By on November 26, 2014

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Youthful exuberance or nihilism? Urban despair or boredom? Lack of repression and punishment or the inevitable result of the marked differences in income and social-economic status in Brazil? All these questions sprang into my mind as I walked back to the car and saw it there, its back hatch window violated by a brick.

A quick stop at the supermarket became a full-blown shopping excursion, so instead of the 10 minute affair, it takes longer, much longer. As luck would have it, the parking lot was full, so I parked on a side street off to the side of the place. A mere hour later I return and the Sandero is there, looking forlorn, the back window smashed. Looking around I see everyone going about their business and avoiding eye contact, so no witness I guess. I quickly survey the damage, put the purchases on top of the many millions of glass shreds on the back seat, open the hatch and all the books, sweater and umbrella I had there are still there. I take off my shirt to brush aside as best I can the glass on the driver’s seat and, as there is nothing I can do, I get in and decide to head back home. Before going off in that direction, I feel the need to drive around the block once to see if I could make out anything or anyone suspicious. Glad I did because as now I think I can understand what happened.

Back a ways from where I had parked the car, there is a house undergoing some construction. The work nearly done, the workers put excess bricks out on the sidewalk and somebody would surely come collect them up later. Some simpleton must have walked by, seen the bricks, picked one up on a whim and decided to smash my car window in, for “fun” I guess. Being that the incident happened in the middle of the morning with plenty of people around, it seems to me the most plausible explanation. I decide to put it down to youthful exuberance or nihilism…

Living in Brazil, being 43 years of age, and driving (officially) since the age of 20, besides owning a car since 18, I am not unduly bothered by this. Sure it sucks, but I had never before been the victim of any sort of violence. I have never been mugged, my car has never been broken into, nor any of the houses I’ve lived in. To be honest, not many of my friends have suffered this kind of thing either. It could be that Belo Horizonte is still a nicer, calmer sort of place than Rio or São Paulo. Or it could just be that there is a huge personal security business feeding and feeding off of a sort of generalized fear, creating something bigger out of something that exists, but that they only stand to benefit from, blowing it out of proportion.

What I am bothered by though is my insurance company’s handling of the matter. Smashed windows are covered, but it will take a week for it to be fixed. It takes them that much time for them to set me up on a date with a company specialized in changing car windows, or one day more for a technician to pay me a house call and change the window on my premises. What is a day more, I think, so I set the house visit. In traditional Brazilian business practice, the visit would happen at any time during commercial hours (from 8am to 6pm), so I guess I’m stuck home for the day.

The technician arrives around 10 and I immediately notice his car. A mini-truck, it is the famous Chevrolet Montana, exported to Mexico and similar to the often discussed on TTAC Fiat Strada and Volkswagen Saveiro. Due to clever packaging and some well-designed accessories, the Montana is very well equipped for this business. As examples, the man’s tools are all contained in a tray he can easily pull from under the window’s support mechanism, which in its turn can carry around 10 window panes I believe. Capable of hauling around 600 or so kilos and served with a 106hp, 1.4 engine, the trucklet is capable of serving this and other business applications more than adequately.

As the man worked, I took pictures of his car. Surprisingly to me, this one was equipped with air conditioning. I am very happy to see this as I realize Brazilian businesses are finally giving their employees a degree of necessary respect. As a car guy, I naturally ask him how old the car is and he tells me it is two years old.  He has driven almost 150,000 kilometers in it over the period serving Belo Horizonte and other cities in a 250 kilometer radius. To my eyes the interior looks sharp after all this while, with the same gimmicky flat-bottomed steering wheel sold to private buyers. The fabrics have held up well too, though I do notice the driver’s seat is covered. Simple stuff, but made to last.

The worker tells me the car has not skipped a beat in this time and mileage. The company is fastidious about maintenance and believes the preventive sort is the way to go. As such, it has gone in for a dealer pit-stop every 10 thousand kilometers as GM recommends. Using Brazilian ethanol-laced gasoline (to the tune of 30% sugarcane content), the car returns a steady 8 to 10 km/l in the city and about 15 on the road (the car has a system to monitor the driver, so that figure seems good to me). This small GM power unit is quite square, meaning it doesn’t like to rev, but has ample low end torque and will provide adequate economy if driven conservatively.

I ask him how long they keep the cars and he tells me the Montana will be gone by year-end. The company will then buy a new batch and it could be any of the small trucks available in the Brazilian market, Strada, Saveiro or a Chevy again. I ask him his preference, he smiles coyly and says he’d pick the Saveiro. I inquire as to why and he says that truck is a much better looker and that guys and gals talk to him about it though for different reasons…

After about half an hour his work is done and he goes off to change another couple of windows. As I see the little Montana speeding away, I can’t help but ponder on my friends at TTAC, most especially my American ones. How would their experience compare? I decide that if such a service exists there, the technician would have showed up in some sort of V8 Ecoline van, or F250. That thought conjures up right away the word “why”. The Montana availed itself of the job at hand nicely, doing it so economically, capably and reliability.

I can’t help but to think on the American lifestyle and its consequences. Everything seems so big and can be done and had so cheaply. However, it does seem that my amigos americanos are enamored of bringing a machine gun to what essentially amounts to a knife fight (most small business applications like home repairs and maintenance and such). Or, alternatively, it could just be that the rest of the world is just too poor and unable to enjoy the finer things in life.

Unlike my smashed window and the brick laying the car, I have no answer for that question, nothing to plausibly base an opinion on. As such we use the instruments at hand, and here in Brazil and elsewhere, U.S. included, I foresee a long future for the car-based mini-truck. Somehow I suspect though the future for full size pickups, even if all-aluminum, especially for use in mundane tasks, may probably not be so bright.

 

 

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85 Comments on “Dispatches do Brasil: Shattered Glass And Small Pickups...”


  • avatar
    Lie2me

    Sorry this happened to you, Marcelo, but you just made a great case for sedans with trunks.

