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.

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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 BoldRide.com
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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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