There comes a time when the prices for used cars at the auto auctions go the way of an exuberant bubble.
A small army of consumers get their tax refunds. The car lots wake up from their winter slumber, and values for vehicles go the netheregions of the human imagination.
I sell cars during this time, not buy them. In the last three months of every year I will usually buy a lot to avoid the tax time market prices. Sometimes as many as 12 vehicles in a day. But when tax season comes, I buy a chosen few and sell them by the dozen.
Then, after the buying frenzy begins to ever slowly ebb, there will be a welcome break in those hedonistic valuations. Where instead of winding up $1000 to $1500 behind the selling price, I wind up second to another bidder. Almost always to a guy who has been buying cars for a long time. Today was that day.
I got my 2007 9-3 serviced at the Falls Church, VA Saab dealership. My question: They had new (2011) 9-5s for $20,000 off the sticker price. Almost half off. Are they a good deal? Would you buy one? (Read More…)
Last week, a Massachusetts judge sided with Tesla regarding factory-owned stores, in a suit brought by Massachusetts State Automobile Dealers Association and an assortment of dealers. Barring an appeal, the ruling essentially clears the way for Tesla to operate their own outlets – some of which are in non-traditional venues like shopping malls – and offer an online reservation system for vehicles.
Random Stranger: Hi there, like, I have this friend you know and he told me that you finance vehicles, and his name is Emmanuel and aahhh, like I was wondering, well, uh, do you have any Toyotas and like, do you, ummm… finance vehicles you know?
“Pop-up” shops are short-term retail spaces located in trendy areas – often times, the temporary nature of the store is also a way to have some presence in an area where a long-term rental agreement would be too expensive. And in a market like San Fransico, where rents are sky high and local consumers are firmly in the “import camp”, a pop-up showroom might not be such a bad idea.
Five years ago, car dealers throughout the country were hit hard by carmageddon. Now, they are about to get hit again where it really hurts: In the workshop, where the real money is being made. The auto sales collapse of 2008 winds its way through the years like a diet through an anaconda. While showrooms were empty five years ago, now it’s the service bays that are deserted. (Read More…)
With the Toyota 86 set to go on sale in a couple of weeks (the first production models are set to leave the line on Friday), Toyota’s Japanese sales outlets will have separate spaces to sell the new sports car - and in some cases, stand alone sales facilities, similar to the Chrysler/Fiat arrangement in America.
For years now the Chinese automakers have been the bête noir of the global car industry, inspiring equal parts fear and contempt in boardrooms and editorial meetings from Detroit to Stuttgart. In an industry built on scale, China’s huge population and rapid growth can not be ignored as one scans the horizon for dark horse competitors. And yet no Chinese automaker has yet been able to get even a firm toehold in the market China recently passed as the world’s largest: the United States.
Certainly many have tried, as the last decade is littered with companies who have tried to import Chinese vehicles, only to go out of business or radically rethink their strategy (think Zap for the former and Miles/CODA for the latter). Others, like BYD (or India’s Mahindra), have teased America endlessly with big promises of low costs and high efficiency, only to delay launch dates endlessly. In short, a huge gulf has emerged between overblown fears of developing world (particularly Chinese) auto imports and the ability of Chinese automakers to actually deliver anything. No wonder then, that we found what appears to be the first legitimate attempt at importing Chinese cars to the US quite by accident…
A lot of people have little or no respect for car dealerships. In fact, on the TTAC forums, I frequently hear the word “stealership” so much, that I’m herewith petitioning the Oxford English Dictionary to officially put it in our lexicon. I recall the story of a friend on mine who had trouble with a Honda dealership in the UK. His mother bought a brand new Honda Civic and in the final month before the 3 year warranty ran out, the alternator gave up. The mother wasn’t angry that such a failing had happened, she just wanted it fixed. But the dealership had other ideas. They weren’t convinced that it was the alternator and they couldn’t look at it until next month. The mother told her son (my friend) this story and the son though it was a bit of a coincidence that the dealership couldn’t look at the car until next month, which happened to be the month that the car came out of warranty. The son bypassed the dealership and wrote a very strongly worded letter to Honda UK (It could have been “extremely worded”. In the first draft, he threatened to run over their testes with a steam roller). Strangely, a week later, the mother received a phone from the dealership saying that they could look at her car, fix whatever needed to be fixed and throw in a free service. Now that’s a story with a happy ending. Now let’s try one a bit more turbulent, and this one comes from the land of the “stealership”, the United States. (Read More…)
Even with a government-mandated arbitration process in place, the battle between Chrysler and its 789 culled dealers is a low-down, dirty dogfight. Last week, Chrysler sent out letters to all of its rejected dealers, in its attempt to comply with the arbitration law’s disclosure requirements. But, dealers tell Automotive News [sub], those letters are justifications, but not explanations. Absent concrete evidence for why their franchises were closed (something GM has provided to its culled dealers), lawyers for some 65 rejected dealers are fighting back.
Consumer Reports may have discovered why owners of clean diesel cars might feel a bit suicidal from time to time. They recently took a long-term tester Mercedes GL320 BlueTec clean diesel into the shop to have its urea-based AdBlue exhaust-scrubbing fluid refilled, and the results were… eye opening.
The total bill just for adding AdBlue? A stunning $316.99. We were down to 18% full on the additive at 16,566 miles. It took 7.5 gallons to fill the tank, costing an eye-opening $241.50 for the fluid alone. The labor to add the fluid plus tax accounted for the rest. None of this was covered by the warranty… At the current rate and cost of consumption, just the AdBlue itself (without the labor, which would probably be included as part of the routine service) would cost $1,457.80 for 100,000 miles of driving. That’s a lot of money, knocking about a third off of your fuel savings vs. buying a GL450 V8.
And you thought gas was expensive! From what we’ve been able to dig up, the $32/gallon price is a fairly typical price at Mercedes dealers. Are there any Mercedes or Audi clean diesel drivers in the house who can confirm?
You’d have to be a fairly trusting GM dealer to participate in what The General calls its Essential Brand Elements program. After all, it’s just the kind of dealership re-branding exercise that HUMMER dealers were forced into shortly before the brand was consigned to the ash heap of history. And once again, GM is asking dealers to create ideal showcases for its brands while keeping compensation for the renovations on a highly trust-dependent basis. GM wants brand-specific dealership rebrandings complete within three years, but will only pay for them over the next five to ten years reports Automotive News [sub]. And the payments won’t be fixed either, but will rather be tied to the dealer’s annual vehicle shipments using “a seasonally adjusted formula that takes into account the price of the vehicles sold.” According to Chevy’s Sales Manager Kurt McNeil, those payments could “conceivably” cover the recommended changes over the ten-year period. Are you feeling the trust yet? (Read More…)