Archive

Archive for May, 2012

Cars Coming (and Going) Soon: Goodbye to Compass and Town & Country, Hello to SRT Dart

May 31st, 2012

SRT Dart

In the category of things that are long overdue, let’s place this:

Fiat-Chrysler CEO Sergio Marchionne has confirmed that the Jeep Compass and the Chrysler Town & Country will end production. I’ll pause for a collective cheer.

While speaking at the Chrysler Belvidere Assembly Plant, Marchionne said the Compass will continue to be built at the facility through August 2014, at which point it will be replaced by a new model. He also said the Grand Caravan will be the automaker’s only minivan moving forward. Marchionne also let slip his company’s intent on the development of a Dodge Dart SRT model, saying the performance-oriented vehicle is coming just as soon as they figure out how big an engine to put in it.

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Which Would You Choose: Jail Time or Having Your Dream Car Crushed?

May 30th, 2012

Nissan Skyline Big Bird

An innocent bystander shall never suffer for the crime of another.

That seems like perfectly logical common sense, right? But what if that perfectly innocent bystander is a 1995 Nissan Skyline and the punishment is a date with the crusher?

Authorities in Wisconsin seem to have no respect for greatness, or compassion for the innocent, as they have punished a man for attempting to sell gray-market vehicles here by sentencing a 1995 and a 1996 Skyline to death. And yes, there were much better ways to handle this.

First, the story:

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When the Lease Is Up, Should You Buy?

May 29th, 2012
2008 BMW Z4 M Roadster

BMW Z4, one of America's most-leased cars

Car leasing has staged a comeback over the last couple years.

If you leased a new car recently, or plan to, you’ll eventually reach the end of the agreement and face a decision: end the lease or purchase the vehicle. If you are in love with the car and want to keep it parked in your driveway instead of exchanging it for a newer model, be prepared to do some research. Remember, while it will feel like “your” car, it’s really still a used car, and you need to make sure you’ll get a good deal if you choose to buy it.

When you sign a lease, there is a “purchase option price” written into it somewhere. This price is set by the leasing company and represents the estimated residual value of the car at the end of the lease. That price plays a huge part in setting the monthly payments on a leased vehicle, which are calculated as the difference between the vehicle’s sticker price and its estimated value at the end of the lease. Is buying the car at lease-end a good deal?

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What if Engineers Designed Supercars?

May 28th, 2012

Well, to answer that question the nice way, let’s be thankful for designers and accountants, because engineers don’t know beauty.

Neither do accountants, of course, but thanks to them many of the engineers’ grand plans get the kibosh for monetary reasons. Unfortunately for society, GrabCAD, an online engineering community, recently decided to give engineers the chance to pen a body for a ready-made chassis by 500 Group, a think tank for new products. The site received around 200 unique designs, the top quarter of which went on for final judging.

There’s nothing wrong with a little competition between engineers, but here’s where things get bad:

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Feel Free to Flash Your Lights, It’s Legal! (At Least in One State)

May 25th, 2012

Flash 'em if you've got 'em

We’ve touched on this topic before, but it’s time to revisit it:

Should flashing headlights to warn motorists of a speed trap be illegal?

A Florida man has won his First Amendment case against the Seminole County Sheriff’s Office, which ticketed him for flashing his lights to warn other drivers of a speed trap. The Orlando Sentinel says a judge said that the deputy who ticketed Ryan Kintner, 25, had misapplied a state law banning aftermarket flashing emergency lights. The judge went even further, and ruled that flashing your lights to communicate with other drivers qualifies as constitutionally protected speech.

If you’re in Florida, flash all you want!

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Cars Coming Soon: If Toyota and Subaru Can Team Up, Why Not Mazda and Fiat?

May 24th, 2012

Mazda Shinari concept

I think it’s safe to say that Toyota and Subaru have started a trend.

By teaming up and bringing back the inexpensive, RWD sports car, the companies may have double-handedly revived a market for fun performance. Now, it’s confirmed that Mazda and Fiat have inked a “Memorandum of Understanding” to develop a roadster based on the MX-5 platform that is expected to see production in Mazda’s Hiroshima factory, with an Alfa Romeo version coming in 2015.

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Quality? Don’t Care. Performance? No. Safety? Pass. Fuel Economy? Yes Please!

May 23rd, 2012

Ford Focus Electric

Fuel economy, at least temporarily, has become the single most important factor to new-car buyers.

I say “temporarily” because we all know it won’t last.

Americans have a tendency to overreact to things. Remember in 2008, when gas prices jumped and folks traded in their SUVs en masse for more fuel efficient rides? Remember, later that year, when prices dipped below $2/gallon and many of those same buyers flocked back to their big rigs?

Now it’s 2012, and prices are hovering near $4 again. No surprise that fuel economy is an important factor for buyers, but *the* most important? This world has gone crazy.

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New Dealer Programs Could Mean Lower Used-Car Prices

May 22nd, 2012

2012 Honda Accord

When dealers chase incentives and sell at a loss, used-car prices take a dive soon afterward.

Certain incentives from automakers, called stair-step incentives, are coming back in a big way. For consumers, that means good deals are available, or will be soon, on many new and used cars. For dealers, it can mean significantly less money if the gamble to offer discounts doesn’t generate enough sales.

Stair-step incentives artificially depress the price of some vehicles while targeting certain other models for which the automaker hopes to boost sales. Do they work? That depends, of course, on who you ask.

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The Apple iCar That Will Never Be

May 21st, 2012

Apple iCar

Steve Jobs achieved world domination in his life.

There’s no doubt, through Apple, he changed the way we interact with our world and each other. The iMac, iPod, iPad and iPhone were all game-changing inventions from Apple. Could it be that Jobs wasn’t done with his world-changing ideas before he died in October 2011?

According to Apple board member Mickey Drexler, in an interview with Fast Company, Jobs had his sights on bringing his intuitive style and innovative technology beyond the computer industry and into the automotive industry.

“Look at the car industry; it’s a tragedy in America. Who is designing the cars?” Drexler said. “Steve’s dream before he died was to design an iCar.”

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Audi and VW Push Web-Enabled Cars

May 18th, 2012

Audi Connect

Wisconsin introduced seat belt legislation in 1961. Not until 1984 did the U.S. mandate seat belt use. The same protracted battle is taking place with infotech in cars, and by most accounts, the safety guys are losing.

Audi has proudly announced it was the first luxury brand to offer Wi-Fi and Google Earth access in its cars. Nissan, GM and Ford have followed suit. Web-enabled cars are going to be a fact of life (and death), so get used to them.

The industry is loving it.

Vehicles are now viewed by automakers as entertainment and technology platforms; not transportation. The transportation part is now a given; THAT you get there is far less important than HOW you get there…

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