Henry Ford would be proud

Cars in trafficI can’t speak for the rest of Texas, much less the rest of America, but here in Austin the color choice for new cars would make Henry Ford smile. Ford once said

Any customer can have a car painted any colour that he wants so long as it is black

Having gone through the new car buying process again back in November, it was really depressing at the lack of choice. Exaggerated in my case as I decided to buy a car that was built overseas. There was nothing even in the pipeline coming to the USA that was what you could actually call a “color”.

Turns out it’s a much bigger problem, and not limited to color selection. The real problem is that you, yes YOU, the customer, have no real choice. Most States in the USA have specific laws and regulations that limit your ability to work with manufactures, and the dealerships have almost no incentive to actually give the customer what they want, apart from a notional hat-tip to customer service, their main objective is to maximise their profits.

They do this by making big orders of similar models, with a mish-mash of features, and stockpile them. They order in limited colors, black, white, assorted versions of gray. That way you can get any color you want so long as “it’s black”.

Seriously, go stand on a street corner, watch the cars go by, endless black, white and variations on gray which include silver, and metallic. An alternative view might be that cars have now passed from a being an expression of self transport, to being a utilitarian means of transport, everyone has one, why be different?

[Update: 6/11/13 11:44. Correct typo, even one > everyone in final para]

6 thoughts on “Henry Ford would be proud

  1. I work in car sales in the UK and we sell more black cars, so we therefore stock more black cars which means we sell more black ones! Self fulfilling prophecy really. Bloody dull though isn’t it!

    1. Steve, interestingly my only ever black car was when I lived in the UK, I had a black Ford Mondeo. Learned my lesson. Hopefully the UK has a better infrastructure now to support black and white cars, better car washes, paint chip restorers etc.

      If you’ve never been to the US, you’d be amazed at the inventory that most big city dealerships hold, most of it in black, white, or shades of gray.

    1. There are loads of great colors, YOU, yes, you the customer, just can’t get them.

      and don’t get me started on Tesla, did you see they’ve been denied a license to sell direct in Texas? After all, that would give the customer real choice.

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