2014: How Tesla and New Car Technologies Could Send Auto Dealers the Way of the Dodo Bird

When auto dealer lobbies cry foul, they are sure to be coddled by state lawmakers. Consumers hate the new-car buying experience. They hate the haggling and the cheesy sales tactics, and they hate leaving feeling ripped off, even if they drove off with a good deal. Car salespeople are the least trusted professionals in the nation, even beating out members of Congress for the dubious title. But for 80 years, that’s been the only game in town. If you’ve ever bought a new car, you’ve had to do it at a car dealer and on its terms. Unless you recently bought a Tesla, that is. The direct-sales model Tesla uses threatens the very existence of car dealers. The electric-car company markets its cars through stores called galleries and over the Internet. There are no dickering, bait-and-switch or trade-ins, and no salespeople if you don’t want them. All prices are […] Read More

2014: The Street Car Conspiracy. How General Motors Deliberately Destroyed Public Transit

by Bradford Snell The electric streetcar, contrary to Van Wilkin’s incredible naïve whitewash, did not die a natural death: General Motors killed it. GM killed it by employing a host of anti-competitive devices which, like National City Lines, debased rail transit and promoted auto sales. This is not about a “plot” hatch by wild-eyed corporate rogues, but rather about a consummate business strategy crafted by Alfred P. Sloan, Jr., the MIT-trained genius behind General Motors, to expand auto sales and maximize profits by eliminating streetcars. In 1922, according to GM’s own files, Sloan established a special unit within the corporation which was charged, among other things, with the task of replacing America’s electric railways with cars, trucks and buses. A year earlier, in 1921, GM lost $65 million, leading Sloan to conclude that the auto market was saturated, that those who desired cars already owned them, and that the […] Read More