Bill Buys a New Car - Part 1

You go shopping for something that you are completely neutral about. You don't love or loath it, it's just something that you need that will serve a purpose. Let's say it's a household appliance, like a fridge, or better still a washing machine. When you go shopping for this item what are the important things for you that help you make a decision? Probably the considerations will include:

  • Price
  • Running costs
  • Capacity
  • Function/Design

For the most part we use our heads to make these sort of decisions. Our heart and soul don't get a say at all, and we buy the product that best meets our requirements. Okay, there will be other factors that might affect our decision, like brand loyalty, color, or "lifestyle choices" (whatever that means).

Now let's imagine people exist on this world of ours who apply the same cold process of decision making to their choice of car. Okay, it does take some imagination. Thailand is car crazy and judging by the amount of cars purchased fully-loaded with optional extras, or fitted out with after-market additions, I think it's fair to say that most are a little more enthusiastic about their car purchase than that of their fridge. Still, for the sake of argument, let's make the assumption that there is one person out there who uses only cold logic when deciding what car to purchase. Let's call him Bill. Bill sets about buying a new car; what was important to Bill when considering buying a new car?

Price

Bill is not a penny-pinching miser. He believes in spending money on things he will be able to enjoy and get value from. But when he bought his fridge he got a LG for 10,000 baht. While walking around the department store he had noticed a beautiful double-door Samsung with it's stainless-steel finish and crushed ice dispenser, but he just wanted something to keep his Eggs fresh and his Tiger cool.

Bill wants to get from A to B in comfort. He doesn't care if others find his car desirable or sexy, he's practical. BMW, Mercedes and other premium brand models carry a premium price, and when combined with heavy Thai excise rates it appears like a double premium to Bill. In Bill's case he is looking for value for money, but he doesn't have a set budget in mind.

Safety

Bill has a wife and two young kids. He's been living in Thailand long enough to know that no matter how well he drives or how much concentration he dedicates to his driving, he is always at risk of an accident. Thailand is a country where approximately 14,000 people die on the roads each year, making Thai roads the 6th most deadly in the world. Safety is vital to Bill. He'll be looking for airbags, good brakes and handling, and a strong chassis and body with adequate crumple zones.

But Bill is also a thoughtful sort of person and also considers the safety of other road users. That's why he wants his car to be a strong performer on pedestrian safety tests. Driving on Bangkok roads, Bill has had a few close calls with motorbikes flicking their bikes in front on him and nearly forcing an accident, and on more than on occasion has had to use excessive breaking to avoid a collision with a jaywalker. This rules out pickup trucks and SUVs with their poor braking distances, although Bill would not have considered one of these for other reasons.

Running costs/Environment

Bill keeps up-to-date on world events. He can see a trend of rising oil prices, and instability in the energy industry. Bill wants something that will be cheap to run. Thailand has a Gasohol initiative but Bill is not satisfied that this is enough in itself. But given that there are few real alternatives at present he is believes that a small petrol engined car will probably be his best bet.

Capacity

Bill is 187 cm tall. The rest of his family are smaller than he is. So he considers that if he can sit in comfort in any of the car's four seats then his family will also be comfortable. To his surprise he fits comfortably in Honda's Jazz and City. He has no problems in the Toyota Vios for that matter and concludes that virtually any 4-5 seater car will fit his family in relative comfort.

Bill did have to consider the need to carry some luggage occasionally during family trips to the beach or up-country camping excursions, and that ruled out the Jazz, but the City and Vios both had boots that were more than adequate.

Function/Design

Bill is not interested in looking cool. Design for him is about practical things. Can he get in without hitting his head off the door frame? Do the controls fall comfortably to hand or foot? Is visibility good, and are instruments easy to read?

Bill did go to test-drive the Chevrolet Optra but before he pulled away from the Chevy showroom he recognized a design flaw that he knew he would not be able to live with. As he attempted to release the hand brake his knuckles brushed against the passenger seat and his hand became trapped between the seat that the brake lever.

In other cases such as with the Toyota Vios, Bill could not really blame it on poor design, but the design simply didn't appeal to his personal preference. The Vios sports a centrally mounted instrument panel. Bill didn't find it immediately comfortable, and eventually concluded that there was no real advantage to this design.

To be continued.... check back to find out if Bill can find a car boring enough to match his personality.