By on April 1, 2012

(Today’s guest post comes from Peter Dushenski. While most journalists love to brag about what kind of press cars they can get access to, Peter is here to share the story of how he got banned from from fleets. It’s one you won’t often hear. – DK)

“Also I must inform you that I will no longer be supplying you with Toyota or BMW vehicles.”

That was it.

That was the very last line in an e-mail I received last week from The Press Fleet Manager. No explanation followed. Not even a sign-off remark. No “Sincerely”, no “Regards”. No frivolity.

This was particularly unexpected because I’d merely e-mailed her to request a leave of absence from the fleet schedule while I vacationed in Israel with my fiancée next month. Unless she had connections with Better Place, I wasn’t expecting more of a response than “Ok, thanks.”

After a follow-up phone call, she informed me that BMW had found my Mini Countryman review “offensive”, that Toyota didn’t see how my Venza review catered to their intended demographic, and that I was an entitled young punk who didn’t realize how quickly I could be replaced. And just like that, I was banned from BMW and Toyota Canada’s press fleets.

So let’s take a look at what one car company found so irrelevant and the other so insulting.

Mini is known the world over for its unconventional ad campaigns. It’s this fun and tangential marketing that keeps their ergonomically inept city car fresh after a decade of relative stagnation. It turns out, however, that it’s only kosher if Mini is the one doing things differently.

My comparison of the Mini Countryman and Ford Focus last Fall was, from my perspective, an unqualified success. The feedback on my use of Ali G-aping hood slang was overwhelmingly positive. Readers seemed to enjoy reading my experimental style just as much as I enjoyed writing it. It’s worth noting that writing in this style is not only challenging but also surprisingly labour intensive. I lost track of the hours I spent writing and re-writing that article, fiddling with various tones and styles. I was quite proud of the result, particularly my analysis of the seating arrangement:

 Startin’ wit’ da Countryman, we see dat it only seats 4 of yo peeps, which be meanin’ dat one of yo crew be walkin’. Dat some bullshit fo real! To add in salts to yo injuries, the seats be so flat dat da walls be jealous. Snap! Doze seats wrap around yo skinny ass like yo arms wrap around a Californ-I-A Redwood. It ain’t even close.

BMW Canada didn’t seem to care for my references to active transportation, homophonic sodium chloride, and American forestry. They found it offensive! BMW/Mini probably didn’t like losing the comparison test either. Maybe Porsche’s promotional policies, the ones Jack is always raving about, are gaining wider appeal?

The crazy thing is that I never even asked to drive BMW’s press cars in the first place. Like several manufacturers such as Audi, Volvo, and Subaru, BMW doesn’t have a regular press fleet for the Prairies. BMW normally reserves their Canadian press vehicles for privileged Torontonians like Derek and Vancouverites like Brenden. The fairly awful Mini Countryman was an anomaly and I still can’t figure out what it was doing in Edmonton, other than getting whooped by a Ford.

So finding out that I was cut from BMW’s nonexistent fleet was nothing less than redeeming. HQ almost certainly hadn’t realized that I was even driving the Countryman. That they took the time to read my review was an honour.

Then there’s the matter of Toyota’s press fleet. I’ve lost track, but I’ve reviewed either seven or eight Toyota products over the past 15 months, and it never seemed that Toyota was too concerned with my take one way or another. They could’ve taken exception with my review of the Scion xD, which remains the single worst new car I’ve ever driven, but they didn’t. Even when I called the xD the Worst Car Reviewed in 2011, they took the criticism like a champ, if they noticed at all. But as I mentioned earlier, according to The Press Fleet Manager, it was my Venza review that broke the camel’s back.

Right before I left for Berlin last August (I like traveling, ok?), I drove the 4-cylinder AWD Venza for a week. It was the automotive equivalent of a University lecture on the differentiation of B-lymphocytes into antibody-forming plasma cells. Trust me. After 10 days in the western part of the reunified capital, I was still struggling to make the Venza review anything other than methodically dull. Then, suddenly, while meditating in the impossibly cool lobby of the Karim Rashid-designed nhow hotel, I had the vision to write out the review by hand and scan the paper. I’m not one to question inspiration, so I went with it. I even went so far as to Crayola a concept for a more exciting Venza.

I’d done some hand-drawn blogging before, most notably with pencil crayons for this Peter Orosz-approved Martian GT3 piece, so this wasn’t uncharted territory for me. My chicken scratched critique of the Venza, however, was so off the mark from Toyota Canada’s expectations that they went into convulsions on the floor, vomiting beige until their abs could take no more. My reckless doodling was simply too fringe for Toyota’s predictable target customer. BMW felt the same way about my slangin’.

 And they have a point: I wasn’t appealing to their target audience. But nor am I supposed to. Both companies already have full-fledged marketing departments to cater to the people who “should” buy their cars. It’s my job to tease out the people who shouldn’t.

