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Episode 751 – Car Dealers Fight Back, CAFE Under Attack, Repair Shops Thriving

October 21st, 2011 at 12:16pm

Runtime: 8:45

The National Auto Dealers Association is commissioning a study to see if OEM mandates ever really translate into more sales or higher profits for dealers. New fuel-economy standards proposed by the Obama Administration earlier this year are under attack. People are hanging on to their cars longer. This has been bad news for dealers, automakers and suppliers, but it’s great for repair shops and parts makers. All that and more, plus a preview of Autoline This Week about what was going on behind-the-scenes when the American auto industry collapsed.

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This is Autoline Daily for October 21, 2011. And here is what’s happening in the automotive industry.

CAR DEALERS FIGHT BACK
Car dealers in the U.S. market have had it up to here with car companies telling them how to improve their dealerships. Steve Wade, the chairman of the National Auto Dealers Association, complains that in some cases automakers have argued with dealers that the blue paint they used to paint their dealership was not blue enough. Or that the tiles on the floor should be bigger. So the NADA is commissioning a study to see if these OEM mandates ever really translate into more sales or higher profits for dealers. Here’s my Autoline Insight. I find it amazing that the people at the car companies, who have never retailed a car in their lives, are always trying to tell dealers how to run their business. Remember, none of the top executives at any of the car companies these days have come up through the sales side of the business.

CAFE UNDER ATTACK
New fuel-economy standards proposed by the Obama Administration earlier this year are under attack. According to the Detroit News, more than 60 Republicans and three Democrats in the U.S. House of Representatives are proposing that the EPA and California be prohibited from enacting new fuel rules that would mandate a 54.5 MPG standard by 2025. Under the proposal, NHTSA would set fuel standards but only through the year 2021. The Representatives argue that the new rules would increase the price of cars and “regulate out of existence all new vehicles that cost less than $15,000 today.”

GM WILL BUILD BUICK ENVISION IN CHINA
Earlier this year GM showed a plug-in hybrid concept at the Shanghai Auto Show called the Buick Envision. Now, the China Car Times reports that the SUV will be built in China starting next March but it’s not known if it will be sold as a plug-in. Chinese media speculate that it will be powered by a 1.6-liter or a 2.0-liter turbo. And you have to wonder that if GM is going to introduce this car in China, will it bring it the U.S. as well?

PEUGEOT TESTING DIESEL-HYBRID RACECAR
Audi and Peugeot have a bit of a rivalry going on. Maybe it’s the Germans and the French not getting along, but the two have been going after each other at Le Mans for the last few years with diesel-powered racecars. Now Peugeot is upping the ante. It’s testing a hybrid version of its 908, which is kind of a strange reversal. Usually advancements learned in racing trickle down to production vehicles, but in this case it’s going from the showroom floor to the track. So far the 908 HYbrid4 has only been race-tested for about 300 kilometers, but its electrified drivetrain worked exactly as expected. Will this give Peugeot an advantage over Audi? We’ll have to wait to find out.

REPAIR SHOPS THRIVING (subscription required)
With all the uncertainty in the world it’s no secret people are keeping their cars longer. As we’ve reported, the average vehicle in the U.S. is more than 10-and-a-half-years old. That’s down right geriatric. This has been bad news for dealers, automakers and suppliers, but it’s great for repair shops and parts makers. The Wall Street Journal reports Monro Muffler and Brake – that’s Monro without an “e” on the end – just posted record sales and profits. The Rochester, New York-based repair outfit’s income rose 14 percent compared to last year.

Coming up next, an insider’s look at what was going on behind-the-scenes when the American auto industry collapsed.

AUTOLINE THIS WEEK
Bill Vlasic is the Detroit Bureau chief for the New York Times. He’s just come out with a book called “Once Upon A Car,” which captures the behind-the-scenes drama of what was going on at the Big Three as they stared bankruptcy in the face. In the following clip he talks about the different tack the Ford Motor Company took, thanks to the new CEO who had just arrived on the scene.

You can catch that entire interview with Bill Vlasic, and it’s a good one, on our website right now at Autoline.tv. And check out your local TV listings, since Autoline is now available on a lot of public televisions stations across the country.

