Episode 827 – J.D. Power’s Latest VDS, Obama Wants More EV Tax Credits, 1913 Hispano-Suiza

February 16th, 2012 at 12:00pm

Runtime: 7:10

The folks at J.D. Power just released their latest Vehicle Dependability Study and Toyota carried the day.  Its Lexus brand was ranked No. 1.  A couple days ago President Obama unveiled his latest budget proposal for the next fiscal year.  Among other things, it proposes raising the tax credit for electric vehicles.  An extremely rare 1913 Hispano-Suiza is going up for auction at the Amelia Island Concourse next month and it could fetch as much as $1 million.  All that and more, plus John breaks down GM’s financial performance for 2011.

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This is Autoline Daily for February 16th, and now the news.

General Motors announced its financial results for last year and the numbers are impressive, but they also show there are still big problems in the company. More on that later in the show.

TOYOTA TAKES COMMAND
The folks at J.D. Power just released their latest Vehicle Dependability Study. It surveys drivers of vehicles that are three years old. Overall the news was good for Toyota. The Japanese automaker took home top honors. Its Lexus brand was ranked No. 1 in the study. The Detroit Three continue to accelerate their quality improvements at a faster rate than the competition. For all the details hit the link in today’s show notes on our website, Autoline.tv.

MORE TAX REBATES FOR EVs
A couple days ago President Obama released his latest budget proposal for the next fiscal year, which starts in October. Among other things, it proposes raising the tax credit for electric vehicles. This rebate currently stands at $7,500 dollars, but the president wants to boost it to 10 grand. You know, if something’s not working, we’d better do more of it! I hope you can hear the sarcasm in my voice. According to Nissan the average EV buyer earns $140,000 a year.

STORYBOOK BEAUTY
We couldn’t pass up this next story. The car is just too cool! Autoblog reports an EXTREMELY RARE 1913 Hispano-Suiza is going up for auction at the Amelia Island Concourse next month. The “Type Alfonso XIII” as it’s called was built to honor the king of Spain, who was a real gearhead. Only four of them were made! The car’s body looks like it was pulled out of a Cinderella storybook. Underneath the exquisite coachwork, it’s powered by a 3.6-liter four-cylinder engine good for 64 horsepower and a top speed of 80 miles an hour. That’s stunning for a pre-war vehicle . . . a pre-World-War-I vehicle! This Hispano-Suiza is expected to fetch between $750,000 and a million bucks at auction. Sure wish the President would give me a rebate to buy something like that.

CRANK IT UP!
While we’re on the topic of vintage cars, Cadillac is celebrating an important innovation. Today the electric starter turns 100. It debuted a century ago on a 1912 Cadillac Touring Edition. We all take it for granted, but at the time it was a huge innovation. It wasn’t just a convenience for drivers, it was a safety feature. It eliminated the need for a hand crank and the risk of a broken wrist or arm if the engine backfired.

Coming up next, we’ll take a look at GM’s numbers.

GM’S 2011 PERFORMANCE (PDF)
GM reported its earnings for last year and the numbers are pretty impressive. The company sold just over 9 million vehicles worldwide. That’s 641,000 more vehicles than it sold the year before, representing a 7.6 percent gain. That increase in sales boosted revenue to more than $150 billion, which is $14.6 billion more than a year ago, an increase of almost 11 percent. And the company’s net profits hit almost $7.6 billion, a 62 percent increase.

So how is it that if sales are up 7.6 percent, and revenue is up 11 percent, that profits can jump 62 percent? Well, that’s how the magic happens in the automotive business. Once you get over your break-even point everything starts dropping to the bottom line. It may cost a bundle of money to hit that point, but once you cross over it’s all gravy.

GM generated almost $7.5 billion in positive cash flow and ended the year with over $31 billion in cash and securities. That’s a pretty healthy war chest and shows how wonderfully well the company has emerged from bankruptcy.

Yet there are some troubling items in this financial report. GM lost almost $750 million in Europe, and while that’s a huge improvement on the $1.9 billion it lost the year before, it’s nowhere near the break even that the company promised its shareholders.

It also saw its operations in South America go upside down. In 2010 GM posted an $800 million profit, but that flipped into a $122 million loss, despite the fact that car sales were up. Could this be the impact of all those Chinese cars flooding into South America?