If I were a marketing company directly charging Mini and Toyota for my work, the invoice would be into the five figures before I lifted a Crayon. Providing me with a few hundred dollars worth of seat time is a steal for them. My creative services are essentially being provided free-of-charge. I was taking creative risks, not just because I have the luxury and inclination, but because I have to.

Besides, taking risks is fun! With the Countryman and Venza reviews, you might say that these risks didn’t pay off. But I take lots of risks, and I don’t expect them all to pay off.

Owling the Raptor was a risk. Hand-writing a review was a risk. Drawing a picture was a risk. Writing in hood slang was a risk. Discussing philosophy on a car blog is the biggest risk I’m taking right now. Will it pay off? Based on the positive reception in the last two months, I’d say yes.

Sometimes my perspectives are pretty out there, but I’d argue that the perspectives that test us are even more important than the perspectives we already have. New ideas and a diversity of backgrounds are what make TTAC and the B&B unparalleled. I often find inspiration on these very pages, making this particular opportunity all the more cherished and my gratitude towards Derek all the greater for extending this opportunity.

Blogging isn’t my primary occupation; it’s my labour of love. As such, I have the luxury of taking risks and occasionally ruffling feathers. I don’t have to worry about pissing off advertisers the way writers at larger publications, both print and online, do. Really, losing press fleet access is the worst thing that can happen to me, and it’s far from life changing.

Even though I won’t get to bag a new FR-S, I’ll continue to share my worldly and uncommon perspectives for as long as I enjoy doing so. I take pleasure in exploring ideas and taking creative risks, and I hope that I can encourage you, the B&B, to do the same.

Some risks, it seems, pay off. Even when you’d swear they don’t.

Peter Dushenski is the risk taker behind CarEnvy.ca

 

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83 Comments on “How I Got Banned From Two Press Car Fleets...”


  • avatar
    Alexdi

    Both reviews seem unserious. I don’t find either company out of order.

    • 0 avatar
      Kevin Jaeger

      I agree. If the author wants to indulge in some sort of non-automotive artistic expression that’s his right. But the companies provide the cars with the expectation that some sort of review will be produced by a reasonably informed writer. The review can be good or bad – it’s fair enough to call it the worst car in the world if there’s some sort of reasoning behind it.

      But those two examples aren’t car reviews. They’re some sort of submission to an arts school creative expression class – it is to a car review as modern art is to a Van Gogh.

      I don’t see why anyone would want to supply a car for a week and then see something like that as the output.

    • 0 avatar
      Quentin

      I have to agree with this. Why should they waste their time with you if you can’t take it seriously. If people read your reviews for entertainment value, like they do Jeremy Clarkson, it would be a different manner. It appears you’re only Clarkson in your own mind.

      If it makes you feel better, in Clarkson’s early days on top gear, he wore a lot of denim. With you being canadian, you have a head start over the rest of us.

    • 0 avatar
      icemilkcoffee

      You should dig out a stack of 1970’s era Car and Driver. They wrote ‘reviews’ exactly in this fashion. PJ O’Rourke used to write for them back then. Their rival Road and Track used to call them the car magazine for people who hate cars.

    • 0 avatar
      tuffjuff

      +1

      Both of these reviews make me wonder why ANY car company gives the guy ANYTHING to review.

  • avatar
    Fugue

    After reading that mini comparison test, I can’t say I blame them…

    And normally I’m all about jumping on “the big bad manufactures who buy off journalists” band wagon.

  • avatar
    tonyola

    You really don’t see the problem with the Mini comparison test? Your ghetto-dialect writing might be seen in some quarters as edging dangerously close to ethnic humor. Sacha Baron Cohen did Ali G for deliberate outrage and still got some flak for his act. While I’m not necessarily defending BMW’s actions, what might be hilarious in a comedy club or HBO special might not go over big in a corporate environment.

    • 0 avatar

      Nothing inherently wrong with ethnic humor. I can’t get enough of Myron Cohen.

      • 0 avatar
        tonyola

        Perhaps I should have been more specific. It’s OK when a Jewish person makes a career of Jewish jokes i.e. Myron Cohen or Jackie Mason. What happens if a black person makes Jewish jokes, or vice versa? That’s treading on thin ice, particularly if commercial interests are involved. Dushenski was putting himself not too far away from ethnic stereotyping, and I could see where BMW got really uncomfortable with that.

      • 0 avatar
        daviel

        Nothing wrong in ethnic humor – when it is your ethnicity. His Canadian ebonics fails badly. Do y’all really talk that way?

        I’m taking this as an April fools piece.

      • 0 avatar
        Steven Lang

        Tonyola, the only group I’ve ever known to be sacrosanct in the world of comedy is the following…

        Teenage Lesbian Surrogate Mothers.

