1st Gear: Buying A Car Right Now Sounds Intense
I know a couple people who have bought new cars over the past few months. Both are strong-willed, confident people. They have to be, I think. They also very much did not go used, as demand is currently beyond the pale. Part of the problem is that supplies are low for new cars, and that’s driving even car dealerships to hunt for good used cars in the same places you or I might.
Automotive News spoke to Premier Automotive Group’s dealer principal Troy Duhon, who is reportedly kicking $200 to $400 to salespeople for each used car they pick up, sometimes even on Facebook. It’s becoming a bit of a frenzy. From Automotive News:
“I had one particular salesperson last month buy 10 off the street,” Duhon said. “And I made over $40,000 on those 10 vehicles.”
Duhon, whose group has 24 franchised stores across California, Kansas, Louisiana, Missouri and Texas, said the buying spree has averaged about 20 off-the-street vehicles per store.
“I’ve been doing it for about a year,” he said. “And it’s the smartest thing I’ve done in 20 years.”
Such efforts have become more crucial than ever amid an overall shortage of sale-ready used vehicles coupled with unrelenting demand from customers.
I do not think that car dealerships are competing with me on buying driver-condition blue 1970s VW Squarebacks, but I do feel for the rest of you looking for a deal on a low-mile Outback or whatever.
2nd Gear: We Scrapped 15 Million Cars And Still The Average Age Went Up
The average age of cars in the United States was up in 2020, even though we were scrapping tons and tons of vehicles. It was a weird case, as Reuters explains:
Vehicle miles traveled in the United States declined more than 13% in 2020, according to [research firm IHS Markit], while more than 15 million vehicles were scrapped – about 5.6 percent of the total vehicle population.
Normally, such a high scrappage rate would cause average vehicle age to decline, the firm said. But fewer miles traveled, combined with lower vehicle sales during the pandemic, had the opposite effect, with average age rising from 11.9 years in 2019.
All of this will go back down for 2021, according to IHS, since we’re back to buying heaps of new cars again.
3rd Gear: G7 Nations End Up With Mega-Weak Language On Going All-Electric
Did you expect the rich and powerful nations of the world to dive full-force into electrification? Sorry! Language that once was strong has become weak, as Bloomberg reports:
Group of Seven nations backed away from plans to set a target for making sure most new cars sold are greener vehicles, instead pledging only speed up efforts to move away from combustion engines.
In the final communique Sunday, the bloc include an autos section that was far more modest than earlier versions being discussed. It pledged to do more to electrify the transport sector but did not set firm target dates.
“We recognize that this will require dramatically increasing the pace of the global decarbonization of the road transport sector throughout the 2020s, and beyond,” the leaders wrote. “We commit to accelerate the transition away from new sales of diesel and petrol cars to promote the uptake of zero emission vehicles.”
Earlier drafts of the communique suggested that the G-7 “strive” to ensure that the majority of all new passenger car sales are not powered by gasoline or diesel “by 2030 or sooner.”
The G7 is full of countries that have big national auto industries heavily invested in internal-combustion, so I’m not terribly surprised.
4th Gear: GM Stops Fighting EV Regulations And Starts Asking For Incentives Instead
Another side of that same coin is that GM’s lobbying strategy has switched from fighting against eco regulations here in America to asking for money to meet them. From Automotive News:
General Motors, after abandoning its effort to fight California on emissions guidelines last year, has now moved closer to aligning itself with Ford Motor Co. and other automakers that made a deal with the state in 2019.
GM, which wants a single nationwide emissions standard, said it now supports using California’s emissions framework as a guide to federal policy, though with a greater focus on electric vehicles. GM, which is investing more heavily in EV development than many of its rivals, is asking for the federal policy — expected in July — to include incentives that would accelerate EV sales.
None of our eco policies are going to work if we don’t make it financially imperative for companies to comply. They only understand the bottom line.
5th Gear: A Guide To The Buzzwords Gig Companies Use To Lie About Their Exploitation Business
Speaking of regulations, we’ve been experiencing a period of loopholes from what’s been called the “gig economy.” Companies like Uber get to claim that it is a tech company providing a service, when their actual business model is finding ways to dodge laws and exploit workers. Uber’s business model isn’t about making a tech service; it’s about being able to classify the people working for it as “contractors” and get away with not paying them a living wage, healthcare, or anything else. Edward Ongweso Jr. at Vice’s Motherboard just published a great primer on the language the companies use to obscure what’s really going on.
On its face, the “gig economy” seems like a simple catch-all phrase. It’s often used by a flurry of commentators, regulators, politicians, businesspeople, entrepreneurs, and academics, and it has become a vast and expansive phrase describing anything that vaguely resembles independent contract work―but through an app.
But here’s the thing: the gig economy doesn’t actually exist.
By skirting US labor laws, a host of companies can misclassify their workers as independent contractors, exempt them from basic rights or social welfare programs, and then pay them less than minimum wage in many cases. None of this is really new and it’s certainly not an “economy.” Rather, Silicon Valley has managed to reinvent piecework, albeit in a digital form, whereby workers are forced to work longer hours unpaid as they wait for assignments that’ll pay paltry sums.
Reverse: Modern Age Of Mobility Scams Begins
Where else could it begin but with the Monorail? From Disney:
[T]he Disneyland Alweg Monorail System opened on June 14, 1959, as the first daily operating monorail system in the Western Hemisphere. This “Highway in Sky” featured two trains, each with 3 cabins and the now-iconic bubble top in front. Walt Disney’s hope was not only to provide a scenic journey above Disneyland, but to create a solution for mass transportation needs all around the world. However, the Disneyland Alweg Monorail System was purely an entertainment attraction when it opened and didn’t function as transportation for guests until 1961 … but we’ll save that story for the next installment!
Neutral: How Are You?
I endo’d for the first time in my life this weekend, when a large stick found its way into my bike’s front wheel. It is a strange and somewhat relaxing experience to be a passenger in a one-vehicle crash. I’m fine, and my bike was, too, after wrestling the stick out.