Used cars

Another interesting passage from Buckminster Fuller’s Universe:

“Fuller’s interactions with Walter Chrysler also provided him with many valuable insights into the automobile industry. Chrysler was the person who explained why major manufacturers would never produce the Dymaxion Car commercially, and his prediction was ultimately fulfilled as each of the major automobile companies considered and rejected production of the Dymaxion Car. Walter Chrysler warned Bucky that because most used cars were sold several times and remained in the marketplace for many years, sales of used cars outnumbured sales of new cars by approximately five to one. The abundance of used cars in the marketplace was especially hard on dealers, who were forced to accept them in trade and were usually inundated with used cars.”

“That glut proved to be a tremendous burden on the American economy because most unsold cars were purchased under agreements with financial instiuttions and were, therefore, actually owned by bankers until sold. Bankers believed that if the newest cars were too technologically advanced and desirable, no one would want the inferior used cars they owned. Those cars would then be drastically devalued, and such a devaluation would create massive losses for the financial institutions.”

“Exceptionally advanced new cars would also generate financial problems for bankers and other businesspeople by remaining in service much longer, wearing out fewer parts and consuming less fuel. A technologically superior, highly desirable vehicle, such as Fuller’s Dymaxion Car, simply could not be tolerated within the structure of the automobile market. Consequently, Mr. Chrysler believed that influential individuals worked diligently to ensure that superior vehicles would never be produced commercially.”

“Walter Chrysler further explained that he felt that automobile company executives may have genuinely wanted to produce the Dymaxion Car, but that they were subject to the influence of bankers and stockholders who would never allow management to jeopardize the automobile market by producing such a superior vehicle. New car models were, at times, improved through engineering developments, but such innovations occurred over the course of many years so that they would not affect the value of used cars. Both Chrysler and Fuller agreed that the major modifications proclaimed by manufacturers from year to year were (as they still are) primarily superficial alterations in appearance which excite customers about apparently new models without costly retooling of manufacturing plants or the devaluation of the cars on the road or in the marketplace.”

“The two men also agreed that major technological advances developed within other industries had been withheld from immediate implementation in the automobile industry in an effort to maintain a stable economy and to keep powerful individuals secure in their positions.”