Monday, August 31, 2009

Tough Sell 

How do you get Americans to buy something they don't want -- namely, a small car? This is the challenge that the Big Three American automakers are confronting and none too successfully. Part of the problem comes from too much success in making large cars, SUVs and trucks where size is part of the status symbol. What kind of PR program and what messages are needed to convince Americans that size doesn't matter? Thus far, it looks as if there isn't a good approach other than the price of gasoline, and American auto manufacturers do not control the price of fuel. It would seem this is an issue in which the government needs to act if it wants to raise the average miles per gallon of auto fleets. That would come through increased gas taxes on a level with those of Europe where small cars are a norm. But, there is no political will to do that. So, automakers are caught in a trap between government demands to increase fleet mileage and consumer preference for gas guzzlers -- an interesting PR dilemma.

There is any easy solution. Let's forget about the unnecessary small cars. Europe has small cars because they don't have room for big ones. We do. Let's make cars that people want to drive.

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