Crash-obsessed dummies

From the Guardian Weekly May 28-June 3, 2004:

They’re conspicuous, incongruous and more than a little camp. They’re a badge of bourgeois status and a routine feature of the school run. For John Kerry, they have even become a campaign issue in the US election campaign. I am, of course, talking about the sports utility vehicle. These quasi-military cruisers not only litter our roads with their unsightly bulk and ludicrous pretensions, they also appear to be driven by insecure idiots - and that’s according to the market research of the companies that make them.

One piece of internal research, conducted by Chrysler in the US, pithily concluded that SUVs tend to be bought by people who are “insecure, vain, self-centred and nervous about their marriages and who lack confidence in their driving skills”. Fred Schaafsma, a chief engineer for GM, concurs, summarising the owner’s primary anxiety as being: “I wonder how people view me?”.

They may be heavy and rigid, but these monsters of the highway are not particularly safe. One of the more obvious concerns is an SUV’s high centre of gravity and its consequent instability. (SUVs are more than three times likely to roll over in a crash than a normal car.) Another concern is the poor visibility, ironically the direct result of manufacturers’ attempts to gratify their customers’ need to feel “concooned”, “high up” and “safe”.

Another reported cause of customers switching from more traditional vehicles was that “passers-by coult easily see inside their vehicles”. Chrysler promptly made the back window of the PT Cruiser smaller, thus allaying their customers’ fear of inwardly peering pedestrians - and reducing visibility. [Ray’s note: did anyone else notice that the window on the PT looks as though it should follow the shut lines of the hatch?]

SUV owners have become the objects of protest in the US, but perhaps the best way to reach the collective psyche is not to resort to shock tactics or vandalism, but simply appeal to their vanity.

Campaigners could, for instance, simply point out the fact that Ford’s SUV designers took their cues from seeing “fashionably dressed women wearing hiking boots while walking through expensive malls”. If geopolitical arguments and common road sense have no discernible impact on the SUV owner, perhaps pointing out the fashion gaffe will.

So rappers and athletes are compensating for insecurities :laughing:

Escalade scores with athletes, rappers

By Earle Eldridge, USA TODAY

How did Cadillac, which usually attracts 62-year-old white guys, create a truck that almost every black rap artist and rookie professional athlete wants to buy?

It appears to be pure luck, and it took Cadillac by surprise.

But the facts are stunning:

So many twentysomething African-American men have bought the 2002 Cadillac Escalade sport-utility vehicle that the age of the typical Escalade owner is 12 years younger than the average Cadillac buyer’s age, 62. Because of the rappers and professional athletes who have bought the SUV, the average family income for Escalade owners is $150,000, about $30,000 more than the typical Cadillac buyer.
About 6.5% of Cadillac buyers are black, but 19% of Escalade buyers are black.
Six players on the Golden State Warriors professional basketball team have an Escalade. Of the six top draft picks for the Green Bay Packers and Denver Broncos football teams, five bought Escalades with their new riches.
At least 10 rap songs, including one by Jennifer Lopez, mention Escalade. In music videos and live performances, rappers often drive Escalades.
Cadillac dealers say they sometimes toss teenagers out of showrooms because they spend too much time fawning over Escalades after school.
So what’s the appeal? It’s hard to pinpoint.

Escalade, which sells for about $54,000, has a 345-horsepower engine, making it the most powerful SUV.

But basketball and football players say their large body frames need the roominess of the big Escalade.

And then there’s copycat cool, of course. Once the athletes and entertainers start driving it, their fans want one, too.

Chris Mills, a forward for the Golden State Warriors and avid car nut, likes Escalade’s design. “The truck is awesome looking.”

Mills owns 310 Motoring, an auto-customizing shop in Los Angeles that has done $10,000 to $40,000 custom jobs on many of the Escalades bought by NBA players, including teammates such as Jason Richardson.

Richardson initially thought Escalade was ugly. "I was like, ‘Man, I don’t want that,’ " he says. “But it rides just like a Cadillac.” So he spent thousands installing big wheels, five TVs, a backup camera on the rear end and a PlayStation video-game system.

A hip-hop fave

But hip-hop music may be a bigger influence on Escalade’s popularity than athletics.