Now that you’ve had your daily fill of the most important auto news, make sure you tune in for all the car news you DON’T need to know on RoundAbout. This week’s guest is the father of the Miata and professional Jim Hall impersonator, Bob Hall. And, for you video game fans, Bob will have his review of Forza 4. Get that and much, much more at 6:30PM Eastern time on Autoline.TV.

And that wraps up all our reporting for this week. Thanks for watching we’ll see you Monday.

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

60 Comments to “Episode 751 – Car Dealers Fight Back, CAFE Under Attack, Repair Shops Thriving”

  1. LS ford Says:

    When will auto dealers figure out that branding and retail is the issue with how dealers are perceived. Customers hate dealerships, why not reinvent the wheel. I think the industry is needing a major change.
    People like to go to the mall and shop…this is to be considered when looking at why customers hate to shop at dealerships.

  2. LS ford Says:

    John,

    Great point about execs though. We still cannot realy understand the business we are trying to influence.

  3. Jon M Says:

    John, Great insight into the car companies management of dealers. It’s more like micro-managing dealerships, though. The ties between a dealer and the manufacturer can be severed (remember when GM and Chrysler filed for bankruptcy), so why bother micro-managing? Set some minimum standards for brand image purposes and let the dealers tailor the rest to their individual markets. After all, is not bearing the expenses of selling your own products the point of dealership networks?

  4. pedro fernandez Says:

    What difference does the shade of blue have to do with how the majority of people feel about dealerships? Are they kidding? Saturn was the closest to being a likable dealer network, only if they had a few cars to sell, they would have ruled the market. It comes down to price and people feel that they’re being ripped off, but it’s more than that. during last years auto shopping nightmare I found myself being better informed about certain vehicles than the salesmen themselves.

  5. pedro fernandez Says:

    Around these parts, even repair shops are having a hard time, a lot of people are going DIY when it comes to a lot of maintenance and simple repairs or they know of someone that has some mechanical abilities and getting it done for the cheap. Also there has been a rash of mobile techs that work out of a van and undercut the traditional repair shops.

  6. john787 Says:

    Didn’t Ford get a 15.9 billion dollar hand out that nobody ever seems to remember? I don’t think it’s right just not to mention that when Mually is praise for doing such a great job. Also, he got a stroke of lucked when he put Ford’s money in bonds before the economy crashed.

    http://www.gminsidenews.com/forums/f12/ford-bmw-toyota-took-secret-government-money-98094/

    With a salary of 26 million a year, he’d better be good, although I don’t think he’s any better than Ackerson of GM who is not well liked, judging from my readings.

  7. LS ford Says:

    @pedro #4

    Right on. Saturn was the revolution. But the thought process seems to have stopped there. I think it should be more about the experience than the right shade of blue, red, green…

    If you want to properly retail then they have to stop thinking about the sale, and think more about how the customer feels when walking in. What would they like. Is it more like a pub, a library, a museum?

    Cars and products properly retailed can be treated like art. So the consumer has a chance to select the piece that is right for them. Not just what is on closeout…

  8. LS ford Says:

    Without any oversight however, you end up with bill’s auto mart…

  9. tj Martin Says:

    WHAT ???

    No Musk(rat) TESLA Love Fest here ?

    JEEeeeeze and here I thought I was avoiding further aggravation my ignoring ALD ( all the early morning Auto press in the rest of the World was riddled with Musk(rat) TESLA love letters )

    Hmmn…….

    Maybe my Faith in ALD has been renewed

    We’ll see

  10. MJB Says:

    @#8 – DISCO, baby! You hit the nail right on the head.

    Without any oversight, you end up with what you can still find traces of in some markets (regions of the US) that have remained un-touched by the 21-century. Old, out-dated, run-down shacks, hole-in-the-walls, and for all intents and purposes, derelict edefices still being propped up to serve as new-car dealerships.

    You know the ones to which I refer. you’ve seen them. These are the dealerships that were cutting edge when they first got their licence to sell cars back in the ’40s and ’50s. But many of them have made no true upgrades since opening day. And the problem with them (even the ones that came about decades later) is that there is no continuity of design language between them. Most of those old dealerships don’t just differ by region (New York vs. Montana), they differ by personal taste and level of appearance (Sanford & Son vs. Green Acres).