        You say that out loud and everyone laughs. No joke required.

  • avatar
    Pch101

    Both of the pieces tread into ethnic and religious stereotyping. Those companies don’t want to appear to be subsidizing your apparent penchant for stereotyping.

    Incidentally, those sorts of swipes at minorities are as old as dirt, not one of your unique innovations. You’re not exactly charting new territory by dredging them up.

  • avatar
    tekdemon

    Considering that your Venza review is near unreadable (nobody is gonna waste time trying to read a scanned low contrast hand written review-and I’d say that the whopping 0 comments on your website regarding the review would back me up) and clearly not taken seriously I don’t exactly see why Toyota would more (presumably similar) reviews from you.
    Secondly, even Sascha Baron Cohen gets in trouble once in a while for his antics, and you’re not Sascha Baron Cohen.

  • avatar

    A lot of people want to be Hunter S. Thompson.
    Few are.

    • 0 avatar

      Bertel,

      http://freeingjohnsinclair.aadl.org/files/imagecache/800_width/%252Faa_sun_19740208_p013-006.jpg

      http://freeingjohnsinclair.aadl.org/node/196456

      I was in the front row, then later at a private reception. It was fun but the impression that I was left with was not completely favorable. He had a good run, but I still think Hell’s Angels is his best work, and he got dissipated quickly.

      Still, I’m not sure that the Press Fleet Managers would be happy if a review went like this:

      “We made another turn and almost rolled again. The Coupe de Ville is not your ideal machine for high speed cornering in residential neighborhoods. The handling is very mushy … unlike the Red Shark, which had responded very nicely to situations requiring the quick four-wheel drift. But the Whale — instead of cutting loose at the critical moment — had a tendency to dig in, which accounted for that sickening “here we go” sensation.

      At first I thought it was only because the tires were soft, so I took it into the Texaco station next to the Flamingo and had the tires pumped up to fifty pounds each — which alarmed the attendant, until I explained that these were “experimental” tires.

      But fifty pounds each didn’t help the cornering, so I went back a few hours later and told him I wanted to try seventy five. He shook his head nervously. “Not me,” he said, handing me the air hose. “Here. They’re your tires. You do it.”

      “What’s wrong?” I asked. “You think they can’t take seventy-five?”

      He nodded, moving away as I stooped to deal with the left front. “You’re damn right, he said. “Those tires want twenty-eight in the front and thirty-two in the rear. Hell, fifty’s dangerous, but seventy-five is crazy. They’ll explode!”

      I shook my head and kept filling the left front. “I told you,” I said. “Sandoz laboratories designed these tires. They’re special. I could load them up to a hundred.”

      “God almighty!” he groaned. “Don’t do that here.”

      “Not today,” I replied. “I want to see how they corner with seventy-five.”

      He chuckled. “You won’t even get to the corner, Mister.”

      “We’ll see,” I said, moving around to the rear with the airhose. In truth, I was nervous. The two front ones were tighter than snare drums; they felt like teak wood when I tapped on them with the rod. But what the hell? I thought. If they explode, so what? It’s not often that a man gets a chance to run terminal experiments on a virgin Cadillac and four brand-new $80 tires. For all I knew, the thing might start cornering like a Lotus Elan. If not, all I had to do was call the VIP agency and have another one delivered … maybe threaten them with a lawsuit because all four tires had exploded on me, while driving in heavy traffic. Demand an Eldorado, next time, with four Michelin Xs. And put it all on the card … charge it to the St. Louis Browns.

      As it turned out, the Whale behaved very nicely with the altered tire pressures. The ride was a trifle rough; I could feel every pebble on the highway, like being on roller skates in a gravel pit … but the thing began cornering in a very stylish manner, very much like driving a motorcycle at top speed in a hard rain: one slip and ZANG, over the high side, cartwheeling across the landscape with your head in your hands. ”

      Always loved the part about cornering like a Lotus Elan.

  • avatar
    word is bond

    It’s their reasoning, which is most damning.

    “After a follow-up phone call, she informed me that BMW had found my Mini Countryman review “offensive”, that Toyota didn’t see how my Venza review catered to their intended demographic, and that I was an entitled young punk who didn’t realize how quickly I could be replaced. And just like that, I was banned from BMW and Toyota Canada’s press fleets.”

    That’s just unacceptable. If you wanna scratch his name off the press fleet list, because you don’t think he’s a serious journalist, then fine, but no journalist should be catering to anything or anyone.

  • avatar

    “entitled young punk who didn’t realize how quickly I could be replaced” is how she reviewed you. All’s fair…

  • avatar
    rehposolihp

    I understand why the companies felt they way they did. I as a non-professional car reviewer (I’m not, but their is nothing stopping me from doing) can make unprofessional reviews.

