The world used to be a simple place. An imported car was something that was made in Japan or Europe. It was easy.
Today, we call them international brands and, as near as I can tell, the name applies to everybody. It doesn't matter whether you're talking about Japan or the United States. The Big 3 is really the Big 2, and the Germans, the Japanese and the Koreans are building or have plans to build millions of cars and trucks in the United States.
You know the import question has gone away when the old American International Automobile Dealers Association has as one of its top objectives the elimination of the death tax. Repealing the tax is a noble cause that every automotive organization could espouse because it makes it difficult to keep an auto dealership in the family.
But if I had a problem the past few years trying to figure out what is or isn't an import, you can imagine my confusion in trying to figure out what car belongs in what segment.
That's true for brands as well as for models.
I remember when Automotive News was the arbiter of automotive classes. If you wanted to know what was an intermediate or a compact, you looked it up in Automotive News. Everything was simple.
But today everything in the United States is garbled. What's a Volkswagen today? I remember when it was a Beetle. Simple. That's all VW sold. And soon we will have a $100,000 Volkswagen. It's not possible, or is it?
That's OK; we have some Mercedes models that are priced below some VWs.
One of my favorite terms these days is "near luxury." I'm not sure I know how close some of those cars are to luxury, but it must confuse the buyer.
Some car brands are much higher in price than anyone ever imagined, and others are less expensive than anyone ever imagined they could be.
Ford will be selling a sports car for as much as $150,000, and you can plunk down more than $50,000 for a Chevrolet.
Today, we have cars from less than $10,000 all the way up to the stratosphere.
I'm glad to see that the new Rolls is priced up there with the big guys and aspiring for sales in the hundreds while Bentley is trying to become a "volume" manufacturer with sales in the thousands. It's a confusing world these days if you want to buy economy or luxury.