Car Sales Plummet: Automakers Just Don't Make The Cars You Want

CNNMoney says that consumers are avoiding gas guzzling SUVs and buying… nothing! whaddayaknow.

“Anywhere you want to look, credit conditions, the job market, stock market, you can see the consumers are getting hammered,” Schnorbus said. “If there was ever a time when you want to sit back and wait out the storm, now is the time to do it.”

But automakers also suggested some of the weakness in car sales could be due to the short supply of many fuel-efficient models after a rush to buy those vehicles in May.

“That limited supply we believed had an impact,” said George Pipas, the director of sales analysis for Ford

Automakers are rushing to increase production on cars like the Prius in order to catch up with demand. Do you want a Prius or are you waiting for something even better? Or are you just, you know, already upside down on your current car loan and barely able to find the money to drive to the grocery store — let alone buy rapidly shrinking food?

Auto sales plunge [CNNMoney]
(Photo: Fast Fords )

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  1. Chairman-Meow says:

    Oh yes, buy a Prius….and be gouged by the Dealers.

    [www.consumeraffairs.com]

  2. B says:

    It’s true. YOu know what I want, Detroit? A fun, RWD car with a stick shift that’s not a BMW.

  3. pixiegirl1 says:

    I want a new car but I don’t need one, mine is paid off and I like not having monthly payments. Maybe some people are beginning to realize there IS a difference between need & want when money gets tighter. I would much rather by a hybrid than a “regular” car but most hybrids are disgustingly overpriced. I probably won’t seriously start looking at cars for another 3-5 years.

  4. Sucko-T says:

    @B:
    Pontiac G6?

  5. AD8BC says:

    No big hurry. My ’04 F-150 will last me quite a while… when it dies on me eventually, I may buy a smaller vehicle.

  6. ohiomensch says:

    I don’t see the point. I get 40 mpg on my non-hybrid car. Why would I spend $10000+ more than my $13000 mazda to save 10 mpg? Give me something that gets 100 mpg, and I am interested. Till then, forget it.

  7. SkokieGuy says:

    The auto industry hasn’t made the car I want in 30 or 40 years. I want a convertible that I can sit 5 or 6 people comfortably and have a decent sized trunk. All the domestic car makers made them in the 60’s & early 70’s. Olds, Caddy, Ford, Buick, Chyrsler, etc. etc.

    Now most convertibles are toy sizes with no storage, or if there is a back seat, it is child sized and trunks are purse sized. Sure the Pontiac Solstice is hot looking, but try taking home groceries in it, let along going for a weekend road trip.

    The auto industry will make niche vehicles that appeal to a tiny demographic, yet not one offers this type of vehicle that would appeal to a broad range of consumers (i.e. those with families and / or friends and who use their vehicle to transport items larger than a box of tissues.

    Chyrsler might have saved itself if they had come out with a convertible version of the 300 sedan. You can buy ‘em custom made (google, they are great looking). The largest ragtop out there, the Sebring, has just been downsized and is now smaller. Nice work!

  8. buyer5 says:

    Too bad fuel economy is so poor in general on newer vehicles, damn safety and laws of physics :-)

  9. mac-phisto says:

    @B: & that doesn’t cost $35,000.

    in fact, i’d like to see it ~$15,000 “nicely equipped”

  10. B says:

    @Sucko-T: That’s G8, right? Hmmmm, you might be on to something, though.

  11. Wormfather is Wormfather says:

    @B: I was about to tell you to buy a BMW…

  12. GodzillaDad says:

    @ohiomensch: Soo you’d be driving a Mini Cooper then? I kid I kid. Lord knows if I was getting that I wouldnt trade either. But I have kids and a wife, carrying capacity was the name of the game when I bought (right before gas prices exploded). Now its – how long until I can pay it off and have no payment… lol.

  13. sleze69 says:

    I traded my Explorer for a TDI back in 2005. Even though I pay like 30% more for fuel than my girlfriend, it still costs less to dive my car (40MPG) than her Focus.

    Diesel cars will return en masse next year (the 2009 Jetta TDI is the only one right now). The diesel trucks and Touregs don’t count as they get like 20MPG.

    Suck it up, wait a year and get a true low mileage car that actually has nice performance.

  14. fostina1 says:

    waiting for 100% electric b4 i buy again.

  15. slim150 says:

    I was planning on buying a porsche cayman this summer..

    Gas prices haven’t really affected me much since I work at home, but now I think that by 2010 there will actually be nice cars on the road that are 100% electric and go 200+ miles per charge. Making gas obsolete.

    So I have decided to wait. Hopefully we’ll get a cheaper version of tesla’s new car and not ones that “look” like electric cars

  16. howie_in_az says:

    @ohiomensch: Exactly, which is why we’re waiting for highway-capable EVs to become mass-market.

  17. mac-phisto says:

    @SkokieGuy: bmw m3 convert is pretty roomy & has a nice trunk…

  18. Black Bellamy says:

    My vehicle gets 17 miles per gallon. I love her so.

    [img.photobucket.com]

  19. innout3x3 says:

    I know that when my Toyota Corolla’s wheels fall off I’m just going to put 4 new ones on. I could care less about a new car, but in the future I’ll get another gas sipper.

  20. kaptainkk says:

    Auto makers always had an option of making cars more fuel efficient but they chose not to because of costs and because it would affect the share prices for their shareholders. American public you asked for it, you got it. Now you have to live with it.

  21. @B: Hyundai Genesis Coupe? but really I’m with wormfather, BMW was the first name that came to mind.

  22. innout3x3 says:

    @slim150: There is a 60,000 tesla coming out. Look out for it, but I always wait for the bugs to get out.

  23. howie_in_az says:

    @GodzillaDad: Mini’s parent company is… BMW. :)

    @slim150: I’m in nearly the same boat: I was all set to buy an E46 BMW M3 (the outgoing model with the i6, not the new one with the hueg V8), but now we’re waiting for highway-capable EVs. Hopefully Tesla’s recent announcements of a $60k ‘luxury’ car and a sub-$30k car will prompt other makers to make EVs, thusly bringing the costs down for everyone. I’d love a 3-series EV, but it looks like BMW’s current plans are to resurrect the Isetta and make it a city EV. Meh.

  24. TechnoDestructo says:

    @buyer5:

    That isn’t the only reason.

    People have been demanding more and more space, and bigger and bigger vehicles, independent of safety and performance.

