What’s your stance on new cars?

September 20, 2011 · 55 comments

It seems like, on every major boulevard, there are a half-dozen or so car dealerships lined up one after another. Every time I drive by one of these dealerships I find myself staring at all the shiny new cars, not because I want one, but because I think HOLY CRAP THAT’S A LOT OF NEW CARS. Each dealership has at least a few hundred cars on site.

Google tells me there are 23,000 dealerships in the US. We also know that these 23,000 car dealerships keep a huge inventory on hand. But what I can’t for the life of me figure out is, who the heck are the customers of these dealerships?

I mean seriously, how are these places staying in business. I know the revenue the financing and service departments generate help keep the doors open, but how on earth are they selling enough cars to stay in business? There are only two logical deductions I can make:

1) A lot more people than I thought are buying new cars.

or

2) Dealerships aren’t selling cars at all, but are actually an intricate part of the Russian mob. The cars are just a way to mask all the illegal activities going on behind closed doors.

Unfortunately, I’m going to have to go with option one here and assume a lot of people must be buying new cars. So who are these people? No, seriously. I’m not being rhetorical, I’m really asking who are these people? Who buys a new car?

Girl Ninja and I made a few rules about owning cars during premarital counseling. They looked like this….

  • The only type of debt we will tolerate is a reasonable mortgage. That’s it. If we don’t have the cash to buy the car we want, we suck it up and keep saving.
  • We don’t change cars like we do our underwear. We drive the cars we have for a very long time.
  • A cars primary purpose is to take us from Point A to Point B. Nothing more, nothing less.
  • We will never own anything by Volkswagen, because all of their cars interiors smell like a box of Crayons. Anyone else notice this?

I personally have a very hard time coming to terms with purchasing a vehicle brand new, even if we have the cash to do so. They depreciate so fast in the first few years that even a “debt free” car seems like a bad deal to me. That said, I realize this is only my opinion, and as Girl Ninja likes to often remind me; my opinion means nothing :)

So now I’d like to open the floor to you. If you’ve bought a new car in the last five years, what were the reasons (old car broke down, stupid mistake, needed bigger car for family, got a good deal, etc). How long do you plan on driving said new car? For those that haven’t bought a new car recently, what keeps you from doing so? What circumstances would have to be met before you went to a dealership for your next ride (big pay bump, huge inheritance, 0% financing offer, etc)? HOW THE HECK DO DEALERSHIPS STAY IN BUSINESS?!?