Welcome To The Island Of Misfit Luxury Imports…

If you’re looking for a photograph to illustrate how our economy has changed over the past few months, take a look at this. No, that’s not a parking lot in a town where everyone has the same taste. It’s the Port of Long Beach, where “thousands of cars worth tens of millions of dollars are being warehoused,” unwanted by the dealers who used to sell them. They’re imports — Mercedes-Benz, Toyota, and Nissan orphans.

And its not just cars that are piling up. The port usually exports recycled paper. They send it to China where it is turned back into the boxes that you rip open during the holidays to reveal all sorts of consumer products. TVs, toys, video games. Whatever. But the demand is slowing. The paper is piling up…

Long Beach is an important port, particularly for the West. It is where imported products arrive and filter through the tributary of trucks, trains and retailers into the hands of consumers. But now, products are just sitting.

“We’re supposed to move things, not store them,” Mr. Wong said.

The NYT says this phenomenon is nothing new for Detroit — American cars are housed at the Michigan’s state fairgrounds and at its airports.

A Sea Of Unwanted Imports [NYT]

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  1. yajjo says:

    Once things get moving again, I can imagine an excited Tattoo shouting, “Le Train! Le Train!”

  2. HFC says:

    You’d think we would be seeing better deals on cars. If demand is so low and supply is so high, why are the sticker prices staying the same? Offering a discount on an already overpriced item isn’t going to fix everything. They need to lower their starting price.

    • shorty63136 says:

      @HFC: Common sense isn’t so common, unfortunately.

    • Turcicus says:

      @HFC: But that makes too much sense!

    • Etoiles says:

      @HFC: How many people actually need a new car in a given year, though? Especially folks who bought a car with longevity built in.

      I mean, if you get a new or gently used car, you should be able to expect to get about 10 years out of it. (Our household has a ’96 Camry and an ’01 Protegé; my parents have an ’01 Nissan pickup truck and an ’02 Kia minivan.) None of us would be looking to replace those cars for at least another 2-3 years.

      So if everyone was out buying everything for the last five years, it seems to me that there would be a huge percentage of households where new car would be a want, not a need, and far too expensive for just a “want.” Even with reduced prices. If the five-year-old car works fine, do you really need to go get a Beemer? Even a cheap one?

      • kewl132 says:

        @EtoilePB: Hey I got a used 2002 BMW 525i for 10k and it is nicer than anything new I could buy for 10k. Plus Inline 6cyl run forever. :0

        • howie_in_az says:

          @kewl132: I hope it’s a manual: the automatic transmission tends to fail after 60-80,000 miles unless you change the fluids, which BMW does not cover in their maintenance. BavAuto.com has a PDF on recommended care but I can’t get to their site right now.

    • hellinmyeyes says:

      @HFC: This really kind of reminds me of the Fed’s tactics, when the economy goes sour, of lowering interest rates. We’ve seen practically every company offer 0% financing in the hopes that everyone will just buy the cars and move on, knowing they won’t have to pay interest.

      When it gets down to it, I suspect it’s because dealerships (the ones not owned by the car companies themselves) are reluctant to part with cars for less money than they spent getting them. I don’t have any stats on what kind of margins they sell them at to back this up, though. Eventually, they’re gonna be starving for cash more than they’re gonna starve for the simple profit, and they’ll have to sell them, like you said, at much cheaper prices… Eventually…

    • ADismalScience says:

      @HFC:

      Poor management is one part of it, but there’s also a bit of shell-shock; conditions deteriorated VERY rapidly in America.

    • bryanoak says:

      @HFC: Actually, you are seeing deals, however, many consumers can’t get loans to buy the cars. Just this past weekend I bought a BMW at invoice and 0.9% financing.

      To sustain the number of autos sold in 2007 would necessitate continuing to give loans to people with less than stellar credit. And, that is not going to happen. Thus, a contraction of tthe automobile industry is a given.

    • gqcarrick says:

      @HFC: I have to agree with everyone else. I just got rid of my 94 Camry when the Transmission and Engine died and now I have a 2001 Hyundai Sonata that should atleast last me another 5 – 7 Years.

    • Trai_Dep says:

      @HFC: Lose $2,500/car, but make it up on volume?

      • HFC says:

        @Trai_Dep: Are you suggesting that sticker price is “cost”? They can sell for less revenue and still make money… just less of it. Do they need to gross billions of dollars a year? No. Could they get by on hundreds of millions of dollars a year? Yes. They need to think smaller, just like the rest of us.