    And high-trim economy cars perform better than most sports cars of 30 years ago. Acceleration costs fuel.

    If automakers wanted to make a car as small as the 40-50mpg economy cars of the 80s, with comparable power levels, they’d probably be up in the 70s for fuel economy. Hell, VW has done just that in markets other than the US.

    Anyhow, I’ll take a Miata coupe with a small back seat and a tall highway gear, thanks. What’s that? No such thing? I’ll stick with my 16 year old beater then, thanks.

  25. ohiomensch says:

    @SkokieGuy:

    1961 SERIES 62 CADDY ALL THE WAY.

  26. I would buy a diesel if they had a diesel version of like every freaking car like in Europe. Sadly the new TDI’s from VW are the only thing in the near future and I dont take the 30% new car hit. Let someone else have that little present I’ll pick one up in 2-3 years off lease and save even more.

  27. Wormfather is Wormfather says:

    @B: I tell you though, my Bimmer gets more and more fun to drive. My next care will be a boxster. Yes, that’s right.

  28. Carl3000 says:

    what nerd took a picture of the hybrid logo on their car

  29. DrJimmy says:

    When a more fuel efficient vehicle that I can carry 1,100 lbs of cardboard in hits the market, I’ll probably buy it.

    In the meantime, hands offa my Tahoe.

    Oh yeah…has Pontiac finally managed to make some G6s that don’t chew up complete sets of brakes every 8,000 miles?

  30. blacketj913 says:

    @fostina1: Same here.

    My wife-to-be already has a diesel Jetta that gets great mileage on road trips. So I want to replace my commuter car with a plug-in electric. I’m also hoping the whole “super-capacitor” thing works out soon, so I don’t have to worry about battery maintenance/replacement.

  31. I’m still trying to find a decent condition mid-90’s compact sedan to buy outright… like the grand am, or the chevy corsica. You know, simple 4 cylinder, standard tranny… I had both, got 40+ MPG highway, as long as I didn’t have the hammer down. Loved those god damn cars. DETROIT, BRING BACK THE BASIC CAR.

  32. mac-phisto says:

    @kaptainkk: how so? cars still went up in price & the automakers are still in the tank.

    seems to me they chose their own fate, not us. one only needs to look at a parking lot to see the shrinking market share of american automakers.

    & can you blame us? no. this isn’t the first time they’ve screwed the pooch. in fact, that’s quickly becoming their mantra.

  33. Bladefist says:

    @Wormfather is Wormfather: I have a Lexus SC, and it’s so fun. Gas would have to be 10$ a gallon before I thought about trading it in. I live so close to work though, even then, it wouldn’t be an issue.

  34. VikingP77 says:

    No car payment for me. I will buy new when there are more electric models on the market and not just the over-priced Prius.

  35. KD17 says:

    My car gets 17mpg or so and I’ll keep because I just finally paid it off and I really like not having a car payment.

    I like the prius but I would like something a but faster and with more room I think.

  36. luz says:

    My car has two wheels and weighs 45 pounds!

  37. sean77 says:

    I don’t understand why it’s so hard to make a fuel efficient vehicle these days. The car dealers are pissing themselves over 33mpg. Hello? My crappy 97 Nissan Sentra that hasn’t had an oil change in over a year gets better than that.

  38. ugly says:

    @SkokieGuy: A massive convertible with a big trunk sounds pretty much as “niche” as it gets. Not that I blame you, I think everyone believes that what they want will appeal quite broadly. The big convertibles didn’t even sell well in the 70s, and are even less likely to now.

  39. kaptainkk says:

    @mac-phisto: You’re right, they chose their own fate. That part is clear. What I meant as far as the American public is that they bought into it. I see no reason anyone needs to drive a Hummer or a Ford Excursion even if gas were a $1/gal. Just very egotistical imo.

  40. JulieG says:

    I’m definitely holding out for an all electric car. 2010 is not that far off and my current car is paid for, fuel efficient and has low mileage.

  41. forgottenpassword says:

    Here is the type of car I want. A Vehicle capable of four-wheel drive, has one or two seats & doesnt eat gas like its going out of style.

    Problem is …. automakers make boring jellybean-shaped cars for boring families.

  42. AD8BC says:

    @Carl3000: You like what is on the back of my truck better?

  43. S3CT says:

    I bought a scion xb 5 years ago and my worst tank is probably 30 mpg. I love it as prices get up to over 4 dollars… just love it. Love the faces the SUV and pickup drivers make as it costs them 150 dollars to fill up that trophy truck. Upside down on their loans, nobody wants to buy them… so screwed. The hilarity can only increase as the months go by.

  44. AD8BC says:

    @S3CT: I have one of those trophy trucks… no loan though, so i share your love of laughing at those who are upside down and can’t afford their gas.

  45. chucklebuck says:

    Dear Auto Industry,

    Call me when you can sell me a car that gets at least 1.5 times the mileage that a Geo Metro did 15 years ago for a similar inflation-adjusted price.

    Willing to purchase a sub-$20,000, 80+ MPG car today if you have one,

    Chucklebuck.

  46. Starfury says:

    Got a 96 Accord that gets about 25mpg. Wife has a 06 Toyota Sienna van. We don’t have any plans to buy a new car for at least 2-4 years and the car being replaced will be the Honda.

    There are lots of cars I *want* but can’t afford…

  47. UnicornMaster says:

    American car companies are slow to change, greedy and lazy. Ford and GM turn big cars like an Escape or Yukon into a more fuel efficient SUV (30MPG) because americans love their big cars. Chrysler doesn’t even make one at the moment. None of them thought to make a 4 door sedan/ family car / commuter car hybrid to get 50+ MPG. That’s why they’re getting their asses handed to them. They didn’t predict the economic downturn and cost of oil raising. And they’re not forward thinking enough to proactively reduce American dependence on foreign oil, reduce carbon emissions or anything that might be beneficial to Americans in the long term.

  48. jimconsumer says:

    Waiting for an affordable EV, with good performance. Series “plug in” hybrid OK (like the Volt) but only if it has a diesel (which it won’t), so I’m still waiting.

  49. oldtaku says:

    Even at $5 a gallon, getting rid of my perfectly working Camry for a hybrid would be a bad deal. I’m sitting this out till the Camry is no longer maintainable – and hopefully we’ll have fuel cell or decent electric cars by then.

