Basic transportation at an affordable price can be produced

But would the 'chicken little" government allow it? And would the driving public accept it?

Who knows? But it seems that someone is making an effort to build and market such a vehicle.

Of course a basic car with virtually no luxury options can be produced at an affordable price. However, past experiments, like the Studebaker Scotsman and stripped compacts have sold poorly. People preferred a used car with more luxuries on it.

My brother bought a barebones Gremlin after he got out of school. It did not even have a cigarette lighter, I believe. Three speed, power nothing and plain hubcaps. He drove it for 12 years and sold it to a student for $550. Nobody wanted it as a trade-in.

With all the fuel efficiency and emission controls (costing more than the engine itself) , it’s harder than in the past to make a really cheap car for the US. GM could possibly knock $3000 off the basic Sonic by eliminating all unnecessary stuff. That would probably result in an undesirable car, and bomb in the market.

It seems $10,000 would be the cost of such a simple car.

More than likely, the cost of upgrading that vehicle to US emissions and safety standards, plus the cost of transporting it in low numbers to the US, would double the current price. This vehicle is something that might be promising for a third-world country in Africa or S.E. Asia, but it would fail miserably in The US, Canada, or Europe.

The cheapskates and tightwads around here would have you believe that if the carmakers would just make a “basic” car like that, “Why, they’d sell a million of 'em!” No they wouldn’t because no one would buy them except for the few cheapskates.

To put it quite bluntly, it’ll never happen. At least not that thing.

A good example is my sister-in-law’s Hubby, a known tightwad. He bought a bottom of the line car about 10 years ago. No cruise, no A/C, crank down windows. I think it even had rubber floor mats.

After 4 years, his wife, my SIL, had suffered enough and flat refused to ride in or drive it anymore. He tried to trade it in, and not a single dealer wanted it. So he decided to sell it on his own. The second prospective buyers found out no air or cruise? “Nope, sorry, not interested.” After about 9 months of trying, he gave up and parked it until his daughters started driving. Then they were stuck with that piece of junk.

@VDCDriver I agree, the King Midget days are over for the North American market. When Communism fell and the Eastern European market opened, no one wanted the basic cars made there. A flood of used cars form Western Europe got sold there. Locals preferred a 4 year old Volkswagen to a new Trabant, Lada, Moskvitch, Volga, Wartburg or Skoda.

Even the basic Nano made by Tata in India is not selling well there; buyers want them with all the options!

I think a basic no-frills car would sell if priced right. Say a 4 door sedan, 1.6 L 4 banger, 110 HP, 0-60 mph in under 10 seconds, w/electronic fuel injection, manual windows, 2 air bags, manual 5 speed xmission, am/fm radio, AC optional, big enough to hold two adults in the front and 3 kids in the back, and w/Toyota-Honda level reliability and warranty, for what, say $12,500 (w/out AC) cash on the table, I think such a car would sell very well.

I think the problem is that the auto companies are afraid to offer such a car, as they fear it would undercut the sales of their existing models. It will probably take a bold vendor to do it.


Do you really think anybody would buy a new car w/o ac nowadays?

It gets really hot where I live, and ac is an absolute necessity.

People buy lots of things on price. Perhaps the government should make a maker of a cheap car with minimal bumpers, no occupant crash protection, and a polluter of the air put a sticker on the cheap car that buying and driving it is hazardous to your health. People will buy it anyway (cigarettes still sell) and then sue either the government or the manufacture when family members are killed or maimed by the cheap car.

Is the public glad that Pinto’s with weak exploding gas tanks are not on the road anymore? Is it government, or do people want and expect a safe car? As individuals we don’t have much clout with a company like Ford or GM. But collectively as a government we can influence things like safety and clean air - so is that bad?

@GeorgeSanJose The car you describe has been available for the last 10 years. The Hyundai Accent and Kia Rio both sold for about $10,000 stripped, and although they were good cars, they did not set the world on fire with sales.

I’ve rented a Hyundai Accent twice, but each one had Auto and Air. Even if people wanted to rent such a stripped car the rental company would have trouble selling it without auto and air.

I saw a Chevy citation in junkyard last week. Very rare for 30 yr old car to last this long in rust belt. Body was scruffy but solid. Fwd, manual trans, V6 motor, carb. What a blast from the past. Imagine a new version of this hunk? Ugh. No way.

First, if financial institutions were unable to make “upside down” deals and the buyer were required to put 20% down and pay off the balance in 24 months what would be the result on the popularity of models?