    • 0 avatar

      Hey Lie2me! No worries, I think a 43 year run without incident is more than fine. As to sedans and hatches, I like both. Though in the case of all hatches and station wagons sold here, a trunk lid/cover is standard equipment.

      • 0 avatar
        mikeg216

        Why? Because with a one ton van or truck you can carry even more tools and more windshields. And cover larger Territories with it. My friend has a security shutter company, they service only large national chains.. Walgreens cvs… Etc the territory is 6 States. Ohio,Michigan, Indiana, Kentucky, West Virginia and Pennsylvania and our end of new York. When they go out they’re gone for a week with a truck and trailer filled with everything necessary to stay in the field. When you’re territory is 30 times that of the glass man, you need a vehicle for that. Not to mention between truck and trailer were talking 6-7 tons.. That you take up and down our highways at 75 mph. Form follows function.

        • 0 avatar

          For this specific specification there is time to get to the places, and a time to do the job. There is a limit as to how many windows the guy can change a day. And demand. In extremis, why not get a semi-trailer. That, however, does not mean I don’t see your point. Each specific company will find their own point of cost effectiveness and, yes, this changes from country to country.

          • 0 avatar
            mikeg216

            Absolutely, as you can see the transit and now transit connect have found their niche along the old Ranger and e series, I suspect it’s only a matter of time before ford starts sending those chicken tax free Rangers from Thailand with diesel engines and I can’t wait to see a 2016 f-150 with a ten speed automatic with the 4.5 lion diesel. It’s already here in the cab over ford lcf

    • 0 avatar
      Maymar

      What exactly does a sedan have anything to do with that? It’s established nothing was taken.

      Besides, isn’t a Sandero a crossover, which is the great hope and future of all things automotive, the one size fits all tool that is our great hope for the car of tomorrow?

  • avatar
    -Nate

    Nice little Trucklet .

    Too bad about the window but urban environments have these issues , worldwide .

    You’re right about the fear thing , it is being used wholesale to control Americans and fleece them of their money .

    I like the slide out tool box , was the tail gate lockable or just latched closed ? .

    When I lived in Guatemala the tiny pickups were every where , always with *just8 under 1,000 C.C. engines for tax reasons .

    -Nate

    • 0 avatar

      You know what, on the Montana I don’t know if it’s lockable. In the Strada and Saveiro locks for the tail gates can be had. I’m sure the aftermarket fills that need.

      I don’t discount urban violence, it does exist. Sometimes I just think it’s mre than a little overblown. For profit, too.

  • avatar
    Tinn-Can

    A lady at work had hers done by a local glass company. They pulled up same day in the office parking lot in a normal looking cargo van stuffed full of equipment and windshields then did it right there on the spot…
    Too many unnecessary compromises in little turd box car-trucks to make them worthwhile…

  • avatar
    Vulpine

    Well, you’re right about one thing; here in the States most on-site glass repair shops use fully enclosed vans. On the other hand, I would have enjoyed a nice profile shot of this truck in ‘working truck’ mode.

    Personally, I’d like to see any or all of the three you shared here in the States. If it’s advertised as a compact truck and not as an ‘Outback with a bed’ they could be quite popular.

    • 0 avatar
      Landcrusher

      Around here pickups are common for glass repair. Of corse, Texas.

      • 0 avatar
        DenverMike

        Pickups are preferred b/c it’s too easy to toss everything you’ll need, in the back and hit the road. Everything’s in easy reach throughout the day and job to job. And the tailgate is always there as a work table or seat. Vans are more of a nuisance.

        • 0 avatar
          Vulpine

          Easy reach throughout the day? Just how tall are you, Denver? I can’t even reach the floor of the bed in a modern pickup truck with the tailgate up without climbing onto the bumper.

          • 0 avatar
            DenverMike

            @Vulpine – I can’t tell you how many times I’ve burned a n!pple reaching over the bed rail with my shirt off. I can almost reach small things on the bed floor, but they make these things called ‘tool boxes’ for small tools, supplies. Mostly it’s big bulky items, easily reached. Little stuff goes in containers, in the cab or out, but not loose in the bed.

            And midsize trucks are the favourite of light services, exterminators and such for obvious reasons. Most of these service industries take the day off in rain and snow anyways. And windshields are cleaned after the install, not so much before.

          • 0 avatar
            Vulpine

            Thank you for making several points for me:

            Bed sides too tall — burnt chest
            Bed floor too deep — “almost reach”
            Smaller trucks for light duty — they simply don’t need road whales.

            Yet you still insist that only cheapskates would want one. You do realize that most DIY people and hobbyists only need or want a light duty truck, right? If they can get a smaller truck that gets exceptional fuel mileage, don’t you think such a truck would sell handsomely?

          • 0 avatar
            Vulpine

            And while those high shoulder lines on the cab doors is good for passenger safety, they have a negative effect on driver visibility, making it more difficult for the driver to see low-bodied cars on either side or behind. Sure, mirrors help, but it’s come to the point that pickup trucks today NEED cameras just so the driver can see what’s behind his truck–that is, if it’s live. Some of those cameras, however, only turn on when you shift into reverse. Just this past week I saw a wreck where a truck went to back up after stopping at a light, in order to get back behind the line, and hit the car behind him, not even knowing it was there. Silver truck; silver car; he thought that band of silver was the top of his tailgate. Almost no vehicle outside of another truck is visible over the tailgate if they’re close. That’s a sign the truck is simply too big.

          • 0 avatar
            Vulpine

            Surprise of surprises, I’m taller than you and I still say today’s full sized trucks are too big. When a pickup truck backs into another vehicle simply because the driver couldn’t SEE that vehicle in his rear-view mirrors, it’s a sign that the bed walls are simply too tall.

          • 0 avatar
            DenverMike

            There’s no sniveling in trucks. You don’t have to reach over the tailgate, open it. But why do you store small items or tools sliding around your bed? Get organized. That’s what the extra cab is for anyways. The bed is for big stuff with handles.