    • bagumpity says:

      @HFC:

      The real reason you don’t see dramatic drops in prices is that (in most cases) the dealers’ “floorplan” arrangements prevent sales at below the amount borrowed on the car.

      Yes, borrowed. A floorplan is the industry term for the secured line of credit a dealership uses to buy cars from the manufacturers. Say Dealer Bob wants to sell a bunch of SUX-2000s. He goes to his finance guy and takes out a loan on each SUX-2000 the mfr ships to him. He makes regular payments on each of the loans (actually, he just sends in one big check for all the loans in the floorplan agreement), and when YOU buy a SUX-2000 from Dealer Bob, his profit is the difference between what he paid the mfr and the interest he paid while the car was on his showroom floor.

      The result of all this is that the dealer CAN’T sell a car at a loss, basically for the same reason that you can’t sell your house for less than it’s mortgaged for. So any time a dealer tells you “I’m losing money on this deal,” it’s total and utter bullshit.

      But you knew that already. His lips were moving, so it had to be a lie.

      • Anonymous says:

        @bagumpity:
        In the case of new car sales, most often the manufacturer is the loan holder. They expect $x each month per car as interest, and get their dealer cost money when the car sells.

        Considering the parts and service departments of any new car store is what pays the overhead, and the car sales represent the profit (in most cases), I find it difficult to believe these manufacturers are unwilling or unable to work with their retail stores to move these cars.

        Every company operates at a loss once in a while, and these manufacturers need to re-tool their business models in order to accommodate their overstock.

        A small lost in the short-term can mean profits down the road. For example, Mr. Average Joe buys a new car at a loss to the dealer, that dealer should be able to make up the difference and then some on service, considering people do not want to buy cars now, their service departments will begin to see more profitability, since people will most likely spend more on keep their car in good running order.

        I sold cars for 5 years, and one thing I implemented in my sales pitch was the average cost of maintenance each year, (not including repairs or warantee work) for a minimum of 5 years, giving my customers a close approximation of what a new car actually costs. Some people didn’t like that, but for the most part, that up-front approach probably got me an extra 4 cars sold each month.

        Anyone can sell you a car, but who’s going to be there for you, when you need service? The guy who he details up front represents the store that wants to service you.

  3. qcgallus says:

    Dammit, you beat me to the comment.

    As supply is much higher than demand, doesn’t basic high school economics state that you lower price to get the two equal? Bring them below “employee pricing” and start pricing them to SELL.

    • TheRedSeven says:

      @qcgallus: This works, to a point. The business model of companies like Pets.com was “We’ll sell at a loss and make it up in volume.” If you reduce the price below your costs, you go out of business.

      If you can’t reduce your costs as your prices are forced down, you go out of business. Unless you can convince someone to give you $25 billion.

      • hippybear says:

        @TheRedSeven: but… if you are hurting to badly for money that you feel you have to beg for it, don’t you try to liquidate whatever you may have which is sellable, even if that means you do it below cost? Raising funds in an emergency situation, when you have millions of dollars of unsold inventory, may mean taking a loss so you can forestall and perhaps avoid collapse.

      • floraposte says:

        @TheRedSeven: But isn’t it more economical to get something, even if it’s below cost, for existing inventory? Or are there tax breaks and corporate deals that make it not the dealer’s problem?

        • dragonfire81 says:

          @floraposte: Too far below cost is not worth it though. It would be like a PS3 selling for $75. Sure you got a good deal, but the seller is out several hundred dollars and it may have been better for him to just hold on to the darned thing until demand goes up.

      • TechnoDestructo says:

        @TheRedSeven:

        This isn’t a situation where they should be concerned with making a profit, but with cutting their losses. Moving product would do that.

    • Snarkysnake says:

      @qcgallus:

      Yours is a good question.I believe that a lot of the hangup is with the dealers. Sharpie salesmen,confusing (and deceptive) financing and peek-a-boo fees certainly give me pause about buying a car in this environment.It’s much more comforting to make a major purchase like a car when you are reasonably certain that you are not being screwed six ways from Sunday.That could have something to do with the relative strength of Toyota,Honda and ,to a lesser extent Nissan’s ,sales over the last few months. The whole cat and mouse game that dealers play is just a huge turnoff for me. The way that cars are sold is old,inefficient and in many cases ,shameful.

  4. no.no.notorious says:

    maybe because every house in america doesn’t need 10 cars and a hummer. i think there are some people who are scrimping as well as people getting smarter about their money. one thing that always baffles me is how many clothing stores exist. does each consumer need THAT many tshirts and tank tops?

