Conventional wisdom insists that your millennials and younger just aren’t interested in cars anymore, a statement laughed at by any parent of a kid one day short of getting his learner’s permit. Jack Baruth blames the cars, and the people who grudgingly make them:
[V]irtually every “affordable” car on the market today, from the Honda HR-V to the Ford EcoSport, feels like it was made for grandparents who are down on their luck. Surely no young man out there feels his heart beating faster at the sight of a Toyota C-HR, and no young woman dreams of driving A1A or Highway 1 in a Hyundai Tucson. It’s the Buick Encore’s world now. We’re all just living in it.
No doubt a few of my auto-industry insider friends have made it to this point in the column and are now sputtering, “B-b-b-b-but we are busting our tails to provide electric vehicles, and ride sharing, and mobility-solution sidewalk-trash scooters!”
To which I respond, “What does that have to do with making cars for young people? Who told you that young people don’t want cars? A focus group made up of Manhattan-based media people? A bunch of Chicago apartment denizens?”
The oh-so-predictable response to that is, “Young people can’t afford cars anyway!”
To which I say, “No, young people can’t afford $24,000 HR-V EX-L AWD automatic-transmission transportation pods with all the charm of pre-chewed gum. Why don’t you try making a car a young person would actually want to buy?”
They dare not, of course; to protect the “brand,” they’ll let the actual product go to hell, and the customers, by Gawd, can go with it:
“Well, we can’t risk a billion-dollar program on a product that young people might not want when it actually debuts.”
This would be laughable if it wasn’t pathetic. The same companies that think nothing of wasting nine-figure sums on electric boondoggles and bizarre social engineering projects all of a sudden have a case of the shorts when it comes to actually making a car? Why do you hate your buyers so much? Why will you spend money on scooters, glorified golf carts, ride shares, rental cars, historic buildings, political party funding — anything and everything BUT building the next Mustang or Celica or S-10?
I don’t know exactly when it became hip for car companies, razor companies, video game companies, and nearly every other kind of American industry to express obvious contempt for their own customers through their marketing, their PR, and their product choices, but I can tell you this: the first player to get off that particular brain-dead Ferris wheel will reap huge benefits.
“Get woke, go broke,” says the Instant Man. But no one’s going to read that book until it’s flung open to Chapter 11.