I found this article depressing but after reading it, I really think it says more about the blinders of DC to the rest of the country. Maybe not but it just seems like they see everything according to how it is in DC or on the coasts not realizing there is a whole country outside of their realm. I understand what a hassle it is to have a car in DC or New York but question if that’s the same as in Omaha. As part of the gray crowd anyway, I thought it was reasonably interesting while slanted with the usual WaPo frame of mind. My son though likes driving his BMW. Not working on them but having and driving them, so I have some faith in the future. I do think though that the feds regulations and the lack of fun design is having an impact. I don’t think we’ll see people oohing and ahhing over the cars of the 80’s and 90’s like we do for the cars of the 50’s and 60’s.
Good article, but extremely wordy. IMHO the most concise statement is “it’s the economy, stupid”, even going so far as to connect the decline in new car sales directly to the recession of 2008, which has actually gotten worse rather than better. The article correctly (IMHO) connects automobile sales directly to the economy. Boom times for the industry were the times when prosperity was rampant. If the economy were to turn around dramatically (real recovery, beyond what the politicians’ economists create by cooking the data) than I believe the automotive industry would rebound.
Sadly, I’m not optimistic. I paid about 25% of average gross annual income for my first new car. Now the cost of a new car starts at about 60% of average gross annual income. The money just isn’t there anymore. Rather than seeing people all around me with full time jobs, good annual raises and bonuses, optimism, and security, I’m seeing people all around me losing their full time jobs and having toe replace them with part time jobs, or dropping out of the job market. Companies small enough to be free of the mandate to provide health care are no longer offering group plans, and companies that must offer health insurance are eliminating full time positions in favor of 29 hr/wk positions to avoid the rising costs of health care. The recent act to change the definition of “exempt” in the Fair Labor Standards Act to severely restrict the ability of employers to define management positions as "exempt’ (which means from the wages and overtime provisions) will kill millions of full time positions, which will be replaced with part timers. One employee working 50 hours a week with benefits will be replaced with two employees working 25 hours each… with no benefits whatsoever. Not healthcare, no paid vacation, no bonus, no security, nothing.
Specific automotive companies have made serious blunders, there’s no question, but the truth is that they did no better in terms of integrity during the boom years. But they got away with it and prospered anyway because the economy was so robust for so long. An extended and indefinite recession won’t tolerate bad management nearly as well.
That article is about as accurate as one on federal politics in Car and Driver. The Washington Post is about as out of touch with the automotive world as C&D is to politics.
Wordy for sure, it seems many articles these days are 3 times as long as they should be. But the most concise point I think was between smartphones and cars. The ability to customize and play with, work on and and tweak cars, a passion of my youth is not what it used to be. So the cool toy of the past has been replaced by a smartphone, an equally cool toy. My favorite apps magnifying glass and flashlight, not cutting edge but more than I have done to a car in the last 20 years as far as adding cool fun useful things.
Is this an article or a book?!
I think with the new era of LOL, I am low on patience to read this full article. I agree that the new generation is not that interested in cars, but my sample is N=1 which is my daughter. She would rather sit in the commuter bus with good AC & WiFi and not worry about traffic and parking. But the lack of infrastructure for public transportation in most of the country is still prohibitive. Where I live, getting to work by bus is almost impossible and the only reason my daughter is able to take to bus to college is that we drop her off at the stop.
All the regulations and standards, have made cars safer but also more boring.
Yeah, sorry about the length but that’s kind of par for the course for WaPo, and this guy is one of the head editors. With the group they have now, I don’t think they ever would have caught Nixon but there would have been many nasty articles.
Well,@same,I’m already there,I doubt if my total earnings this year will match the price of a bare bones Versa.The economy is dipping and the dilution of the labor pool,by the masses of cheap immigrant labor,sure has hurt the blue collar set,the legal immigrants(green card) seemingly have advantages,that native born citizens dont posses.Dont worry amerika,parity is coming and its a little less then you are used to.
I knew there was a reason that I never read the Washington Post…other than the obvious.
My dad was teaching in a small state college in 1938 when he bought his first car–a brand new 1938 Chevrolet for just over $600. His salary at the time was $2500. In 1965, I started as an instructor at a state university. My salary was $6000. My dad remarked abouthow much Iwas making compared to his pay back in 1938. However, I couldn’t buy anew car for $1500-25% of my yearly salary. The closest I came was aa slightly used 1965 Rambler Classic 550(bottom of the line) for $1750. I think about my son who is a teacher with 10 years experience and a Master’s degree as both my dad and I had in 1938 and 1965 respectively. My son’s salary is just over $40,000. He can’t buy anything close to aa new car for $10,000–25% of his salary.
