Quick Stats: Robert Stephens, Chief Tech Officer, Best Buy, and Geek Squad founderDaily Driver: 2005 Audi A4 (Robert’s rating: 7 on a scale of 1 to 10)Other cars: See belowFavorite road trip: along Mississippi River in WisconsinCar he learned to drive in: 1976 Chevrolet MonzaFirst car bought: 1958 Simca Aronde Elysee 1300 In 1988, Chicago native Robert Stephens attended the Art Institute in his hometown on scholarship, because meeting girls was a priority and he thought more girls studied art than computers. But the hip, starving artist life wasn’t for him. Two years later, he transferred to the more banal study of computer science at the University of Minnesota, where he fixed computers on campus to pay for school. As it turns out, it pays to be a nerd. This decision not only changed the trajectory of his life, but those of many Luddites nationwide. That’s because in 1994, with just $200, the charismatic wunderkind followed his passion and created the Geek Squad. In … [Read more...] about Celebrity Drive: Robert Stephens, Chief Tech Officer Best Buy/Geek Squad Founder
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The rise of the internet has had myriad effects on everyday life, not the least of which has been its profound impact on consumer behavior. With ever more data being made available online, and with the rise of independent alternative media outlets like TTAC, car buyers in particular are fundamentally changing their relationship to the car buying process. Dealers have been noting for some time that the internet has created better-informed buyers who, armed with more information, are demanding the car they want at the best possible price, wreaking havoc on traditional car dealer tactics like upselling and opaque pricing policies.But as the eternal dance between supply and demand shifts in favor of consumers, some dealers and OEMs are having a tough time adjusting to the new reality. At the same time, the need to make money off of online consumer education has created some tension for the new breed of consumer-oriented websites. This conflict has now broken out into the open, as the auto … [Read more...] about TrueCar Versus Honda: Online Car Buying Challenges Hit Home
What better way to finish one month and start a new one than going through our traditional World Roundup? None, I know.Enough of the world? That’s fine, I knew some of you would feel that way, and I’ve prepared something else: you can check out new car sales data for 176 additional countries and territories on my blog. Go on, you know you want to!Now if you want to know what happened worldwide in the magical world of car sales, jump in! Before we start, may I interest you in the two photo reports I lovingly uploaded in the last week: Italy (“It’s a Fiat 500-mania”) and Monaco (“Millions on display”). Yes I am in this part of the world right now, lucky me!Let’s begin by an overview of the main worldwide markets: again a fascinating contrast this month: on one hand we have the two biggest car markets going gangbusters: China is up 10% on July 2012 to 1.52 million units and the USA is up … [Read more...] about Best Selling Cars Around The Globe: World July 2013 Roundup: Volvo V40 and GMC Sierra get their place in the sun
There are few truly bad vehicles for sale today, but, when there are more models boasting more whistles and bells than ever before, that doesn’t make car shopping easy. Even if you’re car savvy, you can still make an uninformed choice or get a bad deal. And the wealth of resources for information can obscure the fact that many of the rules of the game have changed. But fear not: We can help. We’ve spent months researching the changing auto-retail landscape and have collected the best advice here. As new ways of shopping supplant the old, those in the know can save time and money and get greater enjoyment out of their new car. Spend a Saturday kicking tires on dealership row to decide what you want. Stay home, do your research online, and only visit dealerships for test drives. There are many ways to research new vehicles online, from magazine websites such as caranddriver.com to the automakers’ own sites. The volume of information is … [Read more...] about The 7 New Rules of Car Buying: How to Shop in Today’s World
We just had a fight.Scratch that. We were still having a fight. This was just the tense calm between volleys of verbal mortar fire. I won’t even tell you what we were fighting about. The subject was so stupid it would make my girlfriend and I both look like utter idiots — like those times when you shout at a character in a TV show to grow up and “just say you’re sorry already!”Instead of doing what any rational human would do, I figured my only chance of peace was to escape the waves of relationship-drama ordnance. I grabbed the keys to this week’s Charger along with my vaporizer and fled the front line to regroup and regain my sanity.This is nothing new for me — or us, really. We are both passionate people, even if our ancestors are from some of the most stereotypically dispassionate of Western European countries.Over the years, I have learned to control my anger and one of my methods is to go for a … [Read more...] about I Tried to Buy a Charger This Weekend and Failed Miserably