    As a professional reviewer, I can see why they would expect a greater level of professionalism. Its not that your style was too edgy – its just as a reader your reviews are meaningless to me. I want to know more about a vehicle after reading about it.

  • avatar
    jaje

    I think it was the seating comment about various religion leading to over sized families. Or the fact that the word “Muslim” was mentioned in a review.

    • 0 avatar

      It was pretty ecumenical. I suppose he could have added orthodox Jews to the Mormons, Muslims and Catholics. Actually, the automotive choices of orthodox Jews have been discussed here at TTAC before. Steve Lang will tell you that GM B body wagons were popular until they were phased out. Honda minivans (and other people movers) are what I see stacked up when school gets out at the nearby Bais Yakov girls’ school.

  • avatar
    M.S. Smith

    I’m afraid this is going to turn in to a bit of a bloodbath.

    The problem is not that your reviews were too edgy. The problem is that they’re tedious and uninformative. Most people don’t bother to read every word of a normal product review – I suspect the number of people who dived more than a few paragraphs into your Countryman review is in the double digits.

    As far the Venza review – seriously? You reviewed it with crayon and you’re surprised that did not go over well? That’s like trying to sneak it in your girlfriend’s backdoor and then acting shocked when she dumps you.

  • avatar
    Marko

    Isn’t the Toyota Venza aimed at retirees more than families?

    • 0 avatar
      icemilkcoffee

      Just the opposite. The Toyota Venza has anchors for 3 child seats across the back seat. Very, Very, Very few cars in autodom has this feature.

    • 0 avatar
      Philosophil

      I’d be surprised if a car like this was aimed solely at a single demographic (whether retirees or families). It would make much more sense for a vehicle like the Venza to straddle multiple demographic groups, including both families and seniors. But for those who think it’s aimed only at one or the other, it helps to remember that many seniors are also grandparents as well…

  • avatar
    powerblue

    4 Cylinder AWD Venza? A reasonable person could only have high hopes and low expectations with a 4 cylinder in a car that really needs a V6.

  • avatar
    flowerofhighrank

    On the one hand, I think it sucks that you were culled like that. I thought parts of the reviews were daring and clever.
    On the other hand, I think this might be ‘a rebuilding year’ for your writing of car reviews. I love an unconventional review, get all Dennis Miller on me, refer to Sophocles and the Lend Lease Act, do it! But the patois of the Mini review (as well as the word ‘bullshit’) is gonna raise red flags in a hypersensitive corporate office suite.

    In any case, the way you were treated has definitely made me reconsider any future purchases of BMWs, Minis or Toyota vehicles.

    [Hah!]

  • avatar
    lilpoindexter

    I agree with both car makers.

  • avatar
    TW4

    “and that I was an entitled young punk who didn’t realize how quickly I could be replaced”

    Yet, car companies can’t figure out why Gen Y doesn’t buy their stuff? [paraphrase] You young inconvenience, you can be replaced [/paraphrase]. Car companies are monuments dedicated to the productive futility of the left brain. They develop nothing, they simply react to shifting trends, until their lack of vision becomes so disturbing that control-freaks in the legislature nail a list of cultural/economic imperatives on the front door.

    The only value Gen Y sees in cars is the value we read into them on our own, be it crayola jokes or hyperbole or aftermarket tuning clubs. Almost nothing is supplied by marketing or product development. Off-road vehicles aren’t very capable off-road. Sports cars aren’t very sporty. Stylish cars aren’t very stylish (with a few luxury exceptions). The brands they sell are convoluted and uninspiring. We can have any car we want as long as we only ask for reliability. Efficiency is just now appearing on their radar as a legitimate consumer demand.

    Observe the whacky dichotomy of Toyota. The company with the balls to bring a weird car like the IQ to the US is the same company dumb enough to name a youth brand after the concept of descendancy. F*ck, that’s a valuable concept! I’m someone’s heir and Scion is Toyota’s heir. I better do business with them!! The company is at war with itself, and the dissident revolutionaries who want new car brands are about as vanilla as the people they answer to.

    We are a generation raised on the long tail, and the rapid boom and bust of infinitely adjustable micro-industries. Everything else is a commodity. Car companies have made it clear that they want nothing to do with the 21st century economy. They refuse to play the role of commodity, but they also refuse to create value with product development and marketing. They believe that they can force us to do business with them b/c we have no alternatives. Who is the entitled punk?

    • 0 avatar
      gslippy

      “Car companies have made it clear that they want nothing to do with the 21st century economy. They refuse to play the role of commodity, but they also refuse to create value with product development and marketing. They believe that they can force us to do business with them b/c we have no alternatives.”

