Automobiles Galore : Top 2008 Car Picks for the Boss, the Family, Work, Play, and Environment

Do you drive a “value-packed car“? Is it time for a change to a new vehicle? Calculate the residual value here. How about the resale value? Here is a list from Forbes of the Top Ten High Resale Value Vehicles in the USA:

Top 10 High Resale Value Vehicles

  1. Mini Cooper
  2. Honda Accord
  3. Toyota Avalon
  4. Porsche 911 Carrera
  5. Acura TL
  6. Mercedes-Benz CL-Class
  7. Honda Odyssey
  8. Land Rover Range Rover Sport
  9. Toyota Sequoia
  10. Toyota Tundra

When is the last time you looked at a Mini Cooper seriously? Here is one that “Runs on Irregular“. “Meet the MINI Clubman“. has an interesting selection of the top cars for 2008, depending on your wallet, professional position and personal needs, providing top picks for the boss, the family, work, hauling, play, and environment. Take a look.

What follow are some of our own comments to the 2008 motor vehicles, comments which do not necessarily match the opinions found in or elsewhere. We examine the cars and also the advertising for various car models. Advertising reflects automobile company marketing strategies, which may or may not be in tune with the actual trends.

The Toyota Camry Mystery Shows us the Future of the Carmaking Industry

The Toyota Camry is the best-selling car in the USA as Toyota in 2007 drew even with General Motors as the world’s largest carmaker. Still, the Camry is not even offered on the market in Europe, where it was withdrawn by Toyota in 2004 due to poor sales. It is not likely to return. This fact shows how different the US and European automobile markets are – yet.

In Europe, where soaring gas (petrol) prices and extremely heavy taxes of all kinds have nearly made the driving of normal-size cars a luxury, there is no question that “small is beautiful”. It can be regarded as the sentiment of consumers who have changed their car-buying preferences to keep their hard-earned money out of the hands of rapacious oil cartels or equally ravenous governments. In addition, everyone talks environment but the customer talks pocketbook.

Car sales in Europe in the year 2007 tell a compelling story as almost all of the cars in the top ten sales category are small cars:

1. Peugeot 207 (437,505, +105.5%)
2. Volkswagen Golf (435,055, +4.5%)
3. Ford Focus (406,557, -7.5%)
4. Opel/Vauxhall Corsa (402,173, +41.7%)
5. Opel/Vauxhall Astra (402,044, -7.9%)
6. Renault Clio (382,041, -11.5%)
7. Fiat Punto (377,989, -5.9%)
8. Ford Fiesta (300,566, +0.6%)
9. Volkswagen Passat (300,566, -9.4%)
10. BMW 3 Series (295,312, +2%)

Notice how the Japanese cars have fallen out of this list as Japanese car prices have approached or even surpassed normal European car company price levels, removing the competitive lower price USP that Japanese cars used to enjoy in Europe. No longer.

Top ten car sale lists differ greatly from nation to nation in Europe. In Germany, not only did people buy smaller cars in 2007, but they bought 10% fewer cars:

Data of new passenger car registrations in Germany in 2007 released by the Kraftfahrt-Bundesamt confirmed that Europe’s largest automobile market shrunk by 9.2% (almost 320,000 cars). The total number of cars sold in Germany during 2007 was 3,148,163 – the worst performance since the reunification of Germany in 1990….

Sales Statistics for the 20 Best Selling Cars in Germany in 2007:

“Car Model … No of Cars Sold in 2007 … % Change from 2006 Sales

  1. VW Golf/Jetta … 214,368 … -9.5
  2. VW Passat … 105,308 … -15.5
  3. BMW 3-Series … 100,559 … -13.1
  4. Audi A4 … 84,092 … -12.8
  5. Opel Astra … 83,048 … -23.3
  6. Opel Corsa … 79,098 … 29.7
  7. Mercedes C-Class… 78,254 … 25.4
  8. VW Polo … 76,683 … -10.5
  9. VW Touran … 73,081 … -12.4
  10. Audi A3 … 70,517 … -8.5
  11. Mercedes A-Class … 62,193 … -12.8
  12. Ford Focus … 57,546 … -20.2
  13. Mercedes E-Class … 56,695 … -0.2
  14. Audi A6 … 55,361 … -14.4
  15. BMW 1-Series … 55,105 … -2.1
  16. Mercedes B-Class … 51,484 … -18.7
  17. Ford Fiesta … 50,807 … -13.0
  18. Skoda Fabia … 50,328 … -7.9
  19. BMW 5-Series … 50,024 … -1.6
  20. Skoda Octavia … 47,711 … -15.9

There is not a single Japanese car in the top 20 list. The trend to smaller cars is shown by the fact that only two car models in Germany in the top 20 had more sales in 2007 than in 2006: the Mercedes C Class and the Opel Corsa (=Vauxhall), as Mercedes drivers shifted toward the smaller C model and as Opel Astra drivers shifted toward the smaller Corsa.

In the USA, car buyers are still bucking the trend toward smaller cars – but we have most certainly seen the peak of the gas-guzzling SUV craze. As written at the Milwaukee JS Online:

What’s clear is that 2007 ended up with 16.1 million new cars and light trucks sold, off 2.5% from 2006 in the worst year since 1998. What’s unclear is what lies ahead.”