Second. federal safety standards are a bureaucratic farce. They make grand slam proclamations that appear to hold the manufacturers to some “public safety” standard on all manner of design details while turning a blind eye to motorcycles and school buses.

If a school bus full of unbelted kids is safe how can a car with belts but no air bags be un-safe? And if a Honda Goldwing is safe for me to drive from Portland Maine to Portland Oregon why is a Mobius One unsafe?

NHSTA requires 2 1/2 MPH bumpers, airbags, low tire pressure warning, ABS, stability control, emission control and a host of regs on wipers, brakes, tires, and ect. that must be in every car sold in the US. That defines a base price over $10K right there. Add the minimum features required by the American buyer, automatic trans ('cause most can’t drive a stick!) and air conditioning and you are right there at $12-13 thou.

Automakers have tried this again and again and wished they hadn’t; Yugo, Gremlin, Vega, Escort, Chevette, Pinto, and a fitstful of Japanerse and Korean makers. They offered stripper versions of these cars that no one bought because they “only” add $25 to the monthly payment. Market surveys have lied to them for years. People SAY they want a stripper car but won’t actually BUY it when offered!

But look where the “it’s only $25 a month more” logic has taken us, @M-M. A significant part of the financial crisis that we continue to endure is the result of self indulgence using credit card debt and home equity. When a family living pay check to pay check considers they can afford a $3000 vacation because it will only cost them $60 more per month on their minimum credit card payment and when their car needs new tires 6 year financing on a new car looks “cheaper” than the tires the long term result nation wide is what we see today. “What a revolting development.”

Henry Ford did provide basic transportation with the Model T. In fact, he kept lowering the price. Model T Fords were painted black because black paint dries more quickly and the assembly line could move faster. He even saved the wood remains from making the bodies and converted them to charcoal. Even today there are a few diehards like me who use a charcoal grill instead of a gas grill. However, with all his cost cutting, the buying public wanted something more. Henry Ford closed the plant for 9 months and came out with the Model A.
Studebaker went the basic transportation route with its Scotsman model. The Scotsman hit the market during the “Eisenhower” recession of 1957. The car did slow down the flow of red ink at Studebaker, but it wasn’t a great seller.
If you look at the Chevrolet, Ford, and Plymouth during the 1950s, the low level trim lines that provided basic transportation didn’t sell nearly the volume that the higher trim levels sold. I think most people wanted armrests on the doors and a right hand sun visor.

It’s already too late. The federal government already requires all cars sold here to be equipped with tire pressure monitors, stability control (and thereby ABS), more safety equipment than you could need in 5 crashes, and to meet emissions standards.

The public here takes for granted luxuries like A/C and heat, connectivity, power steering, etc. All these things add substantially to the price of a car.

This company is making an effort to build affordable practical cars for sale and use in Africa, a far different market than we have here.

There are many facets to compare in the automobile market of the late 50s and early 60s @Triedaq. The Scotsman was doing relatively well and the Lark was picking up a significant part of the market when Ford brought in the Falcon and GM introduced both the Nova and Corvair while MoPar brought in the Valiant. All those downsized and significantly more basic models were priced down with the Scotsman and Lark while Studebaker was struggling with the UAW. The Falcon, Nova and Valiant had great sales numbers but look what happened to them.

@Rod Knox–I once owned a Ford Maverick. It was very reliable, had low upkeep, got relatively good mileage for its day, and would start at 20 below zero when many other vehicles wouldn’t fire up. I was on the road quite a bit and the Maverick rode like a wheel barrow. When I found that I was spending more on Preparation-H than upkeep on the Maverick, it was time for a more upscale car.

I think the problem is, there ARE plenty of cheapskates out there who would be interested in a simple, stripped model…but, being cheapskates, they want SOMEBODY ELSE to take the depreciation hit by buying new, and pick it up 3-5 y.o.

The number of buyers of NEW cars, that want strippped versions, is fairly small.

P.S. I had luck getting a stripped Contour (4 cyl, MT, no air or tape deck)…originally bought as a “fleet” vehicle. Now THERE’S where a bare-bones car makes sense.

Who wants to live under a “chicken little” government, anyway? Who needs child safety seats? Just throw the rug rats in the back of a pickup truck and go. Who needs clean air and clean water? I once lapped muddy water from a hoof print, and I was glad to have it.

Anything can be pushed beyond reasonable limits, @Whitey. In the name of safety do you support a national speed limit of 45 mph? Doing so would save thousands of lives.

And if you pour muddy water through a sock and toss in a halizone tablet and some kool-aid it’s almost palatable.