Not living in one of the two or three U.S. cities where car ownership is plausibly optional, I have a 1998 Toyota Corolla. For American road conditions, where you have to confront a sea of huge trucks and SUVs and travel a high percentage of miles on curvy, undivided high-speed suburban and rural roadways, I consider this to be the most rational auto. It has 120 horse-power and an EPA miles-per-gallon rating of 32 city and 41 highway. The only time it is ever even arguably under-powered is on the steepest final approaches to mountain-pass ski areas. Even then it’s fine, really.
I say all this to give you a base for judging corporate capitalists’ familiar claim that they use big business marketing to understand buyers’ needs and improve products. This lie is exposed yet again by Toyota’s forthcoming release of the 2009 Corolla.
The 2009 Corolla will be a substantially INFERIOR product to my 1998 version. As we listen to Al Gore accept the Nobel Peace Prize for his tepid movie about climate change, all signs suggest that we live directly atop the peak of the long-predicted Peak Oil curve. By the time the 2009 Corolla get released, gas may very well be selling for $4.00 a gallon in the United States. By the time the warranty on the 2009 Corolla expires, it may be $10.00.
So, with full knowledge of this impending reality, what has the seller of the Prius done to the engine of the 2009 Corolla? The standard horse-power will now be 132, and the miles-per-gallon will DROP BY ALMOST A QUARTER to 27 city and 35 highway!
This shocking degradation of the product and egregious dismissal of the most important need of prospective buyers is the opposite of an accident. It is marketing-era corporate capitalism in normal action.
Since small cars mean small profits, even the green-flag waving Toyota Corporation hates and resents them. Like all other car-makers, it uses it marketing operations to discover new ways to sell its customers “more car.” This is partly done by exploiting people’s irrational admiration of superfluous horse-power and acceleration. Ergo, the worsening of the Corolla’s fuel-efficiency.
It is also done by the newly “e-accelerated” gambit of promoting of ever-expanding lists of junk “equipment” on the interiors of the ever-more insane gas guzzlers that remain the compulsory core mode of mobility in this, the land of the “free market.”
The all-new Corolla will come with a long list of standard performance and convenience features. All models will be equipped with a heavy duty rear window defogger, AM/FM/CD audio with four speakers that is also XM satellite capable, auxiliary audio input jack, air conditioning with air filter, tilt and telescopic steering wheel, and 60/40 split folding rear seats.
The sporty S grade will feature standard P205/55R16 tires with full wheel covers, color-keyed front and rear underbody spoilers, fog lamps, front sport seats, leather-wrapped steering wheel, black headlamp housing, chrome exhaust tip and AM/FM/CD XM capable audio with six speakers.
In addition to S grade features, the XRS grade adds a rear deck spoiler, P215/45 R17 tires with alloy wheels, sport strut tower brace, VSC with TRAC and an off switch, XRS scuff plate, leather-trimmed shift lever and knob, cruise control and an interior chrome accent.
Options Optional comfort and utility features include AM/FM/six-disc CD changer with MP3/WMA playback capability, satellite radio (subscription required) and six speakers, a power package that includes power windows and door locks. Additional options on select grades include JBL Audio system with AM/FM six-disc CD changer with eight speakers and Bluetooth, Navigation system with AM/FM CD with MP3/WMA playback capability and XM satellite radio with XM NavTraffic capable with six speakers, leather-trimmed seats and shift knob, tilt and slide moonroof, VSC with TRAC and cut-off switch.
If we let it run its course, such is the detritus with which this decrepit system will carry humanity over the precipice.