“Hi Mr. Baruth. First, I would like to thank you for the opportunity to assist you and please feel free to email or call me at the number provided if you have any other questions you need answered. I have a vehicle with a MSRP of $29,995. I can sell you that for $29,482.” Interesting. In the middle of the American automotive market’s worst implosion in living memory, what car could possibly be so valuable, so desired, so smoking hot that the maximum negotiating room possible would amount to an ungenerous five hundred and thirteen dollars off sticker? Give up? It’s a Pontiac G8. A 2008-model Pontiac G8. My first exposure to Pontiac’s Holden-by-any-other-name came at the San Diego press launch last summer, and I was so smitten that I permitted myself to be videotaped by the General’s PR flacks gushing incoherently about how the G8 “challenges the BMW 5er on home ground and carries away a win on value” or something equally inane. I also … [Read more...] about Bubblegum Death Experience: Pontiac Gets What It Deserves
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insane growth rates of Chinese car sales come up, there is one inevitable comment: ”Wait until credit tightens. Those sales will come crashing down.” My (in the meantime canned) answer: “China isn’t America. In China, people usually buy their car with cash. Financing is rare. Leasing highly uncommon.” Apart from being smart not to pay interest on a depreciating asset, the Chinese have all reason not to lease. Case in point: An email I received today.It comes from BetterLife Leasing, that dubs itself “The best corporate leasing solutions in Beijing.” I don’t want to see the lesser solutions. BetterLife sent me today’s lease specials. An Audi A6L from 12,700 RMB a month. A Mercedes E-Class from 15,500 RMB a month. In case you don’t know the rate of the Chinese currency off the top of your head: That Made in China Audi A6L would set you back $1,860 a month would you lease it. The Benz would cost you a cool $2,270 monthly. For the … [Read more...] about Chinese Lease Special: Only $1,860 Per Month!
Having been asked by a certain newspaper to review the new book “American Wheels, Chinese Roads: The Story of General Motors in China [more info on that review coming soon], I’ve been spending my quiet moments over the last week or so looking into GM’s Chinese operations. The book’s author, Michael Dunne, documents GM’s rise in the Middle Kingdom from the perspective of a well-informed outsider, revealing just how delicate one of GM’s best-performing global maneuvers really was. But after following the rise of GM in China, Dunne notes the December 2009 announcement that GM was selling a 1% stake in its Shanghai-GM (SGM) joint venture to its Chinese partner SAIC (for the paltry sum of $85m no less), arguing that GM had made a dangerous leap of necessity. This sale, implies Dunne, could well have been the tipping point that leads to GM being surpassed by its erstwhile junior (in size, technology and global reach) partner, SAIC. And, in the … [Read more...] about Unlocking The Secrets Of GM’s Golden China Share
Forgive me for offering the two millionth article about Black Friday shopping. But this personal screed will not be about, “Buy! Buy! Buy!”It will be all about, “Don’t! Nein! Nyet!”.The current Black Friday ads for all things automotive are getting less deal oriented with the passing of each year.That’s no surprise given that consumer behavior has turned considerably during the last five years. Yesterdays overlooked giveaways and cheap deals have given way to the coupon clipping shows and budget watching books of the modern day.Unfortunately for all of you, this stretches all the way to the corporate boardrooms. Deals simply aren’t what they used to be.Case in point, back in 2007 I could get 5 quarts fo Castrol GTX with a generic oil filter for $5 at Pep Boys during Black Friday. This wasn’t the only time for the cheap in-store deal either. I fondly recall spark plugs, windshield washer fluid, and … [Read more...] about Hammer Time: Black Friday Deal? Or No Deal.
