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An Open Letter to Auto Industry Executives

Dear Auto Industry Executives,

I spent the last several days poring over every detail on your new car websites. Every slideshow. Every link. Every last bullet point. And while you made it exceptionally easy for me to examine your vehicle's grille, its spoiler, its GPS navigation systems, and its Bluetooth capability, it was impossible to figure out if I could fit two car seats and a grown up in the backseat.

What are you thinking?!?!

I'd understand if I'd been researching convertibles. Or zippy sports cars. Or luxury sedans, or trucks, or motorcycles. But I was researching FAMILY CARS. Station wagons! SUVs! This new kind of car they call a "crossover" -- that seems to exist only for people who cannot bring themselves to buy a minivan. All I really wanted to know was how many miles I'd get to the gallon and whether or not I'd be able to squeeze my rear end into the space between an infant seat and a ginormous Britax.

Locating the fine print where you note fuel economy wasn't a hugely difficult task, but you seemed awfully reluctant to tell me what kind of family I could stuff into your family cars. You showed me pictures of the seats folded down to celebrate the amount of clever storage space (storage space you seem to assume I would use to haul gear to my next garage band rehearsal), but rarely a picture of PEOPLE sitting in the actual seats. And God forbid you give me a picture of an interior loaded with CAR SEATS, the kind of seats a FAMILY might use in a FAMILY CAR.

Had I been at all interested in torque (will someone please tell me what that means?) you provided a wealth of information. As well as all the pertinent details regarding horsepower, cylinders, liters, suspension, and all the little buttons splattered around the dashboard. You gave me pictures of the exterior of your car from every conceivable angle. You really wanted me to drool over the redesigned front ends and your snazzy moon roofs. In fact, I think my husband might have enjoyed all your annoying Flash features and fancy photography.

But! I have news for you, Auto Industry Executives! It's not the dads researching the new family car, it's the MOMS. Do you really think my husband is sitting there imagining how comfortable he'll be behind the wheel of his spiffy new van? What an easy time he'll have buckling up the kids? How much more space there is for strollers and diaper bags and emergency changes of clothes? No! He's sitting over there in the corner, rocking back and forth, mumbling incoherently about the loss of his sporty sedan. MOM is the one who's picking out the family car and MOM doesn't care if a spoiler is standard.

Oh, I hate to make sweeping generalizations (isn't there a TV commercial on right now saying that women choose cars based on cup holders?) but a family facing an increase in gas AND car seats is concerned about more than a leather-trimmed interior. I'd love to keep my fuel-efficient car and still have enough space for my growing family, but the fact is we need a bigger back seat. And if I don't have to get a nine-person van, I'd rather not. Do you see my point?

Now. Go take a look at your websites. Maybe trade that Flash intro for a few pictures of an interior with car seats installed. Maybe animate how someone is supposed to access the third row. Oh, and if you could drop your prices by a couple thousand dollars, that'd be awesome too.

Thanks so much!

Love, Maggie


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