Sunday, December 21, 2008

The Helping Hand

      Everybody knows that times have been tough on the American auto industry as of late.  It can't really be escaped unless you happen to live under a rock or maybe are Helen Keller.  Hundreds of dealerships around the country selling Chrysler, Ford, and GM products are closing, and those that are still open are often having to make drastic cuts to survive.  They have also had to come up with new and innovative ways to bring in new customers.  But sometimes it backfires.  And it backfires badly.  Such was the case of a Hilo, Hawaii Chevrolet who tried to boost sales and help GM's image by literally crushing its Japanese competition.
     Someone in the crack marketing department at Island Chevrolet in Hilo decided that a great way to drum up sales and get people excited about forking over $30,000 for a 4-cylinder Malibu Maxx was to take a souped-up Suburban with special tires that cost $5000 each and use it to crush a Honda Accord.  Oh my.  I don't know who came up with this idea but I sincerely hope that they are no longer employed.  Because, considering the times, this sends so many different awful messages that it sort of makes me want to cry.
     First of all, this just oozes with the kind of thinking that makes everyone else in the world hate us Americans.  Let's be honest.  Let's take a gigantic, gas-thirsty vehicle outfitted with outrageously overpriced tires and use it to crush something foreign and economical.  Because if it's big and American and causes destruction it's cool.  And cost is no object.  What kind of message does it send when gas was recently over $4 per gallon and we are using a vehicle that gets a whopping 14 mpg to crush a vehicle that gets more like 30.  Gosh.  That's a bad message.  Oh, and by the way, it looks great that you are spending $20,000 on tires for a promotional stunt when most people can't afford to spend $20,000 on a car or on groceries or on medical care right now.  Way to think that through, Island Chevrolet.  Looks really good.  Oh, and it doesn't say much for your abilities as mechanics that you didn't beef up the motor or suspension on your monstrosity, either.  All of these things makes what happened next absolutely hilarious.
     What happened next was an absolutely hilarious example of the old adage "When it rains, it pours."  When driver Ryan Kepiki tried to crush the poor Accord, the Suburban blew a hydraulic line and began to hemorrhage vital fluid all over the place.  The Honda remained unscathed.  So here is this giant piece of the finest of engineering that Chevrolet has to offer spilling fluid all over the parking lot in front of God knows how many people as the little innocent Honda sits there and is just fine.  I am sure they could have fired it up and driven it to get the new hoses and fittings for the Suburban if they had wanted to.  I am sure it would have fired right up on the first turn of the key, which is more than we can say for the 'Burbs.  Sure, after the guys at the dealership fixed up the Suburban it successfully went to town on both the Accord AND a Hyundai Accent in front of a Hilo rush hour crowd.  But that's not the point.  The point is that this was hilarious.
     "We'd like to send the message that the best way to support your country is to buy an American vehicle today." noted Island Chevrolet Sales Manager James Severtson, who had orchestrated this debacle.  Well mission accomplished Jimmy.  Mission accomplished.  Because sitting there watching a huge Suburban with comically oversized tires on it bleeding coolant into the city sewer grate makes me want to rush right out and get one to be my daily driver.  Of course.  Here's the deal, James.  You messed this up, and if you want I would be happy to get you a towel with which to wipe the egg off your face.  Because you didn't help at all.  General Motors are already beleaguered enough, they don't need a yahoo out there claiming to represent them and failing to crush Honda Accords, okay?  Because the people who sit down on a nightly basis and watch the national news or those who read the morning newspaper have probably already made up their minds about GM, and Detroit doesn't need you out there converting the rest of the world.  So if by some miracle of miracles you are still working for Island Chevrolet as you read this, please pull your head out of your glove box and think about what exactly you are doing.  Because the auto makers have a tough enough road to hoe these days.  They don't need you and your retarded Suburban of doom.  Although I don't know who it doomed more.  

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