    Look at Lexus, BMW, Mercedes and Audi dealerships. They all read from their own respective design playbooks. Much like McDonalds does. You never have to worry about being able to find a McDonalds in any new town you’re going to. They all have (pretty much) the same design language. That’s all that the Detroit 3 are trying to do here – establish consistent design languages for their dealerships.

    Long gone are the days when dealerships could decide to just open up show inside an old auto repair garage, hang a sign outside and call it a showroom.

  11. tj Martin Says:

    CAR DEALERS

    Well if my experiences over the last year , finding a replacement for the MINI are anything to go by ;

    Overall the Dealerships and their Salesmen NEED a good going over , butt kicking , what ever it takes to make Honest Men/women out of them ( like that’ll ever happen )

    Of all the brands we looked at , only the M-B experience could even be called reasonable

    Every Hendrik Group Dealership we visited treated us like we were fools ripe for the picking .

    The Toyota dealership came across desperate for our business , but when Numbers Crunching Time came along , suddenly there was no room for negotiations

    Lexus – the same as the Toyota experience

    The Infiniti dealer didn’t even want to talk to us until we’d made up our minds ( we were upfront as to the cars we were considering )

    The MINI/BMW Dealer ( even though we’d bought the MINI from them ) acted like we were wasting their time , and don’t come back till you’ve got the check written

    The VW dealership pawns off this poor older somewhat demented ( couldn’t remember my name for more than five minutes ) salesman on me and again wanted nothing to do with any negotiating

    ” Sorry Mr Martin , but the price is the price ”

    Not too smart when you’ve got a Cash n Carry customer at your doorstep .

    Granted the M-B was the car we were most in love with , but regardless they were the only Dealership to treat us with respect , offer a great deal on the car we wanted ,bend the rules a bit to accommodate our schedule/needs , as well as provide constant and top notch after sales service .

    Not too smart in these trying economic times . Thats a lot of dealerships that watched a $40K sale walk right out the door

  12. tj Martin Says:

    Got to admit

    Even with AWD , less interior room than the Crown Vic and maybe a bit too fragile to be pushing bad guys off the road ……

    This LOOKs like a Cop car !

    http://www.autoweek.com/article/20111021/CARNEWS/111029970

  13. tj Martin Says:

    @MJB

    For the record , the Audi, BMW , Lexus and Infiniti dealerships out our way were ummmmm……

    Less than satisfactory when we were car shopping . So either the Play Book has gotten lost on its way across the Mississippi , or some Dealers are plain out ignoring it

    For the record I was a bit shocked

  14. pedro fernandez Says:

    I have passed by some small towns in Central Fl and some of the dealers are like, well, they got 4 walls and a roof (barely). I wonder if these guys can give you a better deal since they don’t have all the overhead that the fancy/schmancy big city ones do?

  15. LS ford Says:

    But I have noticed in my travels over the past 15 years, that there are a few (like under 10) dealers that are doing something special.

    And it is all about experience. One group, in Chicago, was doing highline cars. And they know their target. It was flashy, exciting, stimulating. I would be very enticed to drop $100k+ on a vehicle in that set up….

    So how do you make selling a $20k car a nice experience? Guys, pretend like you selling to your father/mother. The environment better be comforatble, open and non threatening. Your sales people better be respectful and honest. This slick (herb tarlick) look is not gonna cut it much more. If someone (one brand) wakes up, the others are SOL.

  16. MJB Says:

    tj, you talking dealership facility wise here? Or are you talking about salesman wise?

    I’m only refering to the dealership facility, not the sales experience as brought about by the salesmen/women.

  17. MJB Says:

    LS ford, you’re right. Outside of the physical showroom experience (which IS important to most folk), it’s the treatment the customer recieves from the salepeople that matters.

    I do dealership design for Ford (cat out of the bag), and can tell you that most dealers who are still resting on the laurels of the building their father had built (family-run dealerships) already know that they need to upgrade. Most don’t resist the change.