      I don’t know what you’re talking about. If you’re promoting the concept of ‘vanilla design conspiracy’, I’m not biting. The auto business is deadly serious, and the demise of several car divisions, bankruptcies, dealership closings, job losses, and loss of market share should be evidence enough that we have plenty of alternatives. You make it sound like the equivalent of choosing your water company.

      • 0 avatar
        Toad

        Good grief, there are more vehicle options than there have ever been, and TW4 is whining about not having enough options? An off road vehicle won’t go off road? Take the wheel of an F250 4×4 or a Jeep rubicon and you can go just about anywhere. Sports cars are not sporty? There are sports cans that can go 0-60 in 3 seconds or street cars that run weekend races with AWD.

        They develop nothing? Really? Have you seen the hundreds of car variations in this country alone, much less worldwide? Do you want cars to levitate? Travel in time and dimension?

        God, what a whiner.

      • 0 avatar
        TW4

        Urbanization is our only option. Sales have fallen b/c vehicle age has risen sharply. At some point, people will be forced to buy cars or move into urban areas.

        The US Federal Government bailed out the Big 3 b/c they failed to build proper cars properly. Every car manufacturer had the same problem, but they are all focused on reducing cost-inefficiencies. Are they going to reduce prices? Not a chance. VW already said as much when they spoke about the cost cutting nature of MQB. What conspiracy do you think I am creating? The conspiracy of real life?

        So manufacturers will soon be building bland commodities, but they will not be selling them as commodities. Since the market still doesn’t have the commodities it demands, the value added segments are non-existent unless you’re a luxury buyer. Average customers add value by thumbing through options catalogs until the the bundling guru have squeezed every spare dollar out of their bank account.

        The children of the long tail are not impressed. No commodities. Few niche products. Almost no brand development. Overpriced blah as far as the eye can see. The industry can regale us with stories of hardship until they are blue in the face. Young people don’t buy. Gen Y barely even want cars. End of. But the manufacturers insist Gen Y is just a bunch of punks with no respect for their business. So they are either going to listen to Gen Y teach them how to quite failing (precarious strategy) or they will continue down the same path (already a proven failure).

        Young industry, like personal electronics, internet, computing power, long-tail specialized media, has a track record. Mature industries, like automobiles, housing, financial services, and banking, also have a track record. It’s time for the car companies to shut up and start following orders. If they can’t make it happen. Find a new industry. I don’t own shares in stupid companies, and since I own, I’m free to speak my mind on here or in a shareholder meeting. If they don’t like it, they can ban Gen Y from owning stock. Maybe that will improve their companies.

      • 0 avatar
        TW4

        @ Toad

        I own a Wrangler. You don’t appear to have any experience driving full-sized 4×4 trucks in agricultural terrain, particularly not a Powerstroke Super Duty.

        I have an outside perspective b/c I prefer to own niche vehicles like the Wrangler or an air-cooled 911. I also own an econobox for mundane travel and commuting. I can’t explain it to you b/c you probably only buy vanilla cars. You think acceleration is a sports car. You think 4wd is off-road. You think accent colors in the seats are style. This doesn’t fly for Gen Y or any car enthusiast for that matter. Young buyers don’t spend $20,000 on vanilla. They always try to find something interesting with additional appeal. They will buy commodities, but only if commodities have a proper price tag. You seem to struggle with the fact that the car market cannot attract young buyers.

      • 0 avatar
        PJ McCombs

        TW, as a fellow Gen-Yer, I find your posts a bit embarrassing. Not wanting to buy what ‘the man’ is selling (which, coincidentally, most of us can’t afford yet) isn’t an innovation, it’s the same youthful impulse that inspired our grandparents to customise their hand-me-down cars to their liking–for the attention, the need to project their personality externally, and the fact that everything their parents bought was ‘boring’.

        Young people also don’t have much money, so I can’t imagine who you envision hyper-diversifying their product range for a demographic that’s just going to spend less than $20K, buy used, or take the bus anyway.

      • 0 avatar
        Toad

        TW4, personalization and niche products are very important when when expressing your individuality (the same way all your friends are doing it) via products is what your peer group is doing. Sort of like sleeve tattoos or hipster glasses. If your really need customization there are thousands of shops that can modify your ride any way you can imagine.

        BTW, I owned a CJ-5 V8 well before your were born. Loved it then, and nobody else had one quite like it. Now, meh. Been there, done that.

    • 0 avatar
      TW4

      Look, this is getting a bit ridiculous. The reason the long tail exists (besides e-commerce which is vastly superior to catalog shopping) is b/c WalMart exits. It is a symbiotic relationship of complementary opposites. People buy cheap commodities, and when they get sick of the vanilla commoditization of the world, they go long tail shopping.

      If car manufacturers do not use cost-realignment to reduce the cost of commodity vehicles, they are killing the complementary arrangement of commodity and value-added niche products. Gen Y are particularly sensitive to industries with inefficient commodities and poor diversification.

