More Cars – rambling on…

02005-01-22 | Uncategorized | 10 comments

OK, allow me to have a second go at this. I think the first one sounded a little bit soapbox-ish. I was in a hurry. Saturdays are busy days chez moi, plus we had to have a rehearsal, because Woodsongs would like each of the three songs we are to play on Monday to be no longer than 3.5 minutes – that’s 3 1/2 for the Americans…

Well, the question is not just how often you’d need to rent a bigger car, but over what intervals. Now, I guess it depends, from person to person–hey, I can’t even drive yet, so I don’t know much about this, lol. But some people have families that can’t fit in those tiny (and really cool-looking) cars, and some people might need a bigger car one or two days every week, in which case renting might become a bit of a hassle.

I think you made a good point, Adam. Obviously a Tango is not for everyone. But it is great for a single person or an excellent second car – I have two friends who each have an SUV and a Porsche 911…

I think the point I was most trying to make is that we often buy cars, and believe me so have I… cough cough Mercedes Geländewagen (I had one from 1992-1995) cough cough… well, I bought it used, OK? …where was I? Oh yes, we buy cars in order to fulfill some sort of ego transfer – I am cool if I have a cool car, because that’s what all of the advertising tells us.

The car is an American dream. Even though the 4 stroke engine was invented by the German Nicolaus Otto – there is a statue to him in front of the railway station of Köln-Deutz, where I grew up – and the car was invented independently by the gentlemen Daimler and Benz – one built a three wheeled car and the other a four-wheeled vehicle and together they much later built the Mercedes for a Spanish industrialist… the car really became the full-blown crack drug in these endless states of the west, where no other mode of transportation quite as much meant independence, yes? And now L.A. is all about cars, but that’s because mass transit was sold out to Detroit by the politicians – and that’s another story.

Well, somehow my parents made do with two boys and a little VW Beetle… ands then the 12M, a Ford built in Cologne, Germany. We really thought we were in the lap of luxury when my dad bought a used Audi 80…

Obviously a contractor or carpenter or drummer will need something bigger than the Tango. But, most of the vehicles I see on the road are only carrying one person – most of the time. Check out commuting hours around L.A. or any other car-dependend city – it’ll amaze you.

Fact is that Americans love their cars and cars have become their surrogate bodies. You’ll see a really out-of-shape guy climb out of a Corvette and think he is the coolest… meaning some kind of transfer happens, where the car becomes us and as long as the car is cool, we don’t have to eat right, or go to the gym… we don’t have to be strong, as long as we are sitting in a Hummer. Dig?

If a person is afraid of traffic, s/he’ll buy a giant SUV to feel safer (which is not true if you check out facts about their safety record) – instead of taking an evasive driving course. The driving course will make you more confident and a better driver and will save you money.

As far as the environment goes, a lot of people are thinking the hydrogen fuel cell is going to save us in a couple years – and along with that I think there’s the conception that fuel cell cars will be the same size and horsepower as most current cars. I’m not sure about all that, I haven’t really researched it, that’s just what I’ve heard other people say. But like you said in an earlier post “baby steps”.

Anyway, I just think a little pocketbook incentive could go a long way in promoting efficient cars.

You are making two very good points. Yes, there should be an fiscal incentive – although I believe that is unlikely to happen anytime soon since too many jobs, read votes, are tied up by GM and Chrysler and Ford etc… And yes, we need to start getting used to less powerful cars again. The incredible inflation of horse power over the last few years is ridiculous. Some of the sport-cars twenty years ago had less horse power than many regular sedans have these days. Oh, and check out this find by Carol:

DaimlerChrysler AG has no qualms about ignoring female tastes – at least when it comes to selling Dodge cars. The new Dodge Magnum sport wagon and a soon-to-be-released Dodge Charger, a modern update of the classic muscle car from the 1960s, are very much targeted at a male audience, said Trevor Creed, design chief at the company’s U.S.-based Chrysler unit.

“It does scream male, there’s no doubt about that. We found that in our market research and focus groups,” he said at an automotive conference in the Detroit suburb of Dearborn.

What does that say about us men? I think it says two things:

1. Economical and efficient, earth-friendly cars need to look and feel sexier.
2. Guys have to get with the program and be a little less superficial.

10 Comments

  1. salma

    Ottmar is so right about his observation about larger vehicles being driven not on bases of need but more as status or prestige symbols, and also on the theory of ‘bigger is better’.
    Unfortunately majority of the population is not yet ready for the switch over to smaller, fuel efficient cars. Financial incentives may be attractive to many, as not everyone is dedicated enough to make sacrifices for the environmental cause only, as Ottmar has done.
    While visiting Europe 2 years ago I was pleasantly surprised to see quite a large percentage of smaller cars.
    Being a proud owner of an enviro friendly Prius the most annoying thing I have noticed about general driving habits of other aggressive drivers is that, even while I drive between 65-70 mph I am constantly harassed by larger vehicles who are either tailgating me or honking rudely though I usually drive in the slow lane.
    I wonder if other small car owners including Ottmar, had problems like these, and if there is a solution to it?
    I think renting a larger vehicle when needed is perfectly fine.
    The following story is about the vanishing islands of Tuvalu, which is another example of global warming effects.
    http://story.news.yahoo.com/news?tmpl=story&cid=570&e=9&u=/nm/20050114/sc_nm/environment_tuvalu_dc

    Reply
  2. Adam Solomon

    This post has been removed by the author.