The same thing happened in Asia, which mostly involves China. Sales were up by nearly 300,000 vehicles and yet profits dropped 22 percent to $1.8 billion. It’s not supposed to happen that way.

How ironic that GM’s North American operations are overwhelmingly generating the company’s profits, the same operations that emerged from bankruptcy only two years earlier. But shareholders and Wall Street analysts are going to be pouring over GM’s weaknesses overseas. There’s no excuse to have profits declining in the face of increasing sales. The people in charge of those operations are going to be under enormous pressure.

But enough of earnings, let’s get back to the fun stuff. Let’s talk cars. Did you know there’s a small American company building an exotic sports car? By exotic I talking only four and a half pounds per horsepower. I’m talking about the Falcon F7, from Falcon Motorsports, which is located in Holly, Michigan. Join me and the Autoextremist, Peter De Lorenzo tonight for Autoline After Hours, when our guest will be Jeff Lemke, the designer of the car.

And that wraps up today’s show, thanks for watching, we’ll see you tomorrow.

Thanks to our Partners for embedding Autoline Daily on their websites: Autoblog and WardsAuto.com

69 Comments to “Episode 827 – J.D. Power’s Latest VDS, Obama Wants More EV Tax Credits, 1913 Hispano-Suiza”

  1. tj Martin Says:

    GM’s PROFITs ?

    I’ll say this about GM’s numbers they’ve released today and then leave the subject alone as it PO’s me beyond belief ;

    Either ;

    #1 These numbers have been completely manufactured , ignoring the details for some Accounting TomFoolery ….

    Or …

    #2 If these numbers are real then : GM needs toot suit to start paying back the Billions they’ve bilked from the US Tax Payers as well as turn down Obama’s request for the $10K subsidy on the (re)VOLT(ing) and cease once and for all existing off the backs of the American Tax Payers . Now !!!

    Because … either they’re making real money and its time to pay the Piper ( us ) or they’re playing another in their long line of Accounting Shell Games !

    Its time We the People start demanding of GM to Put Up or Shut Up . Talk is cheap . Lets SEE the MONEY … back in our accounts thank you

    Then there’s this to consider in light of todays announced figures ;

    http://www.nytimes.com/2012/02/16/business/gm-eliminates-pensions-for-salaried-workers.html?ref=automobiles

    Nice eh ?

    As to the discussions yesterday about OPEL’s plight a few came forward with comments stating that the German Unions need to make concessions in order for GM/OPEL to continue on .

    I’ll pose this question to all who made or were in support of that idea ;

    WTH should the OPEL workers make ANY concessions when their counterparts just up the road at VW-Audi, BMW and Mercedes Benz are living high on the hog and their companies doing just fine Thank you ?….. ( well not VW- Audi but thats another discussion )

    Who’s fault is it that OPEL is DOA right now ? The Workers/Unions or GM ?

    The answer in light of BMW/ Mercedes numbers of late is obvious ;

    GM

    Nuff said ;-)

  2. dcars Says:

    Hi TJ,
    GM became profitable because of the investment made by the US & Canadian Governments (tax payers) Additionally, a large amount of management, engineering & union membership lost their jobs. The Germans did relatively nothing and would love to see GM fail, realizing that if GM is out of the picture those same Opel workers will probably find work with VAG or M&B. There is no incentive for any Germans to give anything back to GM. I wish that the same type of treatment that GM receives in Europe was instituted against the German transplant factories here in the US.
    This seam like a world trade issue to me.

  3. C-Tech Says:

    @ #1
    WTH should the OPEL workers make ANY concessions when their counterparts just up the road at VW-Audi, BMW and Mercedes Benz are living high on the hog and their companies doing just fine Thank you ?

    If Opel closes the plants in Germany and moves the work elsewhere, then where are you going to get that “Good Paycheck” from? That’s why Opel’s unions should seriously consider negotiating concessions now. It’s better than no job later. Granted GM/Opel management has screwed up (where have we heard THAT before?).