  50. jimconsumer says:

    @chucklebuck: Willing to purchase a sub-$20,000, 80+ MPG car today if you have one,

    Honda Insight. Mine was $12k used and gets 65-70mpg.

  51. theblackdog says:

    I just dropped money replacing the rotors, brakes, and belts on my car. I’m making sure to drive it until it dies…then I’ll buy a new one.

  52. intellivised says:

    @Bladefist: I have an LS400 and feel the same way you do. I also have the same short commute. On the rare occasions I hit the road, I love the fact that I essentially get to drive a leather recliner around.

  53. Techguy1138 says:

    The american automakers are in fairly big trouble.

    They aren’t making the kind of cars that people want. It doesn’t matter how efficient. BMW has pretty much taken over my town and they get awful fuel mileage. The rest are hybrids or small cars. The US doesn’t do good on the sporty daily driver or the eco friendly tiny box.

    Since they aren’t making cars the people want right now they need to retool and make new models and that costs lots of money that they don’t have.

    They really screwed themselves hard about 3 years ago and they are reaping the whirlwind.

  54. chucklebuck says:

    Actually, there’s one more thing I also want – a no-frills car. A car I can maintain myself, that’s not run by a HAL-9000 or Master Control Program that only speaks in proprietary code. I want a car I can do basic+ stuff like replacing fluid reservoirs, brake pads, etc. without taking it to a mechanic or worrying about resetting a stupid “Check Engine” light when a sparkplug goes out. Something without power windows, doors, sunroofs, moonroofs, heated seats, plush Corinthian leather, DVD players, satellite radios, iPod jacks, keyless entry, or any other of 9999 things that can break expensively.

    We could get these cars years ago, where are they now? Even the most no-frills of cars I’ve driven recently, a Chevy Aveo, still has the whole Cyborg engine thing going on. At least it made me crank the windows down myself.

  55. chucklebuck says:

    @jimconsumer:

    Those are awesome, probably my favorite car built in the last 10 years. None to be had near me that I can find, sadly :P.

  56. csdiego says:

    I own my car outright, and I get 30-35 mpg in it: not great fuel mileage, but good enough. It’s about 5 years old now and still running fine (*knock on wood*). I’ll be waiting a while (again, *knocking on wood*) before replacing it.

  57. cyclade says:

    It’s bugged me for years how you can get good-looking, smaller, well-built, relatively efficient Fords and GMs (Opels, Vauxhalls) in other countries, but not here on those companies’ home turf. It’s like the folks in Detroit only focus group their cars on some weird combination of horsepower-hungry gearheads and the design-averse. Either that, or Detroit just felt they couldn’t compete straight up with the Japanese and Koreans in the market for functional yet still good looking cars. (Where’s the American equivalent to a Civic or Corolla?)

    The SUV — which are neither sporty nor really useful, at least for 95% of the folks that own ‘em — was a triumph of bogus safety scare-mongering to the soccer mom set and “gimme more” marketing to men that I’m glad to see may be on its way out – although I’m sorry to see that it may be sinking an important sector of our economy. Far from rugged and safe, these space-hogging beasts are often less structurally sound and more dangerous to drive than your mom’s 1980s station wagon was. And you don’t really “need” all that storage space for your kids’ stuff, do you? I mean, my mom (and probably yours) did just fine loading three kids’ worth of junk up in the way back of a tiny Datsun hatchback back in the day. And fellas, if you look at them just so, all your “truck” is is a station wagon set up on bigger tires. Is that really all that tough looking now? And all that horsepower from the V-8 (or even a V-6)? Useful in stop and go driving? Or even cruising at highway speeds from 55-70? Not so much.

    Unless you’re using an SUV for a business (and I mean all the time, not “I occasionally need to carry stuff for my job”) or for frequent towing/hauling (like, say, on a farm), you don’t really need one, do you? Own one now and feel the pain of a $90+ (and higher) fill-up? Well, chalk it up to being a sucker for the auto makers’ biggest marketing scam.

  58. mwdavis says:

    Well, I drive a 1996 Escort and get 36 mpg highway (at 65 mph). I’m not selling. Not buying either until I can get much better mileage.

  59. camille_javal says:

    @sleze69: Seriously – a friend of mine has a TDI Bug he got used a few years ago (from the five seconds they sold them?) – it gets, if remember correctly, around 50 mpg.

  60. kaptainkk says:

    @DeanOfAllTrades: Dude, you hit the nail right on the head. I couldn’t agree more with you.

  61. ClayS says:

    If gas prices are putting a financial strain on you, buying a new car is about last thing you need to do.

  62. moonjest says:

    I’m driving an ’06 Hyundai Elantra; my gas mileage is somewhere between 25 mpg and 30 mpg. I have been wanting to trade it in for one that is more…outdoorsy…but I’m not going to bother with the current selection of vehicles. One problem is I think I’m upside down on my loan due to high mileage and being in a front-end collision (the guy backed into me), so trying to buy a car that gets moderately better gas mileage and puts me more in debt doesn’t make sense.

    As a side note, I went to an auto show a couple years ago and was amazed that the standard mpg for most vehicles was 20 mpg or less!

  63. JayDeEm says:

    I paid off my gas guzzling pick-up (17-20mpg) 8 months ago and work from home. I would take a huge beating if I tried to get rid of it, and with premiums on super efficient cars it would be a lose-lose to buy something new. We drive my wife’s 4-cyl Accord most places now anyway and the truck mostly just sits. I’m almost afraid to park it anywhere other than my garage since it makes a great siphon target with that 26 gallon fuel tank.

  64. trustsatan says:

    Everyone keeps harping on how the American auotmakers’ reliance on SUVs to stay afloat over the past decade is “their own fault”, and the “fault” of the American auto-buying public for their choices: is our collective memory so short that we have all already forgotten the SUV tax loophole, wherein any vehicle over 6000 lbs. that could ostensibly be used for “business” was eligible to be used as a tax write-off up to $100,000? Our federal government was actively involved in encouraging the use of the largest and heaviest SUVs for many years, effectively using taxpayer dollars to SUBSIDIZE the entire cost of these purchases!

    That loophole would have been closed long before the behemoth luxury vehicle trend took off if it weren’t helping to artifically keep American automakers in the black for a few more years, before the “Fall” that everyone knew was coming…

  65. Silversmok3 says:

    The reason automakers cant sell any more comes down to one word:

    Longevity. I drive a 2000 Pontiac with 180,000 miles on it.Runs like a top. And there is no new vehicle on the market that outperforms it.So why trade or buy new?

