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Nissan Versa, Toyota Yaris, Honda Fit, smart fortwo, MINI Cooper
Aug 28, 2006 (7:50 pm)
lets be serious. Maybe many don't like SUVs, or Powerful sports cars, or big luxury cars but they aren't bought just because people want to explore their capabilities. All of us that have been married realize our wives could just as easily have bought a nice evening dress rather than a wedding dress they would use once and it cost more than our first car. Heck, that ring cost more than my first two cars. And diamonds are a false economy if there ever was one. For the average family man, average family in the US is 2.5 kids, a sub compacts simply won't work as a only car. In California if the family wanted to go anywhere that .5 kid would have to stay home because you can not get three car seats in a sub Compact.
The SUV replaced the big cars the tree huggers tried so hard to outlaw back in the late 60s and 70s. Well they got rid of the family wagon sure enough but did people flock to sub compacts? People could no longer get a full sized car or wagon so how did they react? Did they flock to compact cars? No they didn't they flocked to the mini van. It was pretty simple, sub compacts didn't meets the needs or wants of the American buying public. No one put a gun to anyone's head and made then buy mini vans. There is absolutely nothing cool about a mini van or sexy either. They became popular "despite" the objections of small car owners and gloom and doomers that told us we would be "out" of gas by 1990. The very same people that told us we would be out of oil in 1970 are now saying we will be out of oil again. And they are using the very same figures as they did in 1970. But low and behold as soon as the gas prices reached the point the oil companies wanted we had "no" fuel lines and no odd and even days. That all happened within weeks of the prices getting to where the oil companies wanted.
No one forced people into buying SUVs and no one forces them into making the SUV the vehicle of choice for a majority of drivers for a few years. And all this time people cold have decided to buy a Sub Compact, but they didn't. The Accord could have stayed a Sub Compact, but it didn't. People don't buy organic foods even if they are good for them, they buy Mickey Ds. Manufacturers know this and we do as well. people in Europe and Asia are no wiser than we are, if anything they are more compliant because they will tolerate more from their government than we will.
Freedom to buy what we want rather than what we simply need is almost a religion to our people. We consider it a right,even if it isn't. If you want people to drive small cars they have to feel small cars are worth driving. If you convince them that they need to drive small cars for the good of the nation, or mankind or what ever reason other than because they want one so bad they dream of them then as soon as whatever circumstance that cause the crisis that turned us on to small cars passes the manufacturers will start offering more power and more comfort in the small cars to the point they no longer represent the sub compact and become more like the mid sized cars we have fallen in love with. Just look at your automotive history. What made a 2000 Honda Prelude worth more than a 1995 Prelude? about 200 pounds and 65 HP. Not that way anymore? Not like that anymore? The 2007 camry is 155 pounds heavier than the 2006 and while it only has 4 more HP it doesn't have any less and it gets a bit better fuel mileage. And if we read Edmunds statistics we will see that for next year Nissan has decided to make the new Sentra bigger, heavier and a bit more powerful just to compete with other compacts.
we may see more small cars but will they be sub compacts as we know them or will they be Compacts that simply call themselves sub compacts because the compacts we now have will get bigger?
I grew up whe we had a lot of small car choices. I had a Sprite. I had a Early Civic. I had Fiat 124. I have had friends that had early Mini Coopers and they were a lot smaller than the new one. Those days simply seem to be gone and I have a hard time believing the new generation of buyers will be any better at buying only what they need than the last generation was. If anything some of us that are getting ready to retire might be the small cars best hope. Not the new consumer that gets a new Gameboy or XBOX ever year.
#1900 of 9848 Re: Nothing [crimsona]
Aug 28, 2006 (7:52 pm)
May I remind you, Lexus has already done it.
#1901 of 9848 Re: But guys, [boaz47]
Aug 28, 2006 (9:00 pm)
The problem isn't revoking the freedom to buy what we want. We will most likely keep that through at least our lifetime (one would hope).
The problem begins when gas prices finally make driving those vehicles as daily drivers no longer a viable option for a medium income family.
All of the analogies you give are great, however they all refer to items in to today's world that are not subject to HUGE (200%) price fluctuations over a matter of a few years. If diamonds or little black dresses tripled in cost over a three year span, sure, there'd still be a market for them, but it'd be foolish to think it would be the same KIND of market.
I'm just saying, as an industry insider I've seen it start to happen already. People who 5 years ago thought the Corolla/Camry were ridiculous options for them are trading in their 4Runners/Sequoias ON them. Suddenly their 2.5 kids fit just fine in a 5 passenger car. It's really quite amazing...
But that's the Camry/Corolla
The subcompacts might not be perfect for the 5 person family, I'll give you that, but the overwhelming trend in this country is for SMALLER families these days, and 4 people fit just fine even in my Yaris hatchback. All the excuses in the world, but 4 people fit just fine... Go figure
#1902 of 9848 Re: But guys, [tjw1308]
Aug 29, 2006 (5:34 am)
Good points all. Practical in every way, Yet what is the most popular selling Toyota? Same small families and they aren't getting much smaller or at least aren't decreasing any faster than global warming. Sure the extream in big cars may suffer. When the economy gets tight the big guys always take a hit. It is the rebounding picture that interests me. When things get better what do the consumers do? And while 4 people fit just fine in a Yaris don't they fit even better in a Camry? I am sure 4 people would fit fine in a 900 square foot house but how many people opt for that?