  4. Jon M. Says:

    I heard the sarcasm in your voice, John, and I agree! Of course, if people won’t take the rebate offer, then the only other option will be to force EVs on the general public. I don’t expect that happen, at least not anytime soon, but I can sure hear the arguments for it. With all of the issues that have to be worked out before EVs could more realistically become mainstream, it may behoove Washington to give more incentives to automakers and other related businesses to further develop the necessary technologies and infrastructure in order to make EVs more practical. Because as the current White House doesn’t seem to get, for whatever reason(s), most us really don’t want an EV.

  5. W L Simpson Says:

    Politics are politics, no matter where you find them.

  6. T. Bejma Says:

    GM has already paid the government back in shares. That’s what they wanted, that’s what they got. Everyone knows that you don’t invest in auto companies right tj?

    You let us know when you get that money back in your account. Even if the government sells the shares eventually at a profit, there will be NOTHING in anyone’s account, it will just get wasted the way the rest of our tax money does…

    From my friends a http://www.gmauthority.com, the simple explanation of where GM stands with the loans…

    “The company is still partially owned by the U.S. Treasury, with the U.S. government having recouped $22.3 billion of its original $49.5 billion bailout through GM’s initial public offering. The government currently has 500 million shares on hand and would have to sell it for approximately $53 a share to recoup — in full — the remaining $27.2 billion.”

  7. HtG Says:

    In re Obama’s 10K rebate. Isn’t Obama proposing giving EV buyers a point of purchase rebate of 10K dollars? This is very different than giving people a 7.5K tax credit, and makes it easier for people who don’t earn at the upper end to consider an EV. More, Carlos Ghosn has said that early buyers may act at promoters of EVs through word of mouth.

  8. HtG Says:

    6 crxn, ‘as’ promoters

  9. Lex Says:

    It does not surprise me at all that GM is doing poorly in both Europe and South America.
    The GM Brand “Opel” has to compete in an arena dominated by the native brands: VW, Audi, BMW and Mercedes Benz. GM was once the big man on campus in South America, but is now having to play defense against Chinese Brands fight fierce for market share. The Chinese way of thinking is that: “If it takes two years or two hundred years they will stick it out until they win”.

    GM is still a fragile company at best. You better believe the UAW will want an extra piece of the Profit Pie once everything is finalized!

  10. tj Martin Says:

    # 5

    1) The ‘ back in my account ‘ was intended to be ‘ Figurative ‘ not literal . Sheesh I’d of thought that was obvious !

    2) No T… GM has lost us a major share of that $23.77 Billion reported last week so we’ve gotten bupkiss back !

    3) GM is still begging for more $$$$ behind the scenes as well as parlaying for that $10K E/V incentive on a car ( the VOLT ) that in fact is NOT an E/V

    @ dcars – Sorry but your post isn’t making a bit of sense to me :( Of course Germany isn’t gonna help out GM , just like the US hasn’t given a dime to Benz ( for supplying more than half the platforms and engines to Chrysler and as was revealed today still OWNING part of them , and jobs at their US manufacturing …. all while Obama is GIVING Chrysler to FIAT who in fact have done nothing to deserve it ) or BMW for all the jobs they’ve provided in the US

    Good jobs I might add

    @ HtG – As i stated yesterday its a cash incentive for E/V’s Obmacins is proposing

  11. dcars Says:

    Here’s a question that I bet is being considered by GM: do they really need Opel? They own the patents to any engineering that the Germans’ have provided in the past and I think GM’s other engineering centers have and can provide the same things without the “attitude.”

  12. HtG Says:

    How happy would the rest of the industry be if Opel simply vanished into the woods? Take that supply out, and margins would improve all around.

    tj-I was responding to John McE.’s description of govt incentives on EV’s.

  13. tj Martin Says:

    #5 cont .

    ” .. That’s what they wanted, that’s what they got. Everyone knows that you don’t invest in auto companies right tj? ”

    No Mr Bejima once again you’ve got your facts mixed up

    That wasn’t what the Government WANTED , that was the only thing GM could cough up in return ( what a joke ) for the money GIVEN to GM ( not invested ) to keep the company from going belly up

    Had the US asked/demanded anything else GM would be in the grave right about now and you’d unfortunately be looking for work .

