Everything That’s Wrong With Automotive Journalism, Summed Up Nicely In One Twitter Thread

There’s a sad, soy-substitute trend of self-loathing of so-called “automotive journalists” on the internet lately. Most of them hate cars and they can’t figure out why people in Winchester, Kentucky can’t just get on board with public transportation already. They are only on the autos beat because there were no job openings for the Social Justice desk at Daily Beast.

But that doesn’t stop them from needlessly inserting tributes to pedophile rapists and violent criminals, errrrr social justice heroes into every review of the 2021 Kia Forte, or from raging against the patriarchal, capitalist machine that is the auto industry.

Case in point: Senior Editor Jared Rosenholtz from Carbuzz.com. One day this week, Jared woke up and decided that he needed to do something about income inequality. Did he run for office? No. Did he volunteer at a soup kitchen? Also no. Did he write a passive aggressive tweet and tag Bernie Sanders in it? YOU’RE GODDAMNED RIGHT HE DID!

In this moment of inspiration, our testosterone-challenged Senior Editor discovered that there are more choices for people who want to buy a car that costs more than $1M than for people who want to buy a car that costs less than $20k. This cannot be! In what universe should people with more resources be allowed to have more choices? Clearly this is unfair and must be tweeted about! So Jared compiled an incomplete list, put it into a badly formatted Google sheet, and tweeted that shit right out there.

He then sat back and waited for “Car Twitter” to applaud his efforts at remedying the true injustice that exists in the world, a world where somebody on government assistance cannot call up Horacio Pagani and custom order a Huayra painted to honor Lewis Hamilton.

If this weren’t so hilarious, it would be sad. We’ve somehow allowed somebody to have the title of Senior Editor at a solidly second-tier car website who doesn’t understand a single word on the following list:

  • mass production
  • economy of scale
  • boutique manufacturers
  • production numbers
  • assembly lines
  • profitability
  • sales volume
  • competitive landscape
  • research and development
  • supply chain
  • marketing costs
  • dealer networks
  • inflation
  • global economy and tariffs

And I could keep going. Mr. Soyenholtz is painfully unaware of the vast, vast difference between Toyota and Koenigsegg. He doesn’t understand that McLaren has been using the same tub for over a decade. He doesn’t know what it costs to design a new, inexpensive car, nor does he understand how that cost needs to be amortized over a production run that numbers in the millions.

He doesn’t understand that a single day’s production numbers of the Corolla alone dwarfs the entire production run of all of the cars on the right—combined. He doesn’t understand that the number one Lamborghini dealer in the country sold a total of 38 new Lamborghinis in 2019. Like, for the whole year. Kendall Toyota sells that many Corollas in a single weekend.

He doesn’t understand that the average new car price in 2020 isn’t $20,000, it’s actually $36,000. He doesn’t understand that the true sub-$20k car sold in 2020 is not a new car, it’s a lightly used 2-3 year old $36k car that has 8-9 years of life remaining, and it’s a far, far superior vehicle to anything that was available on the new car lot for a similar customer twenty years ago.

He has never heard of words like “holding cost” or “floorplan.” He doesn’t know the difference between Warranty and CP. He doesn’t know the difference between front end profit and back end profit. He’s never seen a stairstep program.

If our dear friend Jared knew a single fucking thing about how any of this works, he’d be ashamed to even consider making such a list. But he didn’t, and he doesn’t. So he wasn’t, and he isn’t.

Oh, and Jared didn’t seem too disgusted by this particular Bugatti.

OF COURSE HE LOOKS LIKE THAT.

Jared, hit me up at barkm302@gmail.com and I’ll be happy to explain to you why your simping for the socialists was a total swing and miss. That’s a sports metaphor, Jared.

P.S.—to those of you who have sent emails to me in the last couple of months (and there are a lot of you), I apologize for my extended absence from the internet. Here’s a list of things I’ve been doing:

  • Fishing and camping
  • Out renting boats in the Hamptons
  • Eating good, working out, and giving charity
  • Working on my vocal cord clarity

I’ll get right on answering all of them. Peace.