    I really think something positive is going to come out of this in terms of people’s spending habits for the long run.

  5. Oranges w/ Cheese says:

    @HFC: And obviously they’re worried about their profits and paychecks or they wouldn’t be asking for free money when loan options are ALREADY available to them, and they’re ignoring them.

  6. Oranges w/ Cheese says:

    As much as I’d love to get a steal on a nice luxury car, I’m just now paying off my very first car and its pretty much financially ruined me just taking on this loan. The extra money after its paid off will help. A LOT.

  7. Fist-o™ says:

    Pfft. I started putting feelers out for a minivan, and the USED Honda Odysseys are going for around 22k when Kelley Blue Book says they are supposed to be 12-16k.

    • Jesse says:

      @Fist-oâ„¢:

      Imports are still overpriced for what the market is. However, that could be due to the strong Yen, which makes exports from Japan more expensive.

      • B says:

        @Jesse: A strong Yen shouldn’t be effecting the prices of USED Hondas. The perceived high fuel economy of Hondas might, however.

        • KyleOrton says:

          @B: The perception is correct, but you’re wrong on the first point (in theory, I don’t know if that’s what is happening). The Yen affects new prices and used prices are just new – X. For Honda, X is a much smaller number than Chevy (that’s where perceived quality and fuel economy come in).

          This is why people who bought a Chevy before they intro’d employee pricing will be screwed when they try to sell.

      • MrEvil says:

        @Jesse: That might be true in the new market. But Fist-o already said he was looking for used.

        My guess is the dealers are under the mistaken impression that as long as it doesn’t say Ford, GM, or Chrysler anywhere on it that it’s still a sellers market. which is for the most part true with used imports that are on the miserly side of the fuel economy spectrum.

  8. qcgallus says:

    Well I’m wondering, what would cost more: to house the cars at the port of entry (and state fairgrounds), or to price them just barely above the cost of manufacture?

    @Oranges w/ Cheese: That seems to be precisely the reason that people aren’t buying cars right now. I, for one, would *love* to get a new car (or anything with less than 200K miles), but am intimidated by the current pricing, even as low as it is. If prices for a Ford Focus, for example, went to $9,000 or so, I would get a loan in a heartbeat.

    • lowlight69 says:

      @qcgallus:
      Have you looked at Honda Fits? I’m a huge Honda fan so take the with a grain of salt. but the Fits are not that bad price wise. I just had a my old car die (1996 Honda prelude) and bought a Honda CRV. did my research and was able to get a screaming deal. Honda financing was having a good loan program as well.

      • qcgallus says:

        @lowlight69: I have looked at the Honda FIT, and I like what I see. For a while I was leaning towards a new FIT, but my credit is horrible (thank you school loans/low [read: no] paycheck) and my credit union probably would not provide financing. I am still looking at them, though. Manual all the way! Plus Honda has the one thing I value the most in a car: trust. My ’87 325i, while I love it, will fail to start in the winter.

      • nataku8_e30 says:

        @lowlight69: Are you kidding? The Fit is by far the most expensive of the subcompact market, and since they’re selling so well (still), Honda wont discount them. You pretty much can’t get one for less than 15k, which is Ford Focus territory. I’m not saying it’s not worth it, the Fit is a great car and holds its value incredibly well, it’s pretty much just the opposite of what qcgallus talking about.

        • Saboth says:

          @nataku83:

          Yeah, I’ve been keeping my eye on the fit. There is nothing that is really as sporty, economical, and nicely made with that many options on the market. The Mazda 3 comes close, but is more expensive (hatchback). Hell,I’d love to get a used fit, but dealers are selling THOSE for 16-18k, even with 20k miles on them!

          Too bad Ford/Chevy/GM doesn’t offer *anything* remotely similar to the Mazda3/Fit, or I’d give them a chance. A pos AVEO isn’t going to cut the mustard.

          • Orv says:

            @Saboth: The Aveo is actually a badge-engineered Daewoo, anyway. It’s nothing special but for the price it seems like a pretty solid car.

            • naosuke says:

              @Orv: I can’t speak for an aveo, but I used to own a 2000 daewoo lanos, and I would heavily recommend against it. In the first 3 years I had the car the Brake line snapped, the electrical harness failed, a cylinder stopped firing, the transmission got disconnected from the engine, and my radiator fell off. Over the next four years things were pretty much your normal car issues (belt and hose broke respectively) except that my blinker stick broke off and I had to hand signal for almost a year straight. Don’t get a daewoo.