Some rap videos look like an Escalade commercial. A video for the song Southern Hospitality by Ludacris, a popular rapper from Atlanta, uses slow camera pans along the side of the Escalade. The nameplate shows prominently. The camera also shows the rear tailgate, focusing on the Cadillac emblem.

etc, etc, - Escalade scores with athletes, rappers

SUV’s, like many methods of transportation, do more than move us and our belongings from point A to point B.

They move our souls. And tranportation designers who know this use that knowledge to manipulate many a consumer into rationalizing the purchase of these humongous vehicles. With gas prices the way they are now, it really hasn’t hampered sales much.

As far as entertainers fueling the purchase of gas guzzling automobiles, rappers aren’t the first ones to embellish the glamour of cars. The history of cars and entertainers are practically blood-related:

Cars and our desires are wedded forever. The likelihood of one falling into the consumer trap depends on how willing one is to be deceived. Or just doesn’t care anyway. Or cares, but can honestly justify the purchase. There’s alot more to understand than what is initally apparent.

The reality stuff hits after the first few car payments, insurance payments, and door dings in a Wal-Mart parking lot.

Just for the record I want to point out that rappers don’t go out and find the products they mention in their songs. There is a quiet deal in the music industry. A company lets a rapper test their product. The rapper includes a line in their new song about the product, thus enticing thousands of fans to run out and be cool like them by wearing, eating, drinking, driving whatever that product was. Now the company comes along and sponsors their tour. No…it’s not out and out buying the artist…but that is what it amounts to.

rapper, race car driver, actor…they’ve all got the same role:

entertain the public. as a collateral duty, market some product. it helps all those involved to make some dough.

so rappers are good at selling Cadillacs. I would hope they’d be good at marketing environmental issues also. Unfortunately, I don’t see the likes of Lil Jon & The East Side Boyz representin’ renewable energy anytime soon.

Besides, I really can’t think of any other musical performers out there capable of generating large sums of money for corporate sponsorship like the rappers can. Yo Yo Ma perhaps? That’s Ludacris. Those marketing types in the industry know what they’re doing. And they’re making some bank in the process.

but for more insight into the “why” rappers sell better and possible ties with SUV’s, check these out:

Mr-914 “For the record” you act as if they aren’t responsible or intelligent enough to take a stand on turning down driving around in SUVs. That they were just handed out like candy. Maybe now that these car companies realize it will increase business but not originally. They sought after them originally because of how expensive they are. Look at me I got chedda, I finally made it because I can throw 20s on a Navgator and gas money is no issue. They’re as just responsible as soccer moms or anybody else.

And if you really want to tackle a larger source of pollution go stand outside your local airport with a picket sign increasing awareness on how much pollution is created by jumbo jets.

Cadillac is clueless about their actual market. Do they even use black people in their ads??

The Escalade has definitely tapped into the ‘Gangsta’ market. I think the Sopranos got it right: Tony drives an Escalade while Christopher drives the Hummer.

According to this source, it was the African-American population that saved the Cadillac brand from exctinction See “1932”:

If I was a car designer at Cadillac, I would be most appreciative of people that were injection-molded with a greater concentration of melanin.

A few points:

  1. I wasn’t trying to take a stand on any issue here. I just thought the article was interesting and decided to share it. Actually, I thought the most interesting part was the reasoning behind tall cars with small windows is because people don’t want people to see in their cars.

  2. You are right, airplanes are hideous polluters, we should start making efficient trains…but that’s another post altogether.

  3. True, rappers could say to the General, “Excuse me sir, but I do not need, nor want your excessive ugly tin box”. Alot has been made of the excess of rappers, but less has been made about how there are only a precious few huge star rappers that can afford to be excessive. I saw an interview once with a rapper who was shown in a music video driving an Escalade or something, but in actuality he still drove his rusty '80’s Toyota Tercel. I can’t recall which vehicle he prefered.

To quote the character Samantha from Sex and the City: “If you aren’t wearing something the kids can’t afford, how will they know to look up to you?”.

  1. I’m really upset with this thread because no one has questioned my opnion that the rear window on a PT Cruiser should follow the hatch shut line.

I disagree. The whole “gangsta” market is a side phenomenon that just benefits cadillac. Why are they going to market to someone that already loves their cars? market to those that still need to be convinced I say. Plus, rappers arent Cadillac’s intended market…this is the same with bentleys, mercedes, etc. They dont buy the car because its intended for ‘african americans’, they buy them because of the prestige and luxury they convey.

and even though the window line is only subtly diverging from the shut line, i think it should follow it (especially towards the top)