Sales of new vehicles dropped from 17.3 million in 2000 to 13.2 million last year. Most think this is primarily due to the sad state of the economy. No doubt this is a big factor.
But remember new cars back in the ’60s? It was conventional wisdom that when the odometer rolled past 60,000 miles, you started shopping for another. Rolling past 100,000 was an event you invited the community to see.
Then, led by Japan, quality improvement measures were instituted that led to better and better cars with longer mileage lives. This is a good thing. You spread your capital expense over two or three times the miles driven.
It is also good energy policy, for it takes quite a chunk of energy to create a new car out of those scraps of steel and plastic and aluminum and such.
The auto industry has suffered from its own success. Let us not return to the planned obsolescence of the past. New policy should continue to focus on miles per vehicle as well as miles per gallon.