No. 969
October 24, 2018
 

About The UjianNasional

Peter M. DeLorenzo has been immersed in all things automotive since childhood. Privileged to be an up-close-and-personal witness to the glory days of the U.S. auto industry, DeLorenzo combines that historical legacy with his own 22-year career in automotive marketing and advertising to bring unmatched industry perspectives to the Internet with Ujian-nasional.info, which was founded on June 1, 1999. DeLorenzo is known for his incendiary commentaries and laser-accurate analysis of the automobile business, as well as racing and the business of motorsports. Author. Commentator. Influencer. The Consigliere. Minister of the High-Octane Truth. DeLorenzo is considered to be one of the most influential voices commenting on the business today.

DeLorenzo's latest book is Witch Hunt (Octane Press  ). It is available on Amazon in both hardcover and Kindle formats, as well as on iBookstore. DeLorenzo is also the author of The United States of Toyota.

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Tuesday
Jul292008

RANTS #456

July 30, 2008

To the chagrin of the doomsayers, the automobile – and the freedom it represents – is still alive and well.

By Peter M. De Lorenzo

Detroit . The blaring front page picture of cars buried nose-first in the ground reminiscent of the famed Cadillac Ranch was hard to miss in last Sunday’s “SundayStyles” section of The New York Times. And the headline on the story,  “Putting the Dream Car Out to Pasture,” signaled where the story was going in no uncertain terms too.

The gist of the story, to spare you the tedium of reading it (the tone had an end-of-life-as-we-know-it, dirge-like quality to it), was that $4.00+ per gallon gasoline has effectively put an end to America’s and Americans’ love affair with the automobile, and that we’ll all settle for making do with a cobbled together bunch of transportation choices in the future that will be the antithesis of any kind of love for the automobile and will be more in keeping with a global Future of Reduced Expectations, at least according to the Times.

Then again, that this was in The New York Times was not surprising, because even though the paper has a pretty decent auto section with some very good writers appearing on an almost weekly basis, there’s no question that the fundamental role of the Times’ editors – at least as they see it - is clearly one of being chief progenitors of the notion that America would be much better off if the domestic automobile industry would just curl up and die.

This is, after all, the same paper whose former Detroit bureau chief was so blatantly anti-car and anti-Detroit that the car companies stopped talking to the paper altogether, deeming it not worth the time or the effort to do so. Fortunately, the Times replaced that person at the first of this year with someone who can actually write and who amazingly enough has a fundamental understanding of the business - minus the hostility - which, when you know the Times’ past history of mediocrity in that area, is something of a minor miracle.

The Times is also home to the nation’s self-appointed Expert on All Known Things, Thomas L. Friedman, the guy who has repeatedly campaigned for the notion that America would be much better off if GM and the rest of Detroit were to be replaced by Toyota, because then all our transportation problems would be miraculously solved and our dependence on foreign oil would be eliminated “just like that” overnight.

That Friedman, the High Priest of the “finger snap” environmentalists - those who specialize in disseminating blue sky misinformation while rarely letting the facts, or reality, get in the way of their knee-jerk pronouncements - would readily endorse seeing between 1 in 12 and 1 in 14 jobs (the ones currently either directly or indirectly linked to the domestic automobile industry) in this country get wiped off the map, as long as it fulfilled their vision and jibed with their sensibilities as to what an idyllic Green America should look like - should be no surprise either, as it’s clear that he and his minions would be happy to see all of us in the “flyover” states be unemployed, and see this nation’s transportation fleet reconfigured into some sort of warped 21st century Rickshaw Nation - as long as we were all breathing in clean and unfettered air.

Fortunately, there are enough people out there who can see through the likes of Friedman and his ilk to prevent this country from being sent into a complete tailspin. And there are also enough people in this country who are able to see through the questionable (at best) premise and tone put forth in that Times article, that we’re all about to walk away from the automobile and settle into a blissful mass stupor powered by a fleet of bicycles and balsa-wood clown cars.

I believe that freedom of mobility will remain one of the most undeniable tenets of the American ideal, and that means that people will associate freedom, mobility and personal expression through their automobile choices, much to the chagrin of people who clearly don’t believe we should even have that choice any longer.

If you like driving a Prius and if you like the “statement” it makes about your personal beliefs - when a bumper sticker just won’t do – that’s perfectly fine. But at the same time, if you have a big family and you need a Chevy Suburban in the family fleet, that should be perfectly acceptable too.

There are no “wrong” answers here, because the freedom of choice and the freedom of expression happen to be among the most basic reasons why we live in this country to begin with.

Yes, the higher price of gasoline has finally made people make smarter choices in their vehicle purchases, admittedly something that has been long overdue.

But will high gas prices mean a wholesale abandonment of what the car represents in this country overnight?

Not a chance.

The people in this country will continue to desire all kinds of vehicles - from sports cars and urban gas-sippers, to pickups and other heavier-use vehicles - which the American automobile industry will happily provide.

We’re a vast nation of breathtaking contrasts, and no one transportation solution could ever encompass the diversity of thought and the wildly different perspectives – or the needs and wants - floating around “out there,” thankfully.

Whether they’re Mr. Green Jeans acolytes or high-performance, thrill-seeking junkies, people will still buy an automobile that says something about who they are, no matter how much the doomsayers insist that this can’t continue. And that must be so disconcerting for those who so want all of “this” – this automotive love affair - to be over.

Well, guess what, it’s far from over.

Not only that, for the rest of us it’s gratifying to know that we’re not only on the verge of a new beginning, but we’re on the precipice of an exciting new chapter of personal mobility – and the freedom that comes with it.

Thanks for listening, see you next Wednesday.