          • 0 avatar
            DenverMike

            You must have a super long neck!!! Obviously you’re crying over absolutely nothing. You once said a dropped tailgate is hip level to you! And bed s!des, shoulder level!!

            Drama Queen or Pencil Neck????

          • 0 avatar
            DenverMike

            You gotta be f*cking BLIND not to see a car behind you… in your mirrors!!!

            Absolutely NOTHING street legal can fit in my rear blind spot. Zero! You look over your shoulder anyways. And I’m short, remember???

            My mom is 5’1” and she SPECIFICALLY buys fullsize pickups for their rearward visibility.

            How STUP!D does someone have to be to not look behind them??????

          • 0 avatar
            Vulpine

            “The bed is for big stuff with handles.”

            The bed is for whatever you choose to put into it, from dirt, stone, mulch or even old/new tires. None of that stuff has handles, nor do most DIY landscaping/hobby materials. In fact, very little that goes into the bed of a pickup truck is going to have handles on it.

            You’re the one making silly assumptions, after all.

            “How STUP!D does someone have to be to not look behind them??????”
            Ask that of the guy in the full-sized pickup truck that backed into the much lower sedan. The accident happened only about 5 cars in front of me at a traffic light.

            And I’ll bet a Mini or any other sub-compact car could hide there without you knowing it–unless your rear camera is turned on.

          • 0 avatar
            DenverMike

            Yes some people are stup!d. And they shouldn’t be driving a truck. *BUT* they shouldn’t be driving ANYTHING!!!!

            You have no clue of the rear visibility of trucks and seems like you’ve never even been in one.

            Pull a picture of a Ford Raptor profile. Then get out your protractor and draw a straight line from the rear view mirror over the tailgate to the ground.

            OK, name a street legal car that would fit in there, even if was touching the Raptor’s rear bumper.

            See how stup!d you just made yourself look!!!

          • 0 avatar
            Vulpine

            “Pull a picture of a Ford Raptor profile. Then get out your protractor and draw a straight line from the rear view mirror over the tailgate to the ground.”

            I’m going to suggest you do that yourself, Denver. And while you’re at it, keep in mind that the tailgate on a Ford Raptor is quite often higher than the roofline of the typical sedan–especially the sport models. Then consider the roofline of a car like the Corvette, the Camaro, Mustang and even (or especially) the Miata. Now also keep in mind that if they are close to the same color as that Raptor (not difficult since black, silver, grey, red and white are the most common vehicle colors in the US right now) the roofline of said vehicle could very easily blend with the body color of the truck to make it effectively invisible.

            And before you go blabbing about my supposedly not having driven a truck, I might remind you that I’ve driven many trucks of many sizes over my career, even if I haven’t owned most of them. Even in my own F-150 (thankfully sold but not yet picked up) I found it difficult at times to see someone behind me if they were tailgating me–especially at night when their headlights fall well below the tailgate line. I happen to be a more attentive driver than most, but even I have occasionally missed seeing something as I’m backing simply because the body sides are so high. And that’s on an older truck, not one of these new Road Whales.

          • 0 avatar
            DenverMike

            Your line-of-sight is much higher than the tailgate. It rises as the tailgate rises. Drrrr. Unless you like the stink-bug look of the ’70s. And if you’ve driven all sorts of fullsize trucks, how did you manage to not kill someone???

            There’s sports cars with worse rearward visibility than pickups. So what? You’ve heard of convertibles with the top up?? You look before you get in. Even then, what ever you can’t see in your mirrors, is too small to be a real car. So how are they gonna tuck in behind you, before you put it in reverse??

            And it’s NEVER a good idea to back up in traffic. Even if driving a Civic, for P!SS sake. Like how stud!d can a person get???

          • 0 avatar
            Vulpine

            “And it’s NEVER a good idea to back up in traffic.”
            Whaddayaknow, we finally agree on something. However, there are exceptions to every rule and sometimes you HAVE to back up just to get out of the way of cross traffic at an intersection where going on through would almost guarantee a crash. But then, they shouldn’t have stuck themselves out so far in the first place if they weren’t willing to commit to the maneuver.

          • 0 avatar
            DenverMike

            Why would you stop in an intersection? That’s your 1st stup!d move! Then ASSume no one was behind you?? If you’re unsure of what’s behind you, just continue thru the intersection. Or make a right.

            If you’re ever unsure of what’s behind you, or not behind you, don’t back up. But how can you not know???

            How long have you been driving? And should you keep driving???

          • 0 avatar
            Vulpine

            “Why would you stop in an intersection?”
            Nice of you to assume this was me, even after I CLEARLY stated it happened in front of me.

            WHO is the one with reading comprehension issues?

      • 0 avatar
        Vulpine

        Of course Texas. No rain or snow to mess up the glass while in route and the glass panels themselves are typically larger on US-model cars and trucks.

        • 0 avatar
          Landcrusher

          Plenty of rain here, and I am always amazed the fancy racks they use don’t have any protection except against movement. Rocks and weather would seem to be an issue.

          As far as height, the smaller toyota seems to be popular, but am with you. I am 6’3″ and see no reason for today’s beds though I am sure there is one.

          • 0 avatar
            DenverMike

            I’m 5’8″ and although small items are hard to reach (strictly wearing sneakers) in the bed floor, I appreciate the high s!des containing more goods, power tools, compressors, fuel containers, hidden from view. Parked away from the crowds, it just looks like an empty truck, across from the diner.

            Stylistically, high s!des matching the s!de window bottoms is athletically pleasing.

            If someone’s a midget, it sounds more like a them problem. They make full-length running boards and nerf bars, not just for looks.

  • avatar
    319583076

    Sorry, Marcelo. I feel your pain. About 6 years ago I walked out to my then pickup to find the passenger side door ajar and it’s window smashed. The culprit stole a few relatively worthless CDs, a couple of maps, and took the owner’s manual out of the glovebox. They didn’t even bother to grab the stuff behind the seat. It was a major bummer.

