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Part III, A Retro-grouch Goes Pickup Shopping

I was going to be kind and gentle in writing about the pickup truck insanity of modern America. This post was going to start off by discussing several recent trends in the motor vehicle industry that I think are quite positive: 
  • anti-lock brakes (ABS) as standard equipment across the entire fleet.
  • brake-based traction control systems as standard equipment, since 2010. This eliminates the need for mechanically complex four-wheel drive trucks for the vast majority of suburban cowboys.
  • the replacement of heavy, truck-based, gas-sucking SUVs by lighter, unibody-framed "crossovers".
  • the venerable Ford Econoline full-sized van is being replaced by a unibody-framed "Transit" van.
  • small diesels are being added to the light pickup truck line.
And then the bad luck hit. I happened to be driving around a dreadfully congested city (Durango, CO). It was impossible not to notice something weird when driving downtown, with the narrow streets and diagonal parking: full-sized pickup trucks are so long that they stick out into the street! A passing driver must take care not to ram the back end of these ridiculous vehicles. I wonder who would get blamed for the accident?

I also noticed new Toyota Tundra crew cab pickups with rear doors wider than the front doors. Oh great, that can be the latest and greatest trend towards making pickup trucks even longer! Nothing 'exceeds like excess.'

There can only be one explanation for this insanity, and it is the same explanation that is behind most of the ludicrous trends in modern times: easy credit. The financialization of society. The Federal Reserve's zero interest policy (ZIRP). The endless expansion of debt causes bloat in one sector of the economy after the other, be it 4000 square foot McMansions for retirees (who watch 16 hours of television per day), diploma and college-cost inflation, medical procedures and their costs, the military sector, and the number of government employees in general.


Bob said…
Well, I certainly can agree on the easy credit part. Can't comment on the rest, as I have no opinion. If they'd only make a nice small pick-up, I'd start looking for something again. They've all become behemoths. I don't get it.
Chris said…
"...dreadfully congested city (Durango)..." Guess we know who has been living in the "boonies" for a while. I would never consider Durango congested. Come on over to Denver.

Regarding easy credit: It IS easier to borrow now but the statistics I read indicate household debt is on the decrease albeit a small decrease. Does it follow if interest rates go up there will be less borrowing and less household/personal debt? Who knows?

Chris H
You don't consider Durango congested? When was the last time you were here? It's the worst I've seen in a long time. Right up there with other retirement boom towns, St. George UT and Prescott AZ. The latter might take the prize.

Remember that 'reputation is a lagging indicator.' There are probably retirees still moving into such places, thinking that they have found an "undiscovered gem of a small mountain town."
Unknown said…
Since my last visit to Durango several years ago, it sure seemed to me that Durango was more congested during my recent visit less than a week ago.

Regarding parking a one ton truck.... Parking meters and parking spaces close to downtown Durango were not designed for parking a 20 foot one ton pickup. Attempting to park in Durango in one of the diagonal spaces, the back end to the truck was in a traffic lane. Deciding that was a bad idea, I drove around until I was a couple of blocks away without a meter, but with three hour parking. It was good exercise.
sooperedd said…
Try to find a "truck" without AC, PW or even PL. I don't think any of the full-size truck manufacturers make one with a manual tranny either; not that you would want a manual with towing a trailer.

All these bells and whistles on modern trucks and cars are to push the price up.....OH..and would you like to finance that for 7 or 8 years? Crazy.
sooperedd said…
Try to find a truck without AC, PW, PL or a manual transmission.
All these bells and whistles are to push the price up and pad the bottom line of the manufacturers. Americans are financing these $40,000 and even $50,000 trucks over 8 years. That seems to be "normal" now. And yes, easy credit has changed the things we buy and the way we live; even I'm old enough to remember when it was hard to get a credit card. Not anymore and that Genie will not be put back in the bottle.
Of course, an individual can put the genie back in the bottle for his own life.
The good news about driving in Durango is that a visitor doesn't have to. He can walk or ride his bicycle on their river walk which goes along the entire town. They also have a free bus.
I hope Nissan doesn't stop making its medium-sized pickup, the Frontier. I have my eye on that model.
John V said…
Artificially low interest rates create a huge array of problems for our economy that go far beyond just financing ridiculous vehicles. They create a false wealth effect. Total Credit Market Debt Owed (TCMD, tracked by the Fed and representing the total of public and private sector debt) has grown at 4 to 5 times the growth of the economy since 1990. The last 20+ years of "prosperity" have been an illusion.