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Archive for the ‘Car Politics’ Category

Tesla Could Change How Cars Are Sold

August 23rd, 2013

Tesla Model S

The dealer franchise system has worked for selling cars in the United States for nearly as long as there have been cars in the United States.

By requiring new vehicles to be sold through private dealers not associated with the automakers, the market has been able to determine fair prices based on the MSRP. That’s been mostly good for consumers, at least the ones educated enough to research and negotiate a fair price.

It’s also allowed dealers to make gobs of money by acting as the middlemen between automakers and consumers.

Tesla thinks that model should change.

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Are U.S. Truck Prices Artificially Inflated?

August 6th, 2013

2013 Chevy Silverado

The Detroit News yesterday morning said,

Some industry experts believe American consumers are paying thousands extra for pickup trucks because of a lack of true market competition.

Well that’s disheartening, isn’t it?

How many years have faithful buyers of F-150s, Silverados and Ram pickups been paying more than they should for their American workhorses? What about faithful repeat buyers, who religiously remain loyal to a brand and buy new on a regular basis? Those guys have, theoretically, paid tens of thousands of dollars more than necessary for their made-in-America trucks.

It is interesting that the only full-size pickups sold here are the trucks made here.

Now think about the market for sedans and SUVs in this country. There are makes and models from Asia, Europe and North America in every corner of this great country. But even the pickups from foreign automakers, the Toyota Tundra and Nissan Titan, are built in the United States.

Why is that?

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FIAT: The Newest Domestic Automaker?

May 29th, 2013

American FIAT 500

Let’s make FIAT American!

Remember the controversy that surrounded an Italian brand buying an American car company? When Chrysler went into bankruptcy and was gobbled up by FIAT, the question arose of whether the storied American brand would remain, well, American.

The Italian carmaker’s stake in Chrysler has grown steadily since 2009, and now FIAT CEO Sergio Marchionne wants to buy the rest and take full ownership. That means the once-American Chrysler would be fully under the control of a foreign entity that also owns Alfa Romeo, Maserati and Ferrari.

But what if the tables turned, and instead of Chrysler going foreign, FIAT comes stateside?

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Too Fat? It’s Not Your Fault, Blame Your Car!

May 8th, 2013
Is it the cars that make us fat, or how we choose to use them?

Is it our cars that make us fat, or how we choose to use them?

A great injustice has been done to our beloved automobiles.

They have become a new candidate in the never-ending quest to figure out what’s to blame for the obesity problem in this country.

It seems the obvious causes are no longer worthy of blame. What about the fact that unhealthy fast food is cheaper than natural organic food? Or our propensity to watch a lot of TV while ingesting mass quantities of nachos and Hot Pockets?

No, the real culprit for our fatness is something far more sinister.

Our cars.

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Will E15 Fuel Harm Your Engine?

January 30th, 2013

Questions about E15

The politics of corn run deep in this country, as the highly subsidized crop is used for both food and fuel.

Ethanol, the corn-derived alcohol that is sold at gas stations around the country in E10, E15 or E85 fuel, is often cheaper than straight gasoline. Flex-fuel vehicles can run on the E85 (85 percent ethanol, 15 percent gasoline) fuel, while the EPA has approved E10 and E15 fuels for all 2001 and newer vehicles.

That’s where the controversy begins, as some accuse the EPA of approving E15 before testing on its compatibility with modern fuel systems was complete. Most automakers don’t recommend its use, even going so far as to say using E15 will void the vehicle’s warranty.

Is E15 safe to use, or will it cause serious damage?

Depends on who you ask.

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No More Made-In-Japan Toyota Vehicles in the United States?

January 22nd, 2013
Toyota Corolla Furia concept

Toyota Furia concept

“Made in Japan” is a stamp of honor worn by many Toyota vehicles in the United States. For decades, vehicles built in the Land of the Rising Sun were synonymous with quality and known for exceptional build quality. That’s still true today, but a future is in sight when all Toyota cars sold here in the U.S. will have also been built in North America.

What would that mean for the definition of a “domestic car”? Would Toyota’s reputation for quality remain as strong?

This is nowhere near a done deal, but considering the vast majority of Toyotas sold here are already built here, it’s a possibility that should be taken seriously.

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Happy New Year! Please Drive Carefully

January 1st, 2013

The average driver drives drunk 87 times before his or her first arrest.

So for the people out there who believe they simply have good luck when driving after a few too many, please remember that your time could be about up and an arrest looms just around the next corner.

With celebrations carrying on into today, please remember that New Year’s Day is one of the deadliest on American roads. Avoid a DUI arrest, or worse, by simply not driving. While an arrest could mean a lot of things, the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) recommends ignition interlocks for all people convicted of a DUI. That means every first-time offender couldn’t start his or her car until completing a breathalyzer test attached to the ignition.

Try impressing a date with that little process hanging over your head.

There are already 17 states that mandate ignition interlock devices for those convicted of DUI, and the NTSB has asked the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration to speed up research into manufacturer-installed interlock devices.

Ideally, individual drivers would control their own destiny by not drinking and driving, but once judgment is clouded an on-board breathalyzer is probably a good idea.

For me, I don’t want the indignity of having an interlock device on my car, so I choose to celebrate in a spot that doesn’t require car keys.

Happy 2013, fellow CarGurus!

Should breathalyzer interlock devices be mandated on all new cars? 

-tgriffith

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Car Insurers Should Not Use Gender to Calculate Premiums

December 24th, 2012

Females & car insurance

Gender discrimination hasn’t been part of our society for decades. Generally, men and women are treated equally in professional realms of modern society. Whether in politics or law enforcement or professional car racing, women have as much opportunity as men.

And rightfully so, of course.

There’s one area, though, where women and men are singled out and charged very different rates for an identical service.

Somehow, during the great battle for gender equality, car insurance companies have remained able to charge far higher prices to men, especially young men, than they charge their female counterparts.

If a new rule in Europe takes hold, that could change.

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U.S. Electric Car Industry Hits Super-Sized Speed Bumps

December 12th, 2012
Tesla Model S, stranded

The "unpluggable" Model S

The Tesla that couldn’t move.

The Fisker fires.

The A123 bankruptcy.

The CODA Automotive layoffs.

It’s been a rough end to 2012 for the U.S. electric vehicle industry, but all hope is not lost. Maybe Chinese companies can step in and take some ownership in an effort to right what sometimes looks like a quickly sinking ship.

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Could Tesla Sell Cars Like Apple Sells iPads?

October 10th, 2012

Tesla's L.A. store

Tesla Motors has already succeeded at what many considered an impossible feat: starting a new car company in the United States. Tesla has redefined what’s possible, played by its own rules and created a company currently in production on its second model, with more on the way.

It didn’t get there by bending to expectations of failure or going down the same path trudged by so many others.

Now that the company is seeing success, another group has its sights set on forcing it to play by the pre-established rules. This time, not in how the cars are made, but how (and where) they are sold.

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