    I had to take my truck to a shop to have the window replaced. Little bits of glass were continually working out of that door for years.

    In the spectrum of crime, it’s not a very big deal. I’m glad it wasn’t worse and that your window is replaced.

    • 0 avatar

      Thanks, no real pain though. Yes there are pieces of glass showing up still and I think I hear some rattling, but I have decided to refuse to be rattled by it. As it was, it was a 3 hour job to vacuum out as best I could. Now that the window has been changed, there is yet more to be cleared. Sigh…

      • 0 avatar
        Boxer2500

        My car was burglarized outside my apartment in 2010 and over 4 years later I am still finding glass pellets whenever I clean under the seats. I have no idea where it is all hiding, but a couple pieces seem to materialize every couple of months.

        A broken passenger window, mangled wiring, broken trim, and bent mounting brackets all so some meth addict could swipe a broken stereo. I don’t miss that neighborhood.

  • avatar
    WaftableTorque

    One of the things I’ve noticed when I’m in a third world city is how much more comfortable I would feel being in a Land Cruiser, QX56, Range Rover, or Suburban over any flagship sedan. And it seems the market has spoken in those environments, because I see more wealthy people chauffeured in those SUV’s than I do luxury sedans. There’s nothing better than ride height and imposing mass for that feeling of security.

  • avatar
    dtremit

    Back when you could actually buy smaller trucks here, they were very common for this sort of businessperson. You still see a lot of Rangers in use — they were sold through 2012, so there are quite a few that are still fairly young.

    The problem is that there’s almost no money in selling those fleet vehicles — they tend to have few options, which are really what make the pickup business profitable these days.

    That said, I’m seeing a lot of Transit Connects and similar vehicles in this part of the US Northeast; they have a similar appeal, if not the open bed.

  • avatar
    Felix Hoenikker

    Marcelo,

    I see more and more Ford Transit Connects on the roads here. They are all commercial vehicles and seem to replace full sized vans. These things are all over Europe too. Business owners in the US are finally waking up and thinking about fuel economy.

    • 0 avatar

      Good to know. A smart businesses person will realize that fuel savings can be pumped back into his business, thus improving it and growing it. Burning gas for no good reason is just burning money. The private person can due it for fun, a business shouldn’t.

      Here we have the Fiat Doblò (Ram Pro-something there), Renault Kangoo, which are all roughly the size of the Ford mentioned. Plus we have smaller units that follow the same idea like Fiat Fiorino and the other makes offer their trucklets to be transformed into Fiorino-like vans. We also have the Fiat Uno panel van (2 seats, blocked out windows in the back) and VW should soon offer their Gol again in the same configuration.

      There is also a multitude of small CHinese vans and trucks that have not made a dent in the market (yet), and all the larger vans like Ducato, Sprinter, Renault Master, the Ford euro-van, Iveco etc.

      We are well-served in vans!

      • 0 avatar
        mikeg216

        The Ford transit connects are replacing Rangers, which get the same mpg. The e-250 they are attempting to replace with the transit. It does get better mileage but costs 5-10,000 more. Which is why the e-350 extended van and 450 chassis will stay in production. The cost of fuel is the cost of doing business, it’s passed along to the end consumer.

      • 0 avatar
        Landcrusher

        A smart business man will know fuel savings is only part of the equation and react accordingly. Tax schemes and regulatory issues are unfortunately what tends to lead to differences between nations. Climate, geography, and other things are still a factor, but tend to get overwhelmed by government.

        • 0 avatar
          greaseyknight

          Downtime for repairs also has to be figured in, and its more of an unknown then a fuel costs. An hour or two of lost work can be very costly, and will offset a great deal of fuel costs. Money’s not coming in, and the employee still has be paid. My Dad drove Ford and Chevy service vans for years, and the only unscheduled breakdown that I can remember was a broken serp belt. Vans where always leased, and turned in at about 100k.

          • 0 avatar
            mikeg216

            And this is why the giant Thunder lizards of white vans continue on when their tiny little lizard replacements skitter about. You can count on 250,000 miles of service with no unscheduled maintenance stops.

  • avatar
    Roader

    “I can’t help but to think on the American lifestyle and its consequences. Everything seems so big and can be done and had so cheaply.”

    Vehicles in the US are bigger and less expensive because they’re not taxed by displacement as they are in most of the rest of the world including, I assume, Brazil.

    “Or, alternatively, it could just be that the rest of the world is just too poor and unable to enjoy the finer things in life.”

    This. US per-capita GDP (PPP) is over three times Brazil’s. But not the entire rest of the world; nine countries are have higher per-capita GDP than the US: Qatar, Luxembourg, Singapore, Brunei, Kuwait, Norway, United Arab Emirates, San Marino, and Switzerland.

    • 0 avatar
      DenverMike

      You’d think OZ would top the list of richest nations, listening to BAFO and his s!dekick. $60,000+ midsize pickups and whatnot. Seems like the Aussies are the most full o’ $H!T per-capita.

      • 0 avatar
        Roader

        Australians are rich @ #14 in per-capita GDP. Here’s the whole list:

        https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_countries_by_GDP_(PPP)_per_capita

        But income equality is pretty important too, measured by the GINI coefficient:

        https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_countries_by_income_equality

        The US is both a bit richer and bit less egalitarian than Australia. In those two very developed countries, the risk/reward continuum kicks in: economically, the US is slightly more risky and slightly more rewarding.

        • 0 avatar
          Big Al from Oz

          @Roader,
          Thanks for you comment.

          From what I’ve read Australians have the largest median wealth. Our income can only be measured against tradable goods.

          I do travel to the US quite often, twice a year minimum and I do see the prices. The US is cheaper for consumer goods, but not as much as one would have thought. I do think after seeing how my family live in NJ it is around 20% cheaper in the US.