              • nataku8_e30 says:

                @naosuke: Emergency brake line snapped, or you ruptured a hydraulic brake line? Was your car in an accident? The problems you’re describing sound like serious structural failures… (I can’t imagine how the transmission could be disconnected from the engine, although I could see a torque converter / clutch failing, radiators are usually pretty well integrated into the front of the car, not sure how one could just fall off without being in an accident…)

              • postmodernism says:

                @naosuke: I have a friend who drove a 2000 Daewoo Lanos.

                Drove it, that is, until it literally just started falling apart on the freeway. Nuts, bolts, and then slightly larger, more important metal began to just fall off while we drove.

                Daewoo was already out of business by this time, of course.

            • freelunch says:

              @Orv: driving the Aveo on the highway with a decent cross wind will make you fear for your life. it just doesn’t feel stable.

    • Oranges w/ Cheese says:

      @qcgallus: Yar. I took over the loan for my car about 2 years ago, and though the montly payment isn’t all that bad, the money could be better spent elsewhere – especially now. So to expedite the situation I basically liquidated my savings account to get it down to 3 more payments. When that’s over and done with, I hope to not have to buy a car for several more years. I’ll keep “paying” the payment back into the savings account and hopefully have a decent stash by this time next year.

      I swear… I’m never going to be able to afford a house either >_<

  9. B says:

    Any BMW 128s? Manual transmission only.

  10. Git Em SteveDave loves this guy--> says:

    NJ has lots like this near Port Newark. They are usually full of cars. In fact, that’s what I thought this was a picture of with the Pulaski Skyway or another bridge in the background.

  11. Cruc says:

    My family’s newest car has 85K and needs work that we’re not willing to put into it, so we’re reluctantly placing our toe in the market for a new/used minivan.

    We havne’t had a car payment in seven years and my wife and I are absolutely loathing the idea of buying a new or even new/used vehicle in these times, but what can you do? You gotta have good reliable transportation for your spouse/children, and it does us no long term good to buy something that doesn’t meet our needs or to put tons of money in a vehicle that will keep on needing more and more$$$ to keep going and will still be that old vehicle.

    Sigh.

    • John says:

      @Cruc: 85k is not that much. We just put $1600 into our used Hyundai with 88k. If you have paid it off already, then consider the repairs to be a discounted payment that if you bought a new car would be WAY more, and for a lot longer.

      Are you really certain that your car will need more work in the future, or just justifying really wanting a new car?

    • B says:

      @Cruc: Ask yourself this, which would cost more, the repairs for a year on the car you have, or a years worth of payments on a new/used car?

      • Cruc says:

        Let’s see: 1998 Old Sillouette, 90K (not 85…I’m geezing). Needs intake gasket as it’s beginning to seep antifreeze (known GM issue on this engine, but they never did a recall on it the bastages). Needs front calipers and breaks-again. needs rear shocks (has special air adjusted shocks…not inexpensive.) We spent close to 1K last summer for master cylinder/ABS computer replacement alone.

        Among other little things such as electrical gremlins that come and go, and it’s not getting any more reliable or younger either.

        We could spend 3-4K on this stuff (and I do do as much as I can).

        Or, I could call it even, get what I can for it and put that amount into a newer more reliable van.

        My car (a 95 Maxima) has 180K, so I understand long term use and how to get there.

        We’re jsut not going to get there with this van, and it doesn’t make long term financial or mental health sense to try methinks.

        C-

        • seandavid010 says:

          @Cruc: Man, I hear ya. My wife and I just got rid of our 2002 Ford Explorer after our warranty expired. I was holding my breath waiting for the tranny to fail spectacularly (as these 2002s are known to do) and we decided that we could either get rid of it or wait for a shitstorm to the tune of about $5k. So we put it up for sale, after saving our money for about 8 or 9 months. Fortunately the market for used SUVs and trucks in SE Idaho isn’t as dead as the rest of the nation. In the two weeks it was parked waiting to be sold, the AC quit working, and the two rear windows stopped functioning. I count myself lucky that I crawled out from under this thing before it really decided to crap out on me, and am enjoying my 2009 Accord immensely. Oh, and I got a killer deal on it, too.

        • Orv says:

          @Cruc: Your call, but you might get more miles out of it. My girlfriend’s ’99 Malibu had the intake gasket fix several years ago, and it’s now past 100,000 miles without further issues. It does tend to warp brake rotors, but there’s some factory in China just churning the things out for $30 each, so it’s hard to get too worked up about that. (We live in a hilly area, too, which is hard on brakes.) I swapped both front rotors in a couple hours, one afternoon. I have to credit GM’s design for one thing — ease of maintenance. This is the easiest car to do a brake job on I’ve ever seen.

    • econobiker says:

      @Cruc: If you spend less than $1500 a year on maintenance items on a paid-for car then you are ahead of the game. And add this up too so that one year you are in for $500- the next year $2500…

      Learn how to drive a stick shift. That will save gas and expense for replacement when automatic transmissions die…

      If possible- do the work yourself. If not try and get a good local garage.

      Buying a popular model car helps for parts availabilities via aftermarket, internet, and auto recyclers (junk yards).

      Fore go systems that don’t work but don’t contribute to the cars running. A/C is the biggest version of this- there are now companies which make idler wheels to replace the A/C compressor allowing you to keep the cars original size belt(s) or get the non-A/C version belt if available.

      Buy new and run it into the ground. If you don’t get 10 years out of a car you are doing something wrong.

      I own a 1995 Dodge Neon 4dr bought new in late 1994 by my now ex-wife- 14 year old car with 247,000 miles.

    • GoPadge says:

      @Cruc: Seriously, don’t be an idiot. 85K is nothing. I dropped $1500 for a rebuilt transmission for my ’97 Jetta two years ago. It had 185K. Do the math, $1500 / 24 months = $62 per month. What’s your new car payment going to be? And for how long?

    • Xerloq says:

      @Cruc: my 1955 Camry just hit 85K. You heard me right. ’95 Camry.

      My two other cars are ’98 Escorts. They all run just fine. If the cost of repairs for the year is less than the payments, I repair it. Especially since my Escorts get between 38 and 40MPG. I’ll fix them till they can’t be fixed anymore even with gas at $1.71 locally.

      Cartalk and Alldata DIY are your friends.

    • shepd says:

      @Cruc:

      I wish I could find it for you, but there was a study done on the value of keeping an old beater going vs. buying new vs. buying newer used vehicles.

      In no case whatsoever was buying a new car worth it financially. In most all it is best to keep the beater running.

      I look at it like this: Add up the maximum costs for repairing every major thing on your car and I bet you’ll come up with a figure around $6,000. Once that’s all done, you’ve almost got a new car. Can you buy a new Camry for that? I doubt it.

      Although, I admit, new cars look nice and have lots of fun features. :-)

  12. Oranges w/ Cheese says:

    It just got to a point of no return and crashed – people kept fueling up their SUV’s well into $3 gas so they kept pushing. Looks like $4 was the breaking point. Everyone sold off their SUV’s for cheaper smaller cars and now they’re sitting on them.

    Its the car companies fault for EXPECTING consumers to buy a new car every 2 years. Normally those are on Lease, which is really really profitable for them, but no one can get credit right now and no one wants to pay the inflated lease payments when they can own for half as much.

    • highpitch_83 says:

      @Oranges w/ Cheese: Ahh yes, the Wal-mart theory:
      purchase product for $25.00
      product breaks and can either be repaired for $20.00 or replaced for $25.00 so why not just get a new one right?!

  13. TrueBlue63 says:

    There is a cyclical nature to the behavior of consumers. It has been studied both here and abroad. When people are psychologically convinced that they are living during High Times, they have a need for luxury goods, and to show others their wealth. Think Victorian England, and Pre Bubble Japan, as well as US recently,

    Now we seem to be entering a period where people are convinced that we will be poorer and live less well. The Mercedes that used to display your success, now displays your poor judgment. In the past frugal was cheap, now it is becoming clever.

    The longer this malaise lasts the harder it becomes to mass retail luxury goods.

    You don’t see big discounts, because it could cannibalize the luxury brand recognition that the manufacturer has worked so hard to cultivate. But eventually even that changes.

    Patience, Patience, in all things patience.

  14. nataku8_e30 says:

    If they want, I’d be willing to store one of those cars for them at my place, no charge! All I ask is to be able to put a few miles on it while they’re trying to arrange for a buyer.

  15. Jubilance22 says:

    Being from Michigan, I grew up seeing huge parking lots full of brand new cars straight off the line. It never seemed weird to me.

  16. Swifty says:

    Personally I’m hoping to score a deal on a hybrid around Christmastime. Auto companies are hurting, gas is down under $2/gallon. And my 25-gallon tank pickup truck is having transmission issues which may cost more to fix than it’s worth.

    I hate car shopping.

