Monday, January 11, 2010

My Apology to Ford Motors and to Nissan

I would like to formally apologize to Ford Motors and to Nissan. I did not purchase a 2010 Ford Fusion hybrid, the way I planned to. I am sorry. I had a slight windfall from my summer teaching, and I planned to use it for a down payment.

(I know that I've used that photo recently, but it's more germane this time.)

I could explain why I didn't use that money for the down payment. The Cash for Clunkers program was going, and many people were saying that there simply were no good cars to get at that time, that the fuel efficient vehicles would not come to market for a year or two. Oh, I once told someone that I wanted my next vehicle to be a Chevy Volt, but I was joking. After all, I suspect that the Volt will never exist.

In fact, if anyone who reads this knows a journalist, would that person mind suggesting a topic of investigation: the Chevy Volt. It would be dead easy to track when GM has made press releases for the Volt. Simply put those in one column of a word processor, and in the other column, track gasoline prices the week or the two weeks before. Then look at the releases/sales of fuel efficient vehicles by other manufacturers. I would venture a thesis that General Motors will never produce the Volt, that it is merely the "clean coal" of GM: a public relations device designed to keep the public and press from asking them why they have no fuel efficient vehicles available for sale in the U.S. I could be wrong. They only have to make the car to prove me wrong. I doubt they will, but a journalist could help matters (and the country) by making this bluff more well known.

Anyway, news began to reach me that my job was not secure. Then word reached me that my employer would no longer make contributions to my retirement. Then word reached me that my employer was going to "look at" health insurance. I knew that meant that the prescription plan would go the way of the Dodo, or at least the way of the Buffalo (rare, expensive, dangerous). I held my money in fear and spent it on books and CD's and pills and car repairs.

"What a jovial and merry world would this be, may it please your worships, but for that inextricable labyrinth of debts, cares, woes, want, grief, discontent, melancholy, large jointures, impositions, and lies!" -- Corporal Trim to Uncle Toby

I also need to apologize at the same time to Nissan Motors. I have owned Nissan cars before. I cannot say that my Datsun 310 hatchback was an especially happy relationship, but it was a long relationship. If a marriage is miserable, at least it might be long. (I got rid of it for a Subaru that made me very happy. That car was everything my Nutsad was not.) I am willing, more than willing, to believe that the 310 hatchback I had was the worst Datsun ever made and that I was unlucky. I am ready to love again, and Nissan is about to offer something that would make me very, very, very happy: the LEAF.

I want that to be visible again: the Nissan LEAF is going to be an ideal second car.

97% of Americans drive less than 80 miles in a day.

Most of us drive less than 60 miles in a day.

So, a totally electric car that goes 100 miles on a charge will mean all of your daily driving without using a single drop of gasoline. It means being in rush hour driving with no noise, no stink. It means an acceleration curve that can only be beat with a drag racer. It means going very fast. It means going for $0.02 per mile. My current car gets 29 mpg, and I drive for $0.09/mile. It means that it's the equivalent of gasoline costing $1.00 a gallon.

If you have trains or planes, you can take those for your long trips. If you have a second vehicle, you can use that for your long trips. The LEAF is going to cost the same as any other mid-sized sedan.

I want it.

I won't get it. I'm sorry.

Ok, so I'm poor. We'll grant that at the outset. I make less per year, net, than the car will cost, probably, or just about the same. That's one factor. The economy is scary, and my job is scary, as stated above. But that's not what I wanted to say. If I wanted to say that, I would only be saying what everyone says.

Instead, I wanted to point out to the auto companies that I have already purchased a car, despite not having a new car. You see, I have to stay alive. To do that, I am assured that I need to stay on male contraceptives, heart thinners, scab breakers, sugar eaters, and palliatives. Now, lets take all the co-pays and the "premium non-formulary" charges and add them together, and then lets take the charges for the insurance premium itself and add that in. Guess what? It's more than a car payment.

Ok, and then let's toss in my foolishness, my luxuries. We'll take my satellite radio per month, my Netflix per month, and my ISP. All of these are small. None hurts. Why, it's piddling. I can afford it! Let's add them together, though.

The point that I am making, here, is that economists wonder and manufacturers fear and fume that Americans are not purchasing. Oh, yes we are. When our purchases, our major purchases, are already made in the form of maintaining our lives, we're not buying cars. When the majority of us are indebted to live, we do not live beyond the debt.

Do we wish to? Oh, yes, but others have already calculated exactly how much we have left after our food has been consumed, and they have already taken it from us. If you want us to buy cars, work for prescription reform.