By on May 22, 2013

2013-Ford-Focus-SE-Ecoboost-1.6-001-450x300

A piece in Bloomberg that could hardly be seen as anything but relentless Detroit homerism puts forward the thesis that cutting-edge design is helping Detroit capture increasing market share in a white hot new car market. Per Bloomberg

From the fires of Detroit’s descent into near-death, GM, Ford and Chrysler Group LLC have forged some of the most distinctive designs since tail fins were soaring in the halcyon days of the postwar-era. Models such as GM’s Cadillac ATS sports sedan, Ford’s Fusion family car and Chrysler’s Jeep Grand Cherokee are turning heads and stoking sales.

On the strength of stylish new showroom offerings, GM, Ford and Chrysler all gained market share in the first quarter for the first time in 20 years. Meanwhile, Toyota Motor Corp. (7203)’s staid standard-bearer, the Camry, has endured three months of declining sales as the automaker ceded U.S. share this year.

Rather than single out Detroit as the object of my scorn, I will say that we are far from a golden age of car design, and that sentiment transcends vehicle nationalities. Safety regulations, CAFE and a relentless focus on fuel economy have made most cars look utterly homogenous; nearly all sedans are some variation of the reverse teardrop shape, while crossovers, tall wagons and SUVs blend into the same amorphous two-box conformity. There are a few standouts these days and Detroit seems to have a disproportionate share of them; the Jeep Cherokee (which is distinctive if nothing else), the Jaguar F-Type, the Chrysler 300. The Ford Mustang will sadly be turned into another organic blob as the Blue Oval prepares it for sale in Europe and other world markets. The new Cadillac CTS is a wonderful execution of the concepts expressed in the ATS, but at a price point that’s off-limits to many of us. But by and large, it is getting harder and harder to tell one car from another.

Bloomberg pays particular attention to the Ford Fusion, the 4th best selling car as of April 2013. Even so it is still being beaten by three dull-looking Japanese cars; the Camry, Accord and Altima. Cadillac is resorting to incentives to push the ATS, a car that was already the subject of more Bloomberg  boosterism and the Jeep Grand Cherokee, despite being a lovely SUV in every single respect, is not exactly a ground breaking design. Hell, the consistently criticized Chevrolet Malibu is currently ranked tenth in the sales charts despite being panned by just about everybody who fancies themselves an armchair Adrian van Hooydonk.

There are many factors driving the growth of domestic auto sales; the need to replace an aging vehicle fleet, the expansion of subprime financing on the part of certain manufacturers and of course, the general competitiveness of a wide number of American cars. But to suggest that we are in a “Golden Age” of design not seen since the 1960s – a truly superlatve era for automotive design in America - is an absolute farce.

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62 Comments on “Car Design Driving Increased Car Sales? Spare Me...”


  • avatar
    jmo

    “But to suggest that we are in a “Golden Age” of design not seen since the 1960s – a truly superlatve era for automotive design in America – is an absolute farce.”

    I couldn’t possibly disagree more.

    Your main issue seems to be survivor bias. You’re not comparing the set of all cars now to the set of all cars in 1972, 82, 92 etc. You’re comparing the set of all cars now to the few standouts you remember from the past.

    • 0 avatar
      Dubbed

      I couldn’t agree with you more. These same lines were used to describe cars a decade go. Then they were all being compared to jelly beans. If I’m not mistaken for most of the auto industry history cars looked very similar and boring, especially when cars were from or made during the same period. I know for a fact that I would be horrible at trying to tell most cars made in the 20′s apart from one another. Same with every decade until the 80′s with few exceptions.

      And I actually do believe cars are looking their best since the sixties. Its just that between know and then cars didn’t really look that hot. Obviously some manufactures were able to keep there stuff together.. Would anyone disagree with me and tell me most of GM or Toyotas designs from the previous 3 decades are better than know.

      Both of those companies put out some of the most boring simplistic designs. Would anybody say the plastic clad bodies of Pontiacs of yore better looking than than the present lineup. Is there another person who would agree that the 1988 Toyota Camry is more dramatic or stylish compared to a 2013. Or that a 1988 Camry or 1998 Buick Century has a larger presence on the road than a 1965 Impala.

