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Hagerty
Hagerty Employee

Avoidable Contact #142: Using the "Chicken Corner" strategy to save new-car enthusiasm

My Maserati does fifty-seven point four... I lost my five-star Uber driver rating, I don't need it no more. Not exactly rock-star material, is it? But the cargo-space measurement of a Maserati Levante is probably more important to its livery-and-live-laugh-love customer base than its top speed.
https://www.hagerty.com/media/opinion/avoidable-contact/avoidable-contact-142-using-the-chicken-corn...
44 REPLIES 44
EugeneWhite
Pit Crew

I proudly commute to my beige-collar job in a 40-year-old Pontiac with a 50-year-old engine and a foot-high hood scoop. Sometimes it heats up in traffic so I drive up the shoulder to the next highway exit. If Hyundai built something comparable, I'd be interested, but only if the gas door was behind a flip-down license plate.
Jack_Hagerty
Moderator

The flip-down center gas cap is, I think, an underrated invention, particularly in the era of Costco gas station.
win59
Advanced Driver

Jack, Jack, Jack.....! Do you realize how UNSAFE a fuel filler neck would be in the center of the rear bumper?!? The NHTSA would piddle themselves.

Great article, Thank You!
exc911ence
Pit Crew

It has its merits, but I find more often that not that many modern gas pumps no longer have extendable hoses that reach far enough to get to the filler behind the license plate of my 1973 Plymouth Satellite. Or it takes a whole lot of spacial awareness to get the car "just right" in front of the pump so it does.

Seems they're all only set up to reach only a side-mounted filler on a tall SUV.... I guess an extra few feet of hose per pump eats too deeply into their corporate profits.
Gary_Bechtold
Specialist

I get a kick out of people pulling the hose to the other side of the vehicle. Do you not know what side of the car the gas goes in?
CJinSD
Instructor

If you're talking about people at Costco, they pull the hose to the other side in order to access the first available pump and they know both where their fuel filler is and that Costco pumps are designed to fill either side of a car.

DaveB
Detailer

and saves time.
MATTMERICA
Technician

I laugh at the idiots who wait in line at Costco b/c they don't understand how the long hose works to reach either side of the vehicle. I laugh harder at the folks who let that fuel hose sliiiide across the vehicle once they pull the hose over - always damages the paint or clear coat
Snailish
Instructor

Yes.

The companies should just merge to a few global conglomerates and serve up whatever badge a market buys. Not really a new idea, but GM wasted the synergy (mostly) by not designing a compelling global Opal/Buick/Holden/etc. and instead made brands compete against themselves (still do hello GMC/Chev) and/or sold versions of things in some markets that we would have bought they only would offer them here.*

*Wherever your here is this remains true. Japanese companies are as guilty, with their domestic offerings being far superior in breadth and scope than what other markets get 99% of the time.

Having dozens of platforms serving up the same wheelbase, seating capacity, etc. is just a waste of resources that makes things cost more.

----

I was behind a Porsche crossover yesterday and lazily passed it in my peasant-spec transit connect. It was being passionlessly driven, a Porsche appliance and I agree... the doom of the coolness of the brand down the line if the sheer numbers overwhelm what Porsche is supposed to be about.

I wish a mass market brand had the guts to not go quietly into the dark night... imagine Mazda not forsaking Zoom Zoom and keeping the lineup fun... but when the elite halo brands are selling out and getting short-term rewarded for it I am not surprised that an industry led mostly by cowards has no vision.
58_Plastic_Tub
Intermediate Driver

Over on on FacePlant, I noticed an article R&T or C&D (they're indistinguishable since the Hearst-amoebae enveloped them and sucked their souls out) regarding the RWD I6 Mazda 6 that wasn't. In the last paragraph, the writer (Chris Perkins, whoever he is) opined, "Using the development budget it has to focus on new luxury crossovers makes far more sense than making some sort of BMW 3-Series rival."

I couldn't help myself. Since I'm under the illusion that people care what I think, and firmly believing that everybody is entitled to my opinion, I commented,

Yep. Doing what literally everybody else is doing "makes far more sense" than doing what nobody is doing. Best to leave BMW completely alone in this space, especially since BMW hasn't lost their way or abandoned their roots at all.

Next up: the "sensible" decision to abandon the ICE vehicles everybody wants, to make the BEV vehicles nobody does... just like everybody else.

