Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Motor City Metal... well plastic too... Born in the D in California...

 Tue. 05/17/11 06:48 AM    My comments to Detroit News Article on lack of Hybrids on the road in California... not the case in LA area. 

Trucks, pickups, no or little Hybrids in California...

Your experience was certainly not like what I experienced on a recent vacation to California. We flew into LAX and headed over to the Hertz rental car located offsite as is how the process works in LAX. We were pleasantly surprised to find that our request for a domestic brand was met. In years past when on vacation we were never able to obtain a domestic brand mini van and settled for what ever was available. This year we were packing up a Chrysler Town N Country for our family of six. The first great feature was the design with the easy loading rear gate. Bags were easily loaded with the near curb height opening. I must admit I was impressed with just about every feature of this vehicle. I am a former owner of 3 mini vans and vowed to never go back to one after moving into the SUV. This was fun to drive AND packed with power to keep up with the fast pace loaded free ways heading out of LA to our destination in New Port Beach. I appreciated the little green leaf button that gave me the Eco option which some how traded off performance for economy. I'll admit that I found it more enjoyable to turn off the economy feature for really one reason. I wanted to sacrifice economy for giving the T & C the ability to take on the competition all round me.
What I found on the highways of LA were a diverse mix of vehicles. I found many Prius owners who seemed to take great joy in maxing out the capabilities of their gas sippers. The Prius drivers seemed over overwhelmingly to be very aggressive drivers who liked to tail gate and pass without signaling pushing the limit to 80-85 when not in stand still traffic. I took this to be kind of like a statement of "Oh look at me... I can get good mileage AND still keep up with your gas guzzler... kind of like a "Performance Envy" condition. This is another example of the "Napoleonic syndrome" I have observed for those that lake size and girth in certain area's.
The fact is that Californians don't seem to have any clear identity when it comes to vehicles. One trend seemed to change as we arrived in the more upscale New Port Beach area... and that was the higher the income levels the more drivers seemed to choose non-domestic brands. Mercedes, Lexus, Lambo, Ferrari ruled the roads. So being from the D I needed to make a social statement that the T & C was not to be out done. Off went the ECO button and we were rolling in "Motor City Metal"...well lot's of plastic too! I had no problem blowing away pretty much every brand off the light. I wonder if I attracted any attention from the local's not accustomed to seeing the T & C in their hood?
I do know one driver who took up my call to support vehicles born in the D. On a beautiful Sunday morning we were cruising along the strip looking for a spot for breakfast when we approached an American classic. It was my "Born in the D" moment... a burnt orange Plymouth Prowler Roadster! As we pulled up next to the 60 something couple... I rolled down my rear window... looked the driver in the eye and yelled out "Born in the D..!" to him. He beamed with pride and with his eastern Boston accent yelled back in delight! They kind of ebbed and flowed with us through the traffic for the next several lights, waiving and smiling at my kids. I figure that is probably the most attention they have gotten in years with their classic ride living in the land of Lambo and Porsche they probably are down some where pretty low on the auto enthusiasts food chain.
We all felt a nice lift in our spirits that day and continue to proclaim our message that we are from the rust belt, we are not from Oakland Township... but born and from the D!