Categories: Featured

The Ugly Truth: Trends matter more than what car enthusiasts prefer

Let me break this down to you slowly: your opinion about a certain car doesn’t matter. The automotive industry is a multibillion-dollar business that bends with what the mass market demands and not with what car enthusiasts prefer.

Manual transmission, low-slung cars, and gas-guzzling engines – what do these things have in common? Year by year, the population of cars with these traits dwindle, which tells us what the market is currently dictating: convenience, efficiency, and practicality.

Truth be told, I’m getting tired of forums and groups wherein these car enthusiasts are continually bashing a brand with its newly launched SUV or electric vehicle, or even the absence of a manual transmission option.

Yes, you may raise your pitchforks right now in protest of this ugly truth, but it’s only a matter of time before you realize that actual car buyers out-populate those warriors behind smartphone screens and keyboards.

And that’s where trends and market demand enter. If you’ve noticed, the number of SUVs and crossovers is increasing exponentially. A brief glance at the past will show you that there weren’t too many choices if you want a high-riding vehicle back then, primarily because people weren’t exposed to the benefits of having added space from the ground and added seating capacity.

Now, consumers are spoilt for choice – almost every car company has an entry into the crossover segment, while some brands, like Ford, have completely dropped the idea of making small cars in the U.S. and Asian markets in favor of the more profitable SUVs and pickup trucks.

The same goes for manual transmissions. With technology constantly evolving, giving birth to more efficient automatic cars, the demand for stickshift vehicles is decreasing. In my years of testing cars, I couldn’t count how many times I’ve seen an automatic car (mostly CVTs) outperforms its manual variant in terms of fuel efficiency. If you think manual gearbox is still the king of fuel efficiency, think again.

In the United States alone, only 12 percent of new cars introduced last year came with a manual option. In the Philippines, only a few brands keep a manual option in the lineup and more often than not, those are entry-level variants to keep the price at a minimum.

Even performance car brands like Lamborghini have already dropped the stick-shift option. If a supercar maker was able to look way past the importance of manual gearboxes in a performance vehicle, why wouldn’t you? When did we stop evolving, anyway? Are you willing to accept that cars are evolving faster than your caged mind?

And don’t get me started with electrification. Apart from the push for environmentally sound options, the demand for electrified powertrains has already started to increase. Even pickup trucks and utilitarian vehicles (look up: Hummer EV) are entering the electric vehicle fray, because, as I have mentioned, the demand for these types are starting to pick up. Yes, pun intended.

You may hate electric cars because they’re soulless, I get it, but the sooner you accept this trend, the better. By the way, your ego doesn’t help a car company keep its business running.

What does this tell you? Business matters. Profit matters. Money matters. Sure, keep your old-school and elitist opinions about crossovers and automatic transmission, but the mere number of these cars on a global scale has already proven you wrong before you even hit that “POST” button.

But then again, it’s an inconvenient truth, as well. When I was younger, I used to think that my opinion as a car enthusiast mattered to manufacturers – but it wasn’t. The industry doesn’t circle around what a handful few wants. I, too, still want a car that’s propelled by combustion, handles curved roads nicely, and plants to the ground firmly.

But I am not closing my door to whatever the future is bringing to the table. Let’s just be thankful that some brands keep a small place within their lineups that cater to us enthusiasts, and let’s not hate on what’s popular right now.

Because at the end of the day, making money is the main goal of businesses in order to stay afloat and they won’t be able to do so by listening to an “elite” few.

I’m glad I’ve evolved away from that thinking. I’m hoping you do, too.

Jacob Oliva

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