Saturday, February 7, 2009

Car Dealers: Eat your Porky Options and We'll Buy Cars Again (and more)

A memo that didn't cross my desk this week: America's car dealers have a bunch of unsold cars on their lots.

Well, I am the Car Czar, I'm from the government, and ... well ... you know.

After the damage left by the Dancing Mortgage Girl* I can report that the automotive inventory landscape is indeed grim, but far from hopeless. I've figured out your problem, Detroit, Tokyo, scattered European and Korean cities, et al.

My boots-on-the-ground tour of MSRP Zero has confirmed what we've all known forever: you guys have been ordering cars loaded up with garbage nobody wants.

Sure, nobody has a job now and all of our houses are owned by banks that are now majority-owned by some busboy in Guangdong, but some consumers in this great nation would still be happy to take your parked inventory off your hands.

Problem is, you guys continue to order perfectly competitive 25k cars and put dumb stuff on them like light-sensing day/night rearview mirrors (because it's way too hard to flip that little mirror tab with your index finger) and electric trunk-closing motors (because we can't even lift our index fingers ... you think we're gonna lift our arms over our heads?), and by the time the cars hit your lots, we're talking 30 grand. You take perfectly competitive 30k cars and load 'em up to 40k.

Luckily, most of the alligator-loafered fellows who used to escort customers from car to car pretending that the $5,000 "Luxury Group" was the bee's knees are now delivering pizzas in heavily-depreciated, electrically-shorted off-lease Land Rovers and copping attitudes on suburban doorsteps across this great nation.

Now that your silver-tongued lot lizards have left their helium-ballooned arenas to hump pepperoni pies all over town, here's a Car Czar Reality Tweet: Any car that costs over 30k today should be pretty damned special, and at 40k should be really pretty damned special. By 50k, "PDS" stands for "pretty damned stupid."

If any car on your lot today bases at 25-percent less than the final sticker, it's not special at all, unless, of course, it includes the hot engine. Your days of selling 20k pickup trucks with covered beds and extra seating for 40k-80k are over, BTW ... at least until that TARP money starts flowing and we can all mortgage our house equity again.

This is still a free, capitalistic society, so anyone who wants a 50, 60, sky's-the-limit-grand car today should be able to buy one, but from now on, we're going to let those people put down a deposit and order, sparing the rest of us the trouble of needing to negotiate ourselves out of your porky sticker padding schemes on-location.

An in-dash navigation system for $2,000? Give us a break, folks.

The nice Verizon Navigator lady (who's always telling me to "make the next legal U-turn") lives right inside our little pocket phones. She's always up-to-date, and you can drop her and take up with her again on any kind of monthly basis you want.

Since some of us only need a nav system to find a Mickey Ds before breakfast ends on our way out of suburban Washington D.C. on a Sunday morning (where all of us will find that all of the Mickey Ds in suburban D.C. are in shopping malls that are closed until just after breakfast) what's not to like about an à la carte Nav Lady who hangs out in your pocket and does it all whenever you want for just 10 bucks a month?

In-car DVD and gaming for $3,000?

Our kids are already fat and alienated and babbling about 585 HP Pokey Mans and Princess Yues who like Long Fengs. It's time for this country to save bad parenting for the home, and to make our children look out the damned car window on trips and behold the wonders of our fruited fields of grain.

Lots of times, when you're rolling through Indiana, you can gaze upon front yard upon front yard of twisted steel displays of everything that wouldn't burn.

To those car dealers who are now stuck with bloated Monroneys I offer you government assistance by way of free advice.

All that garbage you ordered for the otherwise competitively-priced cars on your lot?

Eat it.


Forget you ever thought jacking-up the prices of your floor-planned cars with $1,000 paint options was the road to riches, and we'll forget we stopped buying them when the economy rolled over.

Give us those ridiculous over-priced profit-padding option packages for free and we'll roll in style through the post-ARM Apocalypse, blithely explaining that we didn't pay for the heated, massaging driver's seat ... the dealer threw it in along with the little electric motors that close the doors the rest of the way and the windshield that changes shades just like sunglasses (so that we don't -- you know -- have to reach up and flip down those visor thingies when we turn into the sun).

The only options cars should have, period, are leather seating surfaces (an off-Twitter Tweet shout-out to the PETA Cucumber Girl) and rain-sensing windshield wipers (I hate having to notice stuff outside my windshield when I drive. When do we get the pedestrian-sensing bumpers, anyway?).

I'm glad, as always to have been of assistance.

*Somebody Smack that Dancing Mortgage Girl

Hey CNN, Fox News, and everybody else who's still reporting on the world economy being in the dumps because a bunch of ignoramuses got in over their heads with easy mortgage terms:

Have you noticed that even in mid-February, four months into a bank panic induced by silly mortgage schemes, you guys are still running in-our-faces web advertising for silly mortgage schemes?

Please get rid of that manic-depressive, obsessive-compulsive JavaScript dancing girl (you know, the one wearing the hiphuggers, who doesn't even look old enough to afford a legitimate mortgage on a condo ... the one who is very clearly celebrating signing-away she's-not-sure-what for the keys to a house she's going to default on in a year) pronto.

We-the-people who actually read our mortgage papers and bought houses we could afford are quite sick of her.

AOL: Shoot that Old Horse, Already

Speaking of the web, hey ... Time Warner: You've had almost a decade and billions in lost shareholder value to figure out that AOL is not the web, just like all those poor newbies did by 1998 or so.

AOL isn't even an intellectual property. The only original idea these techboom charlatans ever had was putting sign-up platters everywhere, including in-between our bedsheets.

They're still using clipart from the 90s on their site, for goodness sake.

David Letterman Steps Down from Health and Human Services Secretary Consideration?

Well, it sure looked like Letterman.

Super Bowl XXXXIII's Pre-game Moment

A Car Czar thumbs-up to the producers of the 2009 Super Bowl pre-game. The collage of somber miens from Mr. Warner, Ms. Hudson, and Capt. Sullenberger, three souls who have had nothing handed to them lately, was unforgettable.

I'm not done yet. Next week: How to Buy a New Car ... Car-Czar Style

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