          But our average wage is around $75k per annum. So our income would be like living on USD $60k.

          I do know a comparison between very similarly blinged Colorado’s has our Colorado at about $1000k more than the US in USD. But ours has a 2.8 diesel and the US has the V6. That is the current Colorado.

          Looking at the supermarket items like imported cheeses, deli goods are very similar for the same products. Meat is around 80% of what we pay. My mother can get Australian beef cheaper in the US than I can in Australia.

          Then there are things like insurances. I pay roughly the same as my mother for her Focus for 2 rental properties and my pickup.

          Then we don’t have medical costs like you guys. Then we average around $1500 for land tax.

          So, at the end of the day I do think we have exceptionally similar standards of living. The only difference is we don’t have the working poor like you guys do as our minimum wage is $15 USD per hour, which equates to less disparity.

          Our levels of taxation as a product of GDP sits between the US and the Canadians as well.

          Gasoline, even though it seems expensive by US standards is much cheaper than what the Canadians are paying as a percentage of income. The last time I had a look the US for a gallon was 2.4%, Australia 2.8% and Canada 3.6%.

          So you can see why we like V8s, pickups/SUVs and performance cars as well.

          • 0 avatar
            Roader

            Yes, Australia and Canada are very similar: both are very, very white.

            It’s easy to get along when everyone looks, talks, and thinks just like you. Other examples are Japan, 99% ethnic Japanese; China, 98% ethnic Han; all of the Scandinavian countries are in the 95+% white range.

            The US and Brazil are similar in that both are very racially diverse and big. And both are about the same age liberated from their colonizing parent countries. The difference is how they developed politically. The US was sick of tyrannical monarchs and adopted a representative republican form of government right away, whereas Brazil adopted an internal monarchy, not adopting a republican form of government until 100 years after the US.

          • 0 avatar
            mikeg216

            But how much does your house cost compared to the United States and what’s your heating and cooling and electricity cost?

          • 0 avatar
            grinchsmate

            Roader

            25% of Australians were born overseas, 50% have at least one parent born overseas, 20% speak a language other than English at home. I don’t know how that compares to the US or Canada but it is hardly a homogeneous culture.

      • 0 avatar
        mikeg216

        Sure in Oz you can make $25 an hour working in a grocery store, but when a house costs $400,000 and a full size truck costs $85,000 it’s all relative. Plus their beer us atrocious and outside of a few cities their cuisine is abominable. I’ll keep my $85,000 house and $35,000 truck and my $65,000 a year job thanks.

        • 0 avatar
          Big Al from Oz

          @mikeg216
          So you get $65 for working in a grocery store? Our grocery store workers don’t get that.

          If you don’t work in a grocery store then your comment is pretty much null and void as you didn’t prove a point.

          Can your grocery store worker only work one job and survive? I do know that most supermarket, Wawa workers, etc are on less than $10 an hour. If you are comfortable with that then so be it. It is a selfish view of others. Maybe that attitude is why the US is going up in smoke at the moment.

          Why would you want a full size when a midsize can do the job? Our midsizers have a larger payload and generally have a much larger bed than you guys operate. You can buy a full size if you want. This sort of goes back to what Marcelo was discussing. What is required and what is a want.

          For heavy work we don’t use pickups as they are not durable enough. We use trucks.

          US pickups are used as toys here. Why would you even cons!der an HD when it is only allowed to tow around 10 000lbs?

          It cheaper to buy a proper truck and a small pickup rather than a expensive HD, then an expensive trailer to do a job. Then you have a vehicle that’s ridiculously long. Nope, I do think we have nutted out how and what a pickup is. It’s a very light duty truck to carry no more than 3 000lbs and generally tow 4 500lbs. Even one of your full size trucks will feel the effects of 4 500lbs.

          I think the average price paid for a pickup here is around $40k, the same as the US.

          The cost of housing is quite high. But for me that’s great. Unlike the US we didn’t have the ass fall out of our property market so your housing costs are heavily influenced by this bursting bubble.

          Heating? What’s that? Aircon yes. Our energy prices have risen a bit over since the GFC. This was due to a renewal of the power grid as it’s getting old.

          You guys will need to do the same in the US soon along with your roads. Then you’ll have to either have a user pays system like us or like you guys are good at whine to the government to fix everything up.

          • 0 avatar
            DenverMike

            @BAFO – Your midsizers aren’t any different than ours, except your regulations, or lack thereof, allow them to run about 2X the payload, than the US (SAE corrected).

            You actually have US fullsize HD pickups, but they’re crazy expensive. New or used. Ludicrous prices, for obvious reasons.

            We have a choice of using fullsize pickups, 1/2 tons, 3/4 ton+, up to F-450 pickups, and F-550 (pickup bed conversions), when midsize are not enough. Cheaply bought, new or used. Were not bound to either midsize or heavy commercial trucks. Hacked up van conversion flatbeds are not exactly our cup of tea. Yuck!

            The key word there would be CHOICE!

          • 0 avatar
            Vulpine

            Key word there, Denver. CHOICE. As in we don’t have any here in the US. It’s either BIG, or BIGGER. As you and so many others have declared, the Frontier and Tacoma simply haven’t been suitably updated in over 7 years. Some of us don’t want Japanese but are forced to go that way because there’s no CHOICE. Some of us want to have a more compact truck than even those, but we have no CHOICE. At least in Oz they have CHOICE.

          • 0 avatar
            DenverMike

            @Vulpine – You may be shocked to find OZ midsize pickups aren’t any smaller than ours. They’re the same trucks in some cases. You would be upset if you were in OZ too!

            You can’t please everyone, and you’re just the odd man out. But man, go back to the ’80s where you belong. I’m a big fan of all thing ’80s too, especially when speaking of Fox Mustangs (’79 to ’04 actually). But when it comes to fullsize pickups, I don’t want to go back. Right here is just perfect. Get over it.