      • 0 avatar
        bumpy ii

        “Is there another person who would agree that the 1988 Toyota Camry is more dramatic or stylish compared to a 2013.”

        I would, but I have thing for the Bush I-era smoothed box style.

        • 0 avatar
          Russycle

          Heh, I walked by a late-80s Camry this morning and couldn’t help but be impressed by the clean, simple lines. Of course, it looks a lot like a late-80s Accord, so the homogeneous design thing is nothing new.

          We may not be in a golden age, but I would say that, design-wise, Detroit’s offerings stand up pretty well. Couldn’t say that about the previous 3 decades, especially their lower-end models.

      • 0 avatar
        84Cressida

        I get what you’re saying about the hideous Pontiacs of the day, but I have a 1991 Camry – same generation as ’88, and I would absolutely pick it design-wise over the current one. The 7th gen is not a bad looking car, but I just love ’80s cars like the 2nd Gen Camry, my favorite Camry body-style. Very good looking little car.

    • 0 avatar
      billfrombuckhead

      Detroit is building much better looking products than the Japanese. The new Fusion and Edge are quite good looking and I see them everywhere. Chrysler is building some great looking vehicles almost across the lineup. Cadillac is making a true run at being standard of the world. Buick’s lineup is quite nice also.

      Meanwhile Nissan is building horrid looking cars and has been forced to lower prices. Toyota still somehow combines boring and hideous like the new 4runner, Tundra, Highlander, Rav4, Avalaon and the nasty looking Lexus lineup. Acura ain’t so hot either and Subaru seems like they’re punking the public. Having a Japanese cars is like having an ugly girlfriend.

      No wonder the Detroit3 gained marketshare on JapanInc last month.

      • 0 avatar
        DeadWeight

        The new Accord, and especially, the new Mazda 6, are more than class competitive with any Detroit (or German) vehicles.

        I very much disliked the looks of the new Mazda 6 at first (which pained me greatly since I believe Mazda to be one of the most excellent yet THE MOST underappreciated car makers), but after seeing it in the flesh – one that was “liquid silver” and the other one in a beautiful shade of blue – I have come around 180 degrees, and think it’s one of the most elegant mass market sedans in current production.

        The interior design and fit and finish, especially when trimmed in leather, is easily top of the class, as well. In fact, it’s so good that I genuinely believe it is Audi worthy.

        What seals the deal on the 6 for me, putting it in the lead as my next car (just as I was resigning myself to keep my now 8 year old vehicle since I was so underwhelmed by the new crop of meh-sameness) is that the 6 is lovingly assembled in Japan, and has 90% Japanese parts content.

        Some people may claim this is arbitrary, but the two best vehicles I’ve owned in terms of quality and reliability, and by a wide margin, were hecho en Nippon.

  • avatar
    Halftruth

    I agree. Thru out history, manufacturers have emulated one another repeatedly. When they didn’t, disaster struck (Chrysler’s decision to go small in the early 60s). The 80s were the same way with everyone moving to molded, color keyed bumpers and the like. It gave a lot of cars that pregnant roller skate look. It’s par for the course though, as employees move around taking their ideas with them (Engels move to Chrysler comes to mind). I do like the new Fusion though. It has grown on me.

    Golden Age? Fuel efficiency wise- *maybe*.. There have been many smaller cars getting mpgs in the 30s since the.. well.. 30s!

    • 0 avatar
      Kyree S. Williams

      I don’t care what MotorWeek, MotorTrend or anyone else says; I think the Fusion has been trumped by that gorgeously-styled Mazda6…and that’s the one I’d get between the two of them.

      • 0 avatar
        thornmark

        Ford is very good at hype, not so good at execution. The Autoline Detroit guys, the AutoExtremist guy esp., agreed that the Fusion put on an Aston Martin face and they forgot about the rest of the car, styling-wise.

        And Ford is slapping that purloined face on its other lesser offerings.

        • 0 avatar
          Onus

          I disagree. The inside is just as wonderful. As some reviewers said its very Germanic. Allmost vw like. I’m a huge fan of that. Its much better than the focus interior.

      • 0 avatar
        tresmonos

        You didn’t even mention that the skyactive real world fuel economy is only beat by the hyrbrid fusion. The Mazda 6 does not get the credit it deserves. If I was anywhere close to having a family, it would be the car I would acquire.

