Certified Pre-Owned Cars: Buying Security—Maybe

When you are buying a used car, particularly a late-model high-end vehicle, one way to remove some of the risk is to spend more and get a “certified pre-owned” (CPO) car.

Under most of these programs, you get the assurance of buying a tested and inspected vehicle backed by a warranty extending support beyond the car’s original term. And you avoid the depreciation hit that buying new entails.

You will want a manufacturer’s CPO, not one from a dealer or a third party, and you will want to read the fine print carefully. Specifics and coverage vary a lot. And be prepared to pay anywhere from $1,000 to $3,000 (2 to 8 percent or more) over the price of the car, plus higher rates for specialty cars.

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Cars Coming Soon->Estoque, Evoque and a Buzzkill

The Lamborghini Buzzkill.

No, it’s not an all new 2,000 horsepower megacar designed to hit 0-60 in two seconds. The Lamborghini Buzzkill is news that the Raging Bull will not reveal the mighty Murcielago’s replacement at next week’s Paris Motor Show. We thought it would. In fact, we expected two new Lambos to debut at the show. Instead, we get this:

The company plans to show off a single new technology concept.


AutoGuide cites an unnamed source as saying Lamborghini will show off a single concept with plenty of carbon fiber, a V10 engine and plenty of other tech the company will likely make use of on future models.

Not that it doesn’t sound exciting, but compared to the expectations it’s a bit of a letdown. We do have the above image of the Estoque sedan concept, which will have to pacify us until Lambo decides to unleash the goods officially. Maybe Lamborghini will surprise us in Paris still; it’s been known to happen!

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Porsche Is Making Too Many Cars: Now, It’s Another Speedster

Porsche 911 Speedster

Those who follow such things remember fondly the first 356 Speedster, a stripped-down, elemental sports car for racing—simple and fast, $2,995 in 1954. (See photo at end of story.) It was a hit and helped establish Porsche as a leading sports-car company in the U.S.

The new (basically Carrera GTS) Speedster, to be shown in Paris and based on the 911, will be fast, far from simple, and cost something like $225,000 (based on European prices) when it comes to the U.S. early next year. One source claims a $204,000 MSRP. Only 356 copies will be made, so exclusivity is assured.

As TopGear noted, “there aren’t very many people in the world who are prepared to shell out Lambo Gallardo Spyder money for a 911 Carrera S cabrio with a stubby windscreen.” And, like the two previous Speedster incarnations after the 356, the car is bulbous-ugly besides.

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New Program Offers Car-to-Car Instant Messaging

A new Web service called Bump allows drivers to connect their license plates
with an e-mail address or phone number, enabling communication
with other motorists

Almost daily I find myself wishing I could communicate with other drivers on the road. I can only give out so many thank-you-waves and extend so many middle fingers before I just feel like there should be… more.

Plus, on rare occasions, I might make an utterly boneheaded move and need a quick way to say, “Sorry! My bad. Totally my fault!” Since there’s no quick way to convey that message, I just end up flapping my arms and shrugging my shoulders, which probably makes the other driver think I’m suffering some kind of seizure when really I’m just apologizing.

Wouldn’t it be great to just punch a license-plate number into a device and immediately be able to message that car’s driver?

“Hey Red Camry, so sorry I took your parking spot. I didn’t see you waiting.” And if she’s really attractive, “Maybe I can buy you a coffee to make up for it…”

Ladies and gentlemen, wish no more. The future of car-to-car communication is here! But on second thought, maybe that’s not such a good idea…

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Green Update–>Cruze News

2011 Chevrolet Cruze

We made brief mention yesterday that Chevrolet was testing an EV version of the Cruze in Korea. Today, Cruze stories are all over the car media; such is the power of the CarGurus blog. Or maybe it’s because the car will finally go on sale this month, and GM is giving it a big push.

No matter. We are not pushing GM sales, but the company looks to have a winner in the Cruze, and when the fully electric version is ready, it will be a welcome addition to the green-car marketplace.

Here’s why: The Cruze EV came to life from a partnership between GM Daewoo and LG, the giant chemical and electronics firm. This gives GM entrée to some considerable technology, particularly in batteries. The car will have a 100-mile range, putting the Leaf to shame, and will recharge fully in 8-10 hours.

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The Wild Wild West of Car Sales

Imagine a place with unknown danger around every turn. A place where things appear innocent and safe at first glance, but can rob you of thousands of dollars in the blink of an eye. This is a place where only the toughest roam and where the clueless are quickly taken advantage of in embarrassing ways.

It’s also a place of integrity and honesty once you know your way around.

If you enter this place, you had better have your defenses ready and your wallet safely secured to your hip.

And you’d better not go alone.

Where is this place?

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GM’s Prospects and Problems, per the New Boss

Dan Akerson and the Chevy Volt

In a press conference a few days ago, the new General Motors CEO, Dan Akerson, set a quite different tone from his predecessor Ed Whitacre. The most notable change was to acknowledge that the government, as 61 percent owner of GM, would be around for awhile. The elephant in the boardroom, you might say.

The initial IPO is coming in November, but Akerson noted that it might take more consistent earnings and “several stock sales” before all the money could be returned—in a “couple of years.”

There will be expansion and more jobs at the Spring Hill (Tenn.) engine plant, more speed in responding to market challenges, better and more rapidly deployed product—like the Chevy Cruze (an electric version will be testing in Korea)—and he called his Cadillac CTS “the best sedan I’ve ever driven bar none.”

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2012 Dodge Viper Might Be Reskinned Alfa Romeo 8C

2009 Alfa Romeo 8C Competizione

Mopar and Viper fanatics, prepare to revolt! Your much-anticipated 2012 Viper might just be a reskinned Alfa Romeo 8C Competizione.

Before the heart attack sets in, you should know that nothing is official, and this could all be meaningless conjecture. But I hope not.

The 8C is perhaps the most beautiful car ever made, and the Viper could use a dose of its Italian sex appeal. While it may not be the fastest or best performing supercar in the world, neither was the Viper.

Here’s what we know:

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$10 Million Automotive X-Prize Goes to Three Winners

Top X-Prize honors and $5 million went to the guys who most impressed us back in July. Team Edison2 of Lynchburg, Va., decided to forego batteries and their excessive weight for its “Very Light Car #98” (above), which beat out some stiff competition.

Edison2 relied on a one-cylinder gas/ethanol engine, plus extensive use of aluminum and other light materials (the car weighed just 830 pounds), plus a very, very low drag coefficient, plus some very sophisticated engineering.

Two other teams shared the second $5 million of the prize money. The battery-powered Wave II, looking like a green bubble, was entered by Li-Ion Motors from North Carolina, and the Peraves team of Winterthur, Switzerland, won with the E-Tracer, a slick electric motorcycle-car combo. See pix and video after the break.

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Driving Distractions to Eliminate (and One to Keep Around)


You look away just for a second, maybe even a half-second, and suddenly you find yourself intimately familiar with the rear end of a school bus.

Conditions in traffic can change that quick, which is made even worse by the sheer number of distractions that tempt drivers to look away from the road these days. Whether the distractions are in the car with us (phones, kids, food) or take the form of eye candy along the road, driving while distracted is a big problem.

Such a big problem, in fact, that U.S. Secretary of Transportation Ray LaHood is hosting a summit on the topic on September 21 in Washington D.C. and broadcasting it to the world via www.distraction.gov.

Keep reading for some of the most common driving distractions… most that we need to eliminate and one I hope stays around forever.

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