“Sir, I don’t think you understand how our pricing model works.”
It was the winter of 2004, and a sad-sack of a salesman sat at the desk across from Mrs. Bark and me at a morbidly depressing Toyota-Scion dealership near Dayton, Ohio. My dear wife was the less-than-proud owner of a 2001 Hyundai Elantra that had been the very first car she’d ever purchased new. That Elantra came with war wounds; it had been hit in the rear door a week after she bought it, and the car was so cheap that the small dent it caused wasn’t worth fixing.
We had recently become upwardly mobile, thanks to a promotion I got at work, so I wanted to buy her something nicer; something sporty, but not actually sporty. She was a graduate music student, and all of her friends drove shitboxes from the ’90s. I wanted them to know that her husband was somebody, not just another poor grad student. Alas, youthful pride.
(Maybe not like that.)
Automotive News reported Saturday that several automakers are struggling to attract younger workers as young adults seem more disinterested with pursuing careers in manufacturing.
Kia Motors Manufacturing Georgia Senior Vice President Randy Jackson said it’s important for the auto industry to soften the blow of reality when adulthood sets in:
“So many kids want to grow up and play in the NFL,” he says. “And college is a great thing, and it’s good to have a dream job out there. But if we can reach young people before they spend four years in college pursuing something that isn’t realistic, we might be able to open their eyes to something they will find very rewarding.”
According to the clock, it would still be more than an hour before the sun slipped over the Western horizon and sank into the Pacific, but from my place behind the wheel of my 74 Nova beneath the leaden November skies and running through the steady drizzle, the dark of night was already beginning to ooze its way up and out of the hidden spaces of the great forest that lined either side of the narrow roadway. Ahead, a single mailbox loomed up and out of the mist and I checked its number against the one I had written on a small scrap of paper some hours earlier. To my satisfaction they matched and I pulled off the pavement and onto a long gravel driveway, my headlights cutting a bright swath through the increasingly murky darkness as I worked my way back into the woods. (Read More…)
The very first Generation Why column began after GM unveiled two concept cars aimed at millennial buyers, with the subsequent 18 months spent debunking numerous articles claiming that young people have abandoned the automobile in favor of electronic gadgets.
This author has long maintained that such talk was, in its most extreme form, the wishful thinking of people with a not-so-hidden desire to see cars disappear from the urban landscape. At its most benign, it’s simply foolish. Finally, the rest of the world appears to be catching on to the notion that when it comes to falling rates of car ownership, “it’s the economy, stupid.” General Motors just happens to be one of the first to say it publicly.
It’s been a little while since we checked in on GM’s A-Car experiment, the Chevrolet Spark. After some cringe-worthy initial attempts at marketing the Spark, we are now getting some early data, and the takeaway is this; sales aren’t so bad, but the demographics of Spark owners aren’t quite what GM wanted.
If it weren’t for a Manhattan nightclub shooting in 1999, there’s a very good chance that it would be Cadillac, not Lincoln, that would be undertaking a costly showroom upgrade program, a brand “reboot” to shed a mushy identity and a hail-mary attempt at saving the ailing luxury division.
Since many of you old-timers see us young folks as self-absorbed brats, I decided I wouldn’t spam TTAC with my “angry young man” rants too often – but today is a special case, with the results of a Deloitte study on Gen Y being released. As you’d guess, they are about as accurate as Toyota’s notion that consumers aged 18-30 would want to buy boxy subcompacts that they can customize.
Last time on Generation Why, we discussed Chevrolet’s youth-oriented concepts, and how the big problem related to marketing to young people was their poor economic prospects. But what about those that can afford a car? Are “connectivity features” like Toyota’s Entune, really the way forward? What about the good old-fashioned notion of just building a car that people will want?
I like to tout myself as the youngest full-time auto writer in the industry, but sometimes it backfires – like when an Acura exec came up to me on my first press trip (at 19 years old) and warmly told a few assembled journalists and PR types that he hadn’t seen me since I was this big.
On the other hand, my youth gave me particular insight into two products that launched within the last month, and are aimed squarely at my demographic – the Hyundai Veloster and the Chevrolet Sonic. Both cars launched at the 2011 North American International Auto Show, though their reception couldn’t have been more different.
Already a good year into its hype-cycle, Toyota’s much-discussed FT-86 sports coupe is apparently losing some of the focus that made it an instant (theoretical) hit with enthusiasts. According to Autocar, Toyota has given up on its price point goal of $20,000 for a base model in the Japanese market, bumping MSRP targets to $23k for a base model and $26k for loaded examples. No word on how this will affect US-market prices, which Toyota has never disclosed goals for. And if this were the only news coming out of FT-86-land, we might have ignored it altogether. Sadly though, the price shift reflects larger trends within the FT-86’s development, none of which are wildly promising from the perspective of the enthusiasts that this car was allegedly being built for.