    That from my favorite source … being the US Government itself BTW

  14. tj Martin Says:

    # 11

    My guess , as I stated to cwolf yesterday is that cwolf’s Union amigo was in fact sent to OPEL to gradually and as painlessly as possible pull down the shutters on OPEL once and for all

    Also on the incentives thing i was just confirming your belief . Its all over the news BTW

    —–

    But hey @ dcars ! If GM loses OPEL what are they gonna do for any future Cadillac etc models as far as the engineering is concerned ?

    Seriously if GM US had either the capability or capacity do you really think they’d be puling second rate OPEL platforms over to the US to stuff Caddy bodies on top of

    Think about that one for a minute ;-)

  15. dcars Says:

    TJ, interesting comment regarding the platforms, but I bet Fiat/Chrysler is paying for the rights to use them.
    My issue is that BMW/M&B/VAG US factories workers are not giving the same privileges and benefits that their German counterparts are given in Germany.
    However the Opel workers are given those benefits while GM has made it’s own workers work for less.
    I also doubt that GM’s cost structure that makes cars with a lower margins than the luxury high profit margin cars that BMW/M&B/VAG makes and sells in Europe truly gives them a level playing field.

  16. HtG Says:

    fans of F1 big, Bernie E. may enjoy this article detailing how the money is being spent by his daughter. nom nom nom

    http://www.dailymail.co.uk/femail/article-2101712/Petra-Ecclestone-offers-glimpse-inside-refurbished-Spelling-mansion.html

  17. T. Bejma Says:

    #9

    3) Does a company with $31B in the bank really need to beg for more dollars? Like to see your source on that one…

    You are crazy if you don’t think the government gave BMW, MB (and in fact VW, Kia, Hyundai, Toyota, Honda, etc., etc.) MILLIONS of dollars in tax breaks to build their nice new plants here. Not ONE SINGLE transplant has proven they can be a successful manufacturer in this country without their hand in the government’s pocket!

  18. tj Martin Says:

    Nuff from me on this whole GM issue afer I starts gettin ugly about it all , which nobody here in fact deserves .

    —-

    And as a sort of an apology for some of my previous behavior

    Without trying to excuse it but rather explain it , its been drilled into to me dealing with my profession for some 39 years to never back down when someone , inadvertently or not gets in my face

    To quote a former mentor and employer ;

    ” Nice guys don’t finish last . Nice guys simply don’t finish … period ”

    ( ten points for whoever can guess that source )

    So yes I can and do lean towards the aggressive .

    Also and not to brag , but in any given year ( and this is DEFINITELY one of them !!! ) I pay more in taxes than the average American makes , so I’m watching a whole lot of my money getting flushed down the GM/Chrysler toilet . One or the other I could almost tolerate , but both is too much , Add in the Scam Artists ; TESLA and Fisker who are also on Government Life Support and I’m bound to be majorly PO’d

    Finally a quote , once again to explain, not excuse my behavior ;

    ” People with Courage and Character Always seem Sinister to the Rest ” H. Hesse

    But again , my apologies and I’ll leave the GM discussion and todays episode alone and come back tomorrow

  19. T. Bejma Says:

    I shouldn’t do this tj, but check out post #87 from yesterday’s show…

  20. tj Martin Says:

    #16
    One last

    “.. Does a company with $31B in the bank really need to beg for more dollars? ”

    I know for a FACT that they do need the money and ARE begging for more as we speak . Desperately and in fact those cash reserves are highly overstated . As well as that its GM that pushing for the $10K E/V incentive in hopes of getting rid of their White Elephant … the VOLT … that BTW as a way of reminder LOSES GM some $10K for every unit sold

  21. Kit Gerhart Says:

    By many, or most people’s accounts, the Opel platforms are competitive, both in the cars, and the crossovers. Isn’t that a lot of why GM wanted to keep Opel? If Opel goes away, GM will have to do a major regrouping in North America to come up with new stuff.

    The transplants have received a lot of free money, tax credits, and free roads, etc. to come to the U.S., but yeah, it is from the states, not the feds.

