Ford’s wings are a little bit dirty too.

J. W. September 16, 2011 at 1:01 pm

Although I am, like some others here, inclined toward a cynical view of the commercial, I appreciate that Ford, whether intentionally or not, has opened itself up for hypocrisy charges should the company ever accept bailout money in the future. “Didn’t you say that this isn’t the American thing to do?”

To the commenters knocking “buy American”: Note that the commercial actually downplays “buy American” as the phrase is typically understood. The question posed in the ad suggests geography, but the answer emphasizes principle. The ad encourages people to purchase from companies that don’t seek out the government to prop them up. Granted, the guy overlooks and implicitly dismisses foreign car companies, but the overall message is nevertheless a big step in encouraging free markets.

Seth September 16, 2011 at 1:14 pm

I always found “Buy American” to be awfully un-American. I’m glad to see that message in this commercial.

Sam Walton, at least what I know of him from what I’ve read, loved competition too. He wanted to win by customer choice.

He opened his store in Bentonville near two competitors. Everyone thought he was crazy. He thought it would make him that much better.

Politicians don’t like such businesses. What would they do if all businesspeople thought this way?

David September 16, 2011 at 1:21 pm

That is a really great commercial. Of course Ford is being opportunistic, but why *shouldn’t* they be opportunistic? Ford is essentially competing against the government due to the bailouts.

Greg Webb September 16, 2011 at 2:20 pm

This commercial is great marketing by Ford. But, giving the right impression is not making a great car. Ford can do it, but it will require changing the bureaucratic nature of the company and begin actually competing for consumers against foreign competitors by making a great car. It is not impossible, but Ford’s past mentality has been that of a crony capitalist that wanted to limited foreign competition to maintain its market share and profitability.

Dan J September 17, 2011 at 1:39 am

Ford will undoubtedly use govt as weapon in future for self interest. But, for now………… go Ford!! To hell with Govt Motors!!!

Price B. September 16, 2011 at 3:28 pm

This IS an example of corporate opportunism- but that’s a good thing.

Ford is doing its corporate duty: exploiting a competitive advantage to increase sales. Since Ford only exists by pleasing consumers, running this ad requires them to cater to mainstream opinion. If Ford sells more cars because of it, then that indicates an increasing regard for unfettered competition.

Then it’s only a small step from “No- failed automakers should not be protected from their mistakes.” to “No- domestic industry should not be protected from foreign competitors.”

Whether or not Ford is truthfully changing doesn’t matter (yet), if public opinion follows this trend, maybe they’ll be forced to actually change.

Will September 16, 2011 at 4:57 pm

I drive a camery with 253k miles. I am now emotionally attached to reach the 300K. But based on the miles and age of my car, I have been keeping up with newer cars, just in case. I have always owned a Chevy prior to the camery and have a since of emotional attachment, since my first car was a Chevy, but found myself deciding to never again drive a chevy after the bailouts and support Ford. That was until I started to see more and more cameros on the street and I must admit I like them better than the mustang. The point I am making is that its a great commercial and as I see it a great marketing tool to the targeted audience, but when I comes down to it most consumers are going to buy what they want, like, and afford, regardless of the company name on the car and very few will remember the bail out when they write the check, but those few that do on principle will by a Ford which is what Ford is trying to capitalize on. Nothing but good ole competition.

Brian Vree September 16, 2011 at 11:59 pm

Ford got lucky and refinanced debt a year before the crisis. GM’s and Chrysler’s came due during the crisis. Had Ford been in the same situation, the would have also taken taxpayer money.

Ken Royall September 17, 2011 at 12:12 am

Ford took a 5.9 billion dollar loan from the Govt. for “green” vehicles. I am sure they are good for it but it still shouldn’t be happening.

Dan J September 17, 2011 at 1:43 am

I am shopping for Toyota Tacoma. Have been investigating market for a year now and looking for weaknesses to exploit. Hot vehicle. As was the Honda Odyssey when we got ours in 2007. Got smokin deal on man leaving country. Mexico will force vehicle into 6 months of sitting in warehouse if made in US. Insurance will not cover. So, he sold to me. Wonderful vehicle. Just take care of your transmission fluid or pay price.

Cinnamon September 17, 2011 at 3:37 am

I could spend five minutes on Google and find a dozen ways in which Ford is a rent-seeker (and -getter!) but instead I am going to be amazed that they resisted this one time as though a wind of change were blowing

Dan J September 18, 2011 at 1:31 am

Meant bowing down to Obama admin…… The Jews were not about to let govt have a seat at their Board.

JS September 17, 2011 at 8:43 am

…and Bill Clinton once said that the truth is always an option. To suggest that Ford has a real-capitalistic leaning is utterly absurd. They turned down government financing out of self interest, not ideology. But they can certainly now ‘capitalize’ on their image for not accepting a bailout.

Nemoknada September 17, 2011 at 11:30 am

Let’s see. We don’t forgive GM for being bailed out, but we buy Hondas, because the Bataan Death March was, what, in the past? Far enough in the past? Not as bad as taking a bail-out? Didn’t use our hard-earned tax money? And what about that Holocaust? Forgiven, right? But takng a bail-out? Whoa! Wouldn’t touch a GMer with a ten-foot pole.

vikingvista September 17, 2011 at 12:03 pm

For the first time in my life, I am now considering buying a Ford. THAT is a powerful ad.

