Buying a used car is not normally a particularly pleasant experience, but Design News readers don't appear to be put off by the ordeal. Approximately 45% of the engineers who responded to our exclusive auto survey (www.designnews.com, keywords "auto survey") tell us that they prefer to buy used instead of new. Their rationale? Lower price, better value, and, besides, they find loose change under the seats!
In order to better assist Detroit with its product marketing efforts, I contacted several readers, including Keith Hochhalter. Director of Product Development at Tol-O-Matic, Keith drives a Jaguar that he bought when it came off a two-year lease. "I got it at a substantial discount, and somebody else agonized over the first ding in the door!" exclaims Keith. Co-worker Jon Summers is on his 13th used car in 25 years. "I get bored easily," shrugs Summers, who does all of his own repair work and has no plans to buy a new car. Ever.
Larry Fry, an engineer at GKN Chemtronics, just might be an automaker marketer's worst nightmare. He doesn't buy new cars. He doesn't buy used cars. Last time he even set foot in a dealership was around 1984.
Fry did purchase a vehicle once, back in 1973—a brand new Chevy van. Over the past 28 years, it has logged 288,000 miles, gone through two engines, and accumulated substantial body rust. Mechanically, though, Larry says the van is in perfect shape. He ought to know, since he does 100% of the repair work himself. Though Larry is an outlying data point, the fact that he likes working on cars and isn't afraid of one out of warranty may be one reason so many engineers eschew new in favor of used.
There's also a strong impression that new cars—like software—are buggy. Michael Clausen, who works for the U.S. Army TACOM, drives a used 1989 Olds Delta. "New cars come with new car bugs," Clausen explains. The last (and only) new car he bought required 45 trips to the dealer to get the kinks worked out. Not surprisingly, he's sworn off new cars forever.
Hey Detroit, listen up!