64 Replies to “Everything That’s Wrong With Automotive Journalism, Summed Up Nicely In One Twitter Thread”

  1. AvatarJoe Rosenbaum

    Good sir, lots of people with German names like his develop male pattern baldness like his, and the thick framed glasses arise from all that studying as a child. It is wrong to insult his appearance!

    And for G-d’s sake, of course he’s going to get the sports metaphor. ESPN, the jobs program for German-named people like this that can’t pass the bar, was obviously his second choice before settling at wherever he is now as editor.

    So did you get that Jalopnik job you were seeking?

    Reply
  2. Avatararbuckle

    I’m certain this fellow would be against any lowering of safety or efficiency regulations in order to make entry-level vehicles more affordable.

    Reply
    • Avatarstingray65

      No, instead I’m sure he wants additional regulations that it be 100% powered by solar or wind, made from recycled and biodegradable materials, and made in a factory employing people of color earning union wages and offering a juicy early retirement plan.

      Reply
  3. AvatarJohn C.

    I must be a real peasant. That whole left list I know something about and about two thirds of the right list I had never heard of the model name.

    Impressive you can pull a new Jetta in under $20,000. It is what 110% of an Audi 3.

    Reply
    • AvatarCJinSD

      It doesn’t seem like a good sign that Volkswagen’s website will let you build a 2019 or 2020 Jetta, but not a 2021. It is September. Will there be a 2021 Jetta? My interest ended when I discovered that the engine is an Obama-compliant 1.4T anyway, although I was pleased that a manual may be available. A 2021 Corolla for twenty grand sounds good, but one with a 6-speed starts at twenty-four thousand dollars. At least it has a 2 liter, naturally aspirated engine.

      Reply
      • AvatarShrug

        The 1.4t in the Jetta is a perfectly fine engine for that car. It’s super torquey and returns excellent gas mileage in the real world. It’s a commuter car engine for a car that meant to do commuting. Source: family owns two Jetta R-Lines, which are incredibly well equipped considering it’s hard to pay more than $23k for one out the door.

        Reply
        • AvatarArbuckle

          I haven’t driven a 1.4t Jetta but the 2.0t in the current Passat is lame even for commuter duty and it is all they offer for that car.

          Reply
      • AvatarJohn C.

        The Jetta does have some things going for it in addition to low price.. Size wise it is very close to the B5 Passat, while weighing 200 pounds less and being on the MQB platform. The 1.4T is nearly matching the horsepower of the old 5 valve 1.9t with a big bump (30 foot pounds) in torque and also in economy. I do hope it stays around, I have heard that VW is thinking of only GTI and R Golfs for the USA next gen.

        The Jetta engine likely would be higher maintenance than a Corolla, Forte, Sentra over 100k but lets face it the switch to CVTs is bending the life of all those cars also to about 100k

        Reply
        • AvatarCJinSD

          I would buy the 6-speed, 2 liter Corolla in a heartbeat if I was in the market for compact car. No compromises, and it will outlast western civilization.

          Reply
  4. Avatartoly arutunoff

    the biggest surprise of my long automotive life was finding out how many youngsters–it’s fun being old enough to use that word–are left of center. I’m sure it’s the current regime of public schools and msm that ‘educated’ them in this matter. back east you could find a few Stevenson voters at a sportscar race during the Eisenhower administration, but not so much in the southeast or midwest

    Reply
    • Avatarstingray65

      And they are all commenters at TTAC – any feature or comments that dares mention any downsides to electric cars is met with a chorus of people saying they how much they enjoy take a 45 minute break to recharge their Tesla every two hours on road trips, and that all the environmental damage caused by battery production is just another Trump lie. And speaking of Trump, any mention about rolling back the Obama era 54 mpg CAFE standard is met with a chorus of Trump hate and visions of returning to the California smog of the 1960s.