      You can be as embarrassed or as in denial as you want. Gen Y don’t buy. The auto industry almost collapsed without loose credit, and some manufacturers had to be bailed out. What’s embarrassing is people who make excuses for failure. The consumer market-place has changed. Entrenched car manufacturers have changed the cost/ownership structure, but not their relationship to the consumer marketplace. After a honeymoon period in the North American marketplace during the recovery, they are asking to run into major problems in another 10-20 years.

      But who cares, right? I’ll just ride the recovery. Take my obscene profits, and laugh at the misfortune of future generations of workers, consumers, and citizens. How perfect. I’m either going to continue making substantial unearned income or car companies are going to stop failing society. Both would be preferable. Success is basically guaranteed for me. One question remains:

      Are you going to give me a bunch of money for basically ripping you off or are you going to inject some risk into the marketplace by demanding higher consumer surplus (other than fuel economy)?

      Boohoo, I’m such a complaining embarrassment. Please make your checks payable to TW4.

    • 0 avatar
      TW4

      Rough sketch in the absence of data.

      I expect them to designate certain high volume models as commodities (already done), and to price them as commodities (not done). I expect them to use manufacturing standardization (like MQB) to reduce cost across the commodities models, and to eliminate options bundling (essentially zero value added) that drive people and dealerships insane. Then go long-tailing.

      For example: The $17,000 Jetta GL becomes a $15,000 Jetta GLS. After the commodities models have been established, and options bundling banished into the abyss, go long-tailing. Could be conservative long tailing like a significantly modified Jetta GLI or special edition vehicles (coupes, convertibles, and such). Could be aggressive long-tailing like the VW XL1 or other concept-oriented low volume models that add value with hyper fuel-efficiency, outlandish styling, or high performance (including motorsport variants). Manufacturers already long-tail to an extent, but it is only a shell of what it could be. The route they take depends on their manufacturing/designing capability and expertise.

      Regardless of what they choose, the current pricing and manufacturing models are not creating anything for society. That’s why car manufacturers went bankrupt (or contracted violently), and it’s why they got regulated in the US with CAFE 2025 (more than just mileage) and car czars.

  • avatar
    NulloModo

    I found the Mini review to be more difficult to read than entertaining, but I didn’t find it particularly offensive.

    The Venza review isn’t really a review. I can see how Toyota would be upset over providing a press car (and likely fuel/insurance) and getting a crayon scribble in return. I don’t think that manufacturer’s should be able to expect positive reviews in exchange for providing press cars, but expecting informative reviews shouldn’t be out of the question.

    That being said, I like your drawing of a turbo, and a stained glass roof would be a very cool option.

  • avatar
    Lightspeed

    BMW and Toyota seem pretty thin-skinned to me. In my business (communications) you have to have situational awareness. Many bloggers aren’t accredited or professional, but they have big audiences – that’s the situation to be aware of. They’re not obligated to kiss the bloggers butts, but they have to accept there is a whole new class of journalism that’s not in their pockets like the buff-books.
    In response to the Venza piece, if I worked at Toyota PR, I’d have invited Peter to our design studio for a drawing lesson from one of our young designers.
    Peter, you’re in Edmonton too?! FTW?

    • 0 avatar

      I’d happily take a drawing lesson from the folks who brought us the LFA. And yes, I’m located in the heart of downtown. How about you, Lightspeed?

      • 0 avatar
        NulloModo

        I was thinking something statelier like a Rolls-Royce (then again, with their custom build program I bet they could do it for the right price). However, the other day I saw a lime green RX-8 with a airbrushed mural of Jesus on the side (it also sported a huge bright yellow spoiler and matching yellow rims), so perhaps stained glass roofs depicting various Bible scenes will be the next big thing in the Hispanic tuner community.

      • 0 avatar
        NulloModo

        Whoops, the above post should have been one convo up.

  • avatar
    bomberpete

    BMW and Toyota probably decided this guy’s stuff is so esoteric and out there that appealing to his VERY LIMITED audience is not worth the risk of banged-up sheet metal. After checking out Dushenski’s site, I wouldn’t blame other manufacturers for following suit.

  • avatar
    gslippy

    While I found your style creative, I also found both reviews unreadable.

    Free speech is risky, and you are now bearing the consequences of socially disrespecting these manufacturers. You’ve done the equivalent of mooning them in a public debate.

  • avatar
    bombdoc

    I enjoyed both reviews and am tired of reviewers being politically correct..Ever heard of satire …
    Keep it up ….

  • avatar
    Acd

    Car companies have to draw the line somewhere when deciding who to loan cars to for a week otherwise everyone would be expecting Toyota and every other manufacturer to put them on the 7 day test drive plan.

