Scanning the Auto Blogosphere

Stingray Concept

Stingray Concept

This week I had a lot of fun looking for great stuff to highlight on other auto blogs, in part because some of what I found clearly pointed out a variety of blogging strategies, some of which we’ve tried here.

One strategy some use to provoke comments is to adopt a stance that’s so outrageous, readers will wonder whether you’re crazy, but (you hope) feel compelled to tell you why and how you’re totally wrong. Robert Farago at The Truth About Cars might really believe the Corvette must die, but building an auto-blog story saying so around a photo of the brand-new Stingray concept (above), which is neither a Corvette nor a production car, and closing it with a hypothetical farewell letter from Rick Wagoner probably won’t win him too many fans next time he visits a bar to watch NASCAR.

Another popular blogging strategy is to take full advantage of a web browser’s multimedia capabilities. Kevin Gordon at Autosavant put three videos into his piece on GM’s viability-plan press conference on Tuesday, the first of which is almost an hour of Wagoner and a couple of other execs speaking and answering questions at a podium. Did he really think that video would bring his story to life? Happily, he also included a two-and-a-half-minute video summary from the Associated Press. My favorite of his videos is the last, though – eight minutes of SNL spoofing the bailout hearings.

The New York Times, which earned its “grey lady” nickname by placing more emphasis on words than pictures, also works to take advantage of the web’s more interactive capabilities and recently posted a slide show of hybrid and electric vehicles. Most aren’t available yet, of course, including the Aptera, which we’ve mentioned in the past.

Another recent slide show should appeal to anyone who enjoys contemplating an $8,200 oil change and tune-up (those were Canadian dollars, though). Jalopnik’s photos of a Lamborghini Diablo’s V12 getting ripped apart, cleaned up, and re-assembled left me impressed, but also very glad I’ll never have to deal with that sort of engine.

Bloggers often like to play keyword games, trying to figure out what combination of words will bring the most visitors to their site via search engines. But of course the Internet offers an unending selection of stories featuring incredibly unlikely combinations of keywords. Tony O’Kane at the Motor Report managed to work all of these words into a recent story headline: McDonald’s, fries, EV charging stations.

And as any blogger knows, once you publish an email link, all bets are off as to what sort of stuff you’ll find in your inbox every day. Just this morning I received an email asking if CarGurus would support a new online photography gallery, which is hosting a show of car photography until the end of February. I’ll confess to finding this particular gallery much smaller than I expected, but it does contain a few great images, particularly for fans of pre-gas-crisis American cars. Take a look.

Anything you’d like to see get more – or less – coverage here on the CarGurus Blog? Let me know.

-Steve Halloran

Scanning the Auto Blogosphere

1957 Ferrari 250 Testa Rossa

1957 Ferrari 250 Testa Rossa

This week the auto-blog world served up a number of good stories highlighting an increased focus on fuel efficiency and the environment. The gas2.0 blog posted a notice on a new brand under the Volkswagen umbrella: BlueMotionTechnologies. This new company will work on all of Volkswagen’s most “green” tech, including a stop-start system and regenerative braking that should improve fuel efficiency as well as a couple of new catalytic-converter technologies that should help clean up emissions.

The TopGear blog posted a quick note on the fact that Fiat’s resurrected 500 now offers stop-start technology – which Fiat is calling Start&Stop – to both improve fuel mileage and reduce emissions. We hope this will increase the likelihood that Chrysler will help get the Fiat 500 on sale here in the U.S. ASAP.

The Cars For Girls site summarized a Forbes.com list that names the Kia Optima the best car for carpooling. The ten-slot list focused on safety ratings, capacity and comfort, fuel efficiency, and entertainment options, and it split evenly between U.S. and foreign automakers, with all foreign car spots taken by Asian brands.

Edmunds’ Inside Line passed along news on a new shock absorber developed by MIT students that collects kinetic energy developed when a car hits a bump in the road and turns that energy into electricity. Apparently multiple truck companies and the U.S. military have expressed interest, and AM General has loaned the students a vehicle for further testing.

Wired’s Autopia posted two different stories on diesel cars being considered for the U.S. market that suggest at least one of the Big Three still doesn’t get it. Tony Borroz happily notes that Audi will bring its diesel-powered A3 TDI to the U.S. by 2010. But on the same day, Ben Mack notes that Ford will not make its diesel powered ECOnetic Fiesta available in the U.S. next year – only the gas-powered version. Many readers of Mack’s post felt that maybe he didn’t get it very well either, though, since he trumpeted the diesel Fiesta’s UK mileage rating, apparently without understanding how different that is than a U.S. EPA estimate (UK ratings use Imperial gallons, which are ~1.2 U.S. gallons, among other things).