Rather than begin in media res, let’s recap:I sold my first Porsche 911 (a “993” as they call it, which means it was built sometime from 1995 to 1998 and was the last version of the 911 to feature air-cooling; mine was a 1996) to a nice guy in Minnesota.The very next day, my second Porsche 911 (a “997,” which means it was built between 2005 and 2012 and was intended to fix the ugly looks and perceived dubious build quality of its immediate forebear — the “996” 911, which was the all-new car that succeeded the above-mentioned 993; my 997 was a 2007 example of the hardcore GT3 variant) met its end after a teenaged driver failed to yield immediately in front of me, resulting in a collision.With no means of transportation beyond the shared mobility lifestyle or MARTA, it was time to start shopping for another car. I didn’t really have a defined budget, so I considered cars across a fairly wide price range.I consulted friends, … [Read more...] about Ownership Update: Time To Buy a New (To Me) Car
Alex writes:Hi Bark,The lease on my BMW M235i runs out next summer and I’m looking at options for my next car. I’m mostly considering the Ford Focus RS, Honda Civic Type R, and Volkswagen Golf R, but also the Ford Fiesta ST (since you’ve praised your FiST so much) and Ford Mustang GT (because it’s a Mustang?).I don’t really like the Golf R because it’s the only car on this list that doesn’t have Recaro seats and, well, it looks almost identical to the much cheaper, baseline Golf.I contacted my local Ford dealer about the RS and they urged me to put down a $2,000 deposit since they don’t get many units and they’re selling fast.My hesitation: I’ve never really driven a manual car outside of iRacing (online racing simulator) and an hour I had with a Corolla with 170,000 km on the clock, so I’m not sure that I’d like to drive a manual every … [Read more...] about Ask Bark: Should I Buy a Stick Sight Unseen?
We didn’t spend all of this year together, but the time we spent together meant something to someone, somewhere. Probably.This year was marked by a massive worldwide scandal, recalls, fines and wonderful avoidance from automakers who saw the “@thetruthaboutcars.com” appendage on my emails and demurred.Let’s recap as best we can, shall we?(Full disclosure: I joined in July and stood on the shoulders of a giant. I don’t pretend to present a comprehensive look at this year, just the last six months, OK?)July:TVR Begins Taking Money, Presumably for Future Cars (July 1, 2015) From my first news story, bball40dtw’s first comment:No one cares.I just came here to ask if you, Aaron Cole, are the new news person at TTAC? I love you guys.I followed shortly by my first fart joke: Silent but Violent: Watch Rhys Millen’s Run Up Pikes Peak (which I covered).And set the table for the numerous NHTSA fines coming: FCA Awaits … [Read more...] about Newsbot Looks Back: The Best News of 2015, According to Some
Nate writes:Hi Bark,I like to know your opinion on the subject matter of the email. My ideal car is a reliable all-wheel-drive, full-size sedan with more than 400-500 horsepower, similar 400 lb-ft of torque, decent average fuel economy of 25 miles per gallon, and it’s made by Honda/Acura with all the safety features (lane keep assist, front collision mitigation, blind spot detection, etc).However, that vehicle does not exist, and I have a budget of $55,000 out the door.So my only choices, it seems, are:1). Chevy SS (negatives are fuel economy and reliability?) I’m leaning more towards this.2). Dodge Charger R/T Scat Pack (negative are nose-heavy when braking and cornering, and reliability).3). Infiniti Q50S Red Sport 400 (negatives are not being full-size, and has oversteer/understeer issues).If my wife didn’t give me a limit, I would spring for a Lexus GS F. I didn’t mention any European brands due to reading about notorious times being fixed at … [Read more...] about Ask Bark: What’s The Best Sporty Sedan For Me?
Ask Bark? is picking up steam like a train on the island of Sodor, man! Thanks for all of your questions after last week’s installment, as well as the great advice you gave our friend, Josh.However, be warned — Bark will not be punked like the author of “Ask Amy” was this week. Don’t write in with any questions about buying a Saab convertible, okay? I’m not gonna fall for it.Now, on to this week’s question from youthful reader Greg:Hi Bark,I’m about to turn 16 and will be looking for a car soon. Being a car guy, I’ve been looking at sportier cars that won’t break the bank. My total spending budget is about $11,000.So far I was thinking about getting one of the following:– 2003-2008 Mustang GTMy first instinct was to go for the Subaru WRX, because I like Japanese cars and Subaru is one of my favorite brands. Subaru’s all-wheel drive is also great for snowy Michigan roads. However, the problem I … [Read more...] about Ask Bark: What Should I Buy For My First Whip?