Earlier this month, my father decided his 2000 Ford Windstar minivan had had enough. A respectable and reliable little van, it served his small business purposes well and was much more fuel efficient than any silly and huge SUV, like a Yukon or Suburban. It probably had just as much cargo room too, but the savings from being more fuel efficient was the big reason for staying small.
Fast forward 9 years and 140,000 miles later. This car was always left outside and was never properly cared for. As such, it began to rust a bit. My father had already planned on getting rid of it, and Ford had done him well in the past, so why not go with another Ford? Particularly in this type of economic climate, any American auto dealership would bend over backward to get his business, he figured. Turns out he was right.
He was able to pick up a 2008 Ford Edge Limited - AWD (navi, leather, all those goodies - even option 18" chrome wheels!) for about $12K below MSRP (as I understand it - never saw the bill of sale or anything).
More than just the price, though, the car is actually pretty solid. I drove it briefly and it seemed pretty sturdy. The options are great, the interior quality is very nice, and the exterior styling isn't anything to laugh at like some of the Buick or Oldsmobile models of the 1990s. The reason for the deep discount was more than just the fact that it was an American car, of course; it had been sitting on the lot for well over a year and a half by this point and the dealer wanted it gone.
This is how Detroit can win American car buyers back: shed inventory for low cost, make what people WANT to buy like this Ford Edge, give up the addiction to huge trucks and atrocities like the $50,000 GMC Yukon Hybrid, and stick to making sensible vehicles people can be proud of when parked next to foreign competitors like Honda and VW. Pretty soon, if they can make this work, it will be the American auto owners laughing at folks who paid too much for a foreign car instead of the other way around.