Wednesday, December 22nd, 2010...7:48 pm
RIP Gretta the Jetta
I thought I’d just post this as a coda to our class discussions this fall.
On my way home from the last class, my trusty VW Jetta had a couple of palpitations that turned out to be a sign of a dying injector pump (very expensive on a diesel engine). Since the car has been starting to rust out badly, we’d decided not to put a lot more money into it, and so this was her last trip – which somehow seemed appropriate!
Still feeling committed to vegetable-oil-based fuels, we went out and found another used Jetta, slightly newer than Gretta. What’s really interesting about this is that the dealer we bought it from is a young Bosnian guy who came to the U.S. along with his father, a diesel mechanic. This guy makes most of his living buying mostly German imports (VWs, Porsches, BMWs) and re-exporting them to Europe, where they sell for far more than they do here. He told me that European automakers are essentially forced to lower their prices in the U.S. because of competition from American and Japanese cars and because they can’t afford not to be operating in the huge American car market. So this creates a niche opportunity for someone like this dealer who regularly loads up shipping containers with used German cars and sends them back to where they started.
This made my head spin a bit – it’s such a graphic illustration of how fluid the car industry has become and how cars become essentially vehicles for moving capital around in the global economy.