As Michael Cook likes to say, demography is destiny, maybe someone should start a blog about that….hmmm.
Anyway, Mark Steyn is another person who says the answer to many questions and problems lies with demography. The other day, over at National Review’s The Corner group blog, Steyn was chatting with Yuval Levin about GM’s plans for revival and a reported concept of the GM Puma, a partnership between the makers of tough trucks Segway.
There is a — drumroll, please — demographic element to the automobile question. Europeans often ask, “Why do Americans need those big cars?” The short answer is: Because Americans have kids and Europeans don’t. So Italians and Spaniards and Germans (and Japanese) can drive around in things the size of a Chevy Suburban’s cupholder because they’ve got nothing to put in them.
If you’re a soccer mom schlepping three kids plus little Jimmy from next door around, you need a vehicle of a certain size. In the old days, you could just toss ’em all in there and they’d roll around as you took the hairpin bends in fourth gear. But now you can’t stick kids in the front and you need baby seats for the youngest and booster seats for the oldest and soon nanny-state regulation will require every American under 37 to be in a rear-facing child seat, which is a pretty good metaphor for where the country’s going.
I say, I must agree with him. I’ve thought about getting a tiny car as a second vehicle but even that for me, as a father of four, would require some seating for children (if my wife and I split them up we can divide and conquer). There is a reason why I drive a Dodge Caravan, it actually fits my family.
As for why some people buy Hummers and other vehicles that don’t seem to do much but are big? No clue. But I can tell you that, at least until recently Americans could afford to buy big vehicles while those of us in Canada or other countries simply could not. The vehicles cost more here and so does the gas.