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Archive for October, 2009

White House Calls Out Blog for Faulty Analysis

Latest right wing foray, this time against Clunkers, meets with another aggressive response from the Executive branch.

by on Oct.30, 2009

Council of Economic Advisors Seal

"In other words, all the other cars were being sold on Mars."

When a blog site declared that the CARS program, aka Cash For Clunkers, cost taxpayers $24,000 per vehicle sold and only 125,000 of the sales were incremental, it was too much for the newly aggressive Obama Administration to ignore publicly.

In a witty and number filled response that referred to the publicity seeking site and an analysis by the Council of Economic Advisors, the White House blog asked viewers to decide for themselves.

Not before using rapier wit and a decidedly better written blog post, that is – so if you “live by the sword, you die by the sword” was the signal to all the bloggers out there.

The White House said, “On the same day that we found out that motor vehicle output added 1.7% to economic growth in the third quarter – the largest contribution to quarterly growth in over a decade – Edmunds.com has released a faulty analysis suggesting that the Cash for Clunkers program had no meaningful impact on our economy or on overall auto sales. This is the latest of several critical ‘analyses’ of the Cash for Clunkers program from Edmunds.com, which appear designed to grab headlines and get coverage on cable TV. Like many of their previous attempts, this latest claim doesn’t withstand even basic scrutiny.

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Sex Please, We’re British?

Forty five percent of Brits admit to four wheel, er, fornication.

by on Oct.30, 2009

Whatever happened to British reserve? And I don’t mean the pound as currency.

Well, if you believe a recent survey, and it is not a p.r. hoax, almost half of the Brits surveyed have engaged in some form of car sex.

While the sexual antics of the Royal Family are well known, the cliché about reticent British attitudes toward amour – note that the French always supply the bon mots in this area not our mother tongue – have long prevailed.

We're Quirky!

We're Quirky!

A significant 45% of Britons surveyed by MadBid.com admit to car shagging. As to why MadBid, claiming to be the UK’s leading penny auction website or their version of eBay, was interested in this topic, we will not speculate.

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Penske Profits From Clunkers

Entrepreneur’s auto group makes big Q3 gains.

by on Oct.30, 2009

On or off the track, Roger Penske has a reputation for turning things to his advantage.

On or off the track, Roger Penske has a reputation for turning things to his advantage.

Roger Penske has a way of turning things to his own advantage.  And the recently-concluded Cash-for-Clunkers program provided him yet another opportunity to work that corporate magic.

The Penske Automotive Group, run by the Detroit-based entrepreneur and motor sports legend, posted a solid 23% increase in third-quarter profits with the federally-funded program, designed to drive up domestic car sales, providing a significant boost.

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Free Subscription!

The group’s net income came to $27.4 million, or 30 cents per share, up from $22.2 million, or 24 cents per share, the year before.  Excluding one-time charges, earnings came to 34 cents a share, a bit ahead of analyst forecasts.  Revenues fell 13%, to $2.6 billion.

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License Plates Now Come Smaller in Texas

DOT approves lower fees for custom license plates.

by on Oct.30, 2009

The fees are still, well, Texas sized.

The fees are still, well, Texas sized.

Today, the Texas Department of Transportation Commission (TxDOT) approved pricing for the re-launch of the so called My Plates program.

My Plates is a private program created by the state legislature to offer Texans more choices in the color and design of their license plates, while at the same time raising money for state services.

In just a few weeks of sales in 2008, about 1300 Texans bought My Plates for their cars, helping the program raise about $170,000 for state programs and services.

The program is said to be popular because it costs taxpayers nothing and offers all Texans a choice in car customizing.

No Fee!

No Fee!

However, the first company awarded the contract to run My Plates ceased operations last fall as the Great Recession took hold.  Ah, the perils of the not so free market.

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Saturn “Look See” Cost Penske Millions

Cutbacks at PAG more than offset the gambit.

by on Oct.30, 2009

Roger Penske’s ill-fated bid for General Motors Saturn brand cost the Penske Automotive Group Inc. $2 million, according to PAG’s latest quarterly financial report filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission.

Penske called off the bid for Saturn when he was unable to conclude a deal with the Renault-Nissan for future product. Penske’s bid to purchase vehicles from Renault’s South Korean subsidiary was vetoed by the Renault board at the last minute.

Overall, PAG reported it net income improved by 25% in the third quarter to $27.4 million or 30 cents per share per share, excluding the $1.9 million spent on the Saturn bid, PAG disclosed.

GM Extends “May Best Car Win” Campaign

Your money back after 60 days is also included.

by on Oct.30, 2009

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Potential buyers have an easy way to thoroughly test drive a new vehicle.

General Motors Company’s “May the Best Car Win” marketing campaign will be extended through January 4, 2009, said Jay Spenchian, executive director, Marketing Strategy. The program was originally due to expire in November.

For potential buyers, the program allows them a relatively easy way to thoroughly test drive a new vehicle, something that is too rare in the high pressure world of auto sales, where “I can give you a better deal if you’re ready to buy now,” is a common tactic.

The ads produced for the promotions scored in the top quartile for all automotive advertising in the last three years in terms of consumer opinion, consideration and relevancy, according to GM’s internal testing data.

While consideration is a necessary precursor to sales, ultimately the results much show in actual metal moved. When October sales are announced next week, some outside indicator of whether GM has stopped its sales and market share decline will be publicly available.

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CTSv Wins Challenge – But Of Course

Lutz comes in seventh.

by on Oct.29, 2009

The 2010 Cadillac CTSv posted six of the seven fastest laps during a take-on-all-comers race at Monticello Motor Club.

The 2010 Cadillac CTSv posted six of the seven fastest laps during a take-on-all-comers race at Monticello Motor Club.

No, we’re not saying the fix was in, but we somehow never really doubted the likely overcome of Bob Lutz’s “Winner Take All” challenge.

The septuagenarian executive had, last month, issued a challenge to all comers that no production sedan could beat the Cadillac CTSv on the track.  And though the various competitors opted to ignore the opportunity, a number of foreign models still found their way to Monticello Motor Club, in mid-New York State, for today’s time trials.

Supercharge Your News!

Supercharge Your News!

With the legendary John Heinricy, winning racer and long-time General Motors test driver behind the wheel, the Caddy super sedan handily posted the best lap time, 2:46.560, and overall, the various folks who manned the CTSv delivered six of the seven best laps.

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Volkswagen Group Q3 Results Down 86%

Germany's largest automaker is struggling with profitability.

by on Oct.29, 2009

Head of Group Design Walter de Silva, left, describes his design philosophy of “Simplicity and character, esthetics and precision” to Dr. Martin Winterkorn, Chairman of Volkswagen Board of Management, right.

Walter de Silva, left, describes his design philosophy of Simplicity to Dr. Martin Winterkorn, Chairman of Volkswagen Board of Management.

Volkswagen Group AG reported a third-quarter after tax profit decline of 86% compared to the year earlier period, as vehicle prices dropped and revenue fell 10%. Net income was €172 million ($255 million), or 43 cents a share, compared €1.21 billion or €3.02 a share a year earlier.

The largest automaker in Europe reported an operating profit of €1.5 billion in the first nine months of this year compared to January – September 2008 profits of €4.9 billion. For Q3, profit was €1.61 million, compared to €1.16 billion a year earlier.

As of September, the Automotive Division’s net cash flow improved to €5.1 billion compared to -€0.1 billion in the year earlier period.

“The Volkswagen Group is holding its own extremely well despite the adverse conditions. While the global market is contracting by 12%, we are recording stable delivery levels. This proves that – even in difficult times – we are well positioned with our multi-brand strategy,” said Dr. Martin Winterkorn, Chairman of Volkswagen Board of Management.

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BMW and SGL Form Carbon Fiber Joint Venture

Goal to produce advanced “Megacity Vehicle” in next decade.

by on Oct.29, 2009

BMW has formed a new joint venture aimed at producing future "Megacity Vehicles," like this concept.

BMW has formed a new joint venture aimed at producing future "Megacity Vehicles," like this high-mileage concept.

BMW has formed a joint venture with SGL Group aimed at developing and producing carbon fiber, a strong yet super-light material that the German automaker plans to use to build its so-called Megacity Vehicle.

Key to the $133 million venture is transforming carbon fiber from a high-cost specialty material used only in the most expensive, limited-volume supercars and making it competitively priced for mass market products, the new partners noted.

BMW announced the Megacity project at its annual meeting, last March.  Targeted for production sometime during the first half of the next decade, CEO Norbert Reithofer described it as “the first of a range of near-zero emission vehicles.”  Also known as project-i, Reithofer said the Megacity program would produce both electric vehicles and those with highly efficient internal combustion engines.

Your Hands Down Winner for News!

Your Hands Down Winner for News!

The first Megacity Vehicle is the battery-powered Mini-E prototype, of which BMW is currently planning to build and field test 500.  Eventually, such models could show up in the various BMW AG brands, including not only Mini but also BMW and possibly even Rolls-Royce.  Reithofer ruled out adding a new brand to the group.

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Chrysler Group Offers Live Mobile TV

Up to 20 channels are available with the new TV option.

by on Oct.29, 2009

Mopar offers live mobile TV with up to 20 channels for Chrysler, Jeep, Dodge Car and Ram truck vehicles.

Mopar offers live TV with up to 20 channels for Chrysler, Jeep, Dodge Car and Ram trucks.

Chrysler Group’s Mopar parts and accessories brand will offer mobile TV broadcasts into Chrysler, Jeep, Dodge Car and Ram Truck vehicles this year.

Chrysler claims to be the first automaker in the United States to offer live mobile TV to consumers with the capacity for as many as 20 channels.

“FLO TV Auto Entertainment” will be available in late December for $629, plus installation, which also includes a one-year subscription. College and professional sports, breaking news, children’s shows, prime time sitcoms, reality TV and daytime dramas are offered.

The latest auto add-on will debut next week at the Specialty Equipment Market Association (SEMA) Show in Las Vegas, Nevada.

FLO TV offers live and time-shifted programming from CBS Mobile, CNBC, Comedy Central, Fox News, MSNBC, MTV, NBC 2Go and Nickelodeon.

The entertainment package will be available as a dealer-installed option on 2008-2010 model year vehicles with factory DVD entertainment systems: Chrysler Town & Country, Jeep Grand Cherokee, Jeep Commander, Dodge Grand Caravan, Dodge Journey, Dodge Nitro, Ram 1500 and Ram 2500/3500.

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