Motor Market Mishegos: The New Car Market Is a Cruel Mistress

Paul Grusche
by Paul Grusche

The BMW 1-series was a bust as was the Audi A3 in America. Sales are in the tank and everyone sits back and wonders why we don’t buy small cars. We buy small cars, just not yours. Heck look at the MINI. Maybe BMW is just not as cool. Oh right, BMWs are way cool and they own MINI. Maybe it was the Euro against the dollar, price walk ups from the 1-series/A3 to the 3 or A4 respectively, true mileage gains, looks . . . I don’t know. Or maybe these manufacturers are looking through beer goggles. Let me break it down for you like a fraction through flip flops and tip tops. First some flops . . .

Cadillac Cimarron — lipstick on a pig

Pontiac LeMans — speaking of eggs

GM EV1 — who believed GM was serious, they conspired with Standard Oil to get rid of streetcars

Smart Car — most people like their t-bone on a plate

Geo Metro Convertible — when the sun comes up, some tops should not be off

BMW 1-series — are you serious with that price

Audi A3 — ditto

Tip tops:

Toyota Prius — forward-looking company sees future and puts solid product reputation behind it

MINI — slightly expensive but incredible customization makes car feel like an extension of you

Honda Fit — timing is everything, especially when you plan for it. Did you hear me, Kia Borrego? I forgive you, you’ve got Soul now.

VW Golf Rabbit — constant improvements on a good ride

I know I’m missing some cars like the Honda Insight (ahead of its time), but manufacturers should take a lesson from their youth. Don’t come at the public with a two-beer buzz expecting to get laid that night. In the end, you will slur your words, look sloppy and show your hand before reaching the egg. The best laid ideas (sorry, I’ll stop now) come from listening, understanding, planning and patience.

Take for example the inspiration for this story, the VW L1. Originally, VW started experimenting with its concept in 2002. But Piech put it on the shelf saying it wouldn’t be financially viable for ten years. Well, with a four year development cycle he’s timed it right for this diesel hybrid weighing under 850 lbs and getting 170 mpg.

The engine is mated to a 10 kilowatt electric motor, which VW integrated into a seven-speed DSG automatic gearbox. The drivetrain features a two-cylinder turbodiesel displacing 800 cubic centimeters putting out 20 kilowatts (26 horsepower) in Eco mode; and 29 kilowatts (39 horsepower) in sport. Maximum torque is 74 pound-feet.

The L1 has a claimed drag coefficient of just 0.195. That matches the General Motors EV1 which is the most aerodynamic production car ever built. Carbon-fiber skin stretches over 12.5 feet and 45 inches high to conceal two seats, placed fore and aft of each other, and the carbon-monocoque like the McLaren MP4-12C uses. It looks more substantial than a Smart with more padding for accidents and stability at freeway speeds. But the test will be in the price, marketing and ultimate utility.

Will it be reasonably priced? Will they position correctly? Does the bonnet have room for my many hats? You see, I wear a lot of hats at this magazine so I want to make sure they all fit when I test drive this car. Either way, I kinda dig this concept.

Paul Grusche
Paul Grusche

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  • Redwood Redwood on Oct 05, 2009

    The 1 series is definitely not a flop. They sell around the forecast (yes, the forecast BEFORE it even hit the U.S.) and the sales drop off is a lot lower than the 1 series. Keep yelling about the same misinformation and you're going to lose credibility. The A3 on the other hand, I don't know why that's not selling. I enjoyed driving that more than the A4 (last gen), A6, and A8 in a direct comparison. Maybe it's that it's a wagon. I saw that Audi is considering importing an A3 sedan. We just don't love wagons over here (same reason BMW didn't bring the 1 hatch here).

  • Accs Accs on Oct 18, 2009

    See... Maybe its me.. Maybe everyone else is smokin some really cheap crack. Maybe.. the world is nuts.. and Im the only one who thinks adequately. Nah. Id just like to know.. Why Accord / Camry / Malibu / Legacy are still called midsized cars.. and yet EACH are approaching (within IIIINches of 300 / Crown Vic) In another words.. cars are getting larger.. for the mere point of BEING larger. Since when did I ever WANT a car that I enjoyed its size.. to GET larger? I was fine with the 3 series at its size in 00 or 03. But now.. its being deemed as too big.. and a car must come in underneath. Point Im trying to make is.. How are larger cars sold for the shit of it Cayenne / Q7 / Toureg and the coming Q5 brethen.. and yet the compact stuff that ONLY looks COMPACT because the next size up got fat? Im totally at loss as to why some decent cars.. arent selling.. and the shit. is flying off the shelves?

  • Theflyersfan I guess I should have kept my first ever car which was also a 1987 Nissan. Probably could have sold it for $50,000 by now if I was living in this fantasy world where used up 37 year old Nissans sell for the same price as a new Versa. I wish a link was here so all of us can check out this treasure among junk 200SX. The only way this car is even remotely worth that kind of money is if there are illicit substances hidden somewhere in the frame that, as part of the sale, you have to drive across the border and "make a delivery." Otherwise, get that thing off of my lawn.
  • Sobro Needs moar Roots.
  • RHD Questions? None, no, not really. Interested in some random Hyundai? No, not at all. Yawn.
  • Formula m Alfa-Romeo had the great idea to unveil my all time favourite car at the world expo in Montreal. Never built or Sold in North America. The called it the Alfa Romeo Montreal. Never even sold in North America.