  17. LatherRinseRepeat says:

    With all that surplus, I’m guessing manufacturers will be offering more incentives/rebates. And they’ll probably be offering some decent leasing promotions. This will be a good time to buy a car. Well, for people who have been financially responsible that is. :-)

    • MrsLopsided says:

      @LatherRinseRepeat: Car manufacturers are getting out of leasing – Chrysler is out. They got burnt by deep discounts/rebates a few years ago and falling resale prices – and left holding the bag and unable to recoup their loss at lease end. Financing options now are bank loans or bank leases. Harder to get credit = fewer car sales.

      • Orv says:

        @MrsLopsided: Ultimately that’s a good thing for consumers. Leases are a ripoff anyway.

        • TechnoDestructo says:

          @Orv:

          Not if you can write off the cost of the lease, they aren’t.

          That’s about the only situation where they aren’t.

      • TechnoDestructo says:

        @MrsLopsided:
        Companies with decent resale values are still leasing, and will probably continue. I believe it’s Toyota who is currently running an ad talking about how “SOME COMPANIES” won’t lease anymore, but WE still are!

  18. Saboth says:

    I’m kinda wondering where the market will go. Right now a lot of companies are doing rebates, red tags, employee pricing and most are doing 0% financing (although only 36 months which is weird). But most of the deals are nothing special compared to what we’ve seen over the past year or 2.

    If the financial markets keep going down, it will be harder to get good financing in the future, but you might be able to get more cash back or get cars around or below invoice.

  19. El_Fez says:

    Whatever you do, dont take a picture of those cars. Toyota might get pissed at you for it!

  20. adent1066 says:

    Why would a Mercedes be shipped thru the Port of Long Beach, wouldn’t an East Coast port be closer to the source ?

  21. chrisjames says:

    Yeah, this shouldn’t be a surprise. Even without a falling economy and people cutting back spending. The car companies have been pushing for this result for years, maybe decades, or perhaps from the beginning.

    I’ve always wondered at the insane number of car ads on TV. You practically can’t get through a single prime-time commercial block without seeing at least one car ad, and it’s more likely you’ll see two or more. I remember a few times of sitting through a commercial block of nothing but car commercials! All of the hit shows we’ve watched were heavily sponsored by a car company (i.e. 24 – Ford, Heroes – Nissan, etc).

    Also, both the manufacturer and dealer commercials give off an infomercial vibe. Unlike medication commercials, they seem to represent each car as exactly the one you’ve been looking for all this time. It’s never, “trust in Toyota” or “make your next car a Toyota;” it’s “come on in to Bill McPressure’s Toyota today” or “Toyota now offering 0% financing, act now.” It’s just as high-pressure as furniture ads.

    Listen guys, consumers and businessmen alike, these are things that should not and will not be bought often. Once you get your demographic’s worth of people into a new, reliable car, you’ve killed your customer base, if there ever was one to begin with. When your business model is to sell large purchases in volume, volume that has to be on-hand, then even a small change in spending habits or consumer values is going to murder you. And these changes are inevitable.

    Once they figure out and perfect the practice of selling cars online, then this model will work. This implosion of car sales may at least cut out some of those damned commercials. I haven’t seen a Ford one in a long time.

    • CRSpartan01 says:

      @chrisjames: Apparently you haven’t watched television lately. They’ve plastered Toby Keith’s ugly mug all over, all the time, to peddle their wares.

    • Raiders757 says:

      @chrisjames:

      You hit on something I have been thinking about for some time now.

      Cars and trucks are way overpriced. They have been for a very long time, and I have never bought into the reasons we are given by the industry. My friend bought a truck last year, and it was almost $40,000. That’s just not right, no matter the package that comes with it. No truck should be market up that high no matter the bells and whistles it has. It’s just absurd.

      The cost of advertising is through the roof. I can’t image the budget they set aside for this. It must be huge, and you know darn good and well who are paying for it. Maybe if they cut back on the adds, it ould free a good bit of cash up. I’m so sick of car commercials, be them from local dealers, or the factories.

      They need to rework their business model, and find a way to sell cars at a more affordable rate. It’s not worth it trying to pay off a car with a monthly rate that’s almost as much as your mortgage. It’s not worth taking a huge hit when paying it off over the long haul either. Buying new just doesn’t make any sense anymore, and hasn’t for a very long time.

      • JiminyChristmas says:

        @Raiders757: The profit margins on light trucks are huge, but that’s not so much the case with most cars. I think a big part of it is that a base model car of today has a hell of a lot more equipment in it than a base car of 10 or 15 years ago. Some of it mandated, like airbags or emission controls, some not, like power steering or air conditioning.

