For those of you who have been in a crash while driving or being a passenger in an automobile, you'll identify with me. If you will, allow me to share my thoughts hailing from a personal auto wreck experience late last month (April 2011).

Driving home from work, literally 5 minutes from the office, I was rear-ended while sitting at a stop light by a large SUV who simply forgot to put on the brakes. Wrong place at the wrong time I guess. My precious Mazda6 is thrown into the intersection and I realize I'm in the cross-hairs of oncoming traffic if I don't move quickly. I advanced forward to get out of the way and I hear the back-end of my rear bumper dragging on the concrete surface. Not good.

Police arrive - they estimate I've been hit at 30-35 mph (48-56 kph)...definitely well beyond the speed limit allowed for that stretch of road. And the shape of the offending vehicle who hit me? Minor scratches to the front grill, a leaky radiator, along with my entire rear window glass, shattered in several pieces, lying on top of their front hood. Oh, and the complete rear cargo section of my wagon is crumpled like an accordian. Fascinating!

Fortunately, nobody was hurt at all. My post-mortem observations:
  1. The headrest is not a device for comfort. It is a headRESTRAINT. Mazda and Ford share components on their vehicles and I am very thankful for their mindful engineering toward safety. When Mr. Explorer slammed into me, the only thing flying uncontrollably in the reverse direction was my mobile phone and not my head. I was held stable without any whiplash.
  2. The rear hatch glass shattered like it was suppose to by breaking up into chunky-looking puzzle pieces. I picked one up after the wreck and was impressed by the design of the glass in that it broke almost controllably...deliberately so and not in a cut-your-skin-easily manner.
  3. The Explorer was virtually unscathed. Guess what they say when a big vehicle meets a smaller vehicle? Yes...the smaller one loses. I'll attest to this.
  4. Lastly, seeing how my Mazda6 and the Ford Explorer handled the wreck, it motivated me to consider these brands again. Hmmm...ever hear of good products assisting with customer loyalty?

Eventually, my insurance agency recommended the Mazda6 be totaled. Yes - throw it away like you do a styrofoam cup after drinking sticky soda from it. While I was pleased with the payout on the vehicle (it held its value very nicely!), I was devastated because I had just paid off the car in full earlier that month. Poetic and ironic all at once.

"Okay, Lonnie...what does this have to do with 'scrappage'?" I'll tell you: it helped the business community (at my expense!). When a car is forcibly 'scrapped', it helps out the entire eco-system for the auto industry.

  1. My wreck helped out the salvage yard who is part of the automotive aftermarket network. They had my car for two days before declaring it "dead on arrival."
  2. My crash got me to another dealer the following week as I had to replace the vehicle for personal and business needs.
  3. And my wreck helped out parties putting out consumer research because I became, overnight, a ravenous consumer of online ratings, vehicle reviews and dealer inventory data. Thank you to the online portals and magazines!

I ended up buying a new mid-size sedan. And to my son's delight, the car he'll most likely be driving with me as he receives his license for the first time this summer. Yikes!

I'll leave you with this thought: 1 wreck = 1 scrapped unit + 1 new sale. Which in my mind, yields a net of zero for total units on the road (they cancel each other out). Did I say how glad I am that we could help out with our economic recovery? Let's just say that our US automotive forecast of 12.9 million units just got once step closer to being a reality.

Posted by Lonnie Miller, Vice President, Marketing & Industry Analysis, Polk (05.20.2011)