That car-filled test track actually was empty, each time Google came checking

Sunderland, 12/31/2001: No cars

Sunderland, 12/31/2001: No cars

Zerohedge can be an insightful and though-provoking site, but since Saturday, it is hobbling around with huge self-inflicting holes in its lower extremities, courtesy of well-aimed shots into their own feet. The site ran a story titled “Where the World’s Unsold Cars Go To Die.” The story went viral, and it was bunk. In the meantime, it has been debunked by everybody from Jalopnik’s Matt Hardigree to the Dailykanban’s Ed Niedermeyer. A day after its publication, the story also landed on Snopes, where it belongs. This did not stop sundry other sites from taking the story at face value. The debacle underlines the importance of what I – mostly in vain – tried to drum into my charges during my stint at the helm of (supposedly) Thetruthaboutcars.com: Never believe anything. Always check up on the story. Always try to get as close as possible to the actual source. You will be amazed of what you can find sometimes. Or in this case, what you can’t find. [Continue Reading]

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.

[Continue Reading]