by Bob Lefsetz, The Lefsetz Letter
You mean I need a bigger engine and a swoopy style to get laid? I just go on Tinder!
Welcome to the baby boomer nightmare, wherein everything they’ve held near and dear becomes irrelevant. Like automobiles.
Cars are a utility.
It’s not the seventies anymore, no one ever bows out of an affair citing car trouble. I’ve got a AAA membership, but I only use it to get tires changed in seedy areas, the concept of a tow because my carburetor is clogged is about as foreign as the blue screen of death. (And new cars come with run-flat tires!)
Yes, remember how you used to need to know how computers worked to use one? Same deal with cars. Everybody had a modicum of expertise, having experienced flaws and shoddy maintenance. But today you just turn ‘em on and they go, you don’t have to even take your key out of your pocket. Sure, you might smash your automobile up, but Google’s developing an app for that, otherwise known as the driverless car.
Joy in driving? Taking a few weeks or months to drive cross- country? Why would anybody want to do THAT!
Yup, the road trip is as dead as the western. You could recast “Bonanza” and no one under forty would watch.
As for the freedom the automobile once represented…
You don’t have to leave your house to connect with your friends, you don’t have go to the mall, as for doing illicit things…sexting is more outre and volatile than anything baby boomers could ever cook up.
To the younger generation cars are transportation, nothing more. They take you from a to b. But appealing to the older generation, manufacturers don’t develop products that fit this appeal, they keep touting all the stuff that worked in decades past. Appearance, specs. They don’t even understand their own product!
Ever notice that every smartphone looks the same? Yup, a rectangular brick. And it’s about customization via software? Credit the car companies with putting apps in the dash, but if they want to win they’re going to have to move as fast as the tech companies, one of which is eating their lunch.