    10 years ago, it was lucky if your 1980’s era car made it to 100K. Nowadays because of computer modeling and advanced engine design your 1997-2000(or later) car will last 200K + with care .

    So that defeats the #1 reason to buy a new car:Because your old one broke.

    And if it does break, 2007 used car is arguably just as nice as a 2008 new car. Carmakers are simply the victims of their own hard work.

  66. jscott73 says:

    I recently sold my Jaguar S-Type, too fancy and too expensive and not too conducive to surfing. I’m driving an older Mazda Protege5 that gets 32mpg, fits my surfboard and has no car loan. My car and my wife’s car cost us a total of $10k for both, paid with cash. Have no plans on buying anything new anytime soon, but I would love an all electric or a plug-in hybrid for my daily commute when my current car gets too expensive to maintain.

  67. mercnet says:

    I will cry the day mpg is a factor in my car buying. Right now I enjoy wasting my premium gas every time I slam the gas pedal. Gas will be extinct sometime in the future, so why not enjoy it?

  68. Corydon says:

    @AD8BC: You may be waiting a while. My ’99 Dodge Ram 1500 may be a little ugly looking (routinely parking in direct sunlight in Phoenix will do that) but it runs just fine.

    Since most of my day-to-day commuting and errand running is by bike and public transit, I’m in no hurry to get rid of it, especially considering that it’s paid for.

    The time will come for it to head for the junkyard, and we’ll see about getting something shiny and new (to me) then.

  69. Notsewfast says:

    I bought my A8 with a W12 when gas was still around $2… so yeah, fun times now…

  70. smonkey says:

    I’d like a new car, but it’s just not economical. While I get 17mpg, it’s paid off and costs about $30 a month to keep running. What new car has a TCO that can beat that? Seriously I’d like to know because then I’d consider it.

  71. Applekid ┬──┬ ノ( ゜-゜ノ) says:

    @SkokieGuy: That reminds me… I want front-row bench seating back!

    Drive? What about the drive. That’s for nookie.

  72. mac-phisto says:

    @Silversmok3: i don’t buy that argument. toyota’s been putting out long running vehicles for 30 years & they’re still doing well.

    i just think the u.s. automakers are very poor at their job. didn’t the man who coined the term “groupthink” extensively study automakers 50 years ago when he “discovered” this workplace psychology?

    this is just this decade’s version of the edsel…

  73. GearheadGeek says:

    @trustsatan: It’s an overstatement to say that the stupid SUV tax policy was in place for “many many years” and it only applied (as you said) to the behemoths, Suburbans and H2s and Escalades and whatnot. So, that’s not the reason for the Explorers and 4Runners and Pathfinders and Traiblazers and Pilots and MDXs and X5s and such.

    One thing that facilitated their prevalence is the fact that the CAFE regs are brain-dead. They gave no thought to the USE of a vehicle, just its configuration, so these big tall-wagon-things that people have largely used as replacements for big sedans are considered to be trucks, and get a pass on fuel economy requirements. So, it was a way for manufacturers to make big, roomy, heavy vehicles that people like for those qualities without having to pay gas-guzzler taxes.

    People got hooked on “sitting up high” and feeling like they could see over all those “little cars” (though of course eventually all they could see was the ass-end of the SUV in front of them) and there was little penalty to be paid for it, since most people consider driving a chore to ignore as much as possible rather than taking any pleasure in the performance and handling of the vehicle.

    While the government did nothing to help, it’s not a bigger culprit in this than the consumers and the manufacturers.

  74. SowndOfDeth says:

    Its all because of the rampant piracy prevalant these days.

  75. Darklighter says:

    I’m waiting for the return of small diesel cars. If BMW brought over the diesel Mini today, I’d be seriously thinking about trading in my ’02 Civic posthaste.

  76. Sucko-T says:

    @cyclade:

    You can buy an Opel with a Saturn badge now. (Astra) Too bad GM isn’t marketing it.

  77. Silversmok3 says:

    @mac-phisto:

    Reliability isn’t the issue. Its general longevity.A Toyota built in 1987 might last 100,000 miles, but it’ll be a rust bucket. Back then no matter who or what car you bought it wasn’t really feasable to keep it after 150,000 miles.

    With modern tech, a computer-designed Camry made in 1997 will last far longer than a Toyota built in 1987.A year 2000 car with 180,000 miles on it doesnt surprise anyone.And really, the whole ‘GM/FORD/Big 3 suck b/c of SUVs” speech was so 2007.This affects ALL carmakers, not just the hated American companies.

  78. Imaginary_Friend says:
  79. Froggmann says:

    @forgottenpassword:
    I have the vehicle I want, I just want to convert tit to a cheaper more enviromentally friendly fuel (Natural Gas). But the EPA doesn’t allow it.

  80. jimconsumer says:

    @chucklebuck: None to be had near me that I can find, sadly – Neither near me. I bought online, took an airplane ride and a ~1000 mile drive home. Given they only made ~13,000 of them, that’s really the only viable way of finding one. I had fun on the trip, though, so it was worth it. :)

  81. jimconsumer says:

    @chucklebuck: None to be had near me that I can find, sadly – Do what I did, buy online. Got a plane ticket, flew down, picked the car up and drove ~1,000 miles home. Had a lot of fun and the car was well worth it.

  82. trustsatan says:

    @GearheadGeek: OK, I’ll admit that I overstated my case, but I will stand by my assertion that the expansion of the loophole in 2003 (read the link in my earlier comment) was explicitly done to funnel large amounts of taxpayer money into the “credits” column of the Big Three’s struggling balance sheets. The feds could have taken this tax law (which dated from the 70s and was designed to exempt farm machinery from vehicle taxes) and tightened it so that it only benefitted truly commercial vehicles, but instead they went the other direction.

    And I agree that the CAFE standards are just as culpable for the trend – these laws weren’t written with soccer-mom-piloted tanks in mind…

  83. jimconsumer says:

    Damnit, sorry for the double post. My first one didn’t show up after multiple reloads so I re-posted and then, of course, it shows up.

