Unapologetic insolence from an aging subversive

Unapologetic insolence from an aging subversive

Thursday, 11 March 2010

Revenge of the Dinosaurs


As far as the mainstream media is concerned, the reputation of Toyota has gone overnight from being makers of dull, reliable, well-engineered vehicles to purveyors of death-traps.

Now I’m no conspiracy theorist (I’ll leave that to those who believe they are expert – people like Andrew Bolt and many of Sarah Palin’s supporters), but I smell a rat.

Consider the recent history. Toyotas (especially the Prius) have sold like hot cakes in the USA (and pretty much every where else) lately. The U.S. market made up more than half of the 1.2 million Prius sold worldwide by early 2009 (Source). The American auto industry has been caught building vehicles renowned for their antiquated technology, poor finish and engineering, and woeful fuel economy. All but one of the major American manufacturers has been rescued by the Feds.

This has not gone down well with the good old boys stateside. I have a theory that the rednecks who call themselves “Tea Party” are actually a bunch of disenchanted SUV drivers who are livid because their automobile weapon of choice is no longer a practical proposition to own. If you doubt that, consider the difficulties inherent in mounting a gun-rack in a Prius.

Don't laugh. Good old boys take their cars very seriously, as I found out over 40 years ago on an R and R bus full of Yanks in Bangkok. I made the mistake of laughing out loud at what I called a "Yank Tank" stalled in the Bangkok traffic. I was given a half-hour lecture about the inherent superiority of the American auto industry. It was delivered in a very stern tone.

Post the GFC Ford was not rescued, and I wonder whether the technology transfer that occurred when it married up with Volvo on the one hand, and Jaguar on the other, had anything to do with this. They’ve divorced since, but Ford worldwide has demonstrated a much more forward-thinking approach to engineering than GMH and Chrysler when it comes to building cars that are enjoyable to drive.

Anyhow, the US media has waxed hysterical about alleged incidents involved unintended acceleration in Toyota vehicles, and has just about demanded Akio Toyoda’s head on a plate. Other major manufacturers have experienced recalls of equal magnitude. Honda recalled 636,000 models in January 2010 and Ford recalled more than 4 million vehicles in 2009 without so much as a murmur from the MSM or congress.

There are those  who have suggested that the fact that Toyota’s major US competitors are now owned by the Federal government may have had something to do with how the corporation has been treated by the legislature.

I doubt there’s a conspiracy, but Popular Mechanics has it about right when they call it "overblown”. But then, they simply report the story. They're not writing it. They’re also a fairly down-to-earth scientific publication.

It’s a pity a few others who call themselves journalists don’t exhibit the same degree of professionalism.

(The pic is a Crown Victoria - a fine example of the state of the art from US manufacturers. It's actually a Ford).

2 comments:

Boy on a bike said...

I say it's a beat up because there are no other good scare stories out there at the moment.

Try this for size:

http://www.informationisbeautiful.net/visualizations/mountains-out-of-molehills/

Because I have wide feet, I have long had a problem with the pedal placement in some cars - when I hit the brake, I sometimes get the power pedal as well. With one particular Italian manual model, I could press all three pedals if I was not careful when hitting the brakes.

Especially in boots.

A lot of this "unintended acceleration" stuff is people doing just that, and not being game enough to own up to it afterwards.

1735099 said...

Thanks - interesting site. I've added it to my links.

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