  18. HtG Says:

    Question for MJB. If I recall, you know your stuff in interior design. When you walk into a dealership can you figure out what the ‘program’ is? Is it clear how customers, cars, and staff relate?
    ——-

    I remember from shopping just how different each dealer was. Sometimes I had to fight to keep a straight face, like when the salesperson ‘takes control’ of the customer, leading you along physically.(I play along). Or when they give you a bottle of water(reciprocation being set up). The saddest though, was going into the Pontiac/Buick/GMC dealer: It looked like something out of The Deerhunter. Now the place, and it’s Cadillac showroom too, have been knocked down, and guess which brand is building a new store on the sight. tj? can you guess? One try.

  19. tj Martin Says:

    @MJB

    OK you got me . I misunderstood and thought you were talking about the Overall Dealer Experience , not just the facilities .

    So based on that the BMW dealership gets the nod . A scaled down replica of the Guggenheim , spiral ramps and all

    Second would be the Benz dealer . Very minimalist

    Third the MINI Dealer cause it looks like a Comic book inside ( e.g. entertaining )

    But tied for last would be the Audi/ Lexus / Infiniti / Volvo dealerships . All just barely an upgrade from their lower class cousins ( VW , Ford , Nissan ,Toyota )

    So is that any surprise to you ? Im asking by the way .

    ———

    @ HtG

    I’ll take a stab at it . Mercedes Benz ?

  20. MJB Says:

    HtG,

    The imports have always known their target buyer and acted like it. That’s why you get distinct ‘flavors’ when you enter a MB dealership vs. an Audi and so on.

    The domestics had until just very recently always assumed that everybody was their target buyer and hence never focused the design language of their dealerships to cater to any one audience.

    Wish I could ellaborate more, but I’m about to cut out of here for the weekend, fellas.

  21. tj Martin Says:

    # 18

    Or……… Oh No ! PLEASE not Hyundai/KIA !!!!

  22. HtG Says:

    @19 !

  23. HtG Says:

    At the local Nissan store, customer waiting areas include a giant screen tv, comfy sofas and chairs. If you wait for service they also offer free bagels and coffee, newspapers, internet. It looks to me that people like it. And lord to they detail you to find out how your experience was.

  24. tj Martin Says:

    @ HtG

    Phew !!!!

    ——-

    More bad news gentlemen about what’s become of the money your government handed out to FISKER aka FISTER Automotive

    You might want to pay special attention to the mention of the Solar company that also got a hefty sum of money and what became of them .

    And you thought BoA was bad HtG ! Hah ! I say .

    http://wheels.blogs.nytimes.com/2011/10/21/the-fisker-karmas-20-m-p-g-conundrum/?ref=automobiles

    MORAL of the STORY

    If a company cannot get not make it on its own Government loans won’t make a bit of difference in the long run . Well except we’ll all be out a few hundred million more dollars when its over :(

  25. LS ford Says:

    When you go into a dealership, the tactics are all the same. The end game is the same…how they do that is all about the feeling. I have walked out of some dealerships feelings good, though I just got totally taken. And some, I walk in, and walk out with nothing because the people are terrible.

    At the end of the day, the dealership needs to fix its staff before they can complain to the OEM about standards. There used to be a joke that ended with “after the battle, the lawyers can be seen stabing the wounded” then I would add this; “the car dealers can then be seen trying to sell them a hurst”

  26. tj Martin Says:

    @ HtG

    Benz Dealer Experience

    Big Screen TV

    Espresso Machine

    Nice selection of recent classy magazines ( no not that kind you guys )

    Free Doughnuts and Croissants

    Bottled Water and Fresh Fruit

    Comfy Leather chairs , seats ( around tables ) and sofas

    Along with those occasional ” Fun” test drives when your salesman isn’t busy

    Ahhhhh comfort . Takes a bit of getting used to but believe me I’m loving it

    Oh and did I mention the complimentary Nitro Fill and Wash n Detail ?

  27. tj Martin Says:

    LS ford

    A HURST ? You mean you can still get a Hurst shifter in an OEM new car ? Which manufacture ?