  84. Froggmann says:

    @Silversmok3: I have to disagree with you there, my last two FORDs both lasted over 200,000 miles and I still drive one. My 1988 Cougar XR-7 was at 235,000 miles when I traded it in for the Bronco and the Bronco has over 241,000 miles on it now. The Cougar had it’s handicaps too, it was crashed into 9 times and crashed 3 times (My my mother) and in the course of it’s life with my family (11 years and 235,000 miles) it went through 1 fuel pump, 2 water pumps an alternator, steering rack and 1 timing cover. Not bad if you ask me. Oh and tune-ups were done at probbibly 11,000-13,000 intervals on avrage.

  85. Froggmann says:

    @Froggmann: crashed 3 times (By my mother)

  86. jook says:

    @B: I drive a Silvia convertible. It’s fun.

  87. Whiskey Tango Foxtrot says:

    It annoys me to no end that in Britain there are so many cars you can buy that get 65mpg and nothing like that available in the US or Canada unless you want to spend an arm and a leg.

    Here’s a listing (written today, as a matter of fact) of the top 10 most fuel efficient cars in Britain.

    [cars.uk.msn.com]

  88. Silversmok3 says:

    @Froggmann:
    Uh oh, that makes two commenters with reliable domestic cars.I see a stereotype dying….

  89. Bourque77 says:

    Its well known new cars take a hit of several thousand basically as soon as you drive off the lot. I’m betting that has a lot to do with it. Unless you qualify for the special low interest financing with dealers why buy new?

  90. Grrrrrrr, now with two buns made of bacon. says:

    @Imaginary_Friend: Finally, an affordable car!

    “Build it, and they will buy!”

    I’m sure a lot of people are waiting to see where fuel prices settle and what the car makers are going to offer in the next few years before they make a final decision.

  91. Concerned_Citizen says:

    Just bought a 09 Toyota corolla in May because I just got out of school and had no car. Their 2.9% financing made a brand new ’09 cheaper than a used ’07. And there was a 500 dollar instant rebate from Toyota for recent graduates on any new car. I figure I can drive this until it falls apart or gas isn’t affordable and electric or hydrogen takes over. Toyota has good sales, but isn’t meeting their earnings goals because they have to convert the U.S. dollar to yen. So American companies are hurting because they can’t sell any cars, and foreign based manufacturers are hurting because the dollar is so devalued.

  92. Paladin_11 says:

    Sometimes we don’t drive our paid off vehicles into the ground. Sometimes other people kill them for us. Like the $%%^$^@# inattentive woman in a Cadillac Escalade that rear ended me and totaled my F-150. On the bright side my insurance company paid me much more than I would have gotten if I had tried to sell it.

    So, opportunity to buy a fuel efficient car, right? That’s one way to look at it. The other way to look at it is that we’re at the end of an era, and if you want to enjoy big horsepower now is your last chance. So I opted for a Ford Mustang GT. Not terrible efficiency wise but that big V-8 sure is a blast to drive. Hang the price of gas–I don’t drive to work anyway.

    @Neecy — are those US gallons or Imperial gallons? They’re not the same you know. 65 miles per imperial gallon isn’t quite as hard…

  93. heyimbobo says:

    I’m happy in the secondary market. Recently purchased a used car that gets good mileage and I’m totally happy. I never understood even in the “fat” years why people would plunk down big $$$ on a down payment to buy the “latest ‘n greatest” every two-three years.

    Yeah I’d consider purchasing a new car and helping out the economy — I’ll just sit it out for 2 years or so.

  94. Kanti_V2 says:

    I’m waiting for the Phoenix EV SUV, hopefully it’ll be out this year or next, and not be a complete sham (I’m not holding my breath). All I want is an all-wheel-drive car, that looks a little off-roadish, with a big wagon back (like the outback), has decent safety features, and be either a hybrid or all electric. Price it between 20 to 30K and I’ll buy two of them!

  95. plasticredtophat says:

    I think know one is buying because new friggin cars are expensive! I drive a nice 1999 jeep cherokee around town, but recently I got accepting in to a local tech RN program, which is 50 miles a day of driving! I have no equity in my jeep, at all. So a trade in was useless, like others who own suvs. I bought a little used Nissan Sentra for 500 bucks, great condition, and the hubby is putting the 50 dollars worth of parts it needed into it. But i mean people pay THOUSANDS and THOUSANDS for better fuel economy, but a beater works just as well..

  96. plasticredtophat says:

    yah.. got a good deal on it, because I bought it from an old guy, dying of cancer. Poor guy. He is so sweet..

  97. @theblackdog: Thats it?? I had to replace a motor, serp belt, brakes all around, rack and pinion, wiper motor, and other misc. parts like bearings since JANUARY on a f*ckin Saturn Vue with 125K on it. Freakin car has been babied, has the original clutch… WTF.

    I can only say it does awesome on gas compared to other SUVs.

  98. chucklebuck says:

    @Imaginary_Friend:

    If it comes in blue, I’m sold!

  99. catmomma says:

    I refuse to buy a new car until I can plug it into my wall and charge it up. Has to have at least 40 mile range. Until that day comes I will drive my beat up old Honda and get 30 mpg.

    I know about the Tesla roadster and while I love it, it is not in my budget!

  100. SpecialEd says:

    The consumers that flew into a panic and traded for new fuel efficient vehicles are probably done. I will keep driving my full sized pickup and get a used smaller vehicle only when the time is right. Starting another car payment is a bad decision for me. Most people would be better off if they just slowed down in the vehicle they already have, especially if it’s paid for.

  101. BeastMD says:

    @S3CT: Some of us NEED large cars. I use my SUV for SUV type stuff all the time. Going camping, road trips, vacations, when it snows. I need the room and the capability to go off road. Go ahead laugh but I’d love to see whatever you drive haul anything or go trudging through the woods or snow(or both) or carry more than 2 people with gear. I don’t use my SUV as a trophy I use it for what its for and these gas prices are HURTING EVERYONE including people that get 40MPG. Think about it, regardless of your mileage we are all still paying double+ what we used to to get where we need or want to be. Problem is these prices are artificiall inflated for no good reason other than to make the speculators and oils companies rich.

  102. xkevin108x says:

    I lucked out and wound up buying a new Corolla in 05. I’ve considered getting rid of it lots of times but I have been really glad to have it over the last year. My other car is an 85 Silverado on 35s with a 350 and several guzzle gas/make more power goodies. It averages about 12 mpg. The Corolla gives me an average of 33 mpg and I’ve had trips as high as 50 mpg.

