The Cloud

March 28, 2012

Drivers will be able to access media and information from the digital “cloud”.   The auto manufacturers have a goal to make it easy for drivers to access movies, music, e-books, road directions and other internet content available via the Internet from the cloud…instead of storing it on board and having to bring it with them on an MP3 player or smartphone.   Ford and Mercedes have created concept cars with this amazing application.

Are the kids screaming about having to leave home in the middle of watching a movie they downloaded?  With the movie in the cloud, they will be able to pick up where they left off in the back seat of your van!  Or, if the driver is listening to an e-book at home, he can get in his car and pick up at the same spot.

Automakers are moving slowly with this concept in current cars.  Online music services such as Pandora allow people to create their own stations of favorite artists or genres from centrally stored tracks.  They are being brought into cars through systems such as Toyota’s Entune.

Down the road, Ford is envisioning a car that will recognize who is driving with a fingerprint or iris scan.  The car’s cloud-based automotive systems can become intuitive, knowing and applying the driver’s preferences and travel patterns to provide customized information and entertainment.  Ford also envisions a “cloud-optimized” powertrain that learns expected driving and commuting patterns, tracking where they live and work and places they go.

Mercedes showed the technology in Frankfurt recently and says cloud-based technology will eliminate the need to synchronize smartphones or other personal electronics with the car’s systems.  The car will not need them anymore because it would draw all the information and media needed from the cloud.

What will they think of next?   A car that drives itself down the road?

GAS RELIEF?

March 8, 2012

What are some of the best ways to save money on gas?  Of course, the first way is to slow down!   I cannot believe how fast some people are driving on the freeway with the gas price levels where they are.  If you drive 55, instead of 65, you will consume 15% less gas!   If gas is $4.00 per gallon and you are spending $200 per month minimum, like I am, you will save $30 per month just by slowing down!   Imagine if everyone did this; maybe our gas prices would decrease again.  People will not hate you if you are driving slower than they are…just stay in the right lane.

2.  Pay cash and take the discounts:   Many stations will definitely give you a lower price for cash.

3.  Costco has amazing prices!  Plus, you get 15% back on gas purchases if you have a special membership.

4.  Do not idle the car.  If you will be stopped for more than a minute, shut the engine off.  Idling wastes a quart of gasoline every 15 minutes!

5.  Empty your trunk.   A lighter vehicle will burn less gas.

6.  Inflate your tires. 

7.  Plan your trips.   Organize your trips so you will drive less.  Run errands clustered together geographically.

USED CAR “SCAMS”…HOW TO PROTECT YOURSELF

February 9, 2012

Where do I begin? Most people lack time and energy when it comes to used car shopping…..so, they turn to the internet to save time.  Online sites such as Craigslist have created an entire new marketplace of person-to-person private car sales.  Although these websites are convenient and you might be able to find a great deal, you need to be aware of frauds and scams that might exist.

FALSE AUCTIONS:  Sellers may list false information about a vehicle on EBAY or they might post a photo of a vehicle they are not actually selling.  These sellers often use  programs that automatically bid against you when trying to negotiate.  This can drive the price to a higher level than you originally planned to pay.

CAR SHIPMENT SCAMS:  The seller claims that the car is out of town.  They charge an extra fee for shipment or will arrange for shipment upon payment receipt.  Once the money is transferred to the seller’s account, the seller may become impossible to reach.  No such car may have even existed.  Your money will be gone forever.

ESCROW SCAMS:  A common method to pay a seller is to place the funds into an escrow account, such as PayPal.  The money may be placed in the account and accepted by the seller, but you may never hear from the seller again, as he or she may close the account and get away with the money with no way of tracing them. (my brother was a victim of this)

USED CAR DEALER SCAM:  You see a car on Craigslist that you like.  You meet with the person and the car looks great.  Later, you find out that the seller is a used car dealer who is employing Craigslist to sell cars that have been difficult to sell or using a private sale as a way of skirting Federal Trade Commission laws that require a dealer to disclose a car’s history and provide a buyer’s guide.

HOW CAN YOU PROTECT YOURSELF:  

Do not trust sellers when they say the transaction is “guaranteed” by Craigslist, Paypal or other online services.  Call the seller and establish direct contact other than email.  Ask questions about the car, location and pricing…pay attention to the answers.   Never agree to sell a car to someone who refuses to meet face to face.  Buy from someone locally in order to inspect the car and the person selling it.