I was pleased to read good news on the fuel-efficiency and environmental fronts, but some of my favorite auto-blog posts in the last week have been built around photo galleries. Here are my favorites:

Bush’s Auto Blog’s gallery featuring the ’57 Ferrari 250 Testa Rossa that could set the world record for highest price ever paid for an automobile (photo above). I kind of liked Bush’s Danica Patrick gallery, too. Jalopnik’s gallery of photos by designer Rafael Reston, who imagined what the Dodge Viper might have looked like had it debuted in 1967 Sports Car Digest’s new gallery from the Porsche Museum in Germany

That’s all for now. Please let me know what topics you’d like to see get more coverage on the CarGurus Blog.

-Steve Halloran

Scanning the Auto Blogosphere

The Mindset

The Mindset

Should I start with the good news or the bad news? Let’s get the bad news out of the way first, since I found a couple of bits of good news.

Yesterday many auto bloggers commented on January’s auto sales numbers, which were abysmal. Chrysler won the booby prize by posting a 55% drop in sales compared to last January, but GM and Ford didn’t fare much better, posting drops of 49% and 39% respectively. Colin Mathews at TheCarConnection posted a quick-and-dirty summary featuring a totally appropriate photo – and the word “portend” in the headline. Edmunds’ AutoObserver posted a much longer and more-detailed piece that highlights Hyundai’s 14% sales increase and includes loads of quotes from auto-biz bigwigs as well as some interesting details on how the Big Three’s changing approach to fleet sales made their numbers even worse.

Okay, now for some good news, which also broke yesterday. The U.S. Senate passed a bill that will allow taxpayers to deduct sales tax and interest for new-car puchases made between November 12, 2008 and December 31, 2009. The bill includes ceilings on the cost of the car and total household income, but the National Automobile Dealers Association, which pushed strongly for the measure, guesses it will save buyers about $1,500 on a $25,000 car. Autosavant has more details and notes that many in the industry would prefer to have seen a bigger financial incentive.

Another bit of news most car fans seem to consider good came from BMW. American Chris Bangle, design chief for the German automaker, announced his departure from the company to “pursue his own design-related endeavors beyond the auto industry.” (???) While Bangle was undoubtedly hugely influential, having designed the current 1-, 3-, and 5-Series and last-generation 7-Series as well as having overseen design of the new MINI, many hardcore fans didn’t appreciate the distinctive BMW rear ends that came to be known as “Bangle Butts.” As you shouldn’t find surprising, the lads at Top Gear posted a particularly cheeky notice yesterday.

Now that I’ve gotten the good and bad news out of the way, I’d like to share a couple of stories on upcoming cars I found interesting. First, the Mindset (above) has joined the parade of puzzling-looking new electric cars. It looks to me like a mash-up of a Karmann Ghia, a stumpy El Camino, and a rickshaw, but Autoblog says working prototypes have apparently hit the roads in Germany, and the company hopes to sell 10,000 in its first year of production.

I found a few more odd-looking but highly efficient new car designs in Wired’s recent Autopia post on the Progressive Automotive X-Prize, a $10 million prize for the first mass-production car that achieves 100 miles per gallon. I had already seen the radical Aptera, but I was pleased to note the Avion and the Viking 45 look pretty much like super-aerodynamic sports cars, rather than spaceships or robotic rethinks of the Honda CRX.

-Steve Halloran

Scanning the Auto Blogosphere

The Aptera

The Aptera

Much as we’d like to, CarGurus’ bloggers just can’t cover *all* the automotive news out there each week. So here’s a quick look at some stuff we haven’t gotten to yet. We welcome your comments – please let us know if you’d like to see more info on any of the topics addressed here (or any other topic, for that matter).

Electric vehicles get almost as much coverage these days as the Audi R8 and new Dodge Challenger did last year. But most, including the Tesla Roadster we’ve covered extensively, are designed to compete with supercars in both speed and price, leaving them out of reach of most auto buyers. (Lotus has worked on a few of them, too, so many look similar as well.) But Aptera, a southern California start-up, plans to produce electric cars that will cost $25,000 to $45,000 dollars, and they certainly don’t look like Lotuses. They’ll be available only in California at launch, but the company hopes to take them nationwide ASAP. Wired’s Autopia posted a great article with technical details and a nice photo gallery – that is, if you like cars that look like spaceships. You can reserve one at Aptera’s website, but it will cost you $500.

Another unavoidable topic these days is the Fiat-Chrysler “strategic alliance.” We covered that story last week and share most car fans’ enthusiasm for the possibility of buying a new Fiat 500 or Alfa Romeo 8C Competizione here in the U.S., but many have taken the time since then to note that Fiat’s CEO visited Chrysler headquarters on Saturday, without providing much detail on what happened. Of all the coverage out there, though, we most appreciate Car Envy’s post, which has a great headline and includes a music video featuring two great cars. That singer’s voice is annoying, but can you name the other car in the video?

