Friday, April 22, 2005

El Camino

by Tom Bozzo

I saw a very, very ("Slingshot") yellow Chevrolet SSR out the office window, going through the McDonald's drive-through next door.

There's good retro and bad retro. The SSR is not good retro: the website pictures don't do justice to the weirdness of its huge flat-sided fenders. Plus, the damned thing is $45,000, which will get you a perfectly nice C6 'Vette among many other things.

No wonder GM is in trouble.
Having spent high school driving a '53 Chevy pickup around town, I agree that this is a pale imitation of vintage. However, since you bring it up, I have to admit that I have an unreasonably vigorous crush on the new Mustang.
I can Identify, Alan. I've seen a couple examples of the new Mustang on the road around here, and contra the SSR, it looks much better in person than in photographs (still, it should have been given an independent rear suspension).
I'm going to be in the market for a new car in the next year or two. I'm going to talk to you first.
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I believe I saw a sleek looking Chevy Hybrid truck that got pretty decent mpg at the Chicago Auto show. Why can't they combine that with the new hybrid mitsu eclipse hybrid proto's 400 hp???

By the way... the new google bomb:
Tom ethically-challenged Delay
Tetricus: Toyota, and to a lesser extent Honda, clearly view 'performance hybrids' with decent gas mileage as a major opportunity. With GM, concept cars aside, its management seems to think (and its product plans assume) that fuel efficiency is a fad that will blow over once oil prices return to "normal" levels. So their hybrid program so far has been weak, and they're betting a lot that demand will return for their next-generation full-size SUVs. I intend to post a bit more on this later.

Oscar: My capacity for meddling in others' car-buying decisions is effectively limitless. Let me know when you're ready to take the plunge.
I agree. Detroit still doesn't get it after 30 years. I imagine it has a lot to do with the unions, but I don't want to bring that up.
Endugle me, What do unions have to do with producing fuel effienct cars?
That was suppose to be "Tom ethically-challenged Delay"
There are some Dems (e.g., Dingell) with auto-industry constituencies who will oppose policies favoring fuel-efficient vehicles over the truck-heavy Big Three product mix ostensibly because they don't want to see the workforce displaced. That is, unions may directly or indirectly promote the status quo to preserve jobs in the nearer term.

Beyond that, unions are largely beside the point, as Big Three productivity is pretty good these days; likewise, high European labor costs don't really impede the production by European marques of relatively efficient vehicles that also happen to be marketable.

(Note, the above should not be read as suggesting that I think CAFE is good policy, though it may be better than nothing.)
Endugle you? I'm not sure what that entails...

I apologize, too. I thought the main post was about GM putting out crappy cars that cost too much money, not fuel efficiency. I therefore retract my earlier comment.
The comments thread took a trip into fuel-economy land, which I'd assumed you were referencing, too. By way of your intended point, Bryan, I've been slowly working on a follow-up post on (among other things) the marketability of GM's wares, which should see the light of day soon. (Sick children=slow blogging.)
As far as fuel efficiency goes, I imagine the American car companies will get destroyed here too. Honda and Toyota offerings are hot-sellers. VW Jettas that are diesel (can also use biodiesel) get 50 mpg.

I think many on the left want increased mpg due to environmental concerns (pollution and oil drilling) and, of course, due to higher gas prices. Many on the right (including me) think the environmental issues are way overblown, but want more mpg so we quit shipping money to countries that either actively or quietly sponsor terrorism, in addition to the higher gas prices. I think gas is still a bargain, though, so many Americans will keep buying SUVs, because they are handy (though the Honda Pilot is better than any American SUV anyway), until gas prices get to say $5.00 a gallon (today's money).

Eventually (I'd say 10-15 years), most people will be buying hybrids (or other cars that get better mpg), so if GM, Ford, etc. don't get on board and get their technology into the marketplace, I imagine they'll be in big trouble.

As far as unions go, they've so handcuffed the auto industry that the US car companies just can't compete. Maybe part of it is inept management, though.
Bryan: While I view the environmental and management issues as more significant, I take no broad exception with the points you raise.

The performance-efficiency combination for the latest wave of diesel engines from the German manufacturers is astonishing, and if I could actually get that here, I'd be a happy camper.
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