        I’m sure there are people who would be interested in a very low-cost stripped-down car, but I don’t think it’s enough of a market segment that automakers even think about it. There are very few people interested in a car with no power steering or AC. Likewise, the automakers don’t want to sell econoboxes. They would prefer to sell something with power windows, keyless entry, ABS and a bunch of other options that give them something to mark up.

        • TechnoDestructo says:

          @JiminyChristmas:

          Yeah, well, the Indians or Chinese or Malaysians would be glad to step in and fill that niche.

          So would the Japanese, for that matter. Have you taken a look at the JDM product lines of any of the major Japanese manufacturers? They’re chock full of dozens of flavors of econobox.

          I blame FMVSS.

  22. pecan 3.14159265 says:

    I ditched my benz after the latest problem with the steering was going to cost upwards of $5,000. I tell you, if you’re thinking about that luxury vehicle, take into account the cost of ownership. For the first 5 years it was fine, and then it started to have some problems. Each problem meant dollars out of my wallet, at a much higher amount than a non-luxury car would cost. I know, it’s a Mercedes, it’s a luxury car, but I couldn’t afford to keep paying that kind of money for upkeep, so I ditched it and got a Nissan. It handles beautifully, and I find that even though I miss my in-dash navigation and my six-CD changer, the Nissan is more fun to drive and gets better gas mileage.

    • revmatty says:

      @IHaveAFreezeRay: I had a BMW for about 3 years. In that time I spent an average of $3000/year on MAINTENANCE. Not repairs, routine maintenance. Absolutely absurd, and it took months to find a buyer for it at a loss (this was pre housing bubble burst, as well). I will never again get a luxury car. My uncle warned me, having owned several luxury money pits over the years, I just didn’t listen.

      • Orv says:

        @revmatty: I know what you mean. I had an old Mercedes for a while. It was a great car, and very durable. The problem was “normal” mechanics wouldn’t work on it, and Mercedes specialists figure everyone who owns a Mercedes has deep, deep pockets.

        • pecan 3.14159265 says:

          @Orv: And the insane part of that was the fact that when you drive it in, a number of things could be wrong, and you couldn’t get a second opinion because these people were “specialists” and they had fancy gadgets and computers to tell you which part of your car was broken (and probably most expensive to fix). Even an oil change was $50, and fixing a cupholder meant money.

      • pecan 3.14159265 says:

        @revmatty: The biggest factor in ditching it was the fact that I didn’t purchase the vehicle to begin with, and by the time I started to pay my own bills, what’s a 23 year old college kid going to make to pay for $3,000 of maintenance costs?

      • howie_in_az says:

        @revmatty: Which BMW did you have?

    • TechnoDestructo says:

      @IHaveAFreezeRay:
      You could buy an aftermarket in-dash nav unit and CD changer, you know. And it would be cheaper (probably cheaper than the factory option) and probably more reliable, too.

      And yeah, Mercedes has been struggling with reliability since the 90s.

  23. AnonyLawyer says:

    I have a 2000 Accord w/ 115k miles on it…I will run it to the ground to avoid an unecessary car payment…

  24. dangermike says:

    Nice picture but I’m a little disappointed the photographer chose the Gerald Desmond Bridge. Vincent Thomas has so much more character. I guess the angle wouldn’t have lined up right with the cars, though. Oh well. (I can see them both from my window at work)

  25. chauncy that billups says:

    I’ve got $20 to take one of those Benzes off their hands…hell, I’ll settle for a Nissan.

  26. Skipweasel says:

    I’ve never bought a new car, nor am I ever likely to. There’s plenty of old bangers around – buy one for £300 and run it into the ground, which usually takes a couple of years. They don’t break down any more often than newer vehicles in my experience, and you don’t have to worry about dents and muddy kids.

  27. resonanteye says:

    I’ve got …*checks pocket*…$123.75. I’ll take a toyota, and a bale of cardboard for my compost heap.

  28. howie_in_az says:

    @EtoilePB: If the five-year-old car works fine, do you really need to go get a Beemer? Even a cheap one?

    Protip: Beemers are the bikes, Bimmers are the cars.

    And yes, I need a new E90/E92 M3. Or a used E46 M3. Just so long as it’s an M3. I’d get better financing on a new one (0.9%) than a used one (at least 4.9%), but I need one so very much.

  29. dreamsneverend says:

    I’d buy one if cars dropped in price like houses so when the market sucks!