    ( just razzing you a bit LS . I know you meant Hearse . but you gotta admit that is a bit of history gone by . Hurst Shifters in new cars that is )

  28. LS ford Says:

    @ TJ
    MB & BMW do a great job to make you feel good…

    I used to hate the minimum $850 service bill everytime I went in….seems like that was the charge everytime. I used to get exscited when I got a bill for under $400!

  29. LS ford Says:

    It was a funny sarcastic and ironic play on words hearse vs. hurst…. :)

    FYI – I do like the hurst in the shelby…

  30. tj Martin Says:

    @ LS ford

    I was hoping you’d see the humor and take no offense

    As to the BMW/M-B service bills , thats why I took the $263 pre pay for three years option that everyone else thought i was crazy for doing .

    Yes at M-B thats an option most owners don;t know about

  31. tj Martin Says:

    …. and yes that $263 covers all services for the entire three years

  32. tj Martin Says:

    FISKER and the Government

    So after reading the NYTimes link I put up , shall we all assume from here on in that ;

    DoE

    Now stands for

    Department of Erroneous ( Loans ) ?

    :o

    I just kill me sometimes ;-)

  33. LS ford Says:

    I think the extended service at BWM was $2,000?? But it would have been worth it.

    I missed that one as my last one ran me over 18k in service over 6 years. But I did love the car….

  34. LS ford Says:

    DoEe – department of egregious expenses

  35. Kit Gerhart Says:

    What John and NADA are talking about is “brick and mortar” aspects of car dealerships. The local Chevy dealer here in central Indiana is going to remodel the showroom, because they have been told to. It is “old looking,” with offices with doors, but lots of windows, for the salesmen, and other things you don’t see now, but the place looks well maintained.

    As others have mentioned, the problem with car dealers is with aspects of the experience not associated with the modernity of the appearance of the showroom.

  36. Kit Gerhart Says:

    Here’s a Fisker article about the plant, and one of the cars. There is well-placed skepticism in some of the comments, but not the vitriol we read on this forum.

    http://www.autoweek.com/article/20111020/CARNEWS/111029987?utm_source=DailyDrive20111021&utm_medium=enewsletter&utm_term=missedarticle1more&utm_content=20111020-Can_Tesla_become_a_bigger_company_with_Model_S_electric_car?_That%27s_Elon_Musk%27s_gamble&utm_campaign=awdailydrive

  37. HtG Says:

    And here’s a link to the NADA site. Wade’s speech is also offered. It’s a little(a lot) ironic that the NADA would do a rational analysis of the cost efficiency of factory mandated facility upgrades. It’s the Battle of the Beancounters, I tell ya.

    http://www.nadafrontpage.com/NADA_Chairman_Outlines_Factory_Image_Study.xml

  38. HtG Says:

    @36 bye bye tj. You want to stay out of this. Dinner, the concert. Nice thoughts like that.

  39. tj Martin Says:

    @ HtG

    RE; #36

    Hey if Kit choses to believe Pie in the Sky Fluff instead of the facts that were stated clearly by the TTAC , AutoWeek and NYTimes articles I placed the links for, thats his problem .

    Simple fact is the FISKER Karma is a con job ( even the EPA today slammed the car and CA is pulling back its E/V Hybrid for the car , taking any and all State rebates away from the lump )

    A Con Job thats costing the American Tax Payer $ 528 Million Dollars

    So what I’m saying here isn’t ‘ Vitriol ‘ Its plain , no BS , politically incorrect , blatant facts

    But….. HtG then again as Cramer ( CNBC ) says ” If you don’t do your homework and dig beneath all the propaganda the press , companies and sometimes even your own Government puts out , you’re making your head a target for the Financial Guillotine they’re putting in place for you ”

    Know , HtG I do consider Cramer a bit of a Blow hard sometimes , but that one he’s got right on the money !

    @Kit

    Ahhhhhhhh . A Hints . FYI . Don’t know if you noticed but the AW article you put up was this mornings AutoWeek little TESLA Love Fest , not about FISKER .

    And even at that ……. IF you read between the lines ( what its saying rather than what its implying ) they’re damn skeptical about Musk( rat)’s pile of Hype as Well .

