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By on March 23, 2011

Quoth Thilo Koslowski [via AN [sub]], principal automotive analyst at Gartner Research (and coiner of TTAC’s favorite new phrase, “the trough of disappointment”):

First of all, the car doesn’t really make a good personal computer, and, secondly, consumers don’t have to have a PC on four wheels. Ultimately, any type of Internet access in the future has to support the ownership experience of the vehicle; this is not about enabling me to have the same experience I have on my laptop

Which is precisely why we find Nokia’s “Terminal Mode” protocol so compelling: it “lets cars be cars again.”

By on March 23, 2011

From the “yeah, that will work” file comes word that Chrysler is pushing dealers to hire more salespeople in order to make its five-year plan goal of increasing US-market sales by 45% this year. Spokesman Peter Grady tells Bloomberg via a leaked memo to dealers

While it’s still early in the calendar year, now is the time to act. Hiring additional personnel in preparation for the spring market is essential for success in 2011.

But aren’t the newly updated Chryslers supposed to sell themselves? Seriously though, the real problem with this plan isn’t simply that it reeks of desperation… it’s that Chrysler is going to have to do more than just increase its number of dealers. After all, isn’t quality as important to a sales force as quantity?

Read More >

By on March 23, 2011

Like much of the automotive media, we were under the impression that Nissan was replacing its Versa/Tiida with the new Nissan Sunny model that recently debuted in China. The first cracks in that theory started to appear when we saw an updated Versa with a 1.6 DIG Turbo badge on its intact rear hatch. Now, thanks to Burlappcars.com, we have our first look at the rest of the new Versa. The new model keeps the Versa’s big-box appeal, while updating the look for a more sleek, modern aesthetic. It’s a restrained, conservative look, but then the current Versa dominates its segment despite its downright dowdy styling. As long as this new model keeps the Versa’s giant interior space (it’s a B-Segment car with EPA midsize-rated interior volume), its updated styling (and the option of the Juke’s delightful little direct-injected turbo engine) should keep the Versa at the top of its segment.

By on March 23, 2011

Reflecting on the recently-previewed Chevy Colorado Concept, Automotive News [sub]‘s Rick Krantz notes

During an interview this year at the Detroit auto show, Jamie Hresko, then vice president of GM global powertrain engineering, strongly suggested the automaker was exploring a new mid-sized pickup. He resigned in late February to pursue other opportunities.

To meet proposed higher U.S. fuel economy and lower emissions standards, automakers that sell in the United States eventually will need to develop a leaner range of pickups, Hresko said.

At some point, especially with the likelihood of higher gasoline prices down the road, a smaller, lighter-weight pickup is inevitable…

Read More >

By on March 23, 2011

With its minivans and conventional midsize SUVs discontinued, GM relies heavily on its large “Lambda” crossovers—the Chevrolet Traverse, GMC Acadia, and Buick Enclave—to serve the family market. With over 230,000 sold in 2010, they’re easily the best sellers* in the segment. In comparison, Ford shifted only 34,000 Flexes. But, now in their fifth model year, the Lambdas are getting old. With cash short leading up to the bankruptcy, what might be done on the cheap to maintain buyer interest? The winning answer: a new Denali variant of the GMC Acadia.

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By on March 23, 2011

The Financial Times has revealed an insidious plot: “Foreign carmakers wishing to build new plants or add capacity in China’s burgeoning car market are being told by the government that if they wish to expand, they must develop a low-cost local car brand.”

It must be a REALLY slow news day (it is). Read More >

By on March 23, 2011

It has come to our attention that another car blog which will remain nameless has reported that Murilee Martin will be leaving TTAC to work for High Gear Media’s Motor Authority blog. Though Murilee will be writing one post per week for MA, his/her excellent contributions at TTAC will continue unabated (the report in question has since been corrected).

In fact, I am looking forward to meeting the legendary Ms Martin in person for the first time at this weekend’s Sears Pointless edition of the 24 Hours of LeMons. Fans of TTAC and Ms Martin located in the San Francisco Bay Area are encouraged to come down to Infineon Raceway to check out the sights, sounds and yes, even the smells of LeMons racing, as well as to meet TTAC’s Editor-in-Chief and Senior Junkyard Editor in person. Hope to see you there!

By on March 23, 2011

Louis writes:

Sajeev,

I recently got involved with helping a female friend who is going through a divorce get a car (in Phoenix, AZ), and it seemed to me that the basic economics of used cars have shifted (“Cash for Clunkers”?) Old used cars with high miles and no warranties appeared to be so expensive that a new car would yield a lower cost per mile driven (as well as a much lower level of risk for a single woman with no mechanical skills). I ended up lending her the money to buy a new 2010 Hyundai Elantra SE.

Still, I’m wondering if it is still possible to achieve a significantly lower cost per mile with a used car than you can get by buying a new one and driving it into the ground. Or, is there now a “poverty penalty”, where people without the cash or credit to buy a new car end up paying more per mile driven?

Read More >

By on March 23, 2011

Automotive News [sub] reports that GM has sold $1b worth of preferred stock in Ally Financial, the bank holding company that emerged from the wreckage of GM’s former in-house lender GMAC. GM will book $300m on the deal, which will take its ownership stake in the lender to 9.9 percent. GM will likely continue to reduce its exposure to Ally, which is 74% owned by the US Treasury, as its new CFO seeks to rebuild its in-house lending capabilities. GM’s move away from Ally has intensified competition between the financial firm and GM’s new financing arm, which has been built on the acquisition of subprime lender AmeriCredit. This mounting competition has been criticized by the TARP Congressional Oversight Panel, which rapped GM for failing to find a win-win solution for its own financing needs and the viability of the taxpayer-owned Ally.  Amman’s strategy for avoiding further conflict: sticking with subprime and floorplan lending, leaving prime auto lending to Ally. But, argues analyst Maryann Keller

Floor-plan lending is about building an individual relationship with a lender. To get them to switch, you need to get people on the ground and get out and talk to dealers and build those relationships.

Meanwhile, with its stock struggling to achieve the value projected for it by several analysts, GM has approved a second quarterly dividend of $0.594 per share on its Series B mandatory convertible junior preferred stock. More cash and a new dividend seem likely to pump up GM’s stock price a little, but it is unlikely to reach the $55-ish price needed to pay back the government’s equity investment in the short term.

By on March 23, 2011

The world’s largest automotive supplier, Bosch, is investing big into the world’s largest car market, China. The company has 283,000 employees worldwide. 26,000 of them work in China. Soon, that n umber will nearly double to 50,000, reports Bosch’s hometown paper, the Stuttgarter Nachrichten. Read More >

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