      Reply
  5. AvatarLynnG

    Bark,
    First, welcome back, your pontification was missed by many.
    Question: You state: “Out renting boats in the Hamptons” This could mean one of two things: First, I was staying in the Hamptons and occasionally renting a boat to get out on the water, OR Second, Bart was performing summer work in the Hamptons renting boats to the NYC elites because none of the college kids from the Ivy League that typically do that sort of thing were staying in their parents guest houses all summer due to the pandemic.
    Second queston related to the first: You state: “Fishing and Camping. Does this mean you took your very athletic and knowledgable children camping in New England for the summer because most summer camps were closed due the pandemic. OR: while Bart was renting boats to the elites in the Hamptons he was not making enought to rent a room so Bart camped all summer in his Pontiac Aztek equiped with the pop-up camper attachment.
    Sorry to have to ask but usually your writting is crystal clear but these bullet points could have multiple meanings. 🙂
    Anyway, I know all your readers are glad you are back..

    Reply
    • Jack BaruthJack Baruth

      Mr. Gardner,

      Since I know you are a serious fellow and classically educated I will let you in on this lowbrow joke: these are lines from a rap song.

      Reply
        • AvatarDisinterested-Observer

          You should know that Bark’s articles display nothing but ridiculous jargon,
          shocking sexual audacity and repulsive images of the ghetto.

          Reply
          • Avatarhank chinaski

            ‘THANK YOU FOR YOUR SERVICE’
            That quip was used often in a similar context in the recent flick, ‘The Outpost’. Highly recommended. Perhaps a little too much ‘Saving Private Ryan’ action, but worth a watch. Mirrors nicely with the documentary ‘Restepo’. Features both Eastwood and Gibson’s sons, and a southern accent from an oddly cast Orlando Bloom.

            ‘merika

  6. AvatarMrGreenMan

    In 1987, $20k got you a new, top-trim Buick Park Avenue – “understated luxury” at its finest. An LS500 is $90k now. Don’t even get me started on the loss of the 25 cent “Homo Milk” gallons signs that were once on every corner; this slack-jawed, unkempt-bearded trend-chaser is living in the past.

    Reply
    • AvatarDaniel J

      @MrGreenMan,

      That is sort of an unfair comparison. 20K is a bit over 45K today, from 1987. A brand new Lexus ES is less than 40K. An ES 350 with over 300HP can be had for around 45K. Twice what the Park Avenue had.

      Cars are cheaper, safer, and have more features than they ever had.

      Reply
  7. AvatarDuong Nguyen

    Once again an auto journalist uses MSRP, which is completely out of touch with what people actually pay…

    Pretty much every mainstream car has some type of factory or dealer incentives, so there are way more cars you could add to this stupid list.

    Reply
    • Avatarstingray65

      Yes you are correct – lots of models are under $20K after discounts and incentives, but what about the other side? What about the poor uneducated Rap star, a man of color who walks into the Ferrari or Rolls dealer looking at a $500K model and ends up paying over $1 million after the racist salesman tricks him into adding the $200,000 mink floor mats, $300,000 deluxe Trucoat paint protection, and financing at 14% interest? Where is the social justice of that?

      Reply
          • AvatarBark M Post author

            Thanks!

            I was made privy to the transaction by a dear friend and client, so I can’t say too much. The dealer tried to talk the customer out of the deal multiple times. His mother came back the next day and tried to void it.

  8. AvatarCompaq Deskpro

    Where’s the under $30,000 list, it would most of the cars on sale, dumbest guy on the internet. There are cultures that value efficiency above all else, thinking of Japan and kei cars or Norway with electrics, American is not one of them. People are not willing to drive a Mitsubishi Mirage or Versa and the sales and the resulting models for sale show it.

    Anyone see the new Grand Wagoneer? While I think it looks drop head handsome, I love the restrained grill even though they could have fit something much bigger and gaudier, but it has a bit of cold modernity to it like the Denali trucks, the old Grand Wagoneer had acres of wood inside and out and rich leather seats, making for a very comfy log cabin feel, this car has none of that. Its all about gunning for Range Rover, Denali, Escalade, and the fattest German crossovers. I really hope its based on the body on frame Ram platform, its looks like it might be, but that could be the difference between it being “meh, just gussied up Durango/Cherokee” and the Ram wagon they should have been selling since the 90’s.