    Reply
  3. Victor

    “Fact is that Americans love their cars and cars have become their surrogate bodies.”

    Ain’t that the truth! An interesting addition to that comment is that a car in a dream is supposed to be symbolic of the ego. Some coincidence eh?

    Well, since I brought up financial incentives and hydrogen cells I figured I should at least see if a little casual internet search could shed some light… Seems there are plenty of loan companies that will finance you for an efficient car – but it’s pretty conventional. The problem for most people is that the car sale is so often sealed on monthly payment. So, you might say find a pretty good deal on a Prius, but if the dealer has more incentive to move Camrys then… I dunno, maybe if the Smart Car guys and the Tango guys get some sexy advertising going!

    As for the hydrogen fuel cell… Seems there’s more bad news than good about that being in the near future. Here’s a good recent article from Popular Science: http://www.popsci.com/popsci/generaltech/article/0,20967,927469,00.html Well, I’m no chemist, but it looks like an uphill battle.

    Truth is the world has inertia (I mean concepts an attitudes). Easier to change the motion in small increments – a finesse move vs. a power move. Maybe start a new image campaign: “Smaller is sexy!” (Hmmmm, I might have to work on that…)

    Reply
  4. djalisgypsy

    I have two vehicles I use. I have my suv I use when I travel with my 3 children and 80 lb dog. It’s a Lincoln Navigator, it’s very comfortable when we go up to the mountains to ski or snowboard, when we are in Maine at camp to bring the surfboards to the beach and our camp neighbors, and we recently went to Montreal for New Years and took two extra people, it seats 7. However, for my daily commute to work, I drive a $500 toyota corolla I purchased from a charity for animals. This is the second one I have purchased. I use this to commute to my camp, to run errands for everything that I either do alone or sometimes when just the children are with me. People may look at me differently when I am driving the toyota, it’s not as pretty as the shiny black Navigator. It’s amazing how you can be judged by the vehicle you drive. What I put into the gas tank of the toyota for 1 month is what I put into the Lincoln for 1 week. When my coworkers see me occasionally drive the Lincoln, they ask me if they can come out to lunch with me lolol! But, I am on my own when I have the toyota. It’s a good thing I like to be alone at lunch and I am alright with driving the ugly looking beat up toyota lol!

    Reply
  5. Ottmar

    1. That’s a great solution you came up with.
    2. Your story illustrates my point exactly.

    Reply
  6. djalisgypsy

    Thank you! I have your cd’s in both my vehicles, your music, santana and the gypsy kings. I think as long as you have something beautiful to listen too, it doesn’t matter what you are driving in :)

    Reply
  7. Adam Solomon

    I think mentioning the Porsche 911 and LA brings up another two interesting points supporting what you’re saying.

    First, the Porsche 911. It fits as many people as a Tango, will be more expensive in 2007/2008 (when the cheaper Tango models come out), and consumes more gas per mile. To its advantage, the Porsche has looks appealing to many consumers, I’m guessing (but I could be wrong) better speeds/accelerations, the double trunk space (the issue of room again), and the “ego factor”. I’ll guarantee that in, say, 2008, there will be at least 10 Porsches for every Tango (unless they really catch on) in America. What does that prove? Just the name Porsche carries a lot…just another tidbit of support :)

    LA, meanwhile, is an interesting example because the Tango would be SO useful there–commuting from one suburb to another should require little room, and if every car in LA were as small as a Tango, can you imagine how much less horrendous their traffic would be??

    I like djali’s idea, personally–it’s just so rational, it makes so much sense! Good idea, man :)

    Reply
  8. djalisgypsy

    I think the Tango is ideal for commuters,or if you are single or a 1 or 2 person household. For somewhere like LA or my hometown of Boston, it’s the ideal vehicle. The can always embellish it cosmetically. I’ve seen decorative flames on a ford focus lol! When I have gone into Boston for a concert or play etc, especially in the Navigator, street parking is impossible, I end up parking in a garage, blocks away from where I need to be and; mental note: (next time bring walking shoes.) I’ve walked long distances in high heels. Oh! by the way, Thanks Adam! :)

    Reply
  9. Panj

    “”3.5 minutes – that’s 3 1/2 for the Americans…””
    HEY!…we Americans can read 3.5…IF…you don’t put a m or km or cm or l or ml behind it…:-)))

    Reply
  10. Adam Solomon

    Panj, I think metric makes too much sense for us Americans to handle, hehe…we like a challenge ;)

    Reply

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