  103. Jon Mason says:

    The problem is American arms of all manufacturers, US and Japanese alike haven’t geared up to produce the great small cars they sell in Europe over here – what we get are half-hearted attempts at compacts that nobody likes. For example, in Europe, Ford makes 2 great cars smaller than the Focus, the Ka and the Fiesta, but neither is available in the US, so where do people wanting fun little cars go? I would buy them if they made them here, but you are forced to go elsewhere, only the Japan brands have anything like affordable fun compacts in the US, and even they don’t have the range they produce in Europe. We are just too far behind the curve and the behemoth auto industry is too slow to respond: Latest news is that Ford is apparently finally bringing the great Fiesta over here, but not until 2010.

  104. gravion17 says:

    I remember telling one of my friends that the day is coming soon when the American Auto Market was going to come to crashing to a HALT…I had this conversation 9 years ago! Was I channeling Nostrademus? No…I simply used my common sense. Over the last 30+ years the American car manufacturers have simply refused to build a a quality fuel efficient vehicle! It’s not like they couldn’t, they just refused to. In the mean time, automobile manufacturers in Japan did the RIGHT thing and they built the RIGHT kind of vehicles. You reap what you sow FORD, CHEVY, DODGE! I have owned 5 vehicles in my life time, 3 domestics and 2 imports. As you can guess the domestics ( GMC, CHEVY, OLDSMOBILE ) were complete GARBAGE…where as the 2 imports ( MAZDA, LEXUS ) were a complete DREAM to own! I WILL NEVER EVER PURCHASE ANOTHER DOMESTIC! For far too long the domestic auto makers have taken advantage of the American people, now is the time retribution…

  105. shades_of_blue says:

    I need a 60-80mile range for whatever alternative fuel vehicle I buy as a 2nd car… A lot of these alternative fuel vehicles only get around 40 miles at best and that’s the minimum I drive a day.

    Because of that I’m going to hold out for one of those 02 feed cars. Only goes around 70mph, but gets around 126miles on a full tank and it’s cheap to refuel.


    + Watch video

  106. meefer says:

    I have a late model car that is paid off that I get 30+ mpg in regularly. No need to go greener unless gas goes to maybe $10 or so a gallon. Maybe when they make the dedicated super-hybrid rumored for Lexus I’ll think about it. Or if Tesla releases their sports sedan for $60K. I’m not holding my breath.

  107. battra92 says:

    @fostina1: waiting for 100% electric b4 i buy again.

    Ditto! I want a plug in electric that will get me through a New England winter and get me to work or the mall and back (about 50 miles RT) without the gas/diesel generator turning on.

  108. battra92 says:

    @gravion17: You do realize that Mazda was bought by Ford and many of the small Fords are just Mazdas with different interiors and stuff.

    Though, I loved the Mazda 3 but it was too pricey for me and the Focus was too cheap looking.

  109. Snarkysnake says:

    The car that I want is being built right now and even though they have a foot in the grave,Ford won’t let me buy it.

    I would love to tell the Toyota dealers to stick their Yaris where the sun doesn’t shine when they pack a couple of grand in add ons to the price of a basic 4 cyl/4 seat two door coupe.

    Can’t do that because the Ford Ka has about as much chance of being sold here as kosher pork sausage.Ford is losing money from every orifice and they sell that car in,what, 20-25 countries ? But they won’t sell it here. I guess that they’re like MCDonalds- You can have anything your heart desires-As long as its on the menu…

  110. Overheal says:

    im still waiting for electric to be honest. battery tech is getting better all the time thanks to military research.

  111. Juliekins says:

    We were seriously considering replacing our 03 Focus hatchback with a hybrid. The Focus really didn’t get very good gas mileage for a car its size. 23 in town on a good week. We once managed 34 mpg on the highway on a long trip barely using the AC, but dammit a car like that ought to do SO much better. Once we sat down and did the math, though, we realized that a hybrid was a terrible deal if you have to finance it. Nobody’s playing ball on the financing because they’re selling the stupid things hand over fist to people who are bad at math or want that little “hybrid” badge to make them feel good about themselves, or whatever.

    The other thing that limited us (perhaps artificially) was we wanted something more comfortable than the Focus. That ruled out the Civic hybrid, and I just can’t get past the looks of the Prius. We had sort of settled on a Ford Escape hybrid, but again…math. We figured out that even with $6/gal gas the Escape hybrid would cost us $4000 more over the life of the loan than a pimped out ’08 Honda Accord sedan.

    So guess who drove a loaded Honda Accord sedan home this past weekend? Yup, that’d be me. It looks like it’s getting better in town mileage than the Focus did, and it is an absolute pleasure to drive. I have never enjoyed driving a car more. I’m not paying obscenely high interest and I didn’t have to wait 8 months for Ford to build it. Buying at the end of a terrible month for auto sales really worked out in our favor. We got a great deal on a fantastic car.

    I think we’ll wait to trade our other vehicle in until the plug-in hybrids come out and aren’t obscenely expensive. Now that we’ve got the Honda we’re in a good position to wait awhile.

  112. synergy says:

    We paid off our small car 11 months ago having seen this b.s. was coming. Sucks to be all those other people.

  113. JackHandey says:

    @Neecy:
    Thanks for posting these cars! I will be sure to point these out whenever anyone starts talking about hybrids. It’s too bad that most Americans are too fat to fit in these small, fuel-efficient cars.

  114. TechnoDestructo says:

    @Silversmok3:

    You seem to be focusing on American brands there. 1980s Japanese cars had plenty of staying power. The only thing that killed most of those cars dead was rust.

  115. Nick Wright says:

    My 32mpg 1998 Chevy Cavalier is unfortunately dying. I can technically afford a new car (a cheap one at least,) but I’m going to hold out as long as possible with bicycle+transit and more than likely a scooter.

    I really want an all-electric or plug-in hybrid, but I can never see paying $60 or $100K for a car. Aptera is supposed to have EVs on the road for under $30K next year, and I’m trying to remain optimistic.

  116. P_Smith says:

    If the car companies asked me, I’d tell to build them a 1200-1400 pound car with 3-cylinders and a battery (for torque from standing starts) and no frills, just a rollcage with paneling inside and out that gets 50mpg.