            What ever you’re preaching, OEMs aren’t listening. They know you’re one of few, and would probably wait to find a good used one anyways. Good luck on your little crusade though!

          • 0 avatar
            Vulpine

            Actually, Denver, the OEMs ARE listening. If they weren’t, why would GM have released the Colorado/Canyon? Why would Ford be testing the ‘global’ Ranger? Why would they and others be testing much SMALLER trucks in some areas of the US?

            There’s a reason pickup trucks got so large and it was to dodge corporate fines on those trucks due to CAFE regulation. With the new regulation effectively eliminating that loophole and others, they’re having to look for other ways to stay within legal limits. A true small truck line would go a long way towards staying legal.

          • 0 avatar
            DenverMike

            OEMs are listening, but they’re not listening to YOU! They’re laughing their A$$ off if they do!!!

            And there’s absolutely nothing stopping Toyota or Nissan from building you the smaller (than) midsize, you’re looking for. Regular cab, whatever.

            Except they have something called brains… Not enough want what you want. They P!SS away more CAFE credits to MORE than offset any fines.

            Get it? Your specific (used truck) needs are irrelevant!

    • 0 avatar
      dal20402

      And of those countries with higher per capita GDP than the US. only the Middle Eastern ones use giant V8 vans for commercial activity. They only make sense if local fuel prices are very low, as ours are in the US.

      • 0 avatar
        DenverMike

        It depends. Most commercial outfits eventually figure out what leaves them the most profits. Figure a big van means less trips for supplies, tools, etc. Less time on the road means more productivity. And running max payload all the time means more downtime. That expense is two-fold.

        • 0 avatar
          Lou_BC

          You do hit a point of diminishing returns. A vehicle can be too big for a job just like a vehicle can be too small. To use your logic parts companies should be using 1 ton cube vans to deliver parts. Virtually all of the parts companies that service auto repair use econobox cars in my town. The local Ford dealer went from Rangers to F150’s to Transit Connect’s. Heavy industry used 1 ton or larger flatdeck trucks with Hiabs for obvious reasons.

          The risk of having a large vehicle with a ton of gear is that it becomes a higher crime risk. I’d be less likely to steal a trucklet with a few tools and windows as opposed to a cargo van with a weeks supply.

          Electrical and HVAC companies tend to use vans since it gives them a secure place for all of the little parts.

          1/2 ton pickups are actually too small for heavy industry. Even 3/4 – 1 ton pickups have their limits.

          • 0 avatar
            DenverMike

            Vans work better for some, but every company has to figure it out for themselves. Some are forced to use pickups, like those delivering chemicals, paints and welding or medical gases. Including exterminators. And those carrying gas powered tools. Landscapers for example.

            Many tasks are just a pain in the A$$ in vans. Some prefer their security, but they also sell a tremendous variety of tonneau covers and camper shells. Some you can walk upright in.

            Pickups are just more versatile, especially for the sole proprietor, who’s work truck (and tax write off) also functions as family car, recreational vehicle, or for a night out on the town.

            The small business is the backbone of the US economy. And it’s part of why luxury trucks are such strong sellers. Luxury panel vans? No so much.

          • 0 avatar
            Vulpine

            As an example where I live, the local NAPA shop uses old Ford Rangers and Chevy HHRs for their deliveries and nothing larger. On the other hand, the landscapers that come through my area all drive crew cab pickups with the bed loaded with hand tools and sometimes mulch while pulling a trailer (some open, some closed) carrying their power tools and mowers. Meanwhile, the local florist uses an HHR instead of a Caravan and several local food-delivery restaurants use anything from Scion Xc, Cube, Soul and even Fiat 500s as their delivery vehicles (skinned as advertising for their respective locations); their tiny size makes them ideal for quick maneuvering in tight places and several are capable of managing a U-turn right in the street without overlapping the curbs. In other words, they buy a vehicle that best meets their needs without worrying about a ‘status symbol’. If there is a status symbol, it’s the fact that their customers see that they’re not paying for gas on top of their food.

        • 0 avatar
          Vulpine

          Now let’s consider this. Let us take a locksmith as an example: Up until recently the vast majority of them used a Econoline-style van because it let them set up a mobile workshop with everything they needed to work at almost any location. However, on occasion they would have to drive 10 miles or more to reach their customer, sometimes in heavy traffic. Even with an inline 6, their fuel mileage isn’t all that great in those heavy beasts and because of all the metal they have to carry their loads aren’t exactly light. Consider also that a workbench gets built in and you have a tight and cramped–but usable–shop on wheels.
          Now comes the Transit Connect. With the high roof, low floor and reasonably large floor, the locksmith can now stand up in his van as he’s picking out the necessary blanks, tools and other needs and can actually sit comfortably at his workbench without feeling cramped–all while getting almost double the fuel mileage (if not better) when enroute to his customer’s location. It’s typically more agile and easier to drive as well. The Transit Connect has become the better choice.

          Certain lawn services companies are doing similarly. Where some (“Chemical Lawn” for example) have been using custom-built cabover trucks to carry their liquids and application tools, in some places I’m seeing them driving Transit Connect-style vans or their larger cousins. Why? Cost. Those custom bodies on cabover chassis cost more than a ready-made cargo van with a low floor that makes loading and unloading easier. And because these new vans have a broader support base in every city, you obtain less expensive service than those custom rigs when they do break down.

          Those custom rigs? Iveco, Fuso, Sterling and others who may at most have one or two shops in a given area while Ford, GM, Chrysler, etc. have multiple shops capable of working on them in every community. And tell me this: How many American General repair shops are you aware of where you live? Did you know AG builds a LOT of the custom delivery vans used by UPS, FedEx, USPS and others? Yet if you’re lucky, you might find ONE shop within 100 miles of where you’re sitting right now.

          You’re right that each business needs to make its own decision, but there is no ONE right decision for all businesses. That includes the size of the chosen truck.

