Monday, April 30, 2007

The Man, The Machine and The Toyota Corolla - First time Buyers choice/Guide

Freeways are an exhilarating part of American Experience. Where else in the world would you find such huge spreads of Asphalt on which the elegant and powerful roadworthy automobiles parade in perfect co-ordination. Well, these were the Freeways as envisioned by its planners. Enter the Indians; well we come from a society in which wastage is a severe crime. So, naturally we tend to extract each drop of utility from everything around us. This, Gents, is also reflected in the automobiles that are possessed by us. The ownership of the car can be told to the accuracy of 90% by the Model and Make of the car. By empirical observation the following parameters are considered while buying a car by an Indian -

1- Resale value without accident - 40%
2- reSale value after minor accident - 35%
3 - resaLe value after Major accident - 25%
4 - Safety - Well we come from a country of 1 billion, so anyway who cares.
5 - Price - What,... do I have to pay for such old car, can't I get one free in the dumpster... okay... okay, I will manage somehow to gather some money. But, not a cent above the company loan limit.

Given these parameters, the best cars that we manage to buy are from the following -

1- Toyota Corolla and Honda Civic and Nissan Sentra/Maxima
2 - Toyota Camry and Honda Accord and Nissan Altima
3 - MPVs/Mini Van - Honda Odyssey and Toyota Sienna and Nissan Quest (1995-2001)
4 - Sundry - Mustangs/Pontiacs/Diamante/Mirage

The relationship between the cars and the owners can be best understood by K-Serials. Just transpose the cars in place of Leading ladies and put the Indian Owners in place of the Heroes. Even if, the IT organization rotation policy ensures that the Indian guys go back to India after completing their extent here. Their trustworthy corollas are sold off to their colleagues only to be bought back when they come back. In this way, the cars like the leading ladies keep changing husbands (owners) and sometimes coming back to the previous owners.
Given that the average driving done by Indians is one-third of that of an average American. The Old ladies retain their virility (if their was any in the first place) as they progress across the years.

Looking at the Make/Model of the car. You can also accurately predict the owner's demographic data.

1 - Toyota Corolla and Honda Civic and Nissan Sentra/Maxima- The older models (93-2000) are owned by bachelors who have kissed the American soil for the first time and are unsure about the length of their stint (read dollar savings to be accumulated). The price, depreciation and fuel economy are the foremost things on mind while buying these cars and safety, usually the last.
Simple policy of don't fix until its broken is followed, Maintenance and Service schedules are religiously skipped, as they don't add up to the value of the car.
Later Models (2001-2003) can be safely assumed to be possessed, by people who are married and have their spouse working. These folks simply want to be a bit up in the social status ladder and hence have to spend a few extra bucks on their cars.

2 - Toyota Camry and Honda Accord and Nissan Altima (1995-2001) - No Indian would have bought these cars, if and only if, there would have been a law, which prohibited, sub-ordinates from buying a car of the same model as his Manager's. Well, agreed that these cars have a more powerful engine, so what, do you want to race them at NASCAR?
Fine, they have a better safety record, but, who will pay for the increased insurance premium, comparative higher gas guzzling habit and higher maintenance cost of these stupid V6 engines? (Miss my economical Santro.... soooo... much...)
These cars are bought out of the sheer compulsion that the Indian managers refuse to own something similar to their reportees. Okay, the managers have milked their organization for longer periods as compared to the Green Horns, but have you factored in the how expensive is raising kids in this Yankee land and these fuel prices are killing.
Man, all this could have been prevented only if there would have been a law. Some Good Samaritan, please come forward. At least try to table a Bill.

3 - MPVs/Mini Van - Honda Odyssey and Toyota Sienna and Nissan Quest (1995-2001)
I firmly believe that an effective way of dealing with India's population problem is to prohibit Men from driving and let Women exclusively drive for sometime. Agreed, that the number of road accidents would go up, but someone always has to make a sacrifice for greater good.
But folks, I couldn't stick to my views for long, as I witnessed homely looking Indians Bhabhi-jis confidently driving around gargantuan vehicles. Their dexterous and crisp maneuvering of these giants, powered by huge V6s, could even put Schumacher to shame.
So, I also swallowed my pride and agreed that if everybody stuck to the rules while driving, the women could be as good as, if not better drivers than men.
Most of the MPVs are owned by families with kids, who have accepted the fact that rearing kids is an expensive job in US. The higher maintenance and the lower fuel economy of MPV also goes under the same head. These vehicles are sturdy, have a better safety record and ample space for making a small baseball stadium inside. These are mostly driven by Mommies to ferry their children to schools and hubbies to office and for running errands.
Apart from all these "Good Qualities " of MPVs, owning this category of vehicles bears testimony to the fact that, you have reconciled, that you will never have fun in your life again, have agreed to the traditional Indian logic that watching kids grow is the greatest pleasure of life and unlike Americans, who live in present and retain their individuality by driving SUVs and have loads of fun, we Indians live always live in future, toiling hard in present missing out on most of the chances of having fun to perhaps have a comfortable and enjoyable future, which again is a wild goose chase.
To summarize, it in one line, you can say that owning a MPV is effectively getting "Neutered" in Social and Literal sense and succumbing to destiny.

4 - Sundry - Mustangs/Pontiacs/Diamante/Mirage - These cars are bought out of sheer passion or sheer frustration of being unable to find a good car in any of the above categories. Whatever may be the root cause? The end result is the same in both the cases. Even, if the car is bought as the educated buyer always nurtured the dream of buying a Mustang, after reading Lee Iacocca’s autobiography, his honeymoon is cut short by the high maintenance costs of the car and he is left stranded with a model having a high depreciation and low resale price. Honestly, these selfless gentlemen do a genuine service to the society by setting up examples of "What not to buy".

So folks, do not forget to thank me if your wisdom about the Cars owning patterns has increased even by an iota by leaving comments.


Gunjan said...

too gud!!

Anonymous said...

You've totally captured the psyche of the *new-to-the-USA* Indian car buyer.

Probably part-II can contain ROI calculations as well :-)

Very well written!

- A