HAGGARD HACKS AND GLORIFIED VAPORWARE.
Tuesday, October 8, 2019 at 05:02PM
Editor

By Peter M. DeLorenzo

Detroit. While savoring the most beautiful weather of the year around these parts, I was jolted out of my Fall stupor by longtime reader Jim Jones, who hails from Missouri, and had this to say: 

The “On The Surface” column features the VW ID. Buzz van for what seems like the 809th time. While not blaming AE directly for this, I, for one, am getting weary of seeing this whatchamacallit splashed everywhere, on every venue or medium VW can find. So exactly WHEN will VW deem fit to bestow this and the other iterations of ID Buzz? Somebody? Anybody? Bueller?

Excellent point, Jim. One of our favorite sayings around here at AE is “It Won’t Be Long Now!” And it’s not a compliment. We grew to embrace this homegrown saying after sitting through countless auto show press conferences while watching an endless parade of executives get up in front of the assembled carpal-tunnel-burdened wretches in the press and promising that not only do they have it goin’ on, but that their flashy new products and guaranteed sales success are “just around the corner!” 

This was rarely true, of course. The reality was that a Haggard Hack du jour from the fill-in-the-blank car company was dancing in front of his or her bosses – and the press – to save his or her job after a shocking decline in sales, blown product introductions, and our favorite go-to reason: serial incompetence. 

A dead giveaway in these pressers is when said executive gets up to talk about a vehicle that is at least eighteen months away, but everyone in the room knows that’s only if the planets align just right and that particular car company manages to launch the first product in its recent history on time, on budget and with no issues. And given that particular car company’s past performances, the chances of that happening are slim. And none. 

After sitting through one too many of these presentations – an exercise in Tedious Maximus, as Janice says (we don’t call her WordGirl for nothin’) – we developed our own phrase for automotive futility, aka “It Won’t Be Long Now!” 

It has worked satisfyingly well for these past two decades of AE, and it is still shockingly accurate in this day of “perfect” (cough, hack) product launches and flawless products (How about no?).

We only have to look as far as the new and highly touted Lincoln Aviator, which by all accounts has the potential to be a standout entry in its segment, (and which has Matthew McConaughey beating the drum on its behalf in a series of ever more annoying TV spots that are bound to make you sick of it before you even see one in the wild), but I digress. Well, it seems that the greatest-thing-since-sliced-bread, brand-spanking-new Aviator has been plagued by a series of annoying issues big and small, as first reported in the Detroit Free Press. 

These various issues have required Ford to bring the newly assembled Aviators back to its Flat Rock assembly facility – where the company has performed countless “fixes” on new product launches in the past – to deal with issues that are simply unacceptable for a new product in this day and age. Nothing ever changes with Ford it seems; it has this two-steps forward and five-back dance of mediocrity down pat when it comes to launching vehicles. But to hear the denizens of Dearborn tell it, the good times are right around the corner, and, you guessed it – “It Won’t Be Long Now!”

But bungled product launches are only one situation when our pet phrase resonates and is deliciously appropriate. The other, as referenced at the beginning of this column, is the constant drum beating about products that are so far over the horizon that even if you squint you can’t imagine them seeing the light of day.

The worst example happens to go to Ford – again – when they botched the return of the Thunderbird years ago. They showed it at the Detroit Auto Show as a concept; then at the following Detroit show they showed it again as a production version. Then they showed it again at the next Detroit show, because it was about to hit the dealers at any moment; except it didn’t because they had massive production problems, which completely botched the launch. By the time the actual production car had hit the dealerships it had been hanging around for three and one-half years and was correctly deemed as being yesterday’s news. No wonder it died a quick death.

And remember when GM first showed the return of the Camaro – as a concept – at the Detroit Auto Show? It didn’t come out for three long years after that and in the interim appeared in the Transformers movie franchise and showed up at other various car events. The initial impact of that memorable unveiling – when they brought out famous Camaro racing cars of the past – was lost because the surprise was totally gone. In that case it was, in fact, a long time. And I remain convinced that it seriously hurt the relaunch of the Camaro.

And now here we have VW beating its reincarnation of its famous microbus, the all-electric ID. Buzz. It’s cool, it has captured the hearts and the imagination of a lot of people – young and old alike – and it has generated ahem, tremendous “buzz” for VW. But what’s wrong with this picture? How about everything? No, not with the product, because if VW can’t get 350 miles of range out of it by the time it hits the streets, I will be shocked. It’s the reality of when the ID. Buzz will be available to the public, which is shaping up to be 2023. Yup, five years after it was first shown to the public and four long years from now.

I get it, VW is so desperate to put the massive negativity associated with the Diesel cheating scandal behind it that it is going all-in on electrification and the ID. Buzz is one of its glittering electric show ponies. But there is no way that VW can scream “It Won’t Be Long Now!” because this just in: the ID. Buzz might as well be glorified vaporware at this point. 

And it doesn’t matter how many Nike appearances (see “On The Surface” -WG) and other creative attempts at keeping the “buzz” going for the public VW comes up with, because the ID. Buzz will be ancient history by the time it finally hits the dealerships. And that’s a giant microbus of Not Good.

And that’s the High-Octane Truth for this week.

Article originally appeared on UjianNasional.com ~ the bare-knuckled, unvarnished, high octane truth... (http://ujian-nasional.info/).
See website for complete article licensing information.