A second wave – of cancelled car brands – is coming, chiefly because of who was selected to determine the future of the car industry in this country back in November. But also because of the Orange Fail’s failure to avert the weaponization of hypochondria, which led to the selection and also poured sugar in the gas tank of the American economy. It’s hard to buy expensive things like new cars when all you’ve got to pay for it is a $600 check from the Orange Fail.
But that’s small potatoes. The real fail will soon be upon us and it is just as artificially contrived and imposed as the weaponization of hypochondria.
It sells no electric cars or even hybrid cars. All of its cars are muscle cars – defined by their physical size and the size of the engines that lie under their hoods. Before the selection, Dodge explicitly stated that it would focus on muscle, leaving other brands to focus on motors, i.e., electrification and hybridization – reasoning that there were still plenty of buyers who wanted to buy something muscular rather than electrified or hybridized. Which they did – notwithstanding that every vehicle Dodge sells hasn’t been updated in years.
The problem for Dodge is the president selected does not want that. Nor the rest of the federal apparat. And what Biden and the apparat want takes precedence over what buyers want.
This has been true for decades, of course – but what is different now is framing of it. The old justifications about “reducing America’s dependence on foreign oil” and “curbing air pollution” lack the urgency – the hysteria and moral unction – needed to silence opposition.
The “climate crisis” provides both unction and hysteria.
Getting rid of muscle cars that are also gas hogs is a matter of emergency triage to prevent a global catastrophe, very much of a piece with the necessity of forcing everyone to wear a Holy Rag as the emergency-in-perpetuity palliative for “the virus” that’s going to kill us all otherwise.
Dodge honcho Steve Kuniskis conceded the new normal a few weeks back, acknowledging that the president selected’s avowal to require that all new cars average close to 50 MPG within about five years from now or be socked with punishing “gas guzzler” fines that will make them unaffordable for most people (these most people being the average people that are Dodge’s customer base) will make them untenable to offer for sale.
Dodge not being Mercedes-Benz or BMW – examples of brands that can charge six figures for cars because there are enough people willing and able to spend six figures on their cars.
But the people who buy Dodge’s cars – and the one SUV Dodge sells, the Durango – are middle and even working class people who cannot buy six figure cars because they haven’t got the means to pay for six figure cars.
Prior to the selection, they were able to buy big and powerful cars like the Charger and Challenger because they did not cost six figures. Even the Hellcat versions of these cars – packing more power than six figure exotic cars – were and still are financially feasible for average people.
Because they don’t cost six figures, either.
In fact, about half of six figures – $58,995 – buys you a 717 horsepower supercharged 6.2 liter V8 Hellcat. For the same money at Mercedes or BMW, you could buy an E-Class or 5-Series with a turbocharged 2.0 liter four cylinder/”mild hybrid” drivetrain . . . about 250 horses.
Kunisksi tries to be optimistic, talking up a “Golden Age” of muscle cars that will be electrified or hybridized. The fly in the soup is that while these cars will likely be powerful – though not muscular, the distinction is important – they will not be affordable.
There is no such thing as an affordable electric car – period. The least expensive models -like the Nissan Leaf and Chevy Bolt – are priced well over $30,000 to start. For that you get a small transportation appliance that is not very speedy.
High-performance electric cars are all extremely expensive cars. A Tesla S – the electric car that can match the acceleration of the Hellcat – briefly, until it runs out of juice – stickers for $139,990.
But it costs orders-of-magnitude more money when it is electric speed and that is where Kuniskis fails to grasp the improbability of any future for Dodge. Besides which, even if people could afford to buy electrified or hybridized Chargers and Challengers many wouldn’t want to buy them because without those big V8s, they aren’t muscle cars – just performance cars and thus no longer anything special, as the current crop is.
As an aside, it is hilarious evidence of the cognitive dissonance of our era that “gas hogs” are to be supplanted by energy hogs – high-performance electric cars that require twice as much in the way of batteries and consume 2-3 times as much in the way of power and thereby cause the emission of 2-3 times as much “climate changing” carbon dioxide as would be generated by a modestly performing electrified transportation appliance.
Dodge is doomed.
Probably also Chrysler, which currently sells only two models – one of them the Charger’s higher-class cousin, the 300 sedan. It’s on the butcher’s block, too. Which leaves the minivan – which suits for electrification because of the space for the batteries but isn’t likely to sell gangbusters because it’s a minivan. Add electrification – and double the price – and good luck with that.
Jeep and Ram are facing troubled waters, too- for the same reasons. The models they sell – the models that sell – are the also the antithesis of electrification and all it will bring. Who is going to buy a $60,000 electric Wrangler? How about a $75,000 half-ton truck?
The time has come to say sayonara . . .
Fiat and Alfa are also terminal cases – but not because of the president selected. They just don’t sell – even though they comport with the new normal, being small and “efficient.” But maybe that will change when small and “efficient” is all Americans are allowed to buy and all they can afford to buy.
Nissan’s looking pretty green around the gills, too – ironically because of its pre-selection commitment to electrification. The company poured money into the leaky bucket electric car thing by building as many Leafs as it could, even though it could not sell them. It is hard to stay in business when you lose money on what you sell. The titanic discounting necessary to just get rid of the things – as much as $10,000 off the list price – is also embarrassing, a liability to the brand’s image.
And it hasn’t helped that the rest of Nissan’s lineup is largely not what buyers seem to want these days – i.e., sedans like the Versa, Sentra, Altima and Maxima rather than crossovers like the Rogue (which does sell).
Even steady stalwarts such as Toyota and Honda have been having trouble selling formerly best-selling models like the Camry and Accord.
Broad-brush, the push for an electrified and hybridized future eliminates the need for more than a small handful of consolidated McCars sold by a handful of McBrands – as electric cars are fundamentally all the same cars, aside from their shape and color.
It may end up with a single entity – like the Tyrrell Corporation in the movie, Blade Runner – which made and controlled practically everything.
One size fits all. If you can afford it.
. . .
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