    But then again Kit . Your money , not mine . After all according to the AAA and AARP it’ll only take you ten years or so to recoup the extra cost of your Prius over an ICE car in gas savings …….. IF ……….. it lasts that long . But ….. your money …. not mine .

    Hmmmn

  40. Andrew Charles Says:

    Buick will get a version of the Envision compact crossover, possibly shared with Opel (i.e. Opel gets one too and it may be the same car); but the US media is hung up on it being a subcompact, since it’s based on the Corsa/Sonic platform. Chevy gets it’s own version as well, the new Tracker, but don’t be fooled by the underpinnings into thinking these are Juke-sized subcompacts. These may be small crossovers, but expect a wheelbase of just over 2.6 m, and an overall size placing them around the same length as the Compass, Tiguan, Sportage and Tucson (between 4.3 and 4.4 m long). Even though they will be hatchbacks rather than wagons, that’s a good 8″ longer than a subcompact like the Juke.

  41. tj Martin Says:

    Concert , Dinner ( I’s a cookin Pumpkin Sweet Potato Gnocchi with TJ’s Vodka Ragu )

    I’m done fer the day

    Thats enough edumacating for one day .

    Class dismissed .

    Quiz on Monday

    Have a great weekend

    Or not

    :o

  42. Kit Gerhart Says:

    Sorry about that link. Yeah, it was Tesla. I get Tesla and Fisker mixed up, and I don’t plan on investing in either one, other than with my tax money.

    As far as the Prius, I would have come out ahead, money-wise, by keeping the Malibu a few more years, but if buying a new car, the Prius paid for itself in gas savings the day I bought it. I wanted a hatchback or wagon with 5 1/2 feet of floor length, and the Prius was as cheap as anything available, except maybe a Kia, which I didn’t want.

  43. Alex Kovnat Says:

    > CAFE UNDER ATTACK
    > New fuel-economy standards proposed
    > by the Obama Administration earlier
    > this year are under attack.

    Good. Its about time. I hope that more and more people will realize that if there is a redeeming social need to reduce carbon dioxide emissions, we need for fossil fuels to be expensive (i.e., through taxation) so as to provide a firm and yes, painful but also very flexible incentive for society to advance along a broad front in reducing our fossil fuel consumption.

    With high gas prices, you have a choice: Get a smaller car or drive less. Or, take a few people with you if they’re going to the same place, to share fuel costs. With draconian fuel economy requirements, you don’t get that kind of flexibility. So I hope those 60+ Republicans and 3 Democrats get somewhere with their proposal.

  44. Kit Gerhart Says:

    #43,
    The problem is, that bill in Congress wouldn’t increase gas tax, which is needed, both to encourage conservation, and to fix the crumbling roads and bridges.

  45. HtG Says:

    @43 Sounds like a stunt to get money out of industry lobbyists. Maybe an election year ploy to move some votes in MI OH or IN. Or force a vote in Congress so someone can run an attack ad next fall. Somehow, Al Gore is getting paid.

  46. Kit Gerhart Says:

    42 continued…
    Yeah, I did want a car that got exceptional fuel economy, both “for fun,” and for the future when gas gets expensive. Also, I wanted a car that was reasonably quiet and comfortable on the highway.

    It came down to Prius, Golf TDI, and Jetta wagon TDI. The Golf didn’t have a long enough floor, so that left the Jetta wagon, which was more expensive, and leaves you with VW’s suspect reliability and crappy dealers.

  47. Dan Busch Says:

    I wonder if the OEM mandated quality, intelligent and educated service departments of dealerships would ever translate into more sales or higher profits.

  48. Kit Gerhart Says:

    #47,
    From my perspective, it would be nice if the sales people knew as much about the product as I did. MINI sales people seem knowledgable about what they are selling, but Toyota and Chevy less so. MINI’s having a small number of cars makes it easier for them, but I suspect they also have good training.

  49. HtG Says:

    @48 agree. When I was shopping a few years ago, it was the Mini salesman that knew the most about his car. I actually started feeling guilty asking the salesmen questions, as I came to expect they wouldn’t have a quick answer. Pretty sure I’m not normal though, on both accounts.