  30. cottiescot says:

    I appreciate all of you that keep your cars for 50 years til they have a millions miles on them, but at what point is enough enough? Why would you willing pour 5k into a car that is worth 2500? How is that economically sensible? I personally replace my cars every 150k because thats about how long Domestic cars last.

  31. Daveinva says:

    What I always find entertaining about these stories (here, or at Jalopnik) is how they’re guaranteed to bring the car cranks out of the woodwork, each of them playing “Top that story.”

    “*I* won’t have this problem, I’m driving a Toyota with a 100K miles on it, I’m gonna drive that into the ground!”

    “Oh yeah? Well, you’re stupid– you should be driving a 200K mile Honda like I am.”

    “Really? Dumb ass probably bought your car this century. Mine is twenty years old, and runs like the day I bought it!”

    Etc., etc.

    Look– people buy new cars. *Brand new* cars. For a lot of reasons. All the time. It’s not a dumb purchase to buy a new car, and it’s not a dumb purchase to buy a new car every five years or so. If you have the means, and you have a reason, then go ahead and do it.

    Me? Here’s my “top that story”– I drive a 2002 Mazda Protege with only 41,000 miles on it. At that rate, this car will last me until the day I die, AND it’s paid off.

    You know what? I’m probably going to buy a new car next year. Why? Because they’re going to be cheap, and I’d like a new car, and I’d like a *different* car. And why new? Because I plan on keeping anything I purchase long enough to be paid off.

    To each their own.

    Oh, and one last bit: you do know that everyone making the decision to *not* spend money is only going to make this worse, right? I’m not arguing for assuming debt, and I’m not arguing against saving. But the “turtle mentality,” when multiplied across the entire country, is going to make matters a lot worse than they probably should be.

    There is never a “perfect time” to buy a car, or buy a house, switch jobs, get married, or have children. You place a reasonable bet, and you live with the inevitable consequences of imperfect knowledge in your decisionmaking.

  32. highpitch_83 says:

    @undefined: @ADismalScience: Isn’t part of running a business being able to forecast these sort of down turns? Obviously few could’ve anticipated this big of a decline but even 5 years ago things had begun to slow and had the big three scaled back then they wouldn’t be hurting AS bad now.

    I work for a company of only 46 employees and we do 1, 3, 5 & 10 yr projections based on current and past market conditions. One would think that each of these companies has a staff dedicated to that ALONE of about the same number of people. yeah?

  33. drjayphd says:

    As a great man once said… with so much drama in the LBC, it’s kinda hard bein Snoop D-O-double-G. But I, somehow, some way, keep comin’ up with funky ass shit like every single day.

    I hope that helps car manufacturers the world over.

  34. DrJimmy says:

    There’s a similar image of a new-car parking lot next to a giant bridge at the Port of Houston.

    I feel bad for all of the hourly wage people in the auto biz.

    I also hear the sound of knives sharpening for the three CEOs of the US auto makers, having traveled individually in private jets to beg for a Federal bailout. Appearance counts, boys.

  35. J.Heck says:

    Oh this is classic. You think this is something new?? You guys haven’t been in Toledo, Ohio, in, oh, the last 4 years. Let me repeat, 4 YEARS. First, the Jeeps started stockpiling in the parking lot of the old Jeep plant on Stickney Ave. Then they started filling the parking lot of the old Northtown Mall up in northern Toledo. Then there was a place over on Byrne Rd in an old railroad yard. Then the parking lot of of the Woodville Mall began to fill. THEN they built a new parking lot across from the new Jeep Plant… to stockpile MORE cars in; straight from the line, across the road, into the lot!! We’ve been seeing Jeeps stockpiled all over Toledo for ages.

  36. NeonNoodle says:

    @ dragonfire81

    Hah what you just said is the reason the US is in the crapshack its in now. Youd rather hold on to something that will make you money now (when you really need it) In the bloated assumption that it will be worth more later. Housing, Loans, Cars (before leaving the lot of course), any anything anyone else invests in nowadays. People always assume their stuff (crap) is going to be worth more later. Just keep holding on to it, mabe Jesus will buy it when he gets back. /Sarcasm

  37. RogueWarrior65 says:

    Let’s not forget the sheer stupidity of offering “cash back”. Do they think that people are THAT friggin’ stupid that they think they’re getting something special? Just drop the price.

    Oh, and now there’s the plethora of robot telemarketing phone calls telling me that my warranty is about to expire. Um, dude, seriously, I drive a 1986 Toyota 4Runner.