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Mazda Madness

 I've often wondered why Mazda did not become a bigger player in the US market during the 1990's when Toyota, Honda, and Nissan all solidified their position here, but Mazda seemed to falter. I think I've discovered the reason, and it makes an interesting parallel to what GM is facing now.

 Mazda thought 8it could increase it's sales by creating several different marques. In Japan they created Autozam, Eunos, and Enfini. Europe received Xedos, and North America almost got a version called Amati (an anagram of Miata). By 2000 none of these brands existed, Mazda focusing solely on Mazda, with the results being a stronger Mazda and increased sales.

 Now, GM is not Mazda, by a long shot, but the lesson is the same. If you cannot devote the resources to a brand, there's no point in having that brand.

Eleven Points To Nowhere, part 7

 We've come to point # 7 in the eleven points debate, and here it is...

Fully fund public transit, especially rail. Focus on intra-city transit (e.g. SF MUNI) over commuter rail (e.g. BART or Caltrain) but promote both when possible. Develop high speed rail for long distance travel. Use a hub and spoke model for bus lines, incorporating computers, GPS, and mobile phones into their scheduling so that buses are always full.

Result: commuters do not need to drive to get to work.

 When I was a child growing up in Cleveland, my parents could only afford one car. My dad would drive my mom to the train station so she could ride the "rapid" to work, what the RTA called it's commuter trains at that time. It was a neat experience for us kids the few times we went along with mom to ride the "rapid", but it stopped once we became a two car family.

 Why did we stop using RTA? It was not cheaper using a car instead of the "rapid", and my parents were not ones to just throw money away. It all came down to meeting needs, and the car won. Ever try to go grocery shopping using public transportation? Forget about saving money with buying in bulk, you're gonna get only what you can comfortably carry, which means another trip to get more items sooner than later.

 Public transportation is one of those ideas that works great for a few people, is the only choice for a few people, and is disliked by the majority of people. There's a town near me that runs a trolley, a bus made to look like an old fashioned rail trolley. It's always near empty, even though there are plenty of convenient stops on it's route and it covers the town very well. People would rather use their cars, even when gas was over $3.00/gallon. Everyone in town pays for this service, but no one really uses it.

 At school we have about 1900 students. The majority live on campus, but about 10% are commuting to school. Of those approximately 190 students, how many do you think use public transportation? There's only one. I wave to him every day on my way home as he sits at the bus stop on campus. Now admittedly it's Nashville Auto Diesel College, which means the students probably own their own vehicle, but the point remains that given a choice, most people would rather use personal rather than public transportation.

 People vote with their feet all the time, and it's pushing their gas pedal, not walking onto a bus or train. Pushing more funding towards public transport doesn't make it any more appealing, it just makes it more expensive for the taxpayer. It gives people another choice, it's just not a choice many make.

Eleven Points To Nowhere, part 6

 The eleven points debate continues. Here's John's sixth point of action...

  In U.S. (and everywhere else where petroleum is cheap) raise taxes on gasoline and diesel fuel to match those in Europe.

Result: driving becomes more expensive and less practical.

 First off, the notion that we somehow get off paying less for gasoline than Europe because we consume more has got to go. The price of our gasoline is determined by the free market, not some government bean counter trying to influence the public. The market tends to balance things out all by itself (ie. declining SUV sales), and works best when the government keeps itself out.

 As much as 75% of the cost of gasoline in some European countries is tax. Paying four times the cost of something is just not gonna fly in the US. It's hard enough to raie taxes for education, let alone gasoline, and would be political suicide for any politician that really tries to push for a huge increase in the gasoline tax.
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