  • avatar
    Big Al from Oz

    Hey Marcelo!
    It’s a pity about your glass. Did the insurance payout?

    As for the use of different vehicles. The US is gradually adopting more EU style vehicles, like the Transit, Ducato, etc, and even the little vans like the Connect, etc.

    I really don’t see a huge market in the US for a small FWD pickup yet. It will come.

    Even here in Australia with our $35k USD 4×4 midspec diesel crew cab mid sizer they do more work overall than our US brothers with their full size 1/2 ton trucks. Our utes are generally more customised than the glass repairman’s truck for specialist operation.

    The comment further up regarding the size is so more work can be done is rather short sighted. I do expect that person to be a school kid or something.

    It comes down to money and available infrastructure. Brasil is a growing economy and it doesn’t have the money to purchase the vehicles and support the infrastructure (roads,etc) of the richer OECD economies.

  • avatar
    JaySeis

    Here on the coast of Washingtion (state) it is very very rare to see a jobber with an open pickup. Serious contractors with serious $$$ tools lock them in their 1 ton vans (Ford, Chev, etcetera) for security and weather protection. Not unusual to see them pull a trailer and some use covered trailers for tools as well. Landscape companies are the exception, they’ll usually haul open trailers and leave truck beds uncovered.

    • 0 avatar
      Dave W

      As a landscaper I’m constantly asked why I don’t have a pickup.

      Because with my station wagon all my tools are protected from the weather, are easier to retrieve then rolling around in the bed of a truck, if I need to bring ladders it’s much easier to get them on and off the roof (5′) then off a bed rack (7’+), and if I need bulk goods like top soil or mulch I hook up a trailer rather then figure out how to remove everything from the bed, get stuff loaded, then get everything to the job site.

      Oh and did I mention operating and insurance costs, And as a viable 2nd car during the winter? An unloaded 2WD PU is not an option on snowy streets, and a 4X4 PU, to me, is not economically viable other then being used as a load hauler.

  • avatar
    Dave W

    Marcelo, I agree many people and companies make the mistake of over sizing their rides, work or home. For total cost accounting it does make more sense for some businesses to go with a larger vehicle then seems logical. What is a problem is when people or businesses just get the “safe” choice that everyone else is making. See my above rant about why I’m a landscaper without a truck.

    I was early on exposed to the idea about chainsaw bar length and safe working practices “If it’s never too short, it’s always too long.” Seems a sound basis to make lots of choices. Funny how often if you get the choice that fills 85% of your proposed needs you find out how much you overestimated your actual needs.

    • 0 avatar

      Exactly Dave, thank you for your comments. You reflect pretty much what I said in the article. People should really decide for themselves and investigate what works in their particular circumstances. The “safe” choice usually ends up being the “wrong” choice in many situations.

  • avatar
    Maymar

    Marcelo, I have spent more than enough time behind the wheel of a GMC Savana that I feel qualified to say it (and the E250) don’t even remotely qualify as the finer things in life. Cheap interiors, vague handling, poor visibility, great engines though, if you’ve got a company gas card to keep the tank filled.

    I mean, they’ve got a place, although it was overkill for what I used it for (usually no more than what would fit on an industrial push cart). But then apparently they’d be filtered off to other departments that needed the space after we were done with them.

  • avatar
    infinitime

    Sorry to hear about the Sandero… but a good read about the workaday trucklet.

    I just came back from several weeks in southern China, and saw similar duties being performed by various types of “WuLing” ultra-minivans. Another fine GM product that is sold abroad, but not in North America.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wuling_Hongtu

    Most of the mills powering these are either 1.0L or 1.2L in displacement, though there is the top-of-the-line version with the 1.3L engine (Oh the opulence!).

  • avatar

    I feel the author’s pain. Back in my college days, one summer someone decided to kick in the front and rear windows of the ’87 Chrysler LeBaron I drove while parked in front of my parent’s suburban NJ house.

    That car was eventually replaced with a PT Cruiser. A month after I got it, someone stole all 4 wheels and tires off it while it was parked in the parking lot of my off-campus apartment in Baltimore

    A year or two later, it sustained some minor bumper damage after a hit-and-run driver plowed into the Accord parked behind me on a street near work, pushing it into my car.

  • avatar
    grinchsmate

    I’m a glazier too, although new houses not automotive.

    My current set up is a 2WD hilux on petrol which is a replacement for a 4WD diesel hilux. The 4WD was handy for driving on sandy building sites but I wanted a new car and the lower 2WD is that much easier to load. One thing I would like to ask is why Americans never seem to use trays rather than well bodies. Wells seem to have all the disadvantages of a van, no side access, smaller cargo area, more paint to scratch, while as far as I can see having no advantages.

    Also I would like to know how glaziers transport windows there. I have an A-frame up the middle of the ute with glass and sashes strapped to the outsides and doors on the inside. I can fit two large 4×2 houses, between six and eight hours work, on the tray.

    • 0 avatar
      Vulpine

      The answer to that, grinchsmate, is that the typical American is lazy and unwilling to tie down their load. They’d rather just throw it in the back and drive away, letting it slip-slide around as they make their way to their destination.

      As for American glaziers, you’ll commonly see them driving a chassis-cab, usually a pickup front end with a custom-built glazing frame to support and ‘secure’ the glass panes used in housing and office buildings. Automotive glaziers typically (but not always) use some form of van to store the glass out of the weather and some of them now have a ‘robot arm’ to help them guide the glass into place so that one person can do the job of two.

      • 0 avatar
        grinchsmate

        I really dont think Americans are lazier and having a tray doesnt mean you cant have sides so I think your first point is bullshit. I know well bodies are prettier which in West Australia makes them a great distinguisher between work utes and family vehicles but from my experience even work utes use them in the US. To be fair only a small proportion of Smerican trucks here run trays but that is because most of them are toys or tow vehicles.