    • 0 avatar
      danio3834

      “I do like the new Fusion though. It has grown on me.”

      And it has grown on other manufacturers too. You’re absolutely right about design emulation. In the 50′s it was tail fins. In the late 60′s it was the coke bottle look on to the 80s as you mentioned then the 90′s where everything turned into either a blobby mess or a boxy SUV.

      That being said, I’m glad the last 10 years have brought out some truly different design. Even if retro is dead, I’m glad it came back for a time. The 90′s were just too darn lame.

  • avatar
    Kyree S. Williams

    I think that American cars are perhaps inspiring more confidence than they used to. After all, the (Korean-developed) Chevrolet Cruze seems a lot more solid than the tin-box that was the Cavalier, or even the bargain-basement Cobalt. However, many people don’t pay a lick of attention to automotive design, and the only change they see is that it’s harder to tell whose model is whose. I think that easy credit and subprime lending have more to do with the increase in car sales, if anything…and the Detroit fleet are some of the most easily-accessible at the moment. This is especially the case for cars with reputations of being far worse than they are, like the new Chevrolet Malibu, Chrysler 200 and Dodge Dart.

    • 0 avatar
      DeadWeight

      The compact and midsized CUVs are where the “sales action” has been for a while now, so by Bloomberg Media’s logic, the modern CUV must be the new Jaguar E Type.

  • avatar
    danio3834

    I too could not disagree more with the premise of this article. Compared to the staid and stodgy designs that were commonplace from the 80′s well through the 90′s, the last half decade has been a styling Renaissance.

    Make no mistake about it, styling, design, and features sell cars. That’s why sales tend to wane during the last model year of a particular body style as people wait for the new updated model.

    Dramatic styling can sell a vehicle all by itself as this is what often strikes the buyer the strongest. As we’ve seen in the past, sh1t can easily be sold in a pretty wrapper with examples like the 1957 Chryslers and the current crop of Hyundais.

    • 0 avatar
      28-Cars-Later

      I have to disagree on the timing of the design renaissance, I would argue it took place from the mid-90s to perhaps the early 00s, today’s generations are all jellybeans. Models like the Chrysler 300 do stand out, but ultimately (epic drivetrain aside) its just a more handsome version of the first generation which itself was a square blob. Real Cadillac styling may be coming back with the next CTS, but as a whole the industry isn’t blowing me away.

  • avatar
    Sundowner

    another terrible article. Really, what happened to TTAC and rational analysis? The content on the site and criminally negligent editorial oversight have left us with old-man style insubstantial rantings like this peach of an article.

    For what it’s worth, the vast majority of cars have pretty much looked the same since cars have been around. there are always a few stand-outs, but in this case, the song remains the same. wake up and live in the now.

    Also for what it’s worth, pretty cars may not always rule the roost, but ugly cars pretty mcuh always lose, despite brand cache or reliability. Ask BMW about the 5GT or the Acura about anything they make.

    • 0 avatar
      28-Cars-Later

      Acura has certainly had some missteps in this dept, but somehow they move a decent amount of those ugly TLs, RDXs and MDXs.

    • 0 avatar
      tresmonos

      Where is your analysis, Sundowner? Do you have to criticize an editorial style article just so you can smugly look at yourself in the mirror and say ‘mission accomplished?’ WTF

      ‘For what its worth’ you brought absolutely nothing to the table in this comment.

    • 0 avatar
      PonchoIndian

      Sundowner,
      I agree with you on some levels. It seems as if rational analysis is ofter thrown out the window and replaced with deep seated bias and cute phrases. Dare to disagree with an article and feel the wrath of fire from those who kiss the ground the articles writer walks on. Unbiased articles with good information and some insightful opinion is not the norm anymore. I can think of one magazine that does extremely well at providing great articles, well written with lots of information and facts that don’t imply the readers is stupid if they don’t agree with the writer…very rare indeed.

      I also agree that for the most part cars have always looked the same on some level. I remember a picture (I believe in Automobile magazine) that showed the profile of all the midsize offerings for that particular years. I’ll be damned if all the midsize sedans didn’t look pretty close to identical in that picture.

