Kipper on Cars: Too much extravagance?

2013-06-13T00:00:00Z Kipper on Cars: Too much extravagance?Travis Kipper Auto Columnist nwitimes.com
June 13, 2013 12:00 am  • 

Whatever happened to the days when people were happy to have four wheels that drove straight and got you there in one piece?

In today’s consumer auto world, it’s not uncommon to find cars with standard features such as a GPS, a bluetooth system that syncs to your smartphone, entertainment screens that project down from the ceiling, and self-closing doors, just in case the driver doesn’t have the energy to properly secure their vehicle. For the ultimate in convenience, there are even cars that know how to drive themselves, as showcased by Google and Audi, among others.

What’s next, a coffee maker that compliments how they look when they hit the gas pedal?

I love automobile design and the history of each car’s upbringing and pedigree. The brands like Ford and Ferrari that carved their specific niches in the automobile world, from racing to making one-of-a-kind machines, always interested me. But these extravagant features, while in some cases fun and useful, generally bore me to tears.

According to both npr.org and autoblog.com, the average price of a new car has gone up $2,000 making the new average price of a new vehicle $30,748.

Sure, there are alternatives—not everyone needs a brand new car. There are some people out there will do the fiscally sound choice and buy a vehicle two years old and has a few miles on it. Yet there are others that are going to drive up to the lot with not so much as a Big Mac’s worth of money and then drive off in a brand new vehicle, because having the latest gadgets is the best way to look cool.

According to AAA, the 2013 cost of owning and operating a vehicle has increased by 2 percent. This now makes the average for owning an average sedan, which in the United States is the Honda Accord according to edmunds.com, $9,122 or around 60.8 cents a mile (based on 15,000 miles annually.)

However, the growing costs of extravagant vehicles does not end there. The number one vehicle and most popular car on US roadways is actually the Ford F-series vehicles. With more and more trucks on the highways, the costs for keeping these mammoth-sized people-carriers going each year is a little more than $11,000.

According to another npr.com, article, as of 1949 most of a family’s income went to food and then followed immediately by housing. Though, as of December 2011, the spending of the family income has changed. Now most of the money is spent in housing, with transportation taking the new number two spot. Have we placed a bigger importance on housing and cars than food, the fuel we need to function?

Automobiles are a great convenience of modern life. Our careers are more productive, our home lives are easier, and vacations are simpler to take all because we can hop in the car and go for a drive. America’s transportation system is one of the greatest in the world, and in a country as large as ours, vehicular transportation is here to stay.

That said, as consumers, we should stop and ask ourselves – do we really need all this? Do you actually need more technology than was used to send Apollo 11 to the moon in your car for the average 26 minute drive to work?

Perhaps not. However, that self-esteem boosting coffee maker could really come in handy on those Monday mornings.

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