Jim September 17, 2011 at 1:54 pm

Identifying brand at the company level (e.g., Ford, Honda) leads to misperception of the market.

So, buying a low priced Chevy car is silly; their culture, engineering, cost structure, expertise, etc. is not there. They are building that car to conform to Cafe Laws. That market is the heart of Toyota and Honda. GM couldn’t even get Saturn to work despite trying to divorce it from GM culture.

But if you want a well built, solid, powerful SUV or light truck, or a top of the line sports car, over looking Chevy is like cutting off your nose to spite your face.

This is also the reason that a government bail-out while telling GM to change the cars it makes, as obama did, is doomed to failure. It is like telling a lion to turn into a zebra. GM would immediately be more profitable if it stopped selling cheap, inexpensive cars. But that is exactly what the government will NOT let them do.

sethstorm September 18, 2011 at 12:01 am

Agreed on CAFE laws, but how about letting GM specialize in delivering cars that are large yet affordable? The unique draw to Detroit’s Big Three is that you get more car and more engine to it than you get with the golfcart companies of Toyota and Honda.

Let them build the 6/8cyl, RWD car that average people can afford, and tell the environmentalists to pound sand.

stacy September 17, 2011 at 3:56 pm

More foriegn cars are made in the US than American cars. My husband and I own a transmission shop and Fords/Mazda are definetly what keep us busy. The number one car with the most problems in 10 yrs at our shop is the Ford Taurus & the Windstar. I’d have to say that we see the least of Toyota’s. With this arrogance of this commercial Ford can pat themselves on the back all they want but it doesnt change the facts.

Dan J September 18, 2011 at 1:42 am

Windstar was a bomb!! Discontinued !!

sethstorm September 17, 2011 at 5:34 pm

Given how Ford’s gone un-American and made everything Third Worldly, this is one more reason I don’t regret choosing an Aurora over a Sable. When the bailouts were being written up, I saw my purchase as affirming my support in a truly American company that knows how to make cars for the US market.

At least with General Motors, you’re going to get something from a company that has not abandoned its Detroit ways – unlike Ford. That, and I’ve found that Ford seems to be more spartan with their interiors – much like Chrysler – versus an equivalent year GM.

If Ford wants my money, they can start by being American. That means they start making larger, more powerful RWD/AWD cars in the US for lower amounts of money. As a measure of goodwill, kill all the US deployment of European platform vehicles(e.g. any of their Transits), and resurrect the Panther platform. Otherwise, they might as well be as bad as the transplants for not offering something American enough.

flicka47 September 17, 2011 at 6:08 pm

So, when does Ford get the Gibson treatment?

Craig Green September 17, 2011 at 9:03 pm

I’m 66, and have owned Chevys (’29, ’48, ’51, ’58, ’01) and Oldsmobiles (’54, ’62, ’68) most of my adult life. My parents had Cadillacs (two ’57s, two ’59s) and several other Chevys. I also had a few Chrysler products. But, I will not buy a new one for the same reasons stated in the ad. Companies who rely on government bailouts are not real companies, but wards of the State. GM should have declared bankruptcy years ago, liquidated its assets to someone who knows how to run a car company and told the spoiled unions to go to hell.

sethstorm September 17, 2011 at 11:55 pm


GM should have declared bankruptcy years ago, liquidated its assets to someone who knows how to run a car company

…which would result in a golfcart company. Like the rest of the transplants. Never mind what that does to the foreign divisions of GM that are outside the reach of the UAW/CAW.

That would result in General Motors becoming another manufacturer of un-American compact cars versus larger, Detroit-sized vehicles. Forget seeing anything under $30k that didn’t have anything more than a poky I-4 and turbos as the performance package. Look at the complete evisceration of the British car companies as a demonstration of what would have happened.

When I start seeing import companies not be afraid of offering huge, turboless, and rumbling cars for the masses(read: well under 30k), you might have a point. Until then, General Motors isn’t off my list.

Ken September 18, 2011 at 12:02 am

Seth,

“…which would result in a golfcart company.”

So?

“That would result in General Motors becoming another manufacturer of un-American compact cars versus larger, Detroit-sized vehicles.”

How is making cars that Americans actually want, at a price they can afford “un-American”? How is forcing Americans to keep a company afloat that makes products they don’t want “American”?

Regards,
Ken

brone September 19, 2011 at 8:32 am

The comment struck me as a bit mysterious, too. I can’t see large-capacity V8 cars being especially popular at the moment, what with US petrol being $3/gal (or whatever it is). I bet people WOULD like the rumble and gurgle, and I bet they WOULD like the snappier acceleration, but I imagine they would rather have money in their pocket and then just turn the stereo up a bit.

You can see this in the UK, where petrol prices are famously quite high due to taxation. You can buy cars with high-capacity engines, but most people don’t. Most people would rather spend less money, or spend the same and drive further or have a car with more toys. So most cars have 2L or smaller engines, they are often turbodiesels, they usually have 4 cylinders, and they are sold on fuel economy, safety, comfort and quantity of extra stuff, rather than performance. Though thanks to the march of progress, performance is generally pretty good anyway.

(As for the reason for the “evisceration” of British car companies – for many years, they products they made were shit. It’s pretty much as simple as that.)

clay September 19, 2011 at 8:14 am
Eric Napier September 23, 2011 at 1:27 pm

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