Originally used as a basic transportation for home and business, the car has become so much more since the days of the Ford Model T. Today it supports a major industry as well as wonderful comfort and a better standard of living. for many. But the negative aspects of this great invention are now more evident.
Consider the mess that cars are causing in our beautiful natural world as they spread smoke and noise in a once serene environment. And in their production and use, automobiles consume Mother Nature’s resources at an ever-increasing rate.
As in other industries, the drive by car companies to make higher profits has changed the way cars are produced, marketed and sold to consumers. The product manufacturers want to sell the most is not their basic transportation needs, and advertising departments are working feverishly to influence their choices. They’ve done a good job of marketing over the last few decades as new owners take pride in parking stunning, shiny, new-style cars in their driveways, much like TV commercials.
Cars are aggressively marketed for maximum corporate sales and profits, as in other areas of merchandising. As long as companies need to increase their bottom line, their efforts to sell products, good and sometimes bad, will be strenuous in the face of stiff competition.
This one is bigger and more expensive because the sales strategy is not new. In a dealership showroom back in the 1950s, I had my mind set on a certain economic model, but I was continually being pushed away from it. In fact, the seller refused to sell me the smaller model and I left. 35 years later and in a showroom helping my daughter with her choice and cost concerns, the salesperson approached me and asked; “Who is going to buy this car, you or her?” While we were on our way to another dealer, I commented that he must have some personal problems, maybe at home, maybe with his sales manager.
The automotive industry is an excellent example of how smart marketing can sell maximum corporate profits. Consider the car commercials on television; They are not seriously trying to sell simple little cars that consume the least amount of resources. Most are for bigger, more flashy looks, and with added features your friends will envy. Hybrid or electric vehicles may take the lead in the next few years, but they will be built at a high price and sold for maximum profit. Most by far will not be modest in design.
Along with continually remodeled styles, newer products can include frivolous gadgets and features that appear to be good selling points if marketed correctly. And there has been a strategy in which the size of a model grows year after year until it is time to buy again; so your favorite model has grown in size, features, and cost, and should increase considerably more than expected. Because what will your neighbors think if the option is to downsize to a more practical purchase like the one you want to exchange?
Car commercials are among the loudest on television and can interfere with family conversation if they are not muted. But the invasive annoying clamor attracts attention and results; This is how much of advertising works. For them it is rude and direct. By targeting the young and young at heart, commercials often sensationalize performance by showing high-speed maneuvers on city streets and highways. They are sending the wrong message considering the lives lost at excessive driving speeds. This is insensitive and harmful but it sells product. One has to wonder where the corporate manager’s conscience hides; ethics may be a detriment to promotion to senior management positions in some companies.
The general result of many years of this massive marketing effort is that cars are now commonly bought for a superficial status, although they can be too expensive when they exceed the budget or the needs of the owner.
It is unfortunate that consumers in the wealthiest areas of the world are so infatuated with these “Look At Me” cars, which are spacious, stylish and not environmentally friendly. But that’s what they’ve been telling us to buy, most days of the year; and we are like sheep when we are led into the showrooms of industry.
They are taking us for a ride.
Marketing and branding are continually at work, so the continual drive to consume more steel, plastic, oil and gas. But why would the industry promote a commodity that represents modest, supportive, and friendly lifestyles when it would downsize?
On television, during a previous oil crisis, a smiling spokesman for the Automobile Association argued why they were not marketing more smaller cars. “People couldn’t just sell their cars and buy smaller ones.” The TV commercial that immediately followed the newsbyte was for a flashy full-size SUV. Fun and gloomy.
The friendliest vehicles are coming off the design board as public interest in the environment increases. Can consumers resist persuasions toward pizazz and the added extras that could lead to workplace parking? Can we practically expect them to become cheap cars? Of course, there is a case for greater comfort for longer rides, but where is the practical limit?
Let’s face it, this inefficient, expensive, and unnatural way of getting around needs to be changed. It may be necessary to have a car to get to work, school, and shopping; This is how planning has designed our urban layouts, but it has turned out to be a big mistake.
Even if we are inclined to use public transportation, it probably isn’t there or is impractical to use if the government has had other interests. And if it’s available and convenient, it’s probably still not what most would consider; everyone else is driving and Peter has a new Super Spitter XYZ !!
The public’s desire to improve the way we live and treat the environment will change, but it won’t be easy if we continually face massive persuasions to consume more. This necessary means of transport needs a review of its design, marketing and effects on society. The average person doesn’t need luxury on wheels when they spend only a few hours a week in the car. The car also does not require fast speed and polluting power to drive within the speed limit. A description of the fuel efficient car should include: The smallest vehicle that meets your transportation needs with reasonable comfort.
The automobile should occupy a less destructive and healthier place in our society, but can it happen? When the auto industry hit a brick wall during the financial crisis, the rescued industry reorganized, redesigned, and rearranged for energy efficiency to some degree. Then came the well-known and ostentatious ‘Show Me Off’ commercials. There is little advertising for small and simple transports, so they can later proclaim that people did not want to buy them.
Why not review your car requirements to see if you can make some changes to the more basic and reduced selection. And consider a reduction in usage. If public transportation is available, give it a try. I have been positively surprised by how comfortable and relaxing it can be to travel by public transport. The trip is free time and there are no expensive parking requirements when you arrive.
Businesses must continue to make money, and therefore a brick wall attack is possible unless politicians make a serious and timely effort to address these issues for society and nature.
If emerging economies follow the same pattern as us, won’t this world be a great disaster?
Albert Einstein once noted: “We will need a substantially new way of thinking for humanity to survive.” We better start changing soon as time is running out.