So, my husband Tom and I sat at the kitchen table last night, debating selling our two-wheel-drive 2002 Ford F-150 crew cab for a new (or newer) four-wheel-drive pickup. We've been in Chicagoland (home of Blago the Narcissist) for 4 years, and we are tired of slipping and sliding all over the road in the winter. And, if we sell or trade in the truck for a 4X4, it has to be a truck big enough to tow our boat and haul our family of five. As we debated the merits of a new truck, he said something I thought I'd never hear him say.
"What brand?" he asked. I almost fell over.
You see, Tom is a Ford guy. Always has been, and, I thought, always would be. But, it turns out, he's pretty much given up hope of The Big Three ever making it out of their current predicament. He's been watching CNN and C-SPAN on and off for several weeks, watching the testimony of the auto CEO's on Capitol Hill, listening to the pundits berate them for flying to D.C. in their private jets, and watching the prospects of help from Congress dwindle away.
But I had to press him on it. I couldn't believe he'd consider anything other than a Ford truck. "Why not a Ford?" I answered. "We can probably get an amazing deal on a Ford right now."
"Yeah," he answered, "But what if Ford goes away? Who'd service it? How would I get parts? What about the warranty? But besides that - where will we get a loan?"
This, my friends, is the crux of the issue. No matter what the Automakers did to get themselves into this predicament - and the opinons vary, read them here and here and here - they will never be able to get out of it if Americans won't buy their cars. And I fear $15 billion to them and no rethinking of how to spend the $700 billion on the credit crisis won't help the matter. If Americans can't get credit, they can't buy cars, no matter how much the Government loans to Ford, GM and Chrysler.
So, we're still debating, and I'm researching available loans. In the meantime, Tom has four or five bags of salt in the bed of his truck, hoping the extra weight over the back tires will help his traction. I hope that works for another winter.