I think you and I are saying the same things, and I think we're not alone. The first car company CEO is isn't a complete weenie and steps out into the great wide open to build something just mildly different than their competitors, just MIGHT get a bigger slice of the pie than their market sampling tells them they will. Not everybody looks at the safety rating of a vehicle before buying it - there's got to be at least enough people like me out here to allow a countercultural unrepentantly ICE-loving "stick-it-to-the-man" car company to build things a normal human with a desire to LIVE (rather than exist) might want to buy,

FCA was giving it their all - but alas they've been swallowed up into "Stellantis" (a handle which sounds like an over-the-counter sleep medication), and seem to have sold their soul just like the rest of the woke herd heading for the BEV cliff.

Everybody was pulling for Mazda, but they seem content to muddle along until they become just another brand in some multi-brand misery-pod conglomerate.

Meet the new boss. Same as the old boss.
drhino
Technician

Precisely. Everyone is chasing market share to the detriment of their (once) core mission.
MATTMERICA
Technician

I love "chasing market share" because it completely misses the point of margins and profitability. Back when I used to work for one of those Fortune 500 companies we used to have a "market share kicker" bonus enhancer on the year-end money. IF the company's market share went up even a little bit, there would be a multiplier on your bonus - 1.1X, 1.3X, etc. It only took a few quarters for the profit center managers to figure out that 1.75 x 2 is bigger than 1 x 3, so guess what happened.....
MoparMarq
Advanced Driver

References to Joe Walsh and Pete Townsend. Me likey!!
FatBabyDriver
Intermediate Driver

Excellent Larry Niven reference.
Jack_Hagerty
Moderator

Next up: a nod to the scene in "Consider Phlebas" that was basically cribbed from "The Ringworld Engineers".
seinfeldbasslin
Intermediate Driver

excuse me, my first wife, second wife, mistress, corporate colleagues, PTA boardmates, housekeeper, financial advisor, daughter in law, son in law, second cousin, and shoe shine are all very impressed with my Cayennurus GT2 Burgerkingring Black Edition Turbo S Exclusive. It makes all the right noises all the way up to a street sanctioned 65 mph, the badges are shiny, and it goes vroom fast and loud. You have no idea what you are talking about Baruth, you should find a new career!
Jack_Hagerty
Moderator

This *is* my new career!

Like Richard Gere, I GOT NOPLACE ELSE TO GO!
58_Plastic_Tub
Intermediate Driver

Well, you're rocking it , sir.

Carry on.
TonyT
Technician

*gasp*! Is Danger Girl really Debra Winger??
hyperv6
Racer

I get why MFGs are building CUV models as they make money. But there are some brands that to be honest charge enough they do not need to do CUV models and they would easily survive on their sport models.

The Maserati here is a great example of a car that while it pads the coffers it damages the image. Joe Walsh sang of his Maserati in Life's Been Good but if I had to drive this it must not have been all that good. Add on the Fiat reliability and things get ugly fast.

I have already heard Enzo rolling in the grave with the Ferrari SUV. Imagine the fit he would have pitched if he were alive as to what damage to the racing and sports car image he spent decades developing just to plant it on a SUV. Yes it will make money and it will be sporty but Ferrari would easily survived with out it for what they charge on all their other models.

Even the Corvette should never be used on anything but a 2 seat sports car. To leverage the name would be a waste of decades of highly regarded name equity. Chevy already has lines of CUV models and don't need to waste the name like they did on the Blazer that should have been a Nomad.

danio3834
Intermediate Driver

I currently have a Stelvio Quadrifoglio in the driveway, and it's an excellent crossover imitation of a sports sedan. Of course, I prefer the Giulia version of this platform, but if I had to live with one small crossover for the rest of my life this would be it. Development of the Giorgio platform has to be a colossal failure, but I'm glad it did in this way.
SilentBoy741
Instructor

If I had to live with one small crossover for the rest of my life, I'd kill myself.
nobody
Intermediate Driver

And yet, perhaps the CUV era has passed its apex? I'm trying to buy a new Sienna, which is proving essentially impossible. Yet multiple Toyota dealers, with no Siennas and no idea when some may again be available, have tried instead to sell me new Highlanders they have sitting around. If Highlanders are littering the lots in this market, the CUV's days as top dog may be numbered. Maybe this is just wishful thinking.
adsinger
Intermediate Driver