  50. David B. Fishburn Says:

    I did’nt get to watch this episode until Saturday, so my comment is a little late. There is one aspect that most people are not aware of; most dealers do not own their properties outright, they lease them from the auto companies. That, and the fine print in the dealership contract gives them the right to tell the dealers what to do with the properties. The recent restructuring of Chrysler’s dealer network is a good example. Chrysler wanted to have dealerships that sell all the brands under one roof, as well as wanting the dealership buildings remodeled. Many dealers did do the rebuilding/remodeling, because Chrysler told them to, and Chrysler also financed the work, since Chrysler owns the properties.

  51. tj Martin Says:

    @ HtG

    Check AutoWeek and AutoSports websites for some interesting news as to what’s coming your way

  52. HtG Says:

    rubbing my palms together, heart beating a bit harder, breath shallow, eyes widening, etc.

  53. cwolf Says:

    I am sypathetic for the Linc./Murc. dealers that carry no other brands. Not only is there no reason to cruse their lots any longer,their showrooms have turned into used car lots! I am a Lincoln fan,in general, and have an itch to see the new push button tranny offering. The stated purpose was to unclutter the console area. My interest is in how the placement may differ from my fathers ol’Newport wagon. If the brand is to exist it better do something soon and it better/must exceed Lincoln owner expectations or POOF!!,another one bits the dust.

  54. cwolf Says:

    I read in the paper that a Chry plant near me has rejected the proposed contract with a 70% vote and tthe Dundee engine plant,who just joined ranks into the Chry/UAW umbrella has unsettled issues as well. I understand their discontent,but,gee whiz, don’t these folks the boat they are in is sinking? This ordeal is something to keep your eye on!

  55. Kit Gerhart Says:

    57% at the Kokomo, IN transmision plant voted to ratify, and 80% of the salary union voted to ratify.

  56. Kit Gerhart Says:

    #53,
    I’ve had Chryslers with push button transmission operation, and it always seemed just fine. The buttons were high on the left side of the dash in my ’57 Chrysler, and, I think on the right side in a ’64 Dodge Dart.

  57. Kit Gerhart Says:

    Lincoln needs a new Town Car, and it should not be a stretched, rebadged Taurus. Sad to say, the MKZ is the best they have, relative to the price they’re asking.

  58. pedro fernandez Says:

    From the believe it or not dept: Mr Davis from Motorweek when reviewing the Versa said at the end that they would choose other models in that class over the Versa. Wow that took courage!

  59. pedro fernandez Says:

    TTAC has 2 good articles, one on the fallacy of claimed 40mpg figures being thrown around by automakers trying to bs consumers into thinking you can easily get such mileage in their cars. and the other is on the Fisker ripoff of the American taxpayer that is really disgusting to read.

  60. Kit Gerhart Says:

    As with all other cars, the mileage you actually get with these cars with 40 mpg highway ratings depends on how you drive. If you drive them at mostly steady speeds of not over 60 or so, they will get 40 mpg. If you lead foot it, drive 80 mph, sit in traffic, etc., you will get a whole lot less.

    Forget my Prius. My MINI has a very conventional power train, a gasoline engine with a 6-speed manual transmission. The EPA ratings are 28 city and 37 highway. I’ve had tanks of a little over 40 mpg, when most of the driving was steady speed of 50-55, with a small amount of stop and go thrown in. If I drive 75 on the Interstate, I get about 35 mpg. I haven’t had whole tanks of real city driving, but if I did, I’m sure I’d end up with well under 30.

    People need to realize that the EPA ratings, and CR’s mileage numbers are useful as a tool for comparing cars, since the cars are all tested the same way, but the ratings are not going to tell you or me what we will get in our driving. That depends on a whole lot of factors.

    To me, the problem is with the advertising, more than the ratings. Car companies keep talking about the highway ratings, which most people will not achieve often, if ever. I suppose they will sell some cars on the basis of the numbers, but are likely to have quite a few PO’ed customers whose driving isn’t at a steady 60 mph with no stops, or slower than that with a few stops, which is what it takes to match or beat those highway ratings.