The Mystery Of The Unsold Cars

Ah, look at all the lonely automobiles...

Ah, look at all the lonely automobiles…

One of the great frustrations about writing on the internet is the constant reminder that words can never compete with images for immediate impact. The human symbol-based psyche craves simplicity in a frighteningly complex world, and images provide their impact immediately, without need for further consideration. The old chestnut that “a lie is halfway ’round the world before the truth gets its pants on” is especially true in the modern world, where ever more is shared in images that can only ever show so much.

When Zerohedge posted photos portraying huge parking lots where, allegedly, “the world’s cars go to die” it was inevitable that the photos would have a huge impact. After all, 1) ZH is very well read and 2)monstrous overflow lots stuffed with unsold vehicles were to the 2008 US auto meltdown what suburbs full of foreclosure signs were to the mortgage crisis. In my naivete, however, I believed the shocking (if not entirely accurate) imagery of the post would inspire a closer look at the current auto inventory situation around the world. Having warned of inventory buildup in the US in a recent Bloomberg View post, I thought I could busy my weekend with other issues.

Yeah, right.

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Former TTAC moderator comes forward, says he witnessed on-line shilling by GM, other OEMs

Picture courtesy Tanzania Central Bank

Summer 2009 was a heady time for auto blogs and their readers. Michigan auto and parts companies were falling faster than their share prices. The termites of foreign and domestic competition, intransigent executive management, careless lending, and poor product ate away the foundations of General Motors, Chrysler, and, to a lesser-extent, Ford, until the debt crisis bubble pop brought these mighty corporations tumbling down.

Understandably, playing defense against their myriad opponents—former customers put off by shoddy quality, PR minions of crosstown- or cross-state rivals, bloggers who had a voice and found an audience for some hard truths, and lowly trolls who infect any story with a comments section with their barely-literate ramblings—beleaguered employees started fighting back in the comments sections of various auto blogs, including The Truth About Cars. [Continue Reading]