I believe sub compacts have their place and I believe high fuel prices can assist them in selling to the consumer. I just don't see them as replacing the next two sizes up in my lifetime. And once again we have to define sub compact? It is a car "smaller" than a compact. Smaller than a Civic, Corolla, or Sentra. Those three seem to represent about the smallest cars the American consumer can show real interest in. Any car that size or bigger isn't a sub compact.
You may be right when you say the xA is selling OK but even you add a caveat, considering. The xA was supposed to be the bigger seller between the xA and xB. It isn't. The Echo was supposed to capture the young buyers, it flopped. The Baja was supposed to revitalize the small truck market, it fizzled. What for instance happened to the small compact truck market in the US? If you sell Toyotas you know quite well. The Tacoma is as close to a mid sized truck as it can get. And how many Tacomas do you sell compared to Yaris? Does anyone still make a compact truck? And who other than the American consumer killed the small trucks off?
#1903 of 9848 Re: But guys, [tjw1308]
Aug 29, 2006 (5:48 am)
I agree with tjw1308's comments. Freedom involves being able to build what you want. Most Americans are too lazy, too poor and too uneducated to build what they want. Instead, consumers somehow view freedom as being able to buy what someone else has made. There will always be a loss of freedom and a concession when a commodity product is purchased.
Bottom line - Everything is relative. I've said it before. If I drive a 1000 pound go-kart, the consumer in a 6,000 pound SUV will suddenly feel safe and free in a 2500 pound Ford Focus because I will be the one getting creamed in an accident. Is being American eating one bite out of a cupcake and then throwing it away? Running the air conditioner with the windows open? Running water at all times even if it is not used? It is called waste and is a characteristic of pigs. Large SUV's were an ad-mans vision of profit sold psychologically to the US public. The net result is a product that is useless outside of the US market and provides little or no export benefit to the US. Then again, maybe everyone in the US is now so fat that heavy duty suspensions and 6,000 pound vehicles are required to lug them around.
Aug 29, 2006 (6:05 am)
You DO realize that an average of 2.5 kids means about ONE HALF of all families have 2 children or less, right? That's a whole HECK of a lot of families that would fit just fine in any subcompact.
Meanwhile, Civic and Corolla are on fire. This may be the first year in some time in which one of the top two selling cars comes from this pair, rather than being larger cars. Hmmm, see a trend towards smaller cars there? Hmmm....
Yaris is on fire too, just not quite as big a fire. But the average days in inventory is less than half the industry average, and it is selling at twice the rate Toyota had hoped. As for the Fit - sheesh! It has a 7-day supply nationwide, Honda can't even remotely keep up with demand. I stopped by the Honda dealer for parts last evening, they had one Fit in the middle of the lot with a big sign on it saying "special order now!". Wait lists are six months long.
Look at xA: here's a model that is AGES old - based on the 7-year-old JDM ist - and yet it sells better than many larger models that are much newer.
Have there ever been any subcompacts that have EVER sold this well in the history of the breed? I don't think so. This may be the year when subcompacts as a segment outsell other segments cherished by my worthy debators in their arguments, like large SUVs.
Oh, and SUVs were never "the vehicle of choice for a majority of drivers for a few years." They were never more than 25% or so of total sales. But your larger point is certainly relevant - America is the land of excess. Which is why subcompacts will secure their future only when they become superior in other ways, like build quality, handling, and the like. I think they are well on their way with the latest models.
#1905 of 9848 Re: hey boaz [nippononly]
Aug 29, 2006 (6:59 am)
This dead horse has been beaten again and again, but my family of four needs at least a midsize station wagon.
Aug 29, 2006 (7:34 am)
Question for you if you don't mind:
In your estimation, what percentage of the time are all 4 members of your family in the car?
What I'm driving at is that for some families, they might find that all 4 of them are only in the car 10% of the total use time of the vehicle, and yet they have paid 100% more (double) for a mid-size wagon over say a Honda Fit.
Also, if a family were to be together only 5% of the time, and this 5-10% were only local driving, a Honda Fit would work fine for them. I take people around in the back of my xA all the time for 1/2 to one hour trips and I don't hear shreiks of horror and misery back there.
HUMMER H2 MPG: the figure of 12 mpg is taken from an actual test done by Car and Driver.
#1907 of 9848 Re: hey boaz [lemmer]
Aug 29, 2006 (9:13 am)
What options are there for a midsize wagon now? For Freestyle? Mercedes E350 Wagon? I really don't know... the wagons went away, sadly. I have a feeling they'll be back soon. $38 to fill up my 4-cylinder Honda tells me that people will continue selling their SUVs.
#1908 of 9848 Re: hey boaz [Mr_Shiftright]
Aug 29, 2006 (9:23 am)
Saturday and Sunday my little family of four stays together, so 2/7 of the time, in general.
Once or twice a month on average we take at least a 100 mile trip to visit family or friends. Several times a year, we take much longer trips in my wife's vehicle and it is fully packed to the roof in the back. About one week out of the month on average we have in-laws in town who travel with us to meals, entertainment, etc. raising the load to six people.
My wife takes one or two kids in the morning and almost always picks up both. Even on weekdays, the kids take up more than a subcompact backseat with their two substantial car seats, the first-grader's huge rolling backpack (purchased against my objections), the little one's diaper bag, napping mat, blanket, and on a regular basis extra diapers, wipes, and other stuff I am always forgetting. Not to mention that my wife usually has the front passenger area filled with her laptop and client files. She often goes clothes/household shopping at lunch and/or grocery shopping on the way home, so add that crap to the pile and we use up our Pilot pretty fully on a daily basis.
Before children I had a 300ZX and my wife had a two-door Integra, and that was plenty for us. I would love to get back close to that one day, but it isn't going to happen anytime soon.