A world overrun with automobiles is the dystopian nightmare of the cartoon “Automania 2000” from 1963. So many cars have grid-locked that people have just been living in them for the past 5 years. The cartoon is an anti-consumerist critique of 1950s excess.
Todays NY Times has an article about the “trend” of people holding on to their cars and appliances longer than usual. They report average length of car ownership is at a record 52 months, or just over 4 years.
It’s funny how people in the US have developed a mindset where it’s considered normal to dispose of things out of boredom, rather than lack of function. The Times interviews a Jaguar driver who had the habit of buying a new car every 2 years. Economic adjustments now have him driving a 1999 Jag into the ground. He says “it’s a question of shifting values” and that he reassesed the need to constantly have new things.
I think it’s sad that the norm is to toss things out that are still functional. Keeping and repairing is seen as an aberration. According to the Times, consumers are “yearning to favor brands, fashion and novelty over practicality.” For many companies, obsolescence and disposability is part of the business model, at the expense of continuity and longevity.