        As for the glazing, I took this job a week after I got back from holidaying in the US and I now regret not looking at the window systems used there. I do know the kind of racks you need varies greatly depending on the type of glass you install. The shower screen and mirror guys all use vans because their stuff is more expensive so transport damage is a bigger deal, they also handle much less volume than I do so loading isnt a problem. The commercial guys dont deal in sashes so their racks are different again. The automotive stuff is very similar to the picture at the top although inexplicably they all drive Mitsu Tritons.

    • 0 avatar

      with bigger trucks. Rangers do this kind of job here too. If that is not enough, I’m sure a large van will be used. There are accessories that extend beds of small trucks though. Size doesn’t really matter that much, unless really big, then van.

  • avatar
    Roader

    “Yes finer was written there, quite intentionally, with heavy undertones of sarcasm. Exactly how those vans can qualify as fine is beyond me.”

    That green outfit makes you look fat, Marcelo.

    The whole size thing can be explained by one thing: money. The average American makes an outstanding amount of money. Vehicle cost-of-ownership is really, really low in the US when gas/taxes/insurance are included. No amount of moralizing can get around the fact that Americans generally buy bigger cars because they can afford to.

    • 0 avatar

      Roader, one suit I do not wear is the green one. I could care less the amount of sh”” one chooses to spout into the atmosphere. The earth, I believe, is barely bothered by our activities, and life will go on no matter what, in what shape or form I don’t know and the planet hardly cares.

      The thing is, the difference between a Fusion and a Fiesta is hardly what some would have you believe. Compare that to similar offerings from 20 years ago, the differences are clear.

      Money is finite, though you create it. If you overspend it’s gone. Much faster than the Amazon forest goes. The US got lucky with the tech bubble providing over 3% of growth over years. As that spends itself, where will the next bubble come from? One that’ll guarantee growth over 3 %, The US is maturing, will start to look more like Europe than ever before (in other words will grow less than 3%). When that happens, suddenly the things you can buy will get smaller.

      In other words, the age of American exceptionalism is closing. And that is sad. I’d rather have a US led world than a China led world.

      • 0 avatar
        Vulpine

        “The earth, I believe, is barely bothered by our activities, and life will go on no matter what, in what shape or form I don’t know and the planet hardly cares.”

        That is very true. The planet doesn’t care if we kill ourselves off or not, after all, there are a lot of other life-forms on this world that can survive the worst we can do. But can WE?

      • 0 avatar
        Roader

        Marcelo, the green referred to envy, not environmentalism. I’ve traveled the globe quite a few times over and can’t remember the number of times I’ve been lectured about how wasteful Americans are: our houses are too big, our cars are too big, we eat too much, etc. etc., etc. Underlying this sanctimonious crap is envy. Europeans mostly but the big, (to use an old fashioned term) “second world” countries’ educated types like to tear down the US because, frankly, they bought into the social democracy propaganda and they’re frustrated that they remain poorer than the average American.

        Your “money is finite” comment bears this out; such thinking has made a comeback thanks to Thomas Piketty but in reality it’s an old idea straight out of The Communist Manifesto. In a free market economy the economic pie isn’t fixed such that one person’s gain is another’s loss. But when you start closing economies down, protecting domestic industries at the expense of imports, then you end up with, in Brazil’s case, cars and trucks that cost twice as much as they do in the US. The domestic car manufactures make out like bandits with margins two or three times US domestic manufactures’. I’m sure a good chunk of that profit goes into politicians’ pockets to keep the imports out.

        But make no mistake, it hurts consumers badly. Relatively few people can buy cars and those who can buy the cheapest, smallest cars available because that’s all they can afford. Your choice/your country/your politics, but don’t try to turn Brazilians’ being forced to buy tiny cars into a virtue and denigrate Americans because we’ve got the money and the free markets to buy big. The million or more Brazilians who immigrated to the US since the 1980s, being better educated and quickly achieving the higher paid jobs, from my experience tend to buy big. The few that I’m acquainted with strap their kids and grandkids into Honda Odysseys and Chevy Suburbans, not Ford Fiestas.

        Re: the US’s impending demise, I’ll let a famous American respond:

        “The report of my death was an exaggeration”
        Mark Twain, 1987

        • 0 avatar
          Vulpine

          Americans–i.e. United States citizens–have another problem too: monumental conceit. Not all of us, but enough that our country is no longer the ‘darling’ of the civilized world. It’s just a matter of time before it all comes crashing down around our ears as it has nearly every other empire and empire builder over the millennia.

  • avatar
    wstarvingteacher

    I’ve used many pickups and vans over the years including japanese pickups with contractor shells (side windows), one ton chev cube vans, stretch ford vans, and even an impala four door wagon. Everything needed to have a trailer hitch. The need for trucks is so large that the answers to your situation may be anything. What is right for you may be wrong for others. The most productive was the cube van and a hired helper in my truck.

    One thing that always occurs to me when I am listening to the obligatory arguments is that anyone that thinks they have a universal answer is like one of the blind men describing the elephant. If you haven’t heard the joke it will come up if you google it.

    I still think the most universally competent vehicle I had (coupled with a light trailer) was the 2002 Saturn Vue I was cursed with. When it worked it was great but it just kept on breaking. Retired now so not important to me anymore and your arguments are entertaining.

  • avatar
    motormouth

    Next time you’ll not avoid paying the guy R$1 to ‘look after’ your car?!

    :)

  • avatar
    Pch101

    “I foresee a long future for the car-based mini-truck”

    They have regional appeal. In the US, the VW Rabbit pickup (Caddy) was a flop.

  • avatar
    CoreyDL

    I think commonly now you’d see glass/windshield places driving yes the typical Econoline van or a Transit Connect. And I’ve seen the new Transit ____ new version around here too doing work in panel format.

    But I don’t think it would take a week in the US, and the glass fixing would not have inconvenienced your day – the major glass repair places bring the van to you while you’re parked at work.

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