The Chicken or the Egg

Sorry I didn’t post to my stupid blog last week. Life got in the way.

I did, however, attend the press launch for the new Mazda2. Nifty little car in an “it’s all I can afford” way, but I did have two questions of Mazda’s PR staff:

1. Why does it only get 35 mpg?
2. How come you’re only building 20 percent with manual transmissions?

I guess I get the first answer, which was “When gas is $2.67 a gallon, 35 mpg is what people want.” I think they want 40 mpg more, but I guess we’ll find out when we compare how many Fiestas sell versus Mazda2s.

The second answer bothers me, though: “Because people won’t buy manuals.”

Really? You mean to tell me that in a segment that is so price-sensitive that you Mazda folks chose to have an AUX input versus a USB port that people will splurge for $700 on an automatic?

The real reason, of course, is that A) you can’t order a car anymore and B) it doesn’t cost any more to build an automatic than it does to build a manual. You’ve been conditioned to pay $700 more for the automatic, though. Why in hell would anyone encourage you to pay $700 less for the same car?

The sad part is that I thought the industry was finally learning something, now that both Chevy and Ford are selling hot six-cylinder versions of its Camaro and Mustang.

For generations, if you bought the six, the manufacturer went out of its way to announce to the world that you were a deadbeat, with poverty caps, blanking plates and a silver plug where your antenna should be. Where the tachometer should’ve been in my cheap-o-riffic six-plugger ’76 Camaro, I got a fuel gauge the size of a pie plate.

The manufacturers were petrified that a hot six would rob sales from the high-profit V-8 cars. But the truth is, a hot-six is proving to be robbing sales from other manufacturers who don’t build cars, but appliances.

Nobody wants you to buy one of these.


About Craig Fitzgerald

Craig Fitzgerald is an automotive writer, photographer and editor with credits in Hemmings Motor New, the Boston Globe, Forbes, the Washington Post, Esquire and
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2 Responses to The Chicken or the Egg

  1. Tony Cerulle says:

    Good points Craig. I will continue to buy automatics of course but at least the real men out there should be able to buy the stick shift version if they want to 😉

  2. Michael Eldred says:

    I guess I’m an anachronism. I don’t buy automatics. Companies that can’t sell me a car with a manual transmission will not get my business.
    Driving a car with an automatic isn’t really driving, is it?

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