  22. HtG Says:

    Tax. The US govt has many accounts from which its balance sheet is derived. If it cost many billions to save GM/Chrysler, then it needs to be recognized that the govt also collects income,SocSec,capital gains, etc, all of which were influenced over the past few years by the bailout. Also, people who don’t lose their jobs don’t go on benefits, keep their health car, and don’t default on their loans to the shaky as sh*t banks; all of which redounds to the benefit of the US govt. I can take it further, and argue that these tax payer moneys given to the carcos are actually borrowed money, which only costs a pittance to service given the actions of the Federal Reserve to drive down interest rates, and the tendency of investors around the globe to preserve their wealth in US bonds.

  23. tj Martin Says:

    #18 the SRX

    Short and sweet as requested ;

    I dare you to place the SRX next to the GLK or the X3 and then tell me about the quality , fit and finish of the SRX . As far as the engine , drive both the BMW and GLK ( which are both cheaper and faster than the comparable SRX turbo ) and tell me about the engine/tranny as well .

    I placed some 600 miles on the SRX as well as the GLK , plus having use of the X3 for some 4 days before making a decision Bejima so I think that , and my not having an agenda ( working for either company ) makes my opinion a bit more valid and believable ;-)

    As far as the sales numbers argument . Give it a rest

    KISS and ABBA have sold more CD’s and albums than any five groups combined . You really going to try and tell me they’re as good or better than say Keith Jarret or Bach ? Jeeze I hope not .

    Numbers sold does not = Quality , Superiority or Equality

    Glad to see you’ve come to your senses on the Blind Spots with the SRX though :o

  24. Kit Gerhart Says:

    The SRX turbo is not longer made. The only engine now used in the SRX is the 3.6 direct injection, which give the SRX nearly identical to the GLK350 and X3xdrive328i, according to CR.

    Yes, we know that some people here don’t like CR, but they test acceleration of all automatic cars the same way, they just floor it from idle, so their numbers are valid for comparing cars.

  25. Kit Gerhart Says:

    #23,
    sorry about typos. Correction:

    The SRX turbo is no longer made. The only engine now used in the SRX is the 3.6 direct injection, which gives the SRX nearly identical ACCELERATION to the GLK350 and X3xdrive328i, according to CR.

  26. tj Martinj Says:

    And yet another member of the Car-BQ club is announced

    http://wheels.blogs.nytimes.com/2012/02/14/wheelies-the-flagship-rising-edition/

  27. tj Martinj Says:

    Ooops . My bad ( SRX turbo )

    But………

    Mercedes Benz GLK … 0-60 … 6.5 seconds

    Cadillac SRX 3,6 ……. 0-60 ….. 6.8-7.0 estimated

    (C&D )

    A comparable equipped SRX being some $15K more I might add ( my GLK listed at $47K ) No extra charge for the blind spots ;-)

    Nearly only counts in horseshoes and atomic wars .

  28. Bob in Atlanta Says:

    As Jonh said, once GM reaches that magic break-even point EVERYTHING goes to the bottom line. Very true because GM pays no income taxes for ten years.

  29. Kit Gerhart Says:

    From CR:

    SRX 3.6 AWD 0-60 7.1 sec
    GLK350 AWD 0-60 7.0 sec
    X3 xdrive328i 0-60 7.2 sec

    A comparably equipped SRX is only about $3k more. An SRX “performance” with an MSRP of around $47K has everything standard that a ~45K GLK has.

    Still, I’d rather have the GLK, and, to the extent I’d ever want any kind of “CUV,” I’d like a zero option, RWD GLK alright, vinyl seats and all. Every GLK has the same engine and 7 speed autobox which works very well, and the base price is only about $36K for the RWD version.

  30. D Ruff Says:

    As an owner of the old GM stock, that i got nothing for in the bankruptcy, i still think it is horrible for the company to still exist after unloading all debt and shares and still get to build cars after. as a bussiness owner myself i could turn great profits too if i unloaded all of my debt but still got to keep all of of my bussines.

  31. Bob in Atlanta Says:

    Why does the US auto market seem to be so profitable for so many companies? Competition should force prices down to cost, and keep pressure on margins; but it seems like everyone but Suzuki and Mitsubishi make a bundle here. Is there really competition in the US?

  32. HtG Says:

    Ok John, I had a brainwave, and checked that PDF from GM. If you check GM’s capacity utilization percentage for North America, you find it went from 89.5 to 97.2(rated for two shifts) from 2010 to 2011.