How about fuel-cell vehicles? which still look a long way off to this observer.

As reported in the Milwaukee JS Online article cited above, the top-selling cars in the USA in 2007 according to Ward’s AutoInfoBank were: (we have added the links)

1. Toyota Camry, 418,631
2. Honda Accord, 392,231
3. Toyota Corolla/Matrix, 371,390

1. Ford F Series pickup, 690,589
2. Chevrolet Silverado, 618,257
3. Dodge Ram pickup, 358,295

The Toyota Camry – see also where it is the top pick for “Green” drivers – seeks its customers with the slogan “Commonly chosen. Uncommonly engineered.” thus tapping the technical side of the broad middle-class market that forms its customer base. It will be interesting to see how the new Toyota Camry Hybrid will fare this year in America as it competes with e.g. the 2008 Saturn Aura Hybrid (similar to Opel, Vauxhall), the 2008 Chevrolet Malibu Hybrid and the 2008 Nissan Altima Hybrid.

Take a look at the comparison of hybrid cars here. And what about regular models?

The Honda Accord has a commercial to the music of “Hold on Tight to Your Dream” with the slogan “Beyond the Road.” also in the variation “Built for the Road and Everything Beyond It“. Of course, the dream of unfettered driving is now increasingly facing the harsh realities of dwindling and more expensive fuel resources and an emission-overburdened environment.

In 1997 the Toyota Corolla became the world’s best-selling automobile model and the Matrix is the popular sporty version of the Toyota Corolla sold in North America. The current slogan is “You’re in the driver’s seat.” That definitely looks like a subliminal hint.

The American penchant for buying “haulers” is not widespread in Europe, but the Americans do know how to market their product in the USA as the Ford F Series pickup is sold under the well-crafted sales slogan: “Hauls more. Tows more. Built for more.” which coincides with many of the main reasons that customers buy this truck. The Chevrolet Silverado is sold “politically correct” under the slogan “Our country. Our truck.” The Dodge ram pickup is being sold via the traditional-sounding Chrysler message “Count on it. Impressive HEMI power, towing capacity and durability“.

German “Boss Cars”

In Germany, the boss still drives a Mercedes, although, in America, if he has a chauffeur, it is most likely to be a Lincoln Town Car, America’s most chauffered car

Mercedes-Benz has great cars, but there is no clean line in current Mercedes marketing. The Mercedes international page has one slogan which reads “We are writing history, why not write with us?” Mercedes-Benz top management has lost sight of the fact that they are selling cars and not history books.

The Lincoln Town Car is being marketed under the slogan “Signature of Success“. That looks like a good approach to that market segment. Where do I sign?

Scandinavian Swedish Cars vs. e.g. the Ford Mustang Bullitt

We are still waiting for Saab to put the fabulous Aero X in front of our doorstep – and – no, the alleged Aero X implementations in the 9-3 series just do not have the same flair because they have been watered down to common tastes. You might as well be driving a Ford, and, indeed, the Ford Mustang (see the Bullitt) has far more pizazz than the Saab 9-3 models. The 9-3 series still looks like it was designed as nothing special, whereas the Aero X looks like it was designed by jet pilots for some future world. Only when the Scandinavians apply the same design skills to their standard assembly line cars (and this includes the boxy Volvo cars) that they apply to their top-rated furniture at places like IKEA will they ever have best-sellers.

Volvo is advertising its cars as “Life is better lived together” which seems a bit removed from the automobile world. Does a slogan like that SELL cars. We doubt it. Compare that automible-strange slogan to the similar but far more fitting Ingvar Kamprad’s IKEA slogan “Affordable Solutions for Better Living“. The latter is super-marketing.

Saab is advertising its cars as “entering new territory” (which ?) and “enjoy more power with a cleaner conscience” – selling cars by the guilt trip? Not convincing.

The Ford Mustang marketing by contrast asks its potential customer: “Pulse not Racing yet?” Driving as exhilaration. No wonder this car is so popular. Steve McQueen returns. Really, if we can’t get the Aero X, Ford might want to park one of these Bullitts in front of our door. Sadly, they are only manufacturing 7000 of them and none are destined for Europe or elsewhere, as far as we can tell, so if you want to have one, you may also have to buy a house in the USA or Canada as well, which are the only places the Bullitt is to be sold.

One car we ourselves might solidly considering buying is the rotary engine Mazda RX-8The Sportscar That Never Met Its Match” which urges us to “Drive the Revolution“. At least, the bourgeoisie are not likely to be driving this car, described to perfection as follows:

The Mazda RX-8 boldly rejects convention. Like a breath of fresh air, it has brought original thinking into the world of sports coupés. Blending revolutionary 4-door versatility with sleek, aerodynamic styling, this is a beautifully thought-out sports car, designed completely without compromise.

The RX-8 Kuro in Germany has a BOSE sound system. Magnificent.
Really, Mazda can put an RX-8 in front of our door at any time. Any color, Anubis Black, Tornado Red, or Mephisto Grey.

In another price league, you might try to configure your own Maserati Quattroporte or join Ferrari World, where we tend toward the Scaglietti, in red of course. The ultimate is probably the Bugatti Veyron, configurable, but not cheap.

Beyond that, it’s jets.