Brasilmagic\’s Weblog

Venting to the World

Don’t buy a “zero” car

I was reading this great post from Rachel, the “Rio Gringa”:

She talks about hyperconsumerism, one of the reasons  the 00’s imploded on our faces. One of the comments she made that I could relate to is how silly it is to buy a new car. Which reminds me that Brazilians love what they call a “zero car”, a “zero kilometer car”. It is an absolute pride to be able to buy a new car with that new car smell and in mint condition.

When I was growing up in Brazil, getting a “zero” car was everyone’s goal, a lot more than owning your own house. It was possible to buy a “zero car” but almost impossible to buy a house, since banks would not finance for 30 years in an unstable economy.

So when I moved to the US in 1997, I learned that buying a spanking new car, while pleasurable, was stupid.  My BF at the time was a shrewd car guy. He was the one who alerted me that you would lose a good amount of money the moment you drove it out the new car dealership. How come I had never known that in Brazil?

Cars in Brazil have always been expensive, especially imported ones. For decades, cars had low quality and would present all kinds of problems with a few years of use. Add to that bad roads, and the cars would be ragged after only 5 years. Being able to buy a new car was the way to have a well functioning car. And if you remember that in  a country where the majority of the population could not afford any car at all it makes sense to see how cars become a huge status symbol. Part of this status symbol was to be able to change cars every 2 years.

Lastly, another reason why the “zero car” mentality was prevalent in Brazil has to do with Brazilian’s fascination with fashion and trends.  If you belong to the upper middle classes, how could you possibly drive a car which already had a newer and more modern body style released? You gotta be on top of trends!

I think that in recent years and with cars now not aging as quickly as they did, Brazilians will probably not have the “zero car” mania as much. I know I don’t.  I haven’t driven a brand new car for many many years!


          Lamborghini Reventon: 1 million dollars!


April 14, 2009 - Posted by | Difference between cultures, Lifestyle

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