    This seems like a reasonable place to draw that line.

  • avatar
    StevenJJ

    I don’t think I’ll be going back to CarEnvy but you did score two click-throughs from me.

    Frustrating, unfunny and therefore incredibly boring.

    • 0 avatar
      4LiterLexus

      Yeah, I was certainly frustrated when I tried to decipher the Venza review. All I got from it was that the Venza was apparently too boring to review properly, which explains the crayon and poor handwriting.

      The thing is, other reviews manage to convey a negative opinion while also providing other meaningful information about a vehicle in a legible format. Even the most venomous reviews from TTAC’s early days upheld that standard.

      http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2008/12/review-2007-jeep-compass-take-two/

  • avatar
    Davekaybsc

    Watching a talented actor/comedian do a Ali-G type schtick can be amusing. Trying to read it is not. Here’s an idea for your next HILARIOUSLY irreverent review – write the whole thing as a text message! Like the kids! FER THE LULZ!

  • avatar
    wmba

    Assumed this was an April Fools post, because it reads like a spoof. Then I went to CarEnvy and discovered that, no, the author is merely deranged.

  • avatar
    etrnlrvr

    Those ‘reviews’ were pure douche. Summer’s Eve should be suing for brand infringement.

    TTAC providing a spotlight and identifying with this ridiculous martyr fantasy is not helping the overall catty, factually dubious and increasingly silly tones in articles here.

    Murilee please get the hell out so I can stop being subjected to the smarmy ego manics on here! Please!

    • 0 avatar
      Zoom

      Not sure why you’re singling out Murilee.

      Never thought I would write this, but, when does Ed get back?

      • 0 avatar
        etrnlrvr

        Because I would like him to go to some other site where I could read him and not hate 90% of the content.

        Really any site that isn’t “I hate GM, The Volt and Unions 24/7″ which is all TTAC pretty much is now.

        I am not a fan of those three things I mentioned really but I am sick to death of wading through that content to find stuff I like.

      • 0 avatar
        FromaBuick6

        “Because I would like [Murilee] to go to some other site where I could read him and not hate 90% of the content.”

        I wish Murilee, Ed, Bertel, Michael and the rest of the staff at TTAC could go to some other site where where the commenters don’t throw a temper tantrum every time time an editor says something they don’t like.

        Better yet, why don’t you just leave? I’m sure the “content” over at Jalopnik is better than ever now that Gawker requires your Facebook information for you to login.

  • avatar
    bomberpete

    +1 wmba

  • avatar
    AMC_CJ

    Was not impressed with your blog at all…..

    Hell, I think you sum up many of your generations problems quite well; and I say that being part of that “demographic”, at least age wise, myself. I hope you have a real job or a well padded trust fund, because from what I’ve seen, attitude wise and other, there isn’t much else going for you.

  • avatar
    Hildy Johnson

    You speak your mind, you pay the price. Some people merely go to jail or hard labor in Manchuria; others are really hard done by and no longer get free press cars.

  • avatar
    Jesse

    Haha. I can’t believe everyone’s taking this so seriously. It’s like April Fool’s day is forgotten about if it’s on a Sunday…

  • avatar
    Chicago Dude

    I tried to read your Venza review, but it is 100% unreadable on an iPhone. Your website has has the viewport tag set, which is great for formatting text on a smartphone, but Mobile Safari does what it is told and refuses to allow zooming on your pages. So I was left with a tiny picture and no way to zoom in.

    Maybe the Toyota PR team uses iPhones.

  • avatar
    Scott_314

    I don’t know, the reviews sort of struck a chord with me. The Venza is a big lux-barge… straight out of 1970’s Detroit. Not a horrible vehicle but, given the T on the front, totally phony. In pictures it looks like the old Civic SiR hatch from the early 2000’s. Then you see it in person and realize those tires are waist-high and the thing is taller than you. Given an impossible task of reviewing a 4-cylinder version of this car? The crayon approach is a clever counterpoint.

    The mini Country man or Clubman or whatever it is – again? Yeah. That thing, the mini. What’s it compete with? How about a Focus? Again sounds about right to me.

    Who am I? Just a clever 33year old with a kid on the way and two decent salaries in the house, i.e. the theoretical target market for almost every single damned car.

    • 0 avatar

      Scott, you’re precisely the lateral thinking young man I was speaking to. I hope for Toyota and BMW’s sake that you’re representative of your demographic. They’re going to have a hell of a time reaching your with billboard ads and Roll Up The Rim contests.

  • avatar
    Ryoku75

    That excerpt from the Countryman review is almost unreadable, I admire experimentation but this is a bit much.

  • avatar
    APaGttH

    If this is an April Fool’s story – it is a great one.

    If this is a real story, I can understand why Toyota in particular took exception to the Venza non-review.

