4 Things We’re NOT Thankful For
It’s Thanksgiving, but these are some of the things we’re not thankful forby Kirby, on
As its name implies, Thanksgiving is usually the day where we give thanks for the blessings we’ve received, the families that we have, and the health that we sustain. It’s one of the best days of the year, and it certainly gets better once the turkey comes out of the oven and the pumpkin pies are on the table. But all the same, Thanksgiving isn’t just about giving thanks for the good times, it’s also a time to reflect on the things that could’ve gone better in our lives. It’s also a time to think of what we’re not thankful for as an exercise to cleanse our souls as we approach the holiday season. We have a lot of things to be thankful for here at Top Speed, but we also have a few things that we’re not thankful for. Here’s to hoping that there’s a sliver of light at the end of these tunnels.
Tax on cars
It doesn’t matter which side of the fence you’re on with this issue. The bottom line is that rising car taxes make it harder for all of us to purchase the cars we want. But that’s the reality we could all be facing if the U.S. decides to, for example, increase taxes on European-made cars like U.S. President Donald Trump said he would. While he does make solid points about trade imbalances and what-not, it’s not good for us car-buyers if cars assembled in Europe that make their way to the U.S. become more expensive by virtue of an increase in tax dollars on each and every one of them.
As it is, the U.S. already imposes a 2.5-percent tariff on cars assembled on the Old Continent and a 25-percent tariff on European-built vans and pickup trucks.
On the flip side, Europe imposes a 10-percent tariff on U.S.-built cars. Granted, we don’t have to worry too much about the Europe-built vans and pickups that come here because the vans and pickups we have in the country are some of the most popular sellers on the market, but what happens when you want to buy a BMW 3 Series, and you end up paying more than you thought or wanted because of an increase in taxes? Not good, right? Hopefully, cooler — and more sensible — heads prevail in this issue. Otherwise, we’re all going to lose out in the long run. Can’t we all just get along?
Erratic oil prices
This one we can all agree on, yes? It’s nice to know that oil prices have largely come down after a brutal stretch that felt like oil prices were going up every week or so.
But just because oil prices have gone down to around $54 a barrel compared to over $80 a barrel a few months ago, that doesn’t mean they’re not going to go back up again.
It doesn’t help that the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) is already considering supply cuts next month to kickstart another round of increased oil prices. It’s not a certainty that it’s going to happen, but the mere idea that it can happen again is already throwing current oil prices for a loop. Pressure from the U.S., specifically from President Trump, could force OPEC to reconsider the move, but the fact remains that there are too many big players involved in the business of oil that getting them to all agree on a simple supply-and-demand balance is about as likely as me suddenly growing 10 inches overnight. Rest assured, enjoy these prices while you can. Hope that it goes lower, too, though prepare yourselves if it goes the other way. That’s just the nature of oil prices these days, and it’s not going to change anytime soon. That, or you can just go hybrid or electric and save yourselves the trouble.
The decline of sedans
I understand why this is happening. Sedans aren’t selling as well as they used to. In fact, sales of sedans are flatlining at best, and torpedoing at worst. A big part of that is tied to the surging popularity of SUVs and pickup trucks.
Automakers understand that business comes first, and when you have a product that isn’t selling the way you’d like, you’re going to cut bait and focus on products that move the sales volume needle.
That’s all fair. But does it really have to come to a point where an automaker like Ford drops its entire sedan lineup to focus on SUVs and pickups? Does it really have to come to a point where Chrysler only sells the 300 sedan and nothing else? Does it really have to come to a point where even the thought of buying a sedan is seen as a bad purchase? I don’t think it should because, like it or not, the entire industry was built on the backbone of sedans. There should be ways to save the sedan from dying, and I don’t think automakers are doing enough to do that. Maybe I’m wrong, but it does feel that way, doesn’t it? I get it, though. Business comes first, and it comes first all the time. I just hope there’s a way for the market to correct itself soon. That could happen once the hybrid and electric car models arrive, but for now, it doesn’t look too good for sedan models in this current automotive ecosystem where SUVs and pickups have become the apex predators.
The death of the naturally aspirated engine
Speaking of deaths, let’s pour one out for naturally aspirated engines. Not only are they a dying breed, but they’re also about as close to extinction as you’re going to get. The death of the naturally aspirated engine didn’t come overnight so at least we can take comfort knowing that it survived longer than it probably should’ve. But that doesn’t make it any easier to accept, especially for those who swear by these engines. It’s just the reality of the industry these days.
After all the technological improvements made in recent years, modern internal combustion engines are close to becoming endangered species, none more so than naturally aspirated ones.
It doesn’t help that twin-scroll turbochargers and direct injection engines have become the technologies-of-choice among automakers these days, but they, too, are in danger of getting phased out if electrification takes over the automotive world. We’ve already seen hints of that happening with so many automakers pushing to develop their own brand of electrified technology. These advancements, sadly, have come with a lot of collateral, and the biggest loser in that regard is the naturally aspirated engine. Even exotic automakers like Ferrari and Lamborghini — the last holdouts of the naturally aspirated engine — have embraced using turbocharged units and hybrid setups in their current models. Yes, folks. The old-school naturally aspirated engine is dying, and not even electrification will help preserve it. I’m still hoping that it doesn’t come to a point where this engine goes the way of the dodo — nothing beats its immediate and linear throttle response. Nothing! — but from where the industry is headed, I’d be very surprised if we see a single car with a naturally aspirated engine by the middle part of the next decade.