      • 0 avatar
        danio3834

        I don’t see anything wrong with bias in an opinion piece. I also don’t see where we’re not free to disagree with the author as many of us have. Disagreement creates a lively discussion and I would hate to see the content sterilized simply in the name of eliminating “bias”.

        • 0 avatar

          +1

          I never want to see TTAC become an echo chamber.

          • 0 avatar
            PonchoIndian

            “Rather than single out Detroit as the object of my scorn,”

            I guess this is really the line that turned me sour instantly.

            “But to suggest that we are in a “Golden Age” of design not seen since the 1960s – a truly superlatve era for automotive design in America – is an absolute farce.”

            I wouldn’t want an echo here either, but there is a new generation of car buying (well not really, I-pad buying at the moment) readers who need to be catered to if places like this are going to continue to exist.

            Says the guy to the sheep who didn’t live in the 60′s to relate to this.

  • avatar

    To be fair, Ford can’t increase sales of the Fusion at the moment because its factory is totally maxed out. They’re adding a line at Flat Rock that will go live this fall; we’ll see how it does vs Camry and Accord once Ford has a bigger supply to sell.

    To the broader point, obviously style matters, and today’s best vehicles (in all classes) have shown big leaps in some areas, like interior detailing. The Fusion definitely looks a lot more interesting than a Camry, and that is surely helping sales to some extent. And there are a few cars out there that might well stand the test of time and be heralded as significant designs someday (the outgoing CTS Coupe, say).

    But yeah, most of what’s out there is still pretty meh.

    • 0 avatar
      thornmark

      Consumer Reports said basically the Fusion is too poorly put together to buy now. Hence, they cannot recommend it.

      They said to wait a year or two for the really big discounts and better quality.

      • 0 avatar
        SV

        A Fusion must have run over your dog…you’re obsessed. And it’s selling well anyway, despite what Consumer Reports says (and it actually rated pretty highly in their tests, just not as highly as the Accord)

  • avatar
    raph

    “The Ford Mustang will sadly be turned into another organic blob as the Blue Oval prepares it for sale in Europe and other world markets”

    The sheeple majority have spoken and they want blobs because blobs represent efficiency and technical superiority.

    • 0 avatar
      SV

      I wonder how Derek managed to get into Ford and see the new Mustang before everyone else. Since, you know, that’s the only way his statement has any validity.

    • 0 avatar
      Ion

      A European Mustang brought us the foxbody. After the government stopped dictating what headlights you had to use I think the foxbody turned out pretty well.

    • 0 avatar
      nrd515

      A friend of mine who has seen it has one word to say about it…”Uggh!!!”. This is just a totally clueless move on Ford’s part that shows just how out of touch they are. Most people buying Mustangs, Challengers, and even Camaros (As hideous as the Camaro is, it does look kind of like a Camaro) that look like Challengers, Mustangs, and Camaros, not a “Modern” squished egg. I know a couple of people who are getting their money together to buy a 2014 Mustang, so they can have one that still looks like a Mustang. They don’t want a squished egg. These aren’t older 50ish people like me, they are their children in their later 20′s/early 30′s.

  • avatar
    ponchoman49

    I am 50/50 on this subject. While I do think that modern engine designs, tighter build tolerances, better build quality and some of the best vehicle reliability has brought us into a sort of “golden era” but at the cost of bland look alike interiors with charcoal, gray or tan interiors and a total lack of color and individuality plus exteriors that have lost chrome trim, body side moldings, pinstripes, whitewall tires, stickers and or name badges etc for that dull blobby smooth generic look that is all so common today. Yes one can argue that cars years ago looked alike but I still find it much easier to tell an American made manufacturer car from the 60′s to 90′s than most anything today. Hell I used to be able to name the year, make and model on most any car from that era as a kid even in the dark. After the 90′s progressed not so much!

  • avatar
    Ryoku75

    The problem with todays styling is that regardless of segment everything is designed to look “sporty”, to carry a way too specific “design language”, you can’t use styling cues from a sports car on a compact.

    Earlier generations knew better, but then again earlier designers didn’t get their styling cues from dogs and sunglasses.

    Theres something to be said with 60′s car styling when car companies were reviving more of their pastime styling cues and such in the 2000′s.