My first new car out of college in 1965 was 34% of my salary. My last new car (same basic as my first) while gainfully employed in a salaried position was 20% of my gross salary.
Pogo said best:
“We have met the enemy and he is us”
How many people of all ages crow about the reliability of their cars and trucks first, and maybe nothing else? When you buy a car or truck, how much thought goes into how much fun it is to drive? I see a lot of recommendations for cars that aren’t a hoot to drive, but dowdy, reliable transportation. You get what you ask for. When I buy my next car in a year or two, I guarantee you it will not meet with a lot of approval here.
I mean no offense by this. Everyone is allowed to have their favorite cars and trucks, and for their own reasons. If you want to drive a Corolla, that’s great. I don’t want to, and I believe I won’t have to when I buy my next ride. Again, no offense meant to anyone.
@jtsanders I am in your camp on having a fun car to drive. I have expressed my thoughts already on a funcar–an Austin Healy Sprite or an MG Midget. Neither of these vehicles would be considered reliable even when they were new. I have been thinking about a Mazda Miata–even sold amutual fund to have the money on hand if a good used one would come on the market. However, a French horn. I always wanted is now available. I am trying it out right now. I played it in a,performance last Sunday,and poof!_,there goes my Mazda Miata,plans.
Start saving again,@Triedaq. You may yet have the means and opportunity for your fun car. I had a Corvette on my list. I can get into and out of it now without any problems, but I’m not sure how long that will last. I’ll probably test drive one anyway. I’m more likely to buy an intermediate or midsize luxury sedan. My current must-drives are Cadillac ATS and CTS, Mercedes Benz C300, C400, and E350, Lexus IS350 and GS350, and Audi A-6.
It’s difficult for most men with a young family to afford a fun automobile, even basic reliable transportation can be a financial strain. The income decline for the average worker in this country in the past several decades is troubling. I was 13 in 1962 and had accumulated over $1,000 sacking groceries and mowing yards and bought a 1959 Harley Davidson for $350. Gasoline was 20c/gallon, milk was 19c/quart and minimum wage was $1.25. There seems to be a cultural aversion to paying workers a living wage. No one seems to recognize the overall cost of not paying a livable wage.
Two things going on in this article. Of course young drivers aren’t interested in the cars of their parents’ teen years. Never have been. Used to be that antique (pre-WWII) cars were what collectors collected, that’s what they grew up with. Now it’s moved to '50s, then '60s cars. Younger drivers will not be interested in them.
As for lower car ownership, car sales have been increasing constantly for the last 5 years, from an annual rate of 12 million to over 17 million. So I don’t see a problem there.
What does the younger crowd drive?
Oldest daughter: 2012 Chevrolet Cruze LS, auto trans
Husband: 2012 Volkswagen GTi, manual trans
Middle daughter: 2015 Mazda CX-5 Sport
Her fiancé: 2005 Mercedes Benz C240, auto trans
Youngest daughter: 2010 Cevrolet Cobalt (base), auto trans and power nuthin. ( I own it)
These seem a lot like cars that any of us might have owned as 20-somethings. Except the C240. He got a great deal on it from his boss when she bought a new company car.
Back in the early 1960s, the VW Beetle was the car many young people just getting a start purchased. I seriously considered the VW, but was always taking people, including my parents, different places. The back seat of the VW just didn’t have the room. What the VW did have to offer was a car that gave the appearance of a quality vehicle. The VW was fun to drive as well. IMHO, Chrysler missed the boat with its Neon. The Neon could have been the modern day VW with more attention to detail in its assembly and better marketing. The Toyota Prius might have become the VW’s replacement, but its price is a little too high.The previous generation Honda Civic came close to being the VW replacement, but suddenly it grew larger.
I’ll go off topic now . . .
I advise your middle daughter’s fiancee to get rid of that C240 ASAP
Take it from me . . . those cars are absolute garbage. Problems front to back, top to bottom. Low quality, also. Not built to last. Lots of cheap materials, built to a very low standard. It has some decent creature features, but you’d be better off with a well-optioned Accord or Camry
Sure, the C240 might be more fun to drive, but what good does that do you if the car’s an unreliable POS . . . ?
If he got it dirt cheap, the smartest thing to do is sell now. Maybe he can actually make a little money, or at least break even
Get out, while the gettin’s good
His only complaint so far is that parts are very expensive. He spent over $20 on an oil filter cartridge. He hasn’t complained about repairs.
Weren’t we all supposed to be riding in atomic powered flying cars with dome tops while the tune “Happy Go Lively” played in the back ground by now? It’s 2015 after all!