    Couldn’t hurt

  33. Kit Gerhart Says:

    #29,
    Could it help profiability in the U.S. that most products are fairly high volume, with little choice? Unlike in Europe, we have few engine and transmission choices. Also, in cars, about all we get is sedans from the mainstream brands. There are few car-height wagons and hatchbacks, and few midsize, mid-price coupes. What a simple build mix we have compared to Europe.

  34. Kit Gerhart Says:

    The same applies to powertrain choice in “crossovers,” etc. Simple build mix with no choice. That’s got to make it cheaper to build cars.

  35. dcars Says:

    17 – I never thought you were being aggressive and I appreciate the comments.

  36. pedro fernandez Says:

    Another reason to buy used: Webmd reports that the alluring new car smell can actually be bad for you, short term allergy issues and long term respiratory and possible carcinogen as well, worst offender: Mitsu Outlander, today a client showed me his Quattroporte, holy crap talk about indulgence!! Next time we meet he promised a ride in the ‘hood.

  37. Jim Thykeson Says:

    It never ceases to amaze me when I read the entries in this blog. I can’t understand how all these purported ‘autophiles’ hate the American marques! Don’t they realize that GM, Ford, and Boeing are the last bastions of AMERICAN manufacturing in our country! For our countries sake, support your own!!!

  38. Tony Gray Says:

    Looking forward to Peter D’s pronunciation of the featured car considering how rambunctious he was on LAST week’s AAH!>

  39. C-Tech Says:

    @ #34
    We are both members of the “Gently Used Cars” club, but keep in mine, SOMEBODY has to buy or lease it first (and I do thank you!). Now will someone please buy a dark blue CTS-V Coupe so I can pick it up in about 4 years?

  40. C-Tech Says:

    Athough they did not test them, I imagine the strong cleaning and freshing chemicals used on used cars by dealers and details are just as bad. I also passed out from the cleaner they use on aluminum wheels.

  41. C-Tech Says:

    @ #38 Sorry, that should be “almost passed out from the cleaner they use on aluminum wheels.”

  42. Robert Morrison Says:

    John,
    I think the electric starter came about because a friend of Henry Leland tried to start one of his cars and the crank hit him broke his jaw and died later from an infection from being struck by the crank, he said he never wanted that to happen to anyone who bought and drove his cars.
    Hence the electric starter.

  43. C-Tech Says:

    @ #35
    I think you have a few people who post alot on this site who do not like U.S. car brands. They do not recognize the quality improvements made over the years.

  44. Kit Gerhart Says:

    #40,
    If true, that story would have given Leland an extra incentive to develop the electric starter.

    In any case, it made all the difference in the world in the number of people who would want to drive cars.

  45. pedro fernandez Says:

    Support our own? you mean the Fusion and Fiesta and others made in Mexico, I support our own; except for a couple of Beetles, every car I’ve ever bought was made here. Then my sister buys a Journey and it’s made in Mexico, and she wanted to buy American, well I guess Mexico IS part of America.

  46. Jesse W. Henry Says:

    I am not sure how the profits are calculated and if debt plays a factor at all. SO I was hoping someone with more knowledge would wiegh in. Could GM’s high profits this year be due to the fact that alot of the debt they accrued developing the new products they are now successfully selling was wiped during the bankruptcy allowing the products to have a lower break even point? Not sure if it is factored that way or not.

  47. Kit Gerhart Says:

    #37,
    If I ever wanted an S-Class or 7 series “to see what I’m missing,” I would certainly want to get it used. In the case of these cars, in most cases I would expect them to have been well maintained, and not abused.

    With a CTS-v, though, it might have seen some hard use, like an M5. I guess you never know, in either case, unless you know, and have ridden with the previous owner.

  48. Ed K Says:

    Hey John, how about giving us the staight scoop on the loans the USG gave to GM and Chrysler – how close are they to paying them off.

  49. C-Tech Says:

    #45
    I agree with you, that is why you go with Certified Used! Reconditioned, with an extended warranty.
    #46
    I like that idea, please consider this John.

  50. Kit Gerhart Says:

    There is a great history of BMW now underway on MSNBC. It may be about over, but it is good. Coming up next, Porsche.