    Stereo? Give me a build-in MP3 player with 30 watt speakers. Bodywork? Fibreglas is good enough and light. Airbags? If every car on the road were lighter and we all slowed down, we wouldn’t need them.

    Too many cars are built to be small houses and race cars rather than basic transportation. What we need are a return of 50mpg Honda Civics from 1979. I saw people driving those things for up to 15 years.

  117. u1itn0w2day says:

    I’d try to hold off til late fall to buy a smaller more fuel efficient vehicle.As many have already noted the laws of supply and demand are in full play.Hopefully these companies at least increased the volume on the existing production lines/factories if not expanded the production of fuel efficient cars.

    Unless fuel is just killing you and I’d wait til the supply increases a little.The question is will the extra amount you pay now for a fuel efficient car offset your current fuel costs.

    I’m still puzzled by Detroit.In World War II the car factories switched over to tank and plane production over 60 years ago in less time than it will take for Detroit to switch from SUVs to cars today,with modern technology at it’s disposal.

    I’d recall every factory worker layed off or forced out in a last ditch gambit to manufacture enough cars not only to meet demand but to possibly overtake overseas competition as well.There is literally little or nothing to be lost at this point yet everything to be gained.

  118. DashTheHand says:

    I’ll most likely be buying a new car sometime in the next 9 months, since mine is on the way out in terms of reliability. I don’t really mind paying a premium for a car as long as its got the quality to back it up. I also don’t mind getting a 6 cylinder over a 4 simply because without the 4 cyl being super or turbocharged, there simply isn’t enough power coming from that little engine. Gas guzzling SUV’s are a no for me though, as are pretty much any SUV’s, or pickup trucks.

  119. night_sky says:

    Everyone’s talking about “it’s so nice not to have a car payment.” How about not buying something on a loan? You know, like before the 50’s era introduced the “pay on credit” idea? If you can’t afford to buy a BMW without making payments, buy a Honda or Toyota. I for one am in the market for a new car. It will be my first new car and I am a student who has saved well (I am getting no help from my parents), and guess what? I’m buying it outright! I don’t plan on ever buying on credit or loans unless it is a necessity like a hospital bill. I find it startling how few people view purchases this way.

  120. damitaimee says:

    i won’t buy a new car until they bring back the electric car.

    automakers need to stop thinking about profits and be realistic here. we cannot use cars that use fossil fuels anymore. no one can afford it, we are running out of it, and most importantly, it’s killing us.

    sadly, the technology would’ve been MUCH more advanced had they continued what they started 8+ years ago instead of killing it off.

    i want an electric car but cannot afford to even make a down payment to be put on a waiting list for a tesla.

  121. RvLeshrac says:

    @sean77:

    My ’91 Bonnie that has had two trannie rebuilds, a jerry-rigged radiator, a bad ground somewhere, and no oil change in the last year still gets between 15-20mpg city.

    And I’d be doing better than that if idiots wouldn’t come to a dead stop before making turns on green. Nothing like having to accelerate and brake every two seconds because you’re expecting movement ahead of you.

    I’d be doing even better if I didn’t have so many hills to climb on the way to work. I pity the drivers in SF, all those long hills to burn gas. That’s the real reason for the popularity of hybrids out there.

    There are others with the same car who say they get ~30MPG average. Considering the size and weight, I’d say that beats the crap out of most modern vehicles.

    To top it off, 5* crash test. 3* for an Explorer, 4* for most of the fuel-efficient models and hybrids. I’d rather be in my Bonnie than some Prius when that Explorer comes a knockin’ on my side window. Sure, side airbags are nice – but not when the car explodes into flechettes around you.

  122. battra92 says:

    @night_sky: Unfortunately it doesn’t always work like that.

    I bought my 98 Cavalier outright for $2K in early 2005. I slammed a good 50K miles on it, graduated college and got a good job and the damn thing started giving me problems which pointed to some rather pricey transmission problems (damn American cars only lasting 150K hard miles ;) ) and so with a new job requiring reliable transport I didn’t have time to save up to get a new one. I did have enough to buy another beater outright but when you are just starting a new job and driving 50 miles a day you have to have reliable transport.

    I do miss my Chevy, though. It ran like a top with no major problems. My brother in law bought it for $500 and fixed it up himself so my sister drives it now. I do miss not having to write a check every month for my car, though.

    My current plan though is once this one is paid off I will keep paying the car payment, but this time to a savings account. Then when this car craps the bed or I get sick of it (thinking 8 and hoping for 10 years) then I should have the cash to buy a new/used one outright or with a much smaller loan.

    I also would really LOVE to see the Ford Ka imported to the US. They made it in Brazil and sold it in Mexico so I’m not sure how legal it would be to buy one down there and import it.

  123. Joe_Bloe says:

    @verucalise: I did exactly that. Picked up a ’94 Escort wagon, with good A/C, 5-speed, ~100K miles, for one thou. Parked my Explorer for weekends. I went from getting 15 mpg on my 30-mile round trip commute through DC to >36 mpg.

  124. azgirl says:

    Got my Prius last year- 500 under invoice– used the AAA buying service. Credit unions have it too– I HATE dealing with Toyota sales people, and this made it so all I had to do is say what I want, they price it, and I buy it. At the time, most folks were paying over invoice…48 mpg babay!

  125. balthisar says:

    I don’t understand all the comments indicating that American manufacturers don’t make cars Americans want. They command 50% of the market between three manufacturers. It takes a dozen other companies to make up the other 50%!

    If you discount trucks and SUV’s, they all have fairly comparable mileage. Ford can’t build enough Focuses, for example. If you include trucks and SUV’s, well, then the Asians are just as “eeeevil” as the Americans. They’re not suffering today because no one buys their cars; they’re suffering because they don’t build enough of the cars that are in demand, due to legacy reasons (trucks and SUV’s, of course).

  126. captadam says:

    My 2000 Neon has 130,000 miles, is paid off, and gets 30-34 mpg (the best I’ve calculated is 37, heading west on I-70 with the prevailing winds). Not bad. Of course, I’d like something that gets even better gas mileage … but, economically, driving that car for the next couple of years into its grave is the best plan.

  127. captadam says:

    @night_sky: Congratulations. Now stop preaching.

  128. captadam says:

    @BeastMD: Some of us NEED large cars. I use my SUV for SUV type stuff all the time. Going camping, road trips, vacations, when it snows. I need the room and the capability to go off road.
    That’s not NEED, that’s WANT. The only people who might NEED them are those whose daily business (i.e. how they make money and survive) depends on it.

