November 29, 2008

Honesty the Best Policy?

Apparently not, in some quarters. My last week's Wheels column peeved off some. I've overstepped my bounds, it seems, in calling it like I own it. With the Big Three taking it in the teeth, I'm not allowed to say I don't like my GM van. You know, the one I pay for. The one I bought because the one I'd owned before it - same van - had been fine.

I say nuts to that. When the American CEOs can fly private jets to Washington to beg, when some of us can seem to conveniently forget that cars we pretend are totally American or Canadian-made aren't (Mexico became so attractive after NAFTA), I'm suddenly flexing my ego by stating I don't like something? Read this piece from Edmunds - it's one of the most concise descriptions of where your cars come from that I've seen.

I've been bitching about stupid oversized SUVs for years. Years. And I've been panning the people who buy them. That's right - I played the chicken and the egg game (if nobody wanted them, nobody would build them. If nobody built them, nobody could buy them), and I chose the egg. Or the chicken. Whatever. Consumers have been stupid, and totally complicit in the downturn of this industry.

But. There were still many manufacturers ahead of the ball, who realized that not all consumers were idiots. They balanced their lines, they poised their positions, they had some vision. Other manufacturers, not so much.

I don't recall any bouquets showing up on my doorstep last summer when I wrote about buying my second '94 Chrysler Intrepid. That's right - the first one was great; a reader read my column about having to finally get rid of it, and I bought a second one from him. And of course, wrote another column about that. Instead, a throwaway line - "I hate my GM van" - pisses people off.

I have always written honestly. I don't see cars as trophies - they're commodities that serve a purpose - getting me from A to B. They cost a great deal of money, I maintain them well, and I expect them to uphold their end of the bargain. When they do, I say so. If they don't, I'll say that too.

Do the Big Three deserve a huge loan? Too many people connected to the industry for the government not to step in. But I've watched many, many good people in other industries lose their jobs in the past twenty years, and I really wonder: who decides where the lifelines land? And shouldn't the saviours - that'd be you and me - get a say in how things move forward?

You vote with your dollars. And sometimes you lose. I won't set foot in a Wal-Mart, but I'm outvoted judging by their bottom line. I do not support ridiculous standards in China for workers and product safety, and I refuse to support a store that is filled to the rafters with the crap. Same for dollar stores. But, I'm seemingly alone in my position. That's okay. As we've finally learned, doing what everyone else is doing doesn't make it right. And even listening to the talking heads of banking institutions, governments and think tanks should always be weighed against common sense. Add to the list CEOs that fly to a meeting in a private jet, holding a tin cup.


Blogger DJW said...

Apparently, the CEO's have heard the masses, and with the support of the UAW, will be carpooling on the next foray to Washington. Or at least traveling in convoy. Lets hope none of the cars breaks down.

GM is selling two (yes two) of their corporate jet fleet.

BTW, my GM product built in Mexico blew a head gasket at 200,000 km's, while my Oakville built Windstar was still going strong at 300,000, never even using a drop of oil.


November 29, 2008 2:49 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

They are mass produced mechanical contraptions and subject to problems. Pretending otherwise does no one any good. Keep being straight forward and don't let the tail wag the dog, ever. As much as I love cars built in the bad old days, I love some of the advancements made such as ABS, elec traction control, paddle shifters and rear wheel turning. Of course, some stuff drives me nuts like acres of plastic, seats and dashboards made of mouse fur and BMW's kooky electronic controls which seems to have the personality of Tom Cruise in Thetan mode. You can't please everyone so don't try to. Just be truthful.

November 29, 2008 5:33 PM  
Blogger OmemeeOzzie said...

What they said... BTW, dear Jeremy really did not like the Infiniti FX50, "reviewed" in yesterday's Wheels, did he? Came across, to me at any rate, as an individual who was really surprised to find that his last bowel movement was indeed a hedgehog! OK, I'll apologize now, but I could not resist. BTW, I do seem to recall that, over the years, he has taken issue with the venerable vehicles he so reveres, Range Rovers by Land Rover. Seems as if he may be attempting the impossible - sucking and blowing simultaneously...

November 30, 2008 10:04 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The Edmunds piece seems to be rife with errors, if the Comments are correct.... Parts are sourced all over the world, always have been. Tires once were made with natural rubber and you know there are no rubber trees in America. For an idea how things are today read this bit of info I found on

Guangdong Hongtu Tech. (Holdings) Co., Ltd. , a Chinese manufacturer of precision aluminium alloy die casting parts, announced last week that it has recently signed a contract with a Canada-based company, Vikeda Industries Inc., to supply auto engine brackets for Chrysler LLC, an American auto-maker, reported Shanghai Securities News today.

The contract is valued at a total of US$27,380,403 and with a valid period of three years from January 1, 2008 to December 31, 2010. The contract value will be paid in three years: $4,256,461.9 in 2008, $11,197,812 in 2009, and $11,926,129.1 in 2010.

Vikeda Industries Inc, a tier-1 supplier designated by Chrysler, sources auto parts from Guangdong Hongtu according to the requirements of Chrysler. Vikeda has cooperated well with Hongtu for two years and has never failed to fulfill any contract terms.

December 02, 2008 9:57 AM  

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