  51. RonE Says:

    #48, Kit, I have Direct TV and it’s being shown on CNBC. Also Cable list it as CNBC.

    I saw this last time it was on and it’s definitely worth seeing again.

    And it’ over. But Porsche is next.

  52. vrmchris Says:

    hello to all.

    #17, i appreciate your comments. accepted.

    toyota/lexus. no surprise there. right now they are still selling on their reputation. but the competition (especially detroit) is catching up very quickly.

    ev taxbreak. i would say no right now. but i understand why this is being proposed.

    1913 hispano-suiza tipo alfonso xiii. hmmm. an interesting car. just the thing for a prom night. or just to make a grand entrance.

    the 100th anniversary of the electric starter motor. technology sometimes has its benefits.

    gm and profitability. bankruptcy combined with cars/truck people want to buy and you will profit indeed. opel is a concern. not because of its lineup, but rather because of inconsistency thanks to gm europe in switzerland. when you do not have a consistent focus in terms of marketing (including motorsport), in the long run you will be in trouble. especially in germany/rest of europe. as for the rest of the world, i am willing to guess that transaction prices have gone down because of stiffer competition.

    regards,
    vrmchris

  53. Kit Gerhart Says:

    #49,
    Sorry, it was CNBC here too. Adjacent channel to MSNBC. Anyway, I hadn’t seen it before, and will have to see the whole thing if they run it again.

  54. HtG Says:

    History of BMW on YouTube

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ra7mlpJosuI

  55. John C. Briggs Says:

    Interesting that you point out how in the car business, after you get to a certain volume level, “everything else is just gravy”, in regards to GMs profits.

    Somehow when the government recognizes the same thing and tries to get EVs up to volume using rebates, you suddenly see it as a failure.

  56. MJB Says:

    Alright Lexus!

    Every year they top that reliability list just confirms and applauds my decision many years back to buy a pre-owned SC400. 19-years and running…

    People I knew used to be skeptical about me buying pre-owned, to which I replied – hey, it’s all about the brand. You buy a pre-owned Chrysler, you’ll regret it in very short order. But when you buy a pre-owned Lexus, you’ll have nothing to worry about.

  57. Kit Gerhart Says:

    52,
    Thanks, I’ll check it out.

  58. tj Martin Says:

    OPEL – WHAT WENT WRONG

    Had a conversation with one of the cuzes yesterday afternoon about GM and OPEL during which he brought on an old friend who’s at German automotive magazine Auto Motor und Sport

    The GM revelations I am not permitted to share . Sorry

    But here’s the lowdown on the Demise of OPEL

    First one needs to understand OPEL’s position in the market place . Never a competitor to Mercedes or BMW it was perceived as a decent . middle class ride ( kind of like Chevy of old ) with the occasional performance car , or semi luxury winner

    So what went wrong ;

    #1 The influx of Japanese imports . Same story , different country . Nuff said

    #2 The Re-emergence of Audi as a major player . Suddenly OPEL’s higher end offerings had a domestic competitor and GM wasn’t giving them the resources to keep up

    #3 The emergence of VW as a Full Line manufacture . No longer perceived as an Entry Level car suddenly VW began to erode at OPEL’s sales as well . Once again GM parent company ignoring the reality that was befalling them

    #4 The rise of FORD of Europe , coming out with better and better cars while OPEL languished in its mediocrity .

    You need to know also , that unlike what some have stated here OPEL’s reviews have been mediocre or worse , not having come up with a winner or a genuinely positive or glowing review for over a decade . Having reviewed my back issues of CAR EVO etc the same must be said about Vauxhall in the UK

    Mediocre at best .

    The AMuS gentleman summed it up by saying that as in the US it was GM’s neglect , ignoring of reality and their ongoing arrogance that brought about the downfall of OPEL . Not the German Unions , Cost of Doing Business in Germany etc .

    GM managed to take what was once a respectable and decent brand and bring it down to the level of Has Been and mediocre – poor quality auto manufacture as well as currently a bit of a bad joke .

    Anyway I’m gone for the long weekend with the wife … so beat each other senseless :o …… or not .

    Hasta Tuesday !

