Welcome to Tom’s Autoblog

Posted: February 17, 2011 in Uncategorized
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So I finally decided to start writing a blog-mostly because I’m a journalist (well, I used to be at one point in my life) and cars are my passion. I also feel as though the automotive market is ever-changing, and is at one of it’s most interesting times right now. I will go into details as to why I feel that way for my first blog post.

It’s no secret that the economy has seen better days, and while a lot of headlines emphasize different areas that have been hit hard, such as real estate, it’s arguable that nothing has been hit harder than the automotive market. Don’t believe me? According to U.S. sales data (source: R.L. Polk & Co.) 2009 saw the lowest number of sales in 27 years. The number of cars sold from 2005 to 2009, the total amount sold during that period has dropped by nearly 40%. In other words, four years ago, auto dealers sold almost 7 million more cars than they did in 2009

. (2005 total vehicles sold in the US was slightly more than 17 million, 2009 it was 10.4). The data for 2010 is predicting to be marginally better than 2009. Does that mean it’s just tough times for the ‘big three’ U.S. auto manufacturers? No. Try factoring in every manufacturer from Japan to the UK, and all their dealers, and all the vendors that make parts for these vehicles, and the materials, and the accessory manufacturers and the list goes on. It’s not a small market, and it has taken a beating. Car guys have never had it so bad, but it’s not all doom and gloom. I have always believed in the idea that tough times only make us stronger. I may not have lived through the Great Depression, but I know for a fact that I have been to more job interviews than all my immediate family members combined, and I’m still working.

Despite hard economic times, cars are going through design changes we have never seen before. In the late 50’s we saw lots of chrome and new technology such as fuel injection and air conditioning. Largely though, cars didn’t change too much over the years, minus the chrome. They got meaner with big block, gas-guzzling motors and then they got small, and ugly. If you went out and bought a new pick up truck only 20 years ago, it came with practically nothing: no radio, no ac, no power windows-or power anything for that matter-no tow hitches and sometimes you didn’t even get a rear bumper! That’s changed, and trucks are not the only vehicles that now come with a ton of creature comforts. There are luxury cars that have heated, and cooled seats. Back-up cameras on trucks and SUVs are practically standard, and with wireless smartphones now attached to our hips, a lot of cars have the ability to synch with the driver’s phones, giving a whole new dimension to the idea of hands-free cell phone use, and this is a good thing as far as safety is concerned. GPS navigation keeps us from getting lost, but that’s not all technology has done, we are starting to see some cars now that can park themselves!  It seems as though every year some new piece of technology is making its way into our vehicles, and who knows, pretty soon we won’t even have to drive to work, our car will do it for us-at least that’s what I’m hoping for anyway. Of course the green movement, with hybrids and pure electric vehicles, is a whole topic on its own.

Technology though is not all that’s making headway in automotive design, cool new looking cars are coming on the market, some with retro-styling that at times makes you think it’s 1970 all over again. Take the new Camaro, Mustang and Challenger-all have a very 1969/1970 look to them. Mercedes is bringing back a gull-wing door car, and Cadillac has moved away from big luxury, to sleeker, sportier styling. All of this, remember, is being done at a time when money is tight, business is down and the future is uncertain. There is no doubt that the car is not going away, it’s evolving, and it’s nice to see that despite hard economic times, the automobile will continue to persevere.

  1. Kari Davisson says:

    You, Tom are a great writer! I’m glad you broke your own ice and started a blog — which I’m happily signing on to follow, in spite of the fact that it’s NOT about photography or rollerskating. 😉 Keep it up…and don’t hate on my temperature-controlled seat and synched technology crossover. Xena’s da BOMB!

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