    As far as the “Ali G” comparo – Cohen does his shtick to upset people in the first place. If you offended you hit the mark, and Cohen would be proud. You’re scratching your head going, “people got upset,” when you tried to emulate the same formula. That’s a fail on your part.

  • avatar
    Dr.Nick

    This is a great April Fool’s joke. Right?

  • avatar
    Spencer Williams

    The greatest troll the troll ever trolled was convincing the proles he wasn’t a troll.
    -Charles Baudelaire

  • avatar
    PJ McCombs

    Assuming this isn’t an April Fools’ piece… a bit of constructive criticism to the blogger: I think people would be a lot more forgiving of the youthful navel-gazing if there was more there for a car enthusiast to sink their teeth into. The reviews I read only had a sentence or two about how the car drove, and those were fluffy and hyperbolic.

    Focusing more on the cars than your ‘concept’ might get a better response, from both readers and fleet managers.

  • avatar
    Philosophil

    The clarity of this blog show that you can write, but even Picasso admitted that many of his paintings, even those he put a lot of time and effort into, were ‘frauds.’

    Being willing to take risks and fail is an admirable trait, but it should also come with the realization that many of the risks taken will actually fail. Time and effort do not always equate with quality, and I don’t know how many people I’ve encountered who think that they deserve better than they received because they put a lot of time and effort into whatever they were doing.

    When I get inspired and take a risk, most of my efforts end up in the garbage. The reason is that I find it helpful to engage with my work in a highly self-critical manner, perhaps bouncing the ideas off of a few of my colleagues and friends, before committing more time and effort towards it, or having my name associated with it as a final piece. Not all ‘inspirations’ are deserving of that name. I’ve been ‘inspired’ many times only to discover upon further reflection that the idea I had was full of problems, leaks, holes, inconsistencies, and so on. I don’t know it you were serious about never being one to “question inspiration,” but if so, then you might want to rethink that as a general practice.

    Being open to new possibilities includes the possibility that any particular effort or work will be time and effort poorly spent. It’s the few truly good efforts that make the particular failures (and the risks taken) worthwhile. We’ve all produced our share of ‘frauds,’ even those in which we have invested a lot of time and effort. That’s the risk that comes with being open to new possibilities, for not all new possibilities are good actualities.

    • 0 avatar

      Of 78 comments and counting, this one is the most useful. I intended this article to demonstrate that I gladly accept the consequences of the risks I take but refining my risk-taking approach is forever on-going. Thank you your positive and thoughtful input.

      • 0 avatar
        Robert Gordon

        So it wasn’t an April fools joke? Sheesh.

        How about instead of ‘risk taking’, just write objectively about cars. There’s a thought.

      • 0 avatar
        30-mile fetch

        Philosophil is being extremely kind, equating the drive of artists or the life ambition of a professional with the juvenile antics of Mr. Dushenski’s two showcased reviews.

        Even in a field as varied and loose as online car reviewing, there is a time to take your pursuit seriously. Why you chose to expose your mistake to a wider audience is a mystery to me. I would have buried those two reviews and the attending “consequences” in my “live and learn” file, far from the sight of anyone else.

  • avatar
    WriterParty.com

    I went to your blog Peter and when you’re actually being somewhat serious and not trying so hard to be funny, you’re a damn good writer. Your front drive comparo between the Scion IQ and the Ford Explorer EcoBoost was very well written – so much so that based on that and your other reviews, TTAC should consider bringing you on board, in my opinion. Your two posts that got you banned from the press fleets were just DUMB. They were, frankly, beneath you, judging by your good stuff.

  • avatar
    FJ60LandCruiser

    So you took press cars and then decided to be clever and crafted some non sequitir nonsense and called it a review, then the manufactuerers took issue with the fact that you provided garbage in return for their cars instead of a review.

    I don’t think it ever came into play that they were upset you didn’t LIKE the cars, I don’t think there was anything concrete in those pieces to even suggest that.

    If you got canned from press cars because you said the Countryman is an uncomfortable, overpriced, POS and there is better, cheaper competition and listed this in a semi-professional way with the odd quip, I’d take to arms and start railing against those evil corporations trying to silence the lone voice of truth in the wildnerness.

    But instead you acted like a jackass and came here to cry about it. Be glad you weren’t fired.

  • avatar
    jjster6

    @ Dushenski

    I believe we are all witnessing you getting handed your A$$. Time to re-think your writing style. It just ain’t working and I wouldn’t give you a car to review either after I saw your “reviews.” Call it a lesson, move on, and let this go.

  • avatar
    icemilkcoffee

    “Scion is new to Canada for the 2012 model year, having briefly succeeded but recently languished in the American market, where it was introduced in 2002″

    Actually Scion’s first model year in the US was the 2004 model year.


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