  • avatar
    Beerboy12

    The car sales are there, that is undeniable. What’s driving it is hard to say for sure. Bloomberg’s analysis seems a little emotional to me but not completely with out reason.
    The game has changed though and as we all know, change is EVIL!!! —> tongue firmly in cheek and a whole bucket of salt at the ready…

  • avatar
    Prado

    “Meanwhile, Toyota Motor Corp. (7203)’s staid standard-bearer, the Camry, has endured three months of declining sales” Now I’m not saying the Camry isn’t boring, but the main reason they are selling less is because they are making less. The Kentucky plant that builds the Camry also builds the Avalon. The new Avalon is a hot seller, and most likely more profitable, so they are making alot more. YTD sales 2013 Camry 132,540 Avalon 23,846. YTD sales 2012 Camry 142,225 Avalon 12,924. Add the sales of the 2 cars and you get about the same number 2012 vs 2013.

    • 0 avatar
      Scoutdude

      No the Camry is clogging dealer lots at least in my area. The two closest dealers have 7 yes 7 unsold 2011 models and 14 unsold 2012s. This despite low interest loans plus cash back and dealer discounts. In Canada the best selling mid size, so far this year, is the Ford Fusion.

      • 0 avatar
        28-Cars-Later

        Geez either that dealer is going to take a hit on those 11s or some subprime sucker will (I suppose).

      • 0 avatar
        Quentin

        And the Fusion has ads on Hulu+ (I don’t have sat or cable TV) for $189/month leases. Toyota has leases with similar money down and similar payment on the Camry. Ermagherd, similar priced cars in the same segment are going for the same money. Crazy! The Fusion looks better, the Camry has better interior packaging. Pick your poison.

      • 0 avatar
        danio3834

        “In Canada the best selling mid size, so far this year, is the Ford Fusion.”

        Definitely. You see a lot more 200s and Fusions in Canada than you do Camrys and Accords. The compact segment however is dominated by Honda and Hyundai.

  • avatar
    PrincipalDan

    Beautiful cars do not automatically equal sales. Wasn’t 1985 a banner year for car sales in the United States? I can’t think of too many “timeless” designs from 1985. Economics has more to do with sales than anything else.

    • 0 avatar
      28-Cars-Later

      Cimmaron seems pretty timeless, references to it don’t seem to die :)

      I’m not sure if it is “timeless” but the Continental Mark VII was sold in this period and in its time it was revolutionary for what it was.

    • 0 avatar
      danio3834

      Beauty is clearly subjective and follows trends. There was a time when the GM Colonnade coupes and Chrysler Cordobas signified beautiful styling too.

      • 0 avatar
        28-Cars-Later

        Agreed.

      • 0 avatar
        nrd515

        Not to me. I thought the Colonnade (How appropriate that Colon is part of the name. cars and the Cordoba and it’s siblings were the beginning of the end for good looking cars from US companies. Ford had lost their minds, styling wise, about 3-4 years before GM and Chrysler did. The trucks and a few cars here and there were the only bright spots until the early 2000′s when US car companies, even Ford, began making decent looking cars again.

  • avatar
    juicy sushi

    Personally, I have to disagree Derek. While it is true that most sedans have taken on a “reverse-teardrop” silhouette as a general theme, the detail and execution does vary greatly and The cars are anything but generic. Many in their zeal to differentiate themselves have gone a bit too far on the detail front and appear rather unattractive to my eyes, but there is definite diversity in styling. I find that styling, while important, only matters insofar as it doesn’t get screwed up. Making something really beautiful won’t make up for its shortcomings. But making something really ugly will kill your chances of commercial success. I think the proof of that is the Alfa Romeo 159. To my eyes, it is the most beautiful 4-door sedan of all time. But the looks couldn’t overcome the other faults of the car.

    The use of excessively high belt lines and incoherrent strakes/swoops to add “tension” or “drama” to some cars doesn’t help matters, but to my eyes most current cars look better than the incoherrent mess of square lines and chrome that characterized 1970s designs in particular, but also the 80s as well.

    Still, to each their own.

    • 0 avatar

      JS,

      I think the 159 is gorgeous as well but unfortunately we don’t get it here. I think that the notion that design is driving increased sales alone for the D3 is a bit of a crock. Nevertheless, thank you for providing an eloquent critique in a respectful manner. This is what makes TTAC great.

    • 0 avatar
      danio3834

      Interestingly, the large, opulent coke bottle and fuselage designs of the 70′s are some of my favorites. It’s just too bad their powertrains were so lousy by then.

      If I had infinite time and money at my disposal, my version of heaving involves swapping some of the most awesome powertrains into old station wagons and land yachts.

  • avatar
    corntrollio

    I think the problem with all the “Golden Age of…” stuff is mostly based on remembering only the good stuff. People selectively remember things like muscle cars from the 60s, without remembering all the other crappy cars that were produced. In addition, the best muscle cars were always limited editions that most people couldn’t afford. It’s the same thing now.

    We won’t know what design becomes timeless from this era until many years down the road.

    Also, FWIW, the 90s Camry (XV10) had more of a timeless design than the current version, and that era of design may have been kickstarted by the first gen Taurus’s Aero design, Principal Dan, which came out in 1985. Even to this day, when I think Camry, I think that design, even though the Camrys I rode in the most were probably the immediate prior design that was cribbed for the original Lexus ES.

    • 0 avatar
      84Cressida

      The 3rd Gen Camry, along with several 90s era Toyotas and Hondas still look great today and don’t look out of place at all. Clean, simple, and stylish. Better than a lot of the bloated, plastic turds that are sold today.

  • avatar
    philadlj

    “But by and large, it is getting harder and harder to tell one car from another.”

    While I agree that American automakers aren’t gaining share because of the styling of their cars (that’s only a part of it, they’re also simply better cars than the ones they used to offer), I disagree that car designs in this decade are any more homogeneous than those of previous decades.

    In the 80s and 90s when I grew up, I witnessed an en masse shift from boxy designs to more rounded organic forms, best exhibited by the ’96 Taurus and Caravan, which essentially went from bricks to jellybeans, and the entire industry followed suit.

    It’s also rather silly to roll out that tired “all cars look alike!” line on a blog which presumably is populated by auto enthusiasts if not outright gear/petrolheads who know their cars up, down, left and right. Most people are “car-blind”, but I’d guess that most people on TTAC can tell a Camry from an Accord, and then some.

    Now Trains? Planes? Motorcycles? Smartphones? Sure, THEY all look alike…because I’m a layman in those fields. But for good or ill, I’m too well-versed in car design to be able to take the claim of homogeneity seriously.

    • 0 avatar
      danio3834

      “…best exhibited by the ’96 Taurus and Caravan, which essentially went from bricks to jellybeans, and the entire industry followed suit.”

      I remember the introduction of these vehicles very clearly as they were both enormous heavy hitters. They both broke the mold in dramatic ways. The oval Taurus’ styling was polarizing and decidedly awkward, while the Caravan went on to be the shape of the future in that segment. An example of too daring, and another of just daring enough.

      • 0 avatar
        jhefner

        “Is there another person who would agree that the 1988 Toyota Camry is more dramatic or stylish compared to a 2013.”
        “I would, but I have thing for the Bush I-era smoothed box style.”

        Wasn’t that the Reagan era?

        What makes me smile is reading the remarks about the 1980s-1990s era cars versus cars today. Some compare the jelly bean cars to “pregnant roller skates” and “staid and stodgy designs”; and today’s cars “a styling Renaissance;” while others like me found the cars of the 1980s and 1990s to have “clean, simple lines”; and today’s cars to be overstyled with their big mouth bass radiators and Asian headlights and tail lights.

        In addition to having clean simple lines, I thought the jellybean cars of the 1980s-1990s looked organic; like a pebble taken from a stream. They have replaced the cars of the 1940s-1950s as my favorites; though both generations have same rounded look.

        What the 1980s did offer was tremendous variety of cars; in part because not everyone was willing or ready to jump on the jellybean wagon. You could still buy a squared off Chrysler or GMC car; or cast your cares to the wind and buy a 5000s, Taurus, or other jellybean Ford. But, that is because it was a transitional era in styling; just as cars went from separate fenders in the 1930s to fenders built integral with the car body in the 1940s.

        While nrd515 thought “Ford had lost their minds” in the 1980s; I found them a refreshing change from the chrome plated bricks of the 1970s. They got more sleek and slim in the 1990s; but then began to become bloated both in appearance and weight in the decades that followed. In my mind at least, today’s cars are like the finned cars of the 1957-1960 era; a good idea run amuck. I also think those jellybean cars of the 1980s-1990s that are still on the road have aged well; many folks can’t believe mine is 18 years old.

        Of today’s cars; the Fusion is my favorite; though I sometimes wonder why; it is the epitome of today’s styling.

  • avatar
    hp

    That is a really ugly picture of the fusion, most are but this one especially!

    • 0 avatar
      Summicron

      More than any other car I can think of, Fusions look better in real life than in photos. Stunningly so. I hate modern sedans, but Fusions are some of the cleanest pigs in the mud.

  • avatar
    CelticPete

    I agree with Bloomberg. Why isn’t looks driving the sales? They don’t seem to drive particularly great – and the Ford engines seem to be underwhelming IRL. (Maybe the Car is just too big). SO yeah looks are driving sales.

    Looks and ‘good enough’ quality and reliability. I personally favour both GM and Chrylser over Ford but why the hate? If its not looks then what is driving Fusion sales?

  • avatar
    BrianL

    I don’t see your point in much of this Derek. You speak about the Ford Fusion and say how it is 4th. But, are the sales over last years or above? How much inventory is on the lot? What is the average days to sell a Fusion? How much are some of the other auto manufactures down vs the Fusion? To go on to some of your other points, how many of them are subprime consumers?

    I think the reason why people are disagreeing with your article is because you don’t have much to back it up. The articles you have posted about subprime market, which you say is contributing to this “bubble” don’t seem to mention that the repossessions and delinquent loans don’t seem to be from banks or captive arms, but from finance companies. But even so, you don’t have data on how much subprime is increasing the market, if any. If the total amount of subprime sales is 20% of the market (I randomly picked a number) and continues to be 20% when sales are increasing, then it didn’t drive up the market at all. Just more people buying.

    It would also be good to know the percentage of subprime buyers that each manufacture sees. I for one have never used a captive arm for purchasing because they can’t beat the interest rate I get at banks. Sometimes you get either a cash rebate or 0%. My credit is such that the cash is better than the 0%.

    I am not saying that you are wrong about this, subprime might have something to do with it. But to say that the other guy is wrong, provide good data for it. Else, it is just your opinion and everyone has one.

    My opinion, Detroit has some good designs out, they have improved on their reliability, improved on fuel efficiency, and are making competitive cars. They are actually taking car design seriously and not an after thought. Unless Detroit has the subprime market cornered (which I doubt), I don’t think it would affect Detroit sales much different than it would other manufacture sales, because all manufactures are in the subprime game.

  • avatar
    billfrombuckhead

    I think many pundits are frustrated that the Detroit 3 have come roaring back when they were predicting American marketshare would fall behinds JapanInc. The Wall Street Journal predicted Toyota would pass Ford by this time and instead Toyota is falling behind.

  • avatar
    Good ole dayz

    >>My opinion, Detroit has some good designs out, they have improved on their reliability, improved on fuel efficiency, and are making competitive cars.

    I have well-founded doubts about the UAW-manufacturers’ quality (my first and only new domestic, a 2006 Jeep Liberty, has taught me that Detroit still has a lonnnnng way to go to catch up to the Asians).

    That aside, count this as vote for decrying the generic hard-to-tell-apart look coming from nearly all manufacturers: oversized grilles inspired by the largemouth bass; excessive busy-ness on the sides with lines and swoops galore, along with exaggerated wheel arches rendering a too-busy baroque look; and my biggest gripe: the bunker look of high beltlines and small (almost non-existent) glass area. The latter is not only unattractive, but IMHO a safety hazard.

  • avatar
    Hummer

    Agree with the author, new cars are boring and bland in design, still using the same crappy material adopted in the 70/80s just in different designs.

    Integrated bumpers on cars have to be the biggest eyesore on the road, extremely ugly.

    • 0 avatar
      Summicron

      “Integrated bumpers on cars have to be the biggest eyesore on the road, extremely ugly.”

      So completely agree.

      No matter how magnificent the metallurgy and engineering between them, your first and last view of any modern sedan is a swath of slimy, shiny polypropylene. Or worse yet, the pebble textured, stiffer crap that afflicts the front of every base model pickup.


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