And if you can afford the car, you can probably afford to have it fixed.
Why do wealthy people buy them? A couple of things. You are presuming that wealthy people buy them when one doesn't really know what these people keep vs. what they spend.
The wealthiest person I know drives a 63 Chrysler. 100% true. Has his name on buildings at Universities. And no, he does not have a collection somewhere else and lives in the same house (about 1800 sq. ft.) for 40+years.
Many of those you presume to be wealthy just have payments.
Why do some buy them? To differentiate themselves as "special". The willingness to create envy has been around a long time.
Why do others look at them as if they have something special? Maybe they just like it and want it! And there is also a percentage of people that are not comfortable within themselves so look to "things" to define them.
Sidenote: Did a job last week for one of my customers that has a late model Audi. She said the radio "messed up" and rendered the car inoperable in the middle of the driveway and had to be towed. :p
When I was in the engine business, the ONLY cylinder heads we kept completely rebuilt, on the shelf, ready to go...were BMW. They flew out of there. I was a race engine shop but some street business was too sweet to pass up. BMW engines are absolutely gorgeous. The manufacturing quality and materials are first rate. But (sorry to any owners out there) they aren't engineered very well. We saw the same failures over and over. Not wear... failures. Mercedes are, if anything, worse. I didn't stock them because they were miserable to work on.
Getting back to the original topic... I would also favor a return to Made in USA manufacturing. But it's a chicken-or-egg problem. Right now, the price of anything manufactured in the USA would be very high. However, automation in the factory, and the inevitable benefits that accrue from large volumes would reduce prices. The problem is that an American made tool would have a tough time building the sales volumes to compete with the Chinese imports. I would buy one... I suspect several other forum members would as well. But for one of the USA tools that would sell, thousands of cheaper imports would be sold to others.
With small volumes, under the current tax laws, no manufacturer will make the enormous capital investments needed to put up a competitive US factory. It's easier to go get the tools offshore and take the profit.
This is why I favor much more incentivization for capital equipment in the US and a harsh revision of tax law regarding imports, outsourcing of labor etc. American industry needs, at this point, a substantial boost to get back on track.
BTW, next time you walk into any high end auto shop, notice the hand tools. You won't see a lot of imported tools. The mechanics (most own their own tools) are much more likely to have Snap On, MAC or MATCO. A 1/2" drive set, 13 sockets, ratchet, breaker bar and a couple of extensions currently list for $551 on the truck. All of my team (and me too) all had boxes full of these excellent quality tools. Just as important as quality, Snap On markets effectively to that group, they offer unbeatable customer service, and most dealers (the trucks are a franchise) will allow purchases to be on installment with no finance charges. My point is, American quality tools will sell to professionals.
At the consumer level, Craftsman hand tools are still "mostly" made in the USA. The electric tools have been imports for quite a while, now... but the mechanics tools are pretty much USA made, very good, and priced well. The Craftsman equivalent of that $551 Snap On socket set (not quite equivalent to Snap On but still d*mn nice hand tools) would probably cost about $89. Again, it's all about volume.
+ 1 on the Snap On, they are the best.
My mechanic uses them and he always shows me the difference. Last time I was trying out a couple of his anti-vibe hammers - amazing stuff.
Snap On was one of the few companies to actually grow their business during the recession because of their direct sales approach and allowing buyers to pay in installments.
I think Snap On and Mac are excellent points in this thread, because if you make a tool at home it's going to be expensive. And part of that expense is supporting the infrastructure of a guy actually selling/servicing you for the tools, financing the tools, etc.
In my opinion, you can sell that China stuff off the shelf till the cows come home. Once you go up to a certain price level, the customer needs to be "sold", as well as serviced.
The Ridgid LSA is a great thing, but when you think about it, it's a little excessive for an off the shelf tool.
Can you imagine if Ridgid had a pro tool line that was just carried by independent dealers and serviced by them? Then, when a guy comes in bitching about a bad battery, he can look around and see what else is new.
Right now, the guy bitching about a bad battery is just talking to a service center guy that isn't going to sell him a new tool, just repair or replace something. How many times is that the end of it, and the customer won't purchase another tool again?
The cheapness of the made in China tools can probably still support this system, but you'll be out of business soon with a more expensive made in America tool that doesn't have a different sales/service/support system.
That health care bill will send more jobs overseas. Cheaper foriegn labor just got cheaper.
The law of unintended consequences.
As for the competitiveness of USA made equipment....I've spoken to several people that are directly involved in manufacturing ourtsourcing and have come to understand that think that in reality it the actual difference in cost between US made and imported may be less than some think. It is true that the labor cost in China particularly is very low... min wage there is just under a buck an hour compared to US min wage closing in on $10.
But there is much more to the story. Cost of doing business in China is very high. You need a substantial US presence for quality. Transferring engineering designs is much more difficult - they require much more handholding, and much higher level of ongoing supervision and process management. Their productivity and worker effectiveness is less. They incur the cost to pack everything for shipping across the world, and have to pay for that shipping. It goes on and on. I would say that the actual advantage when going to China, when you consider the complete process, is more like 10-20%.
As examples, the Japanese car manufacturers have plants in the US that seem to be very competitive. The reason is... they are willing to make the investment in modern factories, AND they bring their long term quality oriented philosophy instead of the American short term "quarterly earnings per share" objectives.
In the meantime, American car makers have improved and become very competitive from a price perspective with imports. Imports gained their foothold in the US market based on low price and high value, but today they, in most cases, cost more and are sold based on a perception of superior quality.
There are still other examples of US made products that are very competitive. For example, Craftsman mechanic's tools (not the power tools, which are imported) are US made. There is a company called Haas that makes low-end CNC machine tools in the US. It's interesting that with Haas they compete at the most price sensitive part of the market. The appliance guys, Whirlpool, hold their own against the foreign competition.
On the other hand, there are companies like Apple that have all their stuff made in China yet charge enormous, premium prices. I don't buy ANYTHING from them, even though some are good products that I would like to own.
We, the consuming public, control this. If we stop buying foreign made stuff, the message will get through. If we continue to buy imports, then that message will get through, too... and companies will continue to fund foreign manufacturers, build modern factories in China instead of the US, provide foreign jobs and support foreign governments.
I buy American every time I can. I pay more. Sometimes there is no US made alternative... then I try to buy used USA made or I buy NOTHING. There isn't that much that I absolutely can't do without. It's ok if I have to buy less stuff. The US is the most spendy country on earth. One of the things that most people want in their next home is "more storage". Right there that says something. We have and store too much stuff.
Isn't it time we started to insist that we support the growth of the US economy rather than that of foreign countries? Obama and his stimuli have not helped, and won't help. THe suits in DC and the bankers have demonstrated that they haven't got a clue about how to make a healthy economy. As usual it comes down to what We The People choose to do, and whether we have the discipline and desire to follow the common sense approach.
During our visits our money was no good because Ridgid paid for everything including all meals and entertainment. The CEO is very involved with everything and was with us for pretty much everything we did. He is probably the most accessible CEO I have ever meet. The last two gatherings were open to all Ridgid customers without restrictions. Many of us are much closer today after meeting in person at Ridgid.