    ———

    MJB – Buying a used Lexus is in fact less a risk than buying most other cars new … so no surprise yours is a winner

    Now if they’d just come up with a direct competitor to the GLK in the next two years …… without the Blind Spots !
    ;-)

  59. Kit Gerhart Says:

    When I was in the Navy in Scotland in the early 70′s, Ford was number one in the UK, and BMC was still a serious part of the mix. Vauxhall was also doing pretty well, but VW? Their main product was still the air cooled beetle, clearly on its last legs in the developed world. My, how things have changed.

    As tj says, Ford has done a lot better than Opel/Vauxhall lately, but VW has gone from little more than a niche player, to the dominant “mainstream” brand, and Audi is doing very well against MB and BMW. Not too long ago, the Opel Astra was the best selling car in Europe, beating out the Golf a year or two, but that was probably in the 90′s.

  60. Kit Gerhart Says:

    For anyone who is interested, here’s some information I found about car sales in Europe, by brand:

    http://www.jato.com/PressReleases/European%20new%20car%20sales%20improve%20in%20Q3%202011.pdf

    Ford has been number 2 after VW, followed closely by Opel/Vauxhall, and then Renault and Peugeot. You have to go down a few pages to see the list, by brand, the latest being Q3 or 2011.

  61. pedro fernandez Says:

    Got to talking to a client who lived many years in Spain and he’s into cars and I asked him what he had over there and he told me NO GERMANS, no way, only Peugeot, a couple of Citroens no Fiat, no VW no Seat, I asked him why, said they’d been reliable and the parts are affordable, not so with the German brands, I found it interesting since here we look down on French cars as unreliable POS’s

  62. Kit Gerhart Says:

    I’ve mentioned here before, but about 3 years ago I rented a Citroen C4 diesel, and I loved it. It was a little quirky, but not in a bad way. The controls were easy to figure out, even though I could barely read the French owners manual. It rode pretty well for a car its size, and got great fuel economy.

    If you add Peugeot and Citroen sales from the link in #58, PSA would have been number 2 in European sales, well ahead of Ford.

  63. pedro fernandez Says:

    Kit it’s a different world over there, tight parking spaces, narrow winding streets and expensive gas, we would be driving the same cars if conditions were similar here, or maybe not, just look at NYC, plenty of big luxo cars and big SUV’s

  64. Kit Gerhart Says:

    Yeah, the highest volume segments are “B” and “C” segment. The C4 I rented was in same general category of Fiesta.

    From that link in #58, the best selling cars were Golf, Fiesta, Corsa, Polo, Focus, Clio, Astra, Passat, Renault Megane.

    All of those cars are “C” segment or smaller, until you get to Passat.

  65. pedro fernandez Says:

    TTAC tested the Buick La Crosse e-assist and reports that it handles and rides like the traditional Buick, so how is Buick going after a more youthful buyer, I though youthful buyers like Beemers, Acuras and Audis because of their handling prowess? Am I missing something here?

  66. Kit Gerhart Says:

    #61,
    Cars in America would be more like cars in Europe, if gas cost $7/gallon here.

  67. Kit Gerhart Says:

    #63,
    It looks like the La Crosse is going after ES and Avalon buyers, more than BMW or Audi. Yeah, that is probably the same “older” crowd that Buicks have attracted for a long time.

    As far as e-assist, it sounds like it improves the mpg some, but not nearly as much as the serious hybrid system in the Toyotas and Fords. If it doesn’t add much to the cost of the car, it’s an ok tradeoff, especially if you don’t drive in stop and go traffic much with the A/C. Driving in traffic with A/C, the engine needs to keep running, so e-assist would buy you very little.

  68. pedro fernandez Says:

    People are dumb, you know that? on TTAC some guy lamenting that there is no Lexus ES hybrid available, Just buy a freaking Camry hybrid and save yourself a bunch of cash!

  69. victor ceicys Says:

    I am not surprised with the recent revival of GM. I recently traded a Lexus LS for a Chevy Volt. The quality of the Volt has been a pleasant surprise and is outstanding. Additionally it is a pleasure to drive, probably thanks to Bob Lutz. I am delighted with the Volt, the first USA car that I have bought in about 20 yrs.