Monday, September 19, 2005
Choice of Car Manufacturer screwed up by American Sensibilities (the lack thereof)
We used to host french cars and italian cars amongst other (usually asian) car companies back then. Companies like Renault, Peugeot and Citroen. Companies like Alfa Romea and Lancia. GM and Ford used to sell their European cars here such as Opels and English/German Fords. (though they bunged that one up themselves by changing the drivetrains from what the original cars had to mismatched American junk)
Some of it was due to poor choices in cars to import, some had to do with lesser quality as well as an insufficient amount of quality dealerships. Most of it had to do ultimately with Americans themselves.
Americans don't take care of their possesions. In Europe, you take care of your car, basic maintenance is all I'm talking about here, checking your oil, keeping it clean, and not putting in cheap petrol, oil and/or coolant which saves pennies, but ultimately leads to the demise of a vehicle worth thousands and on up.
In my lifetime, we have lost from our shores:
Opel, European Ford, Alfa Romeo, Peugeot, Citroen, Renault, Rover (as Sterling), MG, Mini (Pre-BMW), Lancia, Daihatsu, and I'm sure others. Some of these cars were not the best choice to come here, but overall, ALL of the above companies existed as of a year ago (Rover is at its end as far as I can tell) in the rest of the world.
These companies still have a sense of value and taste, and because they don't build the completely unnecessary wastes of metal and resources known as SUV's, they don't have much of a chance here.
Some may say that they didn't sell large family sedans here, and that isn't the case. American's (as mentioned in a previous post) have been conditioned to think that a Family sedan needs to be the size of a Chevy Impala, Ford Crown Victoria or a Chyrsler LHS. The other companies were selling Family Sized cars here. Amongst them: The Alfa Romeo 164, Almost any Citroen sold here, every Peugeot sold here, some of the Renaults (which eventually were build by Eagle, American, and no longer functioning as a company thanks to Chrysler). We used to get Ford Sierras (as Merkurs), and Opels (via Buick). All capable of hauling the family around, let alone provided great driving experiences while exhibiting (in most cases) decent if not great fuel economy figures.
We, thanks to our twisted views about how the world should be (instead of conforming to the reasonable views shared amongst the mature European, Australian and Asian peoples in general) brought it upon ourselves. Thanks to those companies pulling out, we might never get to enjoy some of the very wonderful cars on sale now as close as Canada and Mexico from Manufacturers such as Seat (from Spain), Lancia (Italy), Alfa Romeo (Italy), Peugeot (France), Citroen (France), Renault (France), MG (England), Proton (Maylasia), Daihatsu (Japan), Fiat (Italy), Ford Europe, Opel (GM Europe), Vauxhall (GM UK), Holden (GM Australia (other than the Monaro (Pontiac GTO))), etc. amongst others.
How embarrassing it can be to be associated with such stupidity in my own country. Maybe one day when the country gets aquired and we're on the Euro, Pound Sterling, Yen or Yuan, other countries will come back to the United States and people will see what they've been missing.
American buyers didn't like the low quality of some of the Euro brands that you mention so lovingly. It was poor fit and finish and lack of safety ane emissions qualifications that drove some of them from these shors. The Europeans are only recently matching our emission standards. And as for Alfa and Fiat, they just didn't hold up. I had a professor in college, that loved them, but she eventually bought a Ford, because her "relationship" with her Lancia service department was bankrupting her.
It's nice to nostalgic for the days when these cars were offered in the US. But it's not realistic to blame the American consumer and label all of us idiots. The facts don't support your opinion. Some of these marques are returning to the US market in the near future, most notably Renault, but only because now that Euro standards for safety and emissions have come more in line with US standards.
Also for the record, Europeans don't drive the milage that Americans do. Fact, written about by several European journalists, including the editor for Motor Trend Ian McKenzie
Now would be a good time to reintroduce a lot of these cars again, the times have changed, and there's a whole new generation who wouldn't have the bad taste in their mouth from the Feugo and Le Car, which might consdier a Clio or Twingo (think Scion crowd).. Hey, it's a start.
I'm well aware that mileage driven isn't (as a whole) the same as Americans drive. Lets face it, our country is massive in comparison. Take the Nederlands for example. It's only twice the size of New Jersey, and it's a whole country. I'm well aware. When you build developments of houses that require a car just to get out to the main road, that screams of poor planning. We're just not that good at laying out cities or public transportation system here, a trip to most Western European cities make that quite apparent. However there are some developers that are looking to change there, and that'd be great. The home I recently purchased is in a place where I am able to walk to the store, restaurants and public transit. Unfortunately, where I work (also in the suburbs), requires a 24 mile drive.. Thankfully, they are all B roads, so at least it is enjoyable.
Again, please see my previous post on stirring emotion to snap people out of their complacency and/or uncaring comatose-like states of concern. Obviously not everyone is an idiot, nor are those individuals who happen to actively disagree idiots. The comments is mainly aimed at people who have become so oblivious to all around that they blindly keep up with the Joneses (or try) without contemplating whether it is good for self, community, country and world. Basically, they're going through the motions but might as well be sleep walking. It's like the wheel's a turnin, but the hampster's dead.
Thanks for your comments, as always.