As soon as a brand new car leaves the dealer’s lot, the depreciation phenomenon commences. There are plenty of reasons to spring for a new car with an empty odometer, of course. They come with great warranties, include the latest technologies, offer the buyer peace of mind with regard to the vehicle’s history, and, naturally, they come with that wonderful new car smell. However, to paraphrase Benjamin Franklin, “In this world, nothing can be said to be certain, except death and taxes and your new car depreciating as soon as the rubber rolls of the lot.” We took a look at the data and found that although some cars quickly lose value for good reason (looking at you, Mitsubishi Galant), there are others that actually become pretty great deals. If the smell of organic materials off-gassing is of paramount importance, feel free to pay the premium for your brand new car. If you don’t mind waiting a few years, however, we’ve picked 10 vehicles that offer incredible value on the used market.
So, as most people know, the automotive world has been shaken by the announcement that Volkswagen has massively cheated on emissions testing for 11 million of its diesel-engine vehicles across the globe—482,000 in the United States. That scandal will effectively kill the market for Volkswagen and Audi diesel cars for months, if not years, to come.
What should you do, though, if you had your heart set on a diesel-engine car? It’s time to consider alternatives to the affected 2.0-liter turbodiesel models. Let’s look at the models included in the emissions scandal and suggest another good option. One important thing to point out, though, is that you can find all of these VW models with gasoline engines that were not subject to the illegal tampering. However, their fuel economy will be much lower.
The 2016 Toyota Prius had its global debut Tuesday in Las Vegas. The main message at the premiere was not fuel economy. It was looks and handling.
Sure, almost every car in the world is sold on looks and handling, but that’s a huge change in direction for the most fuel-efficient car on the market that doesn’t have a plug. Toyota didn’t totally step away from that message. After all, it expects the Prius, when it goes on sale early in 2016, to get a combined 55 mpg.
It’s not a problem unique to the Prius, either. Fuel efficiency is an almost impossible selling point when the national price for gas is $2.39, according to AAA, which predicts prices could fall below $2. That’s great for us as consumers, but lousy for Toyota as it introduces its latest and greatest hybrid vehicle.
You might think that the good people over at General Motors would love to read a news story that begins with this sentence:
General Motors sold a record number of Chevrolet Volt sedans in August.
That’s really good news for the maker of the slow-selling $40,000 electric car, right?
Well, yes, it is, but there’s a huge problem with those increased sales numbers.
Let’s talk fuel efficiency.
Gas prices keep going up, people keep complaining, blah blah blah. Nothing new to report there.
It’s the cars that people choose to buy as prices rise that remains an interesting, though somewhat predictable, topic. One new highly efficient car has outsold the February totals of both the Chevy Volt and Nissan Leaf.
In just three days.
GM is temporarily laying off some 1,300 workers as it suspends production of the Volt at its Detroit Hamtramck plant. There are simply too many Volts in dealer inventory waiting to be sold: five months versus the normal two-month supply of cars.
The car had a good jump in sales last month, however, as GM sold 1,023 Volts—420 more than in January. Of course these numbers are peanuts compared to the stupid predictions GM and the USDOE have claimed over time. But it was good news for the Volt!
Edward Niedermeyer is ventilating (and also making some good points) about “The Twilight of the Volt” in the above-referenced article. Indeed, the history of this car is not only a testament to GM’s grand failure in marketing it but to the Obama administration’s continual promotion of the Volt, which made it a symbol of partisan politics. Niedermeyer is right about this.
After the phony fire scare, the company attempted to fight fire with ads, which campaign by itself isn’t going to light any fire under potential buyers. The campaign was aimed at creating an image of patriotic green: “It’s the car America had to build.”
*UPDATE: Some House Republicans charged in a Wednesday hearing that NHTSA delayed investigating the Volt’s battery fire, basically to protect General Motors, the Volt’s reputation, and President Obama’s reelection campaign. Dan Akerson, GM’s chief, and David Strickland, NHTSA Administrator, bore the brunt of the contemptuous assertions of Darrell Issa, R-Cal., who typically holds hearings where there is always smoke but no fire. Akerson called the Volt entirely “safe, a marvelous machine,” and drove one to the hearing. He also said the car was not designed “to be a political punching bag, and, sadly, that is what it has become.”
We might as well say it out loud: The Chevy Volt has been a fiasco for GM.
Now dealers are refusing to take on more Volts, even though NHTSA has given the car a clean bill of health after investigating battery fires supposedly caused in side-impact crashes. Volts are no more prone to such fires than other cars.
Just as Volt sales were beginning to improve (slightly), somebody cried “Fire!” in a crowded theater, and that has really put the kibosh on sales. Once again, GM has had to backwater on its sales targets, now saying it will simply build as many cars as customers will buy.
The pace and frequency of anti-Volt stories has been picking up, as some find it a timely excuse to bash the Obama administration for backing the car in the first place. But the political problems with the Volt are fleabites; the real wounds were caused by GM’s complete failure in marketing the car.
Yahoo! Finance has determined, perhaps as nothing more than a way to generate year-end web traffic, that those two new cars were some of the biggest product flops of 2011, right up there with Qwikster.
Yes, sales have been a disappointment, but calling them flops is a bit unfair and premature. Well, for one car, anyway.
The big news seems not to be the debut of Ford’s all-electric 2012 Focus but its price. At $39,995 (including destination fee), it is $3,995 more than the Nissan Leaf—its real competitor—and twice the price of a gas-powered Focus, to which it looks nearly identical.
Chevrolet’s Volt is priced the same but has the range-extender gas engine. Guess which car I’d want? Both are eligible for the $7,500 federal tax credit.
Ford pumps up the fact that the car will recharge in three to four hours using a 240-volt charging station (optional) and that it comes with a slew of standard equipment. The Leaf takes much longer and options out its equipment list.
Whether one would want all this stuff—MyFord Touch, rear camera, push-button start, MyKey, Bluetooth, SIRIUS satellite radio, etc., etc.—is surely questionable. Your only options are leather seats and two paint colors. “Build your car” with these two choices at the Ford site.
The EPA rated the Karma at 52 mpge (mpg “equivalent” for EVs and hybrids, that is, for combined city/highway driving). The company had projected 100 mpge and still says it “firmly believes” you’ll get up to 50 miles on a charge. EPA says, no, you’re gonna get 32 miles on battery alone, and another 20 mpg when the gas-powered range extender kicks in. And probably a lot less driving in Sport mode.
The similarly powered Chevrolet Volt was rated at 94 mpge and costs $39,000. The Karma has three versions priced at $96,000-$109,000. “The top EcoChic edition is an animal-free showcase of high-end textiles, faux suede, and rescued California wildfire hardwood.” So says Car and Driver, while Volt drivers continue laughing.