Teen car culture is dying a swift death, The Atlantic claims, but Jaguar Land Rover’s head of product strategy feels the youngsters of today will eventually outgrow their desire for hassle-free autonomous commute pods.
As a great Jaguar print ad in the 1990s once stated, “Live Vicariously Through Yourself.”
In Hanno Kirner’s mind, this mantra will guide more than a few Millennials to take over the driving duties and indulge their innermost desires. It had better.
For most people, not having a brand new car sort of budget can mean scrounging around on AutoTrader, Cars.com, eBay, or even the ever-professional Craigslist for used vehicles. The resulting experiences end up shaping the future of our car ownership, our finances, and perhaps our legal situations in some cases.
Today we want you to know about your sketchiest used car buying experience.
It’ll be another 24 hours before the nation’s automakers release March sales figures, all thanks to the Easter long weekend. Shaking off the effects of a chocolate bunny induced sugar high takes a day or two, after all.
This means, at most dealers, last month’s subvented rates still apply — so, if you’re looking at snagging a 2017 model, it might not be a bad idea to lock the deal down today. Shoppers of MY2018 machines can relax, as the deals on those rides will likely be better tomorrow morning … especially if it’s a vehicle that was majorly reworked for 2019.
Until then, we have time to peruse a story from Bloomberg, one which pontificates on the sudden evaporation of subprime new car buyers from showrooms in the month of March.
Evaporation? I thought there was a glut of them! Let’s dig into the report.
A week or two ago, a friend dropped me a line on GChat (oh sorry, it’s Hangouts now). She told me she and her husband were expecting their first child and they were going to trade one of their cars for a crossover/SUV. She wanted my recommendations.
I tossed out the usual suspects in the two-row and three-row categories (and in the $20K-$40K price range), based on what I’ve driven. I also mentioned a few models I have yet to drive that have been highly recommended throughout the automotive press.
I was intentionally a little vague because, as I told her, the final decision would come down to variables unique to her and her husband – what they feel is best for their finances, how they both like driving each individual car, their styling preferences, what features they want, et cetera. But a day later, something popped into my head. I realized I hadn’t considered a key factor: the brand, or more accurately, the brand/dealer experience.
After hitting it big with the Fab Four, George Harrison wrote the scathing song Taxman in protest of the British government’s “Super Tax” on high-income earners. At the time, the boys faced a 95 percent tax on their earnings (“There’s one for you, nineteen for me”), and Harrison reportedly did everything he could to offshore his wealth.
Britain’s dismal weather wasn’t the only reason rock musicians fled the country during this period.
In beautiful British Columbia, a mountain- and wine-filled area north of Seattle, the provincial government’s recent budget has some auto dealers steaming mad and worried their customers will hit the road in search of deal. The province’s New Democratic Party government, elected last year, plans to levy a 25 percent tax on the purchase of very high-end vehicles, with lesser models facing a 20-percent markup. However, many dealers wonder where the law of diminishing returns comes into play.
It’s not fair to say there’s no truth in advertising; commercials often show vehicles driving in a straight line down a dry road, and we all know they can do that. Only the most gullible among us thinks a new muscle car will improve their love life faster than Billy Dee Williams can crack open a can of Colt 45.
All too often, smokin’ deals do not await shoppers who leave the house without reading the fine print. And even that fine print can hide whether you’re actually getting a bargain. With President’s Day coming up on Monday, here’s a few examples of juicy car promotions that are sure to waste someone’s time.
A guest showed up at the apartment yesterday, ready and prepared for when things got hot. No, stop thinking that, you weirdos — it was my landlord. He was replacing my smoke detectors. God.
Nice guy, I should point out, certainly the best landlord I’ve ever had. Anyway, as tends to happen with this fellow, we got to talking about cars. Also per the norm, he found himself on the fence regarding a purchasing dilemma — one that’s no doubt familiar to many readers.
There are few things sweeter in life than bragging to your friends and family about the good deal you just negotiated on a new car. They certainly won’t care, but the amount of self-satisfaction received from reminding yourself that you are a force to be reckoned with at the dealership is immeasurable.
Of course, the bargain in the driveway can turn into a money pit once you calculate all the costs associated with vehicle ownership. Fuel costs, financing, insurance, and depreciation can all add up — especially if you purchased the wrong model. So what’s a thrift-obsessed shopper to do, calculate the total cost of ownership on every model in every segment over a five-year period to determine which is the best value overall?
Don’t be ridiculous, someone has already done that.
It pains me greatly, dear readers, to say what I’m about to say. Those of you who regularly follow my writing know how I lean when it comes to politics. However, given the current state of the auto dealership world, I have no choice. I gotta admit it — I agree with Elizabeth Warren on something.
Good ol’ P…er, Senator Warren and I both agree that there needs to be more oversight of the automotive lending business. Part of my day job is to educate new automotive advertising sales representatives about the car sales industry, and when I get to the part of the day where I tell them about how the Finance and Insurance office works, I always give them the following warning:
“Guys, if you don’t know about how car loans work, you’re about to get very, very angry.”
So I’ll give you the same warning, friends. I’m going to share about the predatory lending practices that go on behind the scenes, and I’ll tell you what I think should be done to stop it.
“We’re dirty, yeah, but so are the dealers. We’re all dirty in this business.”
The petite, honest-faced young lady sitting across from me at my lunch table doesn’t look like a predator. To be fair, she isn’t. She just works for a company that’s one of the biggest subprime lenders in the country, with offices in several states. By the time a dealer calls them for a loan, they’ve already tried every traditional bank and credit union in their Rolodex.
And in exchange for a delicious burrito, she agreed to meet with me and pull back the kimono on the subprime auto lending business in the United States, a business which many in the financial sector believe to be the next big bubble.
I have a lot of questions, and she’s more than willing to answer them. I ask what sorts of credit scores they’ll approve.
“We can pretty much approve any credit score. I just approved a 413 beacon score the other day. Of course, it was a 25 percent loan. Credit is really just one piece of the puzzle,” Elizabeth* (not her real name) explains to me. “Sure, we pull TransUnion and Equifax, but we’re also looking at their obligations versus their verifiable income. Medical bills don’t count. It’s just rent plus whatever else is on their credit report.”
“Sure,” I say. “That makes sense.”
“Of course,” she continues between small bites of burrito, “if they’ve just stopped paying a bill, something other than another car loan, we don’t count that bill as part of their monthly obligations. Nobody pays student loans. They’ll have like five or six loans and won’t have paid a damn dime in months. So we don’t worry about those.”
Hang on. It gets weirder. And better.
It sounds like a sci-fi novel, or maybe even a Fredrick Forsyth knockoff written during the Seventies heyday of Cold War action/adventure books: Six Months of the Equinox. You can imagine the plot, right? Something happens to freeze the planet’s orbit at a certain point. The seasons stop. Mayhem ensues. There’s a machine that might be able to restart the orbit, but a cabal of Russian oligarchs makes a plan to seize it. Only one man — let’s call him Chest Rockwell — can save us.
The reality behind the title is nearly as frightening: It’s the half-year that my current wife, known to all and sundry as Danger Girl even though (SPOILER ALERT) she is actually old enough to vote, traded in one of her Tahoes for a Chevrolet crossover in an attempt to balance her budget. This is the kind of thing that I typically associate with bubbleheads who can’t do math, but Danger Girl is a CPA with extensive financial training. Was she right to do it? It’s a relevant question, because — as you’ll see below — it’s one that we could all be asking ourselves three years from now.
Last week I asked the B&B about the worst L they ever took on a car or bike deal. To my surprise, a lot of readers were forthcoming about not always being steely-eyed cash-purchase Vanguard Funds billionaires who always make salespeople cry and who get loans that are so good the bank actually pays them interest. To those of you who responded with a story or a description: THANK YOU for putting just a tiny little pebble in the way of the Internet Tough Guy steamroller.
This week we’re going to let the braggarts and the Dave Ramsey disciples and the Rich-Dad-Poor-Dad types have a word. Of course, it would also be nice to hear real things from real people. The subject is: What’s the best deal you ever made on a car (or motorcycle, or both)? I’ll kick it off.
It’s among the most prolific stereotypes of the automotive world. The shady used car salesman. Often pictured standing next to an overvalued Kia Sephia (a “smokin’ deal!”) while wearing a loud sport coat and white belt, the specter of these fly-by-night fraudsters have plagued reputable dealers for decades.
In Oshawa, Ontario, a city best known for housing General Motors’ Canadian headquarters and a former TTAC managing editor, one such criminal just met his fate. How sweet it must be for the poor buyer he swindled.
Automakers are throwing everything they currently have at the wall to see what sticks. The concept of “mobility” is now so broad that it encompasses automation, electrification, vehicle connectivity, alternative modes of transportation, driving aids, ride-sharing, ride-hailing, and even subscription services — and plenty of companies are giving them all a shot.
Last week, we talked about Volvo’s new car subscription service. Most of us had difficulties rationalizing the price based on how the product is being offered. A lot of companies are testing those waters right now, especially luxury brands. Lincoln recently launched a subscription initiative that is extremely similar to Cadillac’s, and Porsche has been buzzing about its own “Passport” service. However, mainstream brands like Ford and Hyundai are also trying their hand — albeit very differently.
Black Friday, the strange and alluring date that compels companies to push certain deals in a bid to firm up the bottom line, doesn’t end when the clock strikes twelve. Nor do the savings only apply to bizarrely non-car-related items that can leave readers of certain websites scratching their heads. Automakers, for example, regularly push Black Friday savings through to the end of the month.
With a handful of days remaining, there’s no shortage of car companies ready and willing to dent your new vehicle’s hood with a bag of cash. So, if you’re in the market, put down that bamboo oil diffuser and let your mind (and wallet) roam. Here’s what might be on offer at your local dealer.