My $33K Turbo CX-5 enjoys humbling poorly driven Nametags. It never ceases to amaze me why people buy BMW and Porsche "performance" SUVs and sedans, then drive them with all the verve of a retired dental assistant in a Chevy Cruze.
DaveA
Instructor

You can’t understand why some people choose to drive carefully and responsibly? I spend a lot of time on the highway and I think we need more people driving like retired dental assistants, not less. Trust me, nobody’s impressed by how easily you pass them.
58_Plastic_Tub
Intermediate Driver

Are you sure you got the point of the article, Dave? Lots of people choose to be active participants in their own lives, as opposed to making extreme compromises in their enjoyment of it in a vain effort to prolong it indefinitely. Last time I checked, the reaper is still batting 1.000, whether we go balls out on a public road or curl up under our beds in a fetal position sucking our thumbs, sobbing softly, and praying that the plague will pass by our doors.

I believe the point adsinger is making is that if you prefer to drive "like a retired dental assistant", why is it important that you do it in a Ferrari, Maserati, Lamborghini, or (much more commonly) Porsche or BMW minivan? Quite nearly every vehicle from any pedestrian automaker can tick the "comfort" box nicely enough - why is it important that the grill badge indicate that you have the will and ability to drive like you mean it, when you clearly don't?

If it's a status thing, perhaps just taping your investment-house statement on the windshield would accomplish the job more efficiently.
miata93
Advanced Driver

I took it to mean driving with two hands on the wheel and two thumbs on the iPhone while sporting a BMW badge.

axlerose
New Driver

I can't find the words to express how much I love this, "well said!" will have to suffice.
Rick2
Instructor

When I was a kid reading Motor Trend in the 1960s I remember an article about in the future all cars including sports cars would be station wagons. I thought the author was nuts! So it took a while be here we are with mostly tall station wagons to pick from. Makes me sick. I will not even consider buying one of these things because no matter what other people think, to me these wagons have NO class. And it doesn't matter what badge is on the hood. Give me a two door and hopefully without a back seat.
Flashman
Technician

As always, a wide-range of disparate, sometimes obscure references, illustrating an original, salient point of view. Another treasure.
exc911ence
Pit Crew

Consider poor Porsche... "We must produce a max-profit SUV in order to stay independent!"... so they produce the Cayenne in massive numbers, make a stack of money that blots out the sun, then quickly get swallowed up by Volkswagen. Hmm. I guess Porsche can now stop building that SUV that was only built to make money so they could stay independent, eh?

Remember Porsche's tagline from a couple of decades ago that went something like, "Over 90% of all Porsche cars ever produced are still on the road today!"... now, years after the start of production of disposable SUVs, sedans and 'shooting brakes' it's, "80% of all Porsche vehicles ever produced are still on the road today!"... I wonder what another 10 years will bring when recycling yards (read: scrapyards) are overflowing with junked Cayennes and Elephant-Man sedans with dead electronics and unobtainium Borg-technology? Guessing they'll just quietly put that brag out to pasture.
RallyRaid
Detailer

Agreed on the apparent reason for the Cayenne and therefore reason to kill it. But even though I think it has sabotaged the long-term brand value, the trade off is probably long term dollars as a premium SUV marque.

I’m more annoyed with BMW. Buy Mini and have one of the few truly

classless badges. In theory they could then build a range of funky FWD hot hatches, people and load carriers, with BMW models sitting in a different category that prioritises RWD dynamics over practicality. But no, the 1 Series and 2 “Active Tourer” badge engineering jobs are created, presumably aimed at cannibalising Mini sales in BMW’s lowest margin segments… 

MATTMERICA
Technician

Why would BMW change what they have? Nobody is clamoring for FWD hatches, funky or not. What they (apparently) are clamoring for is Mini Clubman, four door minis, convertible minis, and the like, as that is what they are making. Next time you are out, look at every mini driver that you see. Report back on the demographics.....
RallyRaid
Detailer

I think you’re agreeing with me. BMW have decided to use the Mini platform to sell a bunch of FWD models with the propellor badge.
MATTMERICA
Technician

My apologies, I don't follow your post. Porsche F'd up majorly in the mid 2000s when they thought they could buy VW. They racked up some non inconsequential debt trying to do it, and ended up taking the sharp stick in the eye as a result of the failed buy out of VW. So now VW owns them, and the #1 selling automobile - worldwide - is the macan. Which is, generally speaking, much closer to a pure porsche as it is almost a 911-station wagon, no?
Gary_Bechtold
Specialist

Jack, it only gets worse. In our "near-future" digital EV utopia what will truly differentiate all the cloned toasters people are desperately trying to find an extension cord for?