    Reply
    • Avatarstingray65

      I’m not sure Japan and Norway value efficiency above all else. The kei cars in Japan and electrics in Norway are given big tax breaks that make them the cheapest way to have 4 wheels, and offer the added bonus of reducing the need for very heavily taxed gasoline. Of course, I’m sure Jared would think it a very good idea for the Biden administration to heavily tax motor fuels and limit cars to 600cc motors, while providing incentives for coal powered electrics.

      Reply
  9. AvatarGene

    Do the esteemed writers of autobuzz.com ever actually drive anything besides someone’s Mom’s 10 year old Prius? All of their articles seem to be little more than a 3-4 paragraph synopsis of something Google fed them.

    At least their brevity allows plenty of time to comment on their own work. I refuse to believe they actually have a readership.

    Reply
  10. AvatarPaul M.

    The article provokes some thought.

    Are there any specialized hyper vehicles made for the one percenters, that indeed has some of the virtues that most value in mass produced cars and trucks?

    Meaning, are there reliable, practical (as much as possible such as no gull wings) super duper hyper cars out there? Something one would not be too embarrassed to drive in and does not need constant maintenace? I really like how Maserati Gran tourismo looks for example, but then again I am not sure if that would qualify as one of those hyper cars.

    Reply
    • Avatarstingray65

      Paul M – you raise an interesting question that I have long pondered. I see so many stories and videos about 10-15 year old exotic cars with 30,000 miles that need new gearboxes, clutches, serious motor rebuilds, and have interiors where buttons have melted, leather is dried and cracked and worn, A/C and electric windows etc. don’t work and all kinds of other issues you might expect on an ordinary car with 250,000 miles on it. Why do exotic cars with prices that will buy you a nice place even in coastal California or Manhattan seem to be worn out when they have hardly been used, even when they have received prescribed maintenance and been stored in climate controlled environments? 15 to 30,000 miles of track days could certainly explain it, but I suspect very few of these cars see many track days, and are more likely used for a casual Sunday drive a few times a month. What exactly are you getting besides “prestige” and “rarity” when you buy a new car for several hundred thousand dollars?

      Reply
      • Jack BaruthJack Baruth

        This is worth a separate column, so I’ll do that — but there are a few reasons that expensive cars don’t hold up as well as cheap ones.

        * Materials — cheap cars are built from commodity materials that have been proven over time to hold up. Exotics are often built from combinations of metals that can corrode, carbon fiber that can UV delaminate, untreated high-quality leather that doesn’t handle sun very well.

        * Tuning — The way to build a Corolla is to start with a 120hp car and tune it to 100hp for durability. You make a Ferrari by starting with a 500hp car and tuning another 50hp out of it. There’s a corresponding decrease in lifespan.

        * Design time — Since a Corolla generates a lot more total revenue than a Ferrai, you can spend a lot more time designing and testing. In particular, you can do a lot more “lifecycle testing” like running a proposed doorhandle through a million open/close cycles, that sort of thing.

        * Design — Exotic cars make a lot of compromises to look the way they do. Many of these compromises are in the area of heat management, water draining, the sort of thing that matters in the long haul.

        As Bark noted, if you do address all this stuff with an exotic you get an NSX, both generations of which look quite a bit like their Accord siblings on the inside.

        Reply
        • Avatarstingray65

          Thanks for the quick answer Jack and I look forward to a longer column on the issue. It is interesting that you note the Design elements that give the swoopy look also create problems, but I would assume many of these problems are seldom seen by owners since the cars are rarely driven in bad weather (thus no water draining issues) or prolonged high speeds (thus no heat issues) – probably the more common issue is the swoopy good looks make it difficult for the 70+ year old owners to get in and out. The other issue is whether the 500 HP Ferrari engine that is tuned to give 550 HP is ever stressed enough to have issues when owners can’t use more than 300 on the street without going to jail.

          Reply
          • AvatarBark M Post author

            A friend of mine bought a Huayra, removed the engine, and mounted it on his wall as Art.

            Don’t ever try to understand the behavior or the truly wealthy. They don’t think like we do.