Strictly speaking, there was no reason for Ashley to attend old Frank Jacobsen’s retirement party. She’d been part of the department for all of five months and she’d spent most of the time doing the other engineers’ paperwork. It was true what they told her in school: To be a female engineer, particularly in Detroit, you need to be twice as good as the men. Over and over she found mistakes that were childishly stupid; over and over they patted her on the head, praised her in an email, and gave the next important assignment to some charmless nerd. Frank had been the exception. More than once he’d called her over to his desk, eschewing the usual Sametime or chat bullshit that the young guys liked to do in place of actual work, and asked her for what he called her “professional opinion.” “Now, Miss McCormick, I was wondering if you would examine this set of drawings and render your professional opinion.” And when she pointed out a way … [Read more...] about Sunday Story: “100MPG Carburetor” by Jack Baruth
Since it seems to be Housekeeping Day, here an email from someone who hides behind a Gmail address, who does not sign his mail, and who calls us unethical .Mr Anonymous writes:“I’m writing this in response to Mr.Derek Kreindler method of acquiring the Aston Martin V8 Vantage for his recent review. Mr.Kreindler stated while he was at the dealership, he pretended to be a well to do business man so that he can get his hand on the vehicle for a test drive. I won’t have a problem with this if he was actually comparing vehicles for his purchase. That’s how car buying goes, if you don’t like it, you don’t buy it. It’s quite obvious that this is not the case.I know people do this all the time, but I don’t expect an editor from TTAC to do so. What he did is basically stealing a salesman time and hope. The time that he could have spent on other customers, and the hope of making a living. I just need to ask TTAC one question, how would you like it … [Read more...] about Housekeeping: The Ethics Of Undercover Snooping
It’s time to refill the hopper on the questions that keep you awake at night. Send them to [email protected] Help me help you. If you’ve sent me a question and you don’t yet have an answer, feel free to send it again or just remind me to look for your email. You would be amazed at the volume of correspondence I get every day, most of it from people who want to learn how to get press cars. Why would you ask me that? Ask a mommyblogger.With that out of the way, let’s get to a question that, truthfully, should be asked a lot more often than it currently is being asked, both by customers and manufacturers.John writes:It would seem to me that with all the data available to an automaker (warranty claims, parts demand, etc.) any car company should be able to look at the failures, correct them, and go forward.And yet, so many don’t. Do they just figure it’s cheaper to run junk, and fix what they have to, and not invest the time and money to fix … [Read more...] about Ask Jack: Just Once, Can’t We Figure Out What We Keep Doing Wrong?
Ed Writes: Sajeev,I bought a 2012 Volvo S60 originally, but there was an ongoing issue the dealer could not fix. Amazingly, it offered to replace the car with a 2013 model after about 10 months of trying to fix the issue (at no cost to me). So, kudos to the dealership — I obviously feel like they did me a solid.Fast forward to today and my 2013 S60 now has 60,000 on the odometer. During the last oil change cycle, I got a “low oil” warning pop up for the first time around 55,000 miles. I pulled over and the car was almost bone dry. I put in a couple of quarts and called the dealership. Since it was close to the oil change time, they asked that I just bring it in for a quick look and oil change. I did so, and now, just 3,500 miles after that dealership visit, I noticed my oil level has gone from the top of the “normal” range on the dipstick to the bottom. At this rate, my oil level will return to bone dry again in the next 1,000-2,000 miles.On the Volvo … [Read more...] about Piston Slap: Goodwill Repair, Goodwill Replace Again?
It’s an issue that the computer and Internet technology industry has been fighting for years: Hackers trying to gain access to your PC or the network of a major corporation with nefarious intentions such as extracting ransom from users after seizing data.However, as vehicles become more laden with technology and increasingly connected to the Internet, could they also become targets?Two leading security experts believe that your car, which is for the most part unsecured against hacking, will attract the attention of criminals in the not too distant future.In the Internet technology world, this type of scenario is called ramsonware (Locky, CryptoLocker), but when it comes to an automobile, Stephen Cobb refers to it as jackware. Cobb and colleague Cameron Camp are IT security experts with a firm called ESET and they believe the possibility of jackware being used on vehicles is real.“Right now, if you have physical access, getting your car to do strange things is not … [Read more...] about How Safe Are Cars from Hackers?
Every now and then, a critical mass of clever, ambitious folks excited about a particularly good idea coalesces, often in a particular geographic region, and humanity gets lucky. The American colonies in the late 18th century and Detroit in the early 20th century are historical examples. Silicon Valley, starting in the 1980s, is probably our best contemporary example.In recent years, those modern titans of technology have turned their futurist eyes towards personal transportation. Whether explicitly or in sotto voce tones, they’ve indicated that the traditional auto industry personified as “Detroit” was a dinosaur about to go extinct. Not knowing the auto industry metaphor of becoming an obsolete buggy whip manufacturer, the tech industry saw Detroit’s future as “making handsets” — i.e. low tech assemblers.Tesla was going to show us the new electron driven future, Google was going to make cars that drove themselves, and the Apple of the … [Read more...] about Silicon Valley Discovers ‘Making a Car is Hard’