I truly believe we have a lot of consolidation of brands coming. No need to sell a few dozen identical toasters. The engineering costs have to be shared with the costs of programmers writing the code for the software. As those car costs go up and up to the point most normal people are either buying another house (in terms of payments) or they wise up and say no more before they go bankrupt sales of somebody have to go down. I see less "brands" in our future and most of the Stellantis ones could disappear and no one will care.

Nader
Pit Crew

But can you really blame the car companies for selling some of their soul to give the customers what they want, while ensuring their company's future? Didn't the Escalade and Cayenne single-handedly keep their respective badges afloat?
Nader
Pit Crew

Oh, and if you think SUVs and crossovers from elite nameplates are bad, wait until they figure out how badly the rich want luxury Sprinter vans that aren't actually Sprinter vans. They may be electric when they become commonplace, but I guarantee you'll someday see chauffeur-driven Rolls Royce, Bentley, Lamborghini, and Bugatti luxury vans.
4RenT
Advanced Driver

"The Macan and Cayenne sell for the same reason the 924 and 944 used to sell: so you could tell people you own a Porsche without actually having to structure your life around a 911."

Great insight!
RallyRaid
Detailer

Occasionally a baby boomer posts the ‘80s Porsche ad “honestly, did you spend your youth dreaming about owning a Nissan or a Mitsubishi?”
To kids who grew up when nothing could touch the R32 GT-R in Group A racing and Evos IV-VI won 4 consecutive WRC Driver’s titles, this ad seems ridiculous. To kids a little younger, who associate Porsche with the Cayennes and Macans that account for 3x the sales of 911s and Boxters/Caymans, it carries the same impact as a CX5 morphing into a cheetah (I.e. none).

Snailish
Instructor

Good point.

 

What some fail to realize is that many in the next generations did "grow up dreaming of Nissans and Mitsubishi"

 

-Godzilla

-Z car (at various times)

-Evo

 

All Halo a product lineup far more enthusiast friendly than what most others put out. That chapter may have closed (not sure what I would call inspiring out of those automakers right now) but I give them credit for understanding enthusiasts (and enthusiasts in the making) for a time.

Bdgr92
Pit Crew

The homogenization of cars and SUVs has been many years in the making. This isn’t news, and it’s not surprising for many of the reasons discussed in this article. It’s only going to get worse with electrification. With EVs, you won’t even have an engine to differentiate the manufacturer.

What’s surprising to me is how little attention the media has paid to the study commissioned by Volvo into the carbon footprint of EVs compared to ICE vehicles. That EVs have a 70% larger carbon footprint than ICE vehicles is even worse than I thought, and that it takes an EV to be driven ~90,000 miles before its carbon footprint breaks even with ICE vehicles is staggering. And that’s not including the likely need to replace the battery at around 100,000 miles, which sets the EVs carbon footprint back again. Until the world’s energy generation turns green, EVs are doing more damage to the environment than ICEs, and the world’s auto manufacturers are going full-EV under extreme political pressure.
RobH
Intermediate Driver

Bdgr92, well said truth.

Jack's articles are always great, but the replies to his articles are sometimes more poignant and/or entertaining (no offence meant, Jack_Hagerty) and always well thought out - this is one of them.
hyperv6
Racer

Look it is simple why we have what we have in show rooms.

Companies used to take risks but in this day of multi billion dollar development companies are not taking many risks. Two misses crash a company.

Also boomers used cars as trucks. They hauled everything but today most cars will not hall much as the trunk opening is so small even on a large trunk.

The gen X crew grew up in large SUzv or mini vans do they expect utility.

As for size the SUV today is the size of average cars through history, a 40 Ford sedan is about the size of my Acadia. So to be honest the models may change but sizes remain the same with the public

As for the center fill they were great but crash standards killed it. Also the Mopar center fills always splashed out 1/4 of a gallon with the nozzle shut off.

It would be nice just to have all dolls on the same side.