          • AvatarRonnie Schreiber

            Don’t ever try to understand the behavior or the truly wealthy. They don’t think like we do

            Nah, they think just like we’d do if we had that kind of wealth.

            “The rich are different. They have more money.” – Leonard Schreiber DVM

        • AvatarCarmine

          Thats a more detailed explanation than my explanation that they’re “overpriced and overrated garbage sold to idiots”

          Reply
          • Tom KlockauTom Klockau

            When my dad kept his Chris-Craft at the marina, a ‘boat neighbor’ owned a couple of ’60s Ferraris. This would have been circa 1986-88. I remember he told my dad the cars were ‘the prettiest kit cars you can buy.’

    • Avatararbuckle

      The NSX and the LC500/LC500h seem like good candidates. They may not be “hyper cars” but I think they’ll compete fine with the performance of most Maseratis or Aston Martins without being maintenance headaches.

      Reply
  11. AvatarRL

    Not that it really makes a difference, but the list of cars under $20k isn’t even complete. Where are the Chevrolet Spark and Sonic? Yes, I know the Sonic has been discontinued for 2021, but so have the Honda Fit and Toyota Yaris, and they made the list. The list would be even longer if based on real world transaction prices.

    Reply
    • Avatarbluebarchetta

      In addition to still existing, the Spark took a major step toward non-suckery when they dropped the wheezy old 84hp Daewoo engine and replaced it with the 98hp 1.4 Ecotec – essentially the same as the tried-and-true 1.4 from the Cruze and Encore, but without the turbo. Such an understressed engine ought to last longer than the rest of the car, as long as you keep clean oil in it.

      In the 80s or 90s, C/D and R&T would have tested the new Spark to tell us if the 14hp bump made it better to drive. And they’d have closed the road test by saying “If the 1.4 fits, the 1.4T should fit! C’mon, Chevy, give us a Daewoo GTI!” Because back then, auto writers actually liked cars.

      In conclusion, get off my lawn.

      Reply
  12. AvatarJohn C.

    What is it about the Corolla that excites you. Your hope that the current model retains the reliable reputation? Or is there something about the current generation that you think Toyota got especially right?

    Reply
    • AvatarCJinSD

      What they got especially right was Hybrid Synergy Drive. Because their hybrid system is so effective and marketable in CUVs, they aren’t forced to push out ever-more-frangible compliance drivetrains in everything else they sell. While even Honda has been reduced to disposable ChiCom-Obama engines like 1.5T-DI abominations, Toyota’s new line of dual-injection naturally aspirated four cylinders have no built in burning fuses. Throw in the availability of a 6-speed manual in a car that isn’t equipped like a price-leader, and they’re making the only car on the market that I would own instead of rent.

      Reply
  13. Avatarjc

    The correct headline for this “tweet” would have been something like

    More than 500 times as many cars under $20,000 are sold as cars over $1 million..

    or whatever the number is – I suspect that 500 is way too low.

    Reply
  14. AvatarOne Leg at a Time

    OF COURSE HE LOOKS LIKE THAT

    Best line of the piece. And of course, he is making the non-threatening monkey grimace.

    Welcome back.

    Reply
  15. Avatardanio

    If it weren’t for draconian Obama era CAFE and GHG regulations, and fewer ever encroaching FMVSS’s, there would be more cheap cars available. Even the Grand Caravan, the perennial value of the middle class family, has now succumbed. If this guy understood the industry, and was actually seeking to help make cars more affordable, he’s be tweeting to Trump asking him to roll those things back.

    Were it not for those things, automakers would have no problem selling legacy models in perpetuity as there most definitely is a market for new cars at used car prices.

    Reply
    • Avatarsgeffe

      There’s certainly something to be said for having a vehicle from a platform where hopefully all the major bugs have been squashed, at least if you’re OK with not having the latest and greatest, particularly if the vehicle still does well enough in crash tests!

      Fiatsler/Stellantis (sp?) seems to play this game the best, while GM kills platforms just when they gain at least some measure of reliability. (Of course in the case of the former, what will become of that statement once PSA designs make their way over here is anyone’s guess!)

      Reply

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