Two studies on traffic tickets drew attention recently. The first will get published in the Journal of Law and Economics, and while it’s not surprising, it’s bad news for Americans for at least the next couple of years. Looking at 14 years’ worth of data from North Carolina, the study’s authors determined that more traffic tickets get issued the year after a drop in revenue. Given what’s happening all over the U.S. right now, I’d guess most states already have and will likely continue to up traffic enforcement to combat revenue shortfalls.

The second study looked at what kinds of cars are most likely to get tickets. The two cars determined most likely to get tickets – the Hummer H2 and the Scion tC – don’t have much in common, but they’re both more than four times as likely to get a ticket as the average car. Ouch! Least likely to get a ticket? The Jaguar XJ. Maybe there’s something to that British elegance and reserve after all.

And we were a little amused by Car and Driver’s recent article on “aggressive” car-buying tactics. The article basically lists eight statements or scenarios that will likely come up if a typical car salesman’s trying to close a deal with you quickly, and tells you to counter most of them with pretty much the same statement, changing one word to make yourself the subject or the victim. While the article’s advice may very well work, following it will make your new-car negotiations sound like the prelude to a high-school fight: Oh yeah? *I’m* already losing a hell of a lot of money on this deal!

What would you like to see covered on the CarGurus Blog?

-Steve Halloran

Buying smart… a new used car

Years ago I discovered that my love of cars would drive me to own many cars. I found this challenging, as budget has been a concern most of the time, which is why one of the reasons the original ‘buying-carguide‘ was created. Also, this article by Suze Orman is a really great one. She outlines what I’ve been doing for years in her article “A Car Guide for the Young, Fabulous and Broke“. Read it and the ‘buying-carguide’ from CarGurus and you’ll be on your way to better deals with your car ownership experience.

The ‘buying-carguide’ happened one rainy afternoon while trying to get as much info as possible without leaving the house. So I sat down and starting writing down all the answers to all the questions I know to ask and voila!

After years of owning many cars, currently over 35 vehicles now, this is the only way to approach

John (CarGuru Sr)

New IRL Events

This coming weekend on Sunday, August 28, there is an Indy Grand Prix at the Infineon Raceway, and will be a new event for the IRL. Also, on September 25, another Indy Grand Prix will take place for the first time at Watkins Glen. Two new classics in the making for the ever popular Indy Racing League… I’m doing a little reading and research and will be back later.

John (CarGuru_Sr)

Lower Repair Costs… Mean Lower Insurance Costs For Mustang

It’s easy to understand that the easier a car is to repair, the less it costs to insure. Nothing hard about that. So a lot of Mustang enthusiasts will be happy to know that recently in the August 11th of the CourierPost Online in the South Jersey Business section they released this long-awaited verdict from the Insurance Information Institute regarding body repair costs for the Ford Mustang, which had been high. Engineering is a beautiful things when it meets marketing and distribution. Something that is harder than it sounds when a company must coordinate and impliment coordinated changes in a timely manner.

This is appropriate, as last weeks car popularity results from Yahoo were released the other day. I wonder if the Mustang will become #1 soon?

John (CarGuru_Sr)

2006 Porsche 911 Carrera

I found a great 2006 Porsche 911 Carrera 4/4S Cabriolet review at “thecarconnection.com” and wanted to discuss this magnificent machine, but this review is so complete and precise I won’t even attempt it.

You see, I am really partial to the 911 since the first time I saw one up close. I won’t repeat what’s in this review, only suggest again and recommend highly that any fellow aficionado check this out. That’s all for now… go ahead, check it out.

Wrapping up the week ending 8.20.05…

I have written about him before and that perhaps Cinderella will come and share some magic for Kimi for this F1 Grand Prix event in Turkey. I wonder if this time Cinderella will visit this charismatic F1 driver from the McLaren Group. Today he secured another chance on the Pole as other drivers missed their marks at the inaugural Turkish GP. Many drivers struggled for a Pole position and Kimi came out again and gets another one at the Istanbul Park circuit. Last time Cinderella was nowhere to be seen though. Maybe, just maybe this time.

On another note, while taking my turn at ‘hand selection’ for the Category pages, I ran accross this very unique General Parts website, Inner auto Parts, that is really user friendly and ahead of the pack when it comes to being descriptive and informative.

Requests have come in for Race Track Rentals for individuals with their own cars. We found this one easily and like the action oriented layout and design at Race City. Feedback is welcome as always.

Finally, I just can’t leave alone the whole Auction – Lien Sale aspect of acquiring vehicles. Prices are hard to beat. So, I startd with one of the largest US cities, Los Angeles and their own OPG or Official Police Garage. A great resource to start from if anyone is near here geographically.

John(CarGurus_Sr)