Something I’ve long maintained (and that has been backed up by many of the B&B) is that young people still like cars and do care about them. The issue of falling car ownership among young people is largely an economic one. The cost of living is going up while wages are stagnating. Gasoline is expensive. Student debt, smartphones and rent are more important obligations than car payments, insurance and fuel. All of that can be quantified with data.
What hasn’t been so easily demonstrable was that young people still like cars, despite the wishful thinking of many who cheer for the end to the automobile era. Now we finally have some good research that backs up my gut feeling.
Could one of the Detroit auto makers blown the whistle on Hyundai and Kia’s mileage figures? Automotive News seems to think so.
Ford’s announcement today that the new global Ranger won’t be coming to the US sure seems like a head-scratcher. Though Automotive News [sub] quotes Ford’s Alan Mulally as saying the Ford Ka won’t be sold stateside because “our view is that Fiesta is about the smallest vehicle that we think will be a real success in the United States,” there’s no similar reason given for the absence of a modern compact pickup from Ford’s lineup. Or anyone else’s lineup, for that matter. The Canyon/Colorado are going out of production since the Shreveport, LA, plant is part of Old GM liquidation Corp. The Dodge, er, make that Ram Dakota will die next year according to the new plans at Chrysler. The Tacoma is no longer properly compact, and Volkswagen’s Brazilian “Robust” won’t be coming here either. Hell, even the latter-day El Camino was stillborn. But if my flu-addled memory serves me correctly, didn’t compact pickups help pull the US market out of one of its last great downturns? Why is it that nobody is giving this segment the time of day?
I’ve said it before, I’ll say it again: if you want proof that Ford’s water-walking CEO doesn’t “get” automotive branding, look at Lincoln. The Blue Oval Boyz’ upmarket marque is in total disarray. Lincoln lacks anything approaching an effective brand proposition; it’s burning through tag lines almost as quickly and ineffectively as the industry standard for pitiful performance (Buick). Does it even matter? Lincoln’s line of lackluster products simply aren’t good enough to make it in The Bigs. And then there’s the Medusa-class disaster known as the MKT: a poorly-built, misbegotten machine constructed on Big Al’s watch. Automotive News [sub] deployed no less than three writers to talk to Mulally about languid old Lincoln, AND they spotted him the lazy journalist’s and persnickety PR person’s best friend: the Q&A format. Even so, the result is an extraordinary non-outburst from an executive who believes that combining Ford and Lincoln Mercury dealers is a good thing. Check out this exchange: