Perhaps it’s the drop in Harley sales predicted by Roy Williams back in November and the renewed interest in scooters. (See my earlier post.) Perhaps it’s my own sense of the impact of Emergents on our culture. Perhaps it’s the fact (as reported by the May edition of Automobile Mag) that there are amazing deals to be had on premium vehicles like the Porshe 911 Turbo, the Audi A6 and the Mercedes S500 – in fact Mercedes is experiencing a trend of it’s customers "moving towards cheaper vehicles, from S- to E-class, from E- to C-class", etc. Perhaps it’s today’s news that S&P has downgraded GM and Ford bonds to junk status.
I believe we are on the cusp of a profound change in consumer buying habits when it comes to transportation. People are quickly asking for better, cheaper and more environmentally friendly. Boomers no longer want to be seen as Wanton Consumers – they want significance – and they’re not getting it from the size of their vehicles.
In spite of it’s great sales, I think the 05 Mustang may be the last gasp of the old paradigm as well as the last Retro success – in the line of the New Beetle, PT Cruiser et al. The change is reflected in the story of hybrid gas/electric vehicles. The first real hybrid success is the 2nd generation Toyota Prius with long waiting lists and great sales. Hybrids like the Lexus RX400h and the HEV Ford Escape are also generating significant interest.
Micro vehicles like the 50+ mpg smart car, on sale in Canada with it’s tiny 800cc diesel engine has been a much bigger hit than DaimlerChrysler anticipated – even in the ridiculous winters of Winnipeg. And Scions are selling like crazy in the US.
A profound change is happening in personal transportation and all the Chrysler 300s, Ford Mustangs and Chevy HHR‘s in the world won’t stop it.
Note: Our driveway features a late model Acura MDX, a four year old Yukon XL and a 12 year old Toyota Previa. As we move back to Toronto we are unloading the Yukon XL – and there is definitely a smart/Scion like vehicle in our city driving future!
Note 2: The Harleyooter and Priustang are concoctions of Photoshop 7 on my laptop.