Some of you might have seen Mitt Romney’s big editorial in the NY Times about how America can’t compete with the Japanese and European automobile manufacturers because in order to sell a Ford Taurus at the same prices as an Toyota Avalon, the $2000 that goes to the UAW concessions has to come out of quality and features on the Taurus.
This is just pure intellectual dishonesty, and Mitt probably knows it.
At best — if I’m going to give him the benefit of the doubt — I’d have to say he probably knows the Taurus from riding in one, and perhaps he just got in a new Avalon and thought, “wow… This is so much better than the Taurus. The pensions and health care benefits Ford has to pay to its workers must make them cut all the features and quality out of the Taurus. Too bad they can’t compete with Toyota because of that.”
At worst though, he knows the bullshit slight-of-hand he’s trying to pull on anyone who doesn’t know that these two cars do not compete in the same class.
The Avalon is the highest luxury sedan Toyota makes before you go looking at Lexuses (Lexi, Lexus’… whatever)…
The current Ford Taurus — previously known as the Ford Five Hundred — is a just slightly upscale family sedan, right above the Ford Fusion. But to really get in the same price range as the Avalon you have to start looking at Lincolns. And as you start looking at Lincolns, obviously the “quality and features” expectation is highert there than when looking at a Ford. At least, that’s the idea.
Here’s how I put my thoughts in a car group where someone posted a link to Romney’s latest display of idiocy. You can find the car comparisons for my argument at the end at this link.
I’m on the line here, but bankruptcy by the big three could be a major issue since it could take years before all the negotiations are settled. In the meantime, let’s say GM goes down first. Would you buy a car by a manufacturer that’s in bankruptcy? I don’t think I would. If I needed a car at that time, I’d probably be looking at a more stable company — if Ford looked stable, I’d probably go for a Mazda. Or perhaps (gasp) a VW company like an Audi.
I don’t know how a General Motors recovers from something like that.
Not only that, but I think Mitt is forgetting this problem we’re having with the big three isn’t just because they made bad decisions, they’re a victim of this moment in time as well. Under ordinary circumstances, I think I’d tell them to go fish if it was simply because of their own stupidity or bad decision making or ignorance of trends that led them to this point.
But it isn’t.
They’re a victim of the GLOBAL issues right now. They’ve got the Volt in the pipeline. They’ve got hybrids on the road right NOW. Ford has a small european car that could be rolled out here very quickly.
Believe me. I’m perhaps even MORE pissed at Paulson’s behavior since we gave him the cash, and I believe there should be strings attached to any “loan” made to the big three, but I think it needs to be done, with reassurances.
I think GM and Ford are creating more competitive cars in relation to their Asian counterparts in years. Are we going to let them fail because of a global recession and shakeout from the credit crisis?
Is it GM’s fault fewer people can get credit to buy its cars?
Mitt also shows his ignorance with one particular sentence: “Ford, for example, needs to cut $2,000 worth of features and quality out of its Taurus to compete with Toyota’s Avalon.”
Mitt must’ve sat in an Avalon and thought how much nicer it was than the Taurus he sat in, and thought, “Hey, I’ll write a clever article about this…”
Obviously, the Taurus competes with the CAMRY and not the Avalon. So I just took a look at the prices of the 2009 models at Edmunds.
The Taurus (formerly the Five Hundred) is available in AWD models, but for comparison purposes, let’s just keep the FWD options because that’s all the Avalon offers.
A base Taurus SE starts at $24,125. The SEL stickers for $25,425. The Limited stickers for $29,425.
A base Avalon XL starts at $27,845. The XLS stickers for $32,145. The Limited stickers for $35,185.
Now, I understand that Lincoln would probably be more comparable to Lexus (supposedly), but for purposes of this comparison, I think if you’re trying to compare similar models from the manufacturers, you might want to compare the Avalon with the Lincoln MKZ. It’s just not fair — using Romney’s argument — to compare a base level Avalon with a top-level Taurus. That would be like comparing a fully decked-out Mustang to a base-level Corvette or something. These are two different cars, in two different classes. I think the Avalon vs. MKZ model is a more intellectually honest comparison, so I’m going with that here.
There are two MKZ models for 2009 according to Edmunds. The AWD and the FWD. Again, let’s look at the FWD since the Avalon doesn’t offer AWD. But for the Edmunds comparison, I’m also going to throw in the top level FWD Taurus, just to see what the differences are as far as features, since that was half of Romney’s argument. Quality is more broad term — does he mean ratings? Interior materials quality? Road handling design? I can’t really judge that, but there are enough editorial reviews out there to give you an indication of what each model offers. So I’ll start here at least with the three automobiles.
A base model 2009 FWD Lincoln MKZ stickers for $32,695.
The 2009 mid-level XLS Avalon stickers for $32,145.
The 2009 FWD Taurus Limited stickers for $29,425.
Among these cars: The Lincoln has the best warranty. They all have the same crash test scores, with the exception of the MKZ which only got four stars in “Side Impact Rear.” Their EPA emissions are all identical. The MKZ and Taurus share the same powertrain, and the Toyota has almost identical specs.
All cars have six speed automatic transmissions. The MKZ has what Edmunds lists as “premium leather.” Heated seats are standard on the MKZ and Taurus, NOT on the Toyota. The Taurus has rear power outlets. The Toyota has air filtration, while the Ford & Lincoln do not (I find this odd). The premium dash and door trim on the MKZ are made of real wood, while the Taurus & Avalon have simulated wood. The Ford & Lincoln have seat and mirror memory, while this is not even available on the Avalon. The Taurus also has adjustable pedals. Xenons are optional on the MKZ, not available on the Taurus or Avalon. The stereo options are varied across the models, but the Ford and Lincoln have voice-activated phone, while “wired in” phone is optional on the Avalon.
As far as comfort and handling, the reviews are all online.
I know I’d rather drive the MKZ or Taurus any day over the Avalon. Your mileage may vary.
Basically, I just think Romney is way out to lunch on this one, and I hope I provided some backing for this here.