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Once I built an ivory tower / So I could worship from above - MrPutter: doing things the hard way, because it is there.
January 11th, 2008
01:31 am
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Once I built an ivory tower / So I could worship from above
Ford Model T

Volkswagen Type 1

Citroën 2CV

VEB Sachsenring Trabant

... Tata Nano

2008 ?

(okay, so the Trabbi actually came out in '57; the pattern was just too nice to resist)

I may be rich, but I ain't no fat cat!
"I may be rich, but I ain't no fat cat!"

Current Location: T2L 2C7
Current Mood: curiouscurious
Current Music: Eddie Vedder -- Big Hard Sun
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(5 comments , Leave a comment)

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Date:January 11th, 2008 09:11 am (UTC)
To what extent was the Trabant actually a people's car? As I understand it, one had to have attained some social standing to be able to order one, and even then there was a 15-year waitlist.
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Date:January 11th, 2008 10:17 am (UTC)
The latter is correct (tho' overstating the case somewhat), the former not so much.

I was referring in this case more to the fact that they were dirt cheap ("In the early 1990s it was possible to buy a Trabant for as little as a few marks") and made cars available to a large number of people who previously had no access to one.

(Clicky on the piccys for the wikis.)

Edited at 2008-01-11 10:26 am (UTC)
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Date:January 11th, 2008 10:57 am (UTC)
By the 1990s, the Wall had fallen, and fancy Western cars would have been available, driving prices down. I'm rather curious as to how many Trabants actually made it into the hands of working class folk, rather than middle managers (not that the GDR would have been likely to admit to the existence of class differences), whether as a result of pricing or policy.
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Date:January 12th, 2008 06:29 am (UTC)
> and fancy Western

Yes and no. The wall had fallen, but only a few years previously. Most East German incomes were still nowhere near on par with western European ones, and western cars were still largely out of financial reach for most East German families. Not all, certainly, but enough that there would still have been a market value well above DM.5 for them if as you claim ownership was restricted to a few elite. The reason the bottom fell out of the market was because everyone who wanted to already owned one of the damn things.

The Trabant was manufactured from 1957 until 1991, for a run of 34 years. It was manufactured only in East Germany, and that is where the overwhelming majority were sold. In this time, 3.1 million Trabants were sold. Let us be generous (since I cannot find exact numbers online) and assume ½ million of those were exported; that still leaves 2.6 million units moved over 34 years. Since the East German population at time of unification was 16.1 million, and let us assume an average family has 3 people, that gives a conservative estimate of one Trabant per every two households. Hardly restricted to middle managers and up.

The VW Type 1 (Beetle), on the other hand, had a run of 65 years from 1938 until 2003 (almost twice as long as the Trabbi), was made in 8 countries over 6 continents, sold well in most of the world's nations, and yet accounted for a "mere" 21.5 million units. That is, only about 7 times as many Type 1s as Trabbis.

Furthermore (mind this is only anecdotal, but still), if you follow the various links from the Trabant's wiki page, you repeatedly encounter the claim that if you were an East German elite, or otherwise had the financial means, you would get yourself a Lada, a Škoda or the like. Trabants were for the many who couldn't afford better.

Which is pretty much what I've understood all along. Yours is the first claim I've heard that the Trabant was anything but ubiquitous in East Germany.

Anyway, stop nitpicking. This post was about the iCar, not the damn Trabbi!
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Date:January 12th, 2008 11:14 am (UTC)
This post was about the iCar
You may or may not also be interested in fugney's post on the same.
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