    Problem is these prices are artificiall inflated for no good reason other than to make the speculators and oils companies rich.

    If that makes you feel better, then go ahead and say it. But you, and me, and anybody else who continues to drive gasoline powered vehicles, are a big part of the problem. Oil demand has permanently outpaced oil supply. There’s nothing we can do to get more oil out of the ground. It’s a limited resource.

  129. czadd says:

    I’m waiting for the Think to come to the US (Looks like the Smart, but is fully electric). I drive less than 5 miles each way to the bus station so this will be perfect. Until then I’ll drive the beater I bought 10 years ago. The stupid thing still costs me over $10 a week for almost no driving. Ugh

  130. Rectilinear Propagation says:

    …and so with a new job requiring reliable transport I didn’t have time to save up to get a new one.

    @battra92: I remember arguing with someone a while back about this. They refused to believe that someone could be in a position where they had to get an auto loan. They were absolutely convinced that everyone should either pay cash or don’t buy a car at all.

    Yeah, that will work out: Don’t get a job because the only way to reach it is to get a car and you can’t pay cash for it.

  131. TouchMyMonkey says:

    @captadam: THIS. The number of Americans who really need vehicles like this can probably fill an NCAA Division II (think Colgate or Cornell) basketball arena. Seriously. Some people take them camping, and that’s nice, but do they really NEED it? Would their worlds come to an end if their SUVs suddenly caught fire (hopefully not while parked in the garage) one night? While it would be an adjustment to some people, I would say the answer to that is no. It’s not like losing your job, or coming home to find your house on fire, or your doctor telling you you have cancer.

  132. I recently purchased a Scion xD. 35 to 40 mpg, baby. I love it. It is a zippy little car.

  133. Saboth says:

    I want a small, lightweight, inexpensive, quick, nice looking, reliable, well-balanced car with at least a bit of storage room that goes 0-60 in less than 10 seconds and gets 30/40 mpg. I’d be willing to pay 10-15k.

    Current list:
    Mazda 3
    Honda Fit

  134. madanthony says:

    One niche I wish Detroit (or whoever) would have paid a little more attention to is small pickups. It seems like most of the pickup trucks the last few years have been getting bigger and bigger.

    I have an ’06 Ranger. It’s a classic example of Ford totally missing opportunities. For what I use a vehicle for, it’s fine – it’s small enough to easily park and maneuver, but I still have a 6-foot bed for the occasions when I need to haul stuff. I usually get around 18mpg – not great, but not awful for a vehicle with 4wd and a 4.0L V6, and way better than an F-150 would.

    But Ford hasn’t put any marketing or engineering into the Ranger in years, and will probably kill it after next year. Nevermind that it’s a great niche – lots of people could use a truck but don’t need a giant one.

    In a few years, I’ll probably buy a second smaller, more fuel efficient vehicle and relegate the Ranger to snow day/ hauling duty.

  135. Juliekins says:

    @madanthony: Ugh, that’s just tragic. We have an ’06 Ranger as well. It’s a little doggy with the 4-cyl, but it’s good for Home Depot runs, helping friends move, hauling messy things that we don’t want to put in the car, etc. It’s actually my second Ranger–I owned a 1999 Ranger for awhile. Killing off that form factor without replacing it is a mistake, but I have faith in Ford to make the worst possible choice.

  136. radiochief says:

    I drive a 97 Isuzu Rodeo. I bought it used 2.5 years ago, when my Neon was totalled. It gets 15MPG in all around driving (MT).

    But I live in New England, so it does come in handy.

    But gas prices are starting to affect my budget and I only drive to work. A tank lasts me two weeks if I just drive to work.

    I would kill to buy small efficient coupe with AWD for around $15k, but I paid $2500 for the Isuzu and I like not having $250 car loan payment every month.

  137. SinA says:

    Fortunately for the car makers, there are enough fratties in Georgia that always want a bigger, badder truck than their ‘bros’ to keep the SUV industry alive.

  138. jinjin1080 says:

    Not only do they make cars no one wants, even the american cars people buy are garbage.

  139. DericLee says:

    @Front_Towards_Enemy:
    Not all dealers are gouging on Prius, My company is still taking orders and selling them $200 less then MSRP when you order through our web site and fill out the coupon.
    We do not do additional dealer markups.
    It’s hard to be a honest dealership in this day and age when every one assumes your trying to rip them off.

  140. Grive says:

    @P_Smith: Funny thing is, Pontiac sells such a car… in other markets. It’s actually a car made by GM originally under the Daewoo name, designed by Giugiaro and badge-engineered into pontiac for western markets.
    It used to be a three-cylinder, 50bhp and 46mph affair, but now it has 4 and 65bhp out of a 1.0L engine, dropping to 44mpg. Starts at around 6500 USD, all taxes included.

    You only need to go a bit south of texas to see them at Pontiac dealerships.

  141. Grive says:

    46mph = 46mpg. Sorry.

    Still, the car ain’t particularly quick. I believe the top speed was around 70mph.

  142. I have a 1991 Mazda Miata still running like a puppy. Having a small car that spent as little gas as possible was a stigma in the monster SUV 90s. I got laughed at a lot. May I have now the last laugh. Hah!

  143. cromartie says:

    Having experienced the Ford Fiesta in India, recently, I’d say those of you who are pining for your early to mid 1990s car experience are in for a treat.

    I suspect it’s only a matter of time until we see something hit the market that emulates that early 1980s Mazda hatchback experience as well,

    Those of us who like something a little better than to relive the death box experience, however should probably take a pass. The Indian version of the Fiesta isn’t exactly a quality vehicle.

  144. Nerys says:

    Here is what I want.

    4 Door Compact to Mid Size Sedan. Heat Air BASIC radio
    Manual windows Manual Brakes Manual Steering

    NO transmission. No engine. Nice SINGLE (no wheel motors) electric motor to a drive shaft.

    NIMH battery pack with a minimum 125mile range DROP dead range (IE everything on raining at night)

    Cloth Seats no leather no vinyl.

    100,000 warranty on all electronics related to the drive system. (charger battery controller Motor etc..)

    UNDER $12,000

    Thats it. Thats all I want. I will NOT buy a new car until I can get THAT. No negotiation.