By on November 16, 2016

Used Car Dealership NYC

If you fancy yourself an automotive bargain hunter, the best time to score a deal on a used car is right around the corner. So, stop clicking around on Autotrader for five minutes and equip yourself with some useful knowledge to better your odds of snagging some savings.

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By on November 16, 2016

Mercedes-Benz Concept X-CLASS

Mercedes-Benz has decided against bringing its X-Class pickup to the U.S. market next year. However, this doesn’t mean we won’t eventually see the luxury truck hauling grand pianos and crystal chandeliers down American highways.

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By on November 9, 2016

2017 Toyota Prius Prime

Toyota’s going to market the new Prius Prime with laser-like precision. Is it because they want to embrace cutting-edge advertising methods, or is it because they don’t see it as a vehicle with particularly broad appeal?

That, BMW thinks it might want to keep an unpopular model around for another generation, Volvo issues a voluntary recall on seat belts, and Toyota and Nissan agree that their prospects have looked better in North America… after the break!

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By on November 8, 2016

INFINITI Holiday

Now that Halloween has receded from the rear-view mirror, advertisers can really start ramping up their winter-themed commercials.

Automotive companies are particularly heavy handed at pushing advertisements highlighting “the season for giving,” without the accompanying specificity of what that phrase refers to.

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By on November 8, 2016

Ferrari steering wheel

Ferrari CEO Sergio Marchionne — who’s also the CEO of some other company — says the Italian automaker’s stable will be full of hybrid technology in three short years.

This isn’t an initiative designed to take Ferrari from red to green. Rather, it’s the only way it can boost sales without running afoul of the law. There’s cash to be made, and Sergio’s on the case.

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By on November 7, 2016

Genesis store, Round Rock Texas

There’s no denying the strategy behind Hyundai’s Genesis Motors luxury brand is unusual. By its very nature, the contrived launch of a new Korean luxury marque — more than a century after the dawn of America’s favourite luxury brand, Mercedes-Benz — is going to differ in a multitude of ways.

Genesis intends to maximize the possibility for consumers to shop for their cars online, for instance. And Genesis owners won’t need to take cars to dealers for servicing — valets will provide pickup and delivery.

Yet one aspect of a new brand’s U.S. launch is nevertheless set in stone: dealers.

Genesis Motors has 350 dealers inside Hyundai’s U.S. showrooms, Wards Auto reports. Genesis Motors’ general manager Erwin Raphael wants a different number.

A smaller number. Read More >

By on November 4, 2016

Tesla Model S

Tesla’s Model S 60 has come and gone only to show up again as the “bargain” Tesla, even though it’s actually just a cheaper Model S 75 with a stingy computer.

Now, inside information suggests it’ll be going up in price even if you decided not to add the company’s cool new transparent roof. With the automaker seemingly hoping to squeeze every last buck out of its lineup, the top-flight versions of both of its models have now been propelled into the pricing stratosphere.

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By on October 31, 2016

2015 Ford Mustang Flat Rock production

General Motors and the Ford Motor Company both saw U.S. sales declines in the third quarter, but GM was the only one achieving earnings that widely beat expectations. Still, which company is playing the game better is up for debate.

This could turn out to be an Ant and the Grasshopper situation if there is another economic downturn on the horizon. The ant-like Ford could be more ready for an economic winter, while the improvident Grasshopper Motors is left out in the cold with acres of unsellable vehicles — forced to eat its own legs for sustenance.

Of course, if there isn’t an economic downturn, Ford is going to look like a lame duck next to GM’s golden goose.

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By on October 28, 2016

03_rx-vision-1024x572

Mazda is like that artisan pizza place or a craft brewery your coolest friends all like. They make a familiar product, but there is definitely something different about it. While you can’t always place your finger on it, that unexplainable “x” factor affords them the hint of pretentiousness that comes along with doing things differently.

And like any hip outlet selling quirky artisanal goods, they are likely going to start charging you more for it.

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By on October 21, 2016

By Ceyhun Kavakci/Flickr (CC BY-SA 2.0)

Baby Boomers are getting too old for traditional sports cars. Their purchasing power may have ushered in the initial success of the muscle car (as well as its resurrection), but no 70-plus-year-old wants to obliterate their pelvis crawling into a low-slung coupe or have its rock-hard suspension rattle the dentures out of their mouth.

That leaves the younger generations to champion the sports car going forward, and — I am very sad to say — they will not be up to the task.  Read More >

By on July 7, 2016

1985 Honda Accord, Image: Honda via NetCarShow

Electric automaker Tesla Motors has collected more than 400,000 deposits from customers for its 2018 Model 3 sedan, despite having little more than rough renderings of the car to show prospects. This is a remarkable achievement that speaks to its groundbreaking products and the cult-like following of Tesla CEO Elon Musk.

People standing in line to put down deposits and then be willing to wait for a hot car is not without precedent. I sold Honda automobiles during the 1980s and the similarities to today’s Teslamania is striking.

Memo to Musk: If you can indeed increase your production five-fold in two years, I am sure you will move 400,000 Model 3s, but most of them won’t go to today’s deposit holders.

Allow me to explain. The scene was Benson Honda in San Antonio. The year was 1984 … Read More >

By on July 6, 2016

Suckers at the Stock Photo Dealership with a Credit Card

A record 31 percent of all new vehicles sold this year in the U.S. are leased. I spent a good part of my career studying why some people refuse to lease. Much of their resistance stems from bad buzz. Some say it’s because of the stories they heard about ’80s-era open-end leases where owners were responsible for paying the car’s residual value at lease end. (These are the same customers who will not buy a Hyundai today because they produced crappy cars in the ’80s.) Others oppose leasing because they heard about a guy whose cousin’s neighbor had to pay $5,000 in wear and tear or excess mileage charges at lease end. And there are those of you who will brag comment below about how you always pay cash for your cars and don’t understand why other people won’t follow your lead.

This article is not designed to convert such non-believers to leasing. This advice, drawn from my years in the auto finance business, is for buyers who know the basics and benefits of leasing, want some timely tips on how to get the lowest possible payments, and want to pay less money on lease-end charges.

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By on May 18, 2016

2016 Dodge brochure

After climbing to a five-year high in 2013, sales at Fiat Chrysler Automobiles’ Dodge brand fell 4 percent in calendar year 2014 and a further 10 percent in 2015.

So when TTAC columnist Bark M. tweeted a Dodge marketing tagline — “Fastest Growing American Performance Brand” — my confusion, doubt and skepticism were kindled.

Bark heard the tagline in a radio ad, which unfortunately isn’t Googleable. However, he swiftly supplied a link to this 2016 Dodge brochure in which the following claim is made: “The Dodge brand may have started from humble beginnings, but it is now the fastest-growing performance brand.[1]*

Seriously? Let’s look into it. Read More >

By on April 7, 2016

Hall Chevrolet Dealership

I worked at a Ford dealer in Silicon Valley from 1994 to 1999. It was a transitional time in the car business; a time when old-school car guys told war stories about back-lot portables stocked with sales incentives, while young consumers arrived with astonishingly accurate invoice and holdback information. We packed payments, sold $79 undercoat for $1,500, and occasionally found customers smarter than us.

By 1999, more than 40 percent of Americans were online and the Internet was democratizing information everywhere. If someone asked me then if the retail auto environment would be different 17 years hence, I would have emphatically responded yes.

I would have been wrong.

The car business and the customer experience are all but identical. The biggest change is perhaps the relocation of the smoking area.

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By on February 12, 2016

Bentley Export courtesy of armstrongrelocation.wordpress.com

There’s not a more uncomfortable phone call for a car dealership’s finance manager to make then asking a customer to come back to have their finance or lease contract rewritten. This is typically caused by sales managers — the people most despised by finance departments — who spot deliver a vehicle based on their wrong guess about the rate or term a lender would approve the deal. Needless to say, the vast majority of these rewrites result in a higher monthly payment for the customer.

A couple of years ago, a finance manager at a Los Angeles Mercedes-Benz dealer told me and a Mercedes-Benz Financial colleague of mine about the day he picked up the phone to fix the opposite situation: the dealership had miscalculated the taxes on a client’s lease on a black ML350 Bluetec SUV and they needed the client to return and sign a new lease agreement reflecting payments of $14 per month lower than the original contract.

He called the customer with the good news only to hear, “No no no! Payment good. Payment good. We OK!”

After he hung up, he thought, “We just got snookered. That ML is probably on a slow boat to China and the factory is going to kill us.” Read More >

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