Do not wire money or use a bank transfer when buying.  Beware of sellers trying to conclude the transaction quickly, since scammers and con artists want to get your payment and clear it before you can check them out or consult a professional.

Try to buy from reputable dealers or through someone you have been referred to.  If you are new to the U.S. and not familiar with the industry, it is important to work through a referral.

Auto Show-Offs

January 20, 2012

There are 3 important new trends to watch for since the automakers are unveiling more than 40 new cars and trucks at the Detroit Auto Show.  Carmakers are going to try to outdo each other this year at the big show.  Here are the trends:

1.  More fuel-efficiency:  If you are looking for a more efficient car, you will have plenty of choices amoung midsize sedans and compacts.  In addition, these cars will be loaded with gadgets.  Ford is unveiling a new version of the best-selling Fusion  this fall.  It will have a warning system to alert drivers when they are drifting into another lane.  Honda is introducing a new Accord coupe and both this car and the Fusion will compete with Chevy’s new Malibu, coming in the spring.  VW will also introduce a new HYBRID Jetta.

2. Small luxury sedans:  Cadillac, BMW and Acura are all unveiling new small cars.  Lincoln will introduce a new MKZ later this year.  The most significant will be the Lexus LF-LC hybrid sports car.

3.  Trendy subcompacts for younger buyers:  Younger buyers expect luxury and connectivity.  New subcompacts will be introduced including the Toyota Prius c hybrid, Mini Roadster convertible, the sporty Chevrolet Sonic RS and a turbo version of the new Hyundai Veloster.  Smart car will introduce an electric pickup truck that is so small it will fit in the bed of a regular truck!

Lots of fun vehicles to watch for! 

 

December Deals and Leasing Information

December 18, 2011

Most people are looking for amazing “deals” year round; however, December seems to be the month where everyone focuses the most on saving money. Mazda and Toyota are 2 brands to consider now, especially Mazda if you are leasing. When you lease, there are 3 important factors to consider: the cap cost, which is the selling price of the vehicle; the money factor, which is  used to calculate the interest portion of the lease payment; and the residual, which is the guaranteed value at the end of the lease. The money factor for Mazda is very low; therefore, you can get alot of car for your money.

Honda has increased production….finally!

July 12, 2011

As you may have read, the Japanese earthquake severely affected Honda inventory levels and now Honda has sent out the following update:

 It is with great pride and confidence that we announce to you today that Honda production levels starting in mid-August will “turn the corner” and the dealers can now expect a major improvement in product availability.

Pilot, Odyssey and CR-V will be the first to return to Honda’s originally planned production levels with other models following.  Even while they continue to have limited capacity, production of Civic and Accord will focus on the “highest” turn rate models – Civic sedan and Accord sedan 4 cylinder. 

 Honda’s manufacturing operations in Japan are returning to nearly normalized levels by the end of summer.  This means their next allocation will include the fuel efficient Fit and Insight.  These vehicles will be produced in July and August with a September arrival here in North America.  

Good news!

WHAT IS GOING ON WITH HONDA VEHICLES?

May 10, 2011

Here is the latest, directly from Honda Motor Corporation….it is not a pretty picture and is due to the Japanese earthquake:

05/02/2011 – TORRANCE, Calif.

(new information in this update appears in boldface type)

May 2, 2011 – 9:00 a.m. PDT

Honda would like to express its deepest sympathy and condolences to the victims of the earthquake in Japan, and our sincere hopes for the earliest possible relief and recovery of the affected areas.

North American Operations

More than 80% of Honda and Acura products sold in the U.S. are produced in North America, and the vast majority of automotive parts for Honda automobiles manufactured in North America are sourced in the region. The following information (in boldface type) updates Honda’s production situation as it impacts the supply of Honda and Acura cars and light trucks to the North American market.

  • Overall automobile production volume will remain at significantly reduced levels as we continue to operate at adjusted levels of production through the summer months. Honda’s goal in North America is to normalize overall production sometime around the end of the year. This recovery will occur step-by-step, and it will vary based on plant and model.  As background, on March 30, Honda began to implement a strategy of temporary adjustments that reduce daily production levels at its North American auto plants as a result of interruptions in parts supplies from Japan in the aftermath of the earthquake and tsunami.
  • Honda remains focused on minimizing the impact to associates and their families, and plans no layoffs at any of its North American facilities.
  • The vast majority of Honda’s parts and materials are sourced here in North America.  However, for global efficiency, a few critical parts continue to be supplied from Japan. Most of Honda’s Japan-based parts suppliers have resumed production. Honda is working with the few suppliers that have yet to resume production to re-establish their operations, while also evaluating additional sources for some parts in the supply chain. Teams throughout North America and global Honda continue to work diligently to overcome these temporary parts flow issues. Honda remains committed to doing what it can to minimize the impact on Honda associates, dealers and customers.
  • As parts supply stabilizes and full auto production resumes, Honda will quickly develop a production schedule to meet the needs of Honda and Acura customers.

Vehicle Availability

Following is a summary of information concerning the impact of the Japan-based parts supply issue on the availability of Honda and Acura vehicles.

  • Production of the all new 2012 Honda Civic will be at significantly reduced levels at least through the summer months. While dealers will continue to receive product, supply will be severely restricted with limited availability of certain models.
  • The fall launch of the all-new 2012 CR-V will be delayed by at least one month. To bridge to the launch of the new model, Honda will extend production of the current 2011 CR-V, which remains the best selling SUV in America. 
  • Approximately 80 percent of the vehicles Honda sells in America are built at Honda plants in North America. Regarding Japan production for the North American market, due to the limited parts supply from Japan, Honda will bring in only a very limited number of Japan-built vehicles for the remainder of the year. This may mean models such as the Honda Fit, CR-Z, Insight and Civic Hybrid, and the Acura TSX, TSX Wagon and RL, will be in very limited supply until later in the year.
  • Due to problems with the supply of Japan-sourced paint pigment that adds a shiny luster, certain colors of vehicles may be in short supply. Honda is working diligently to find a suitable replacement for such paints, or to reconfigure its model line with alternative exterior colors. This situation varies by model and production facility.

Other North American Operations

  • Honda’s power equipment and all-terrain vehicle manufacturing operations to date are operating at normal production levels.

Japan Operations

Following is the current outlook for the impact of the major March 11 earthquake in Northeastern Japan on Honda Motor Co., Ltd’s automobile production operations within Japan.

  • Concerning production in Japan of finished units and parts for overseas production, production volume will remain at approximately 50% of the original production plan until the end of June. As the supply of parts remains fluid, decisions concerning production from July on will be made step-by-step while monitoring the situation, toward the expected normalization of production in Japan before the end of 2011.
  • On April 11, Honda resumed limited production of finished automobiles throughout Japan at approximately 50% of the original production plan, bringing all Honda auto plants in Japan back into production. On April 4, Honda Motor began limited production of component parts for North American plants at several Honda plants in Japan.
  • However, since the component situation remains fluid, production of parts resumed at approximately 50% of the original production plan. Honda will carefully manage the situation and manage its operation accordingly.
  • Honda will continue to make decisions based on the status of the recovery of Japanese society as a whole as well as the supply of parts. There are still many questions relating to the supply of parts manufactured by other suppliers in Japan and shipped directly from suppliers in Japan to Honda’s suppliers in North America. 
  • While most of our Japan-based suppliers have resumed production, there are a few suppliers that have yet to resolve the challenge to resume their production. In those cases, Honda is working with its suppliers to help reestablish their operations, while evaluating other possible sources for those parts in the supply chain. Please understand that Honda is making every effort to work toward a full recovery as quickly as possible. We appreciate everyone’s understanding during these challenging times.
  • On March 28, Honda resumed motorcycle and power products production at Kumamoto Factory.
  • Honda is exerting a company-wide effort to normalize our production as soon as possible. We deeply regret any inconvenience experienced by our customers and ask for their understanding during these challenging times.

Recovery of Operations in the Tochigi Area

  • The impact of the earthquake was more severe at the Tochigi Factory (Moka, Tochigi), however, repair and inspection activities were completed for almost all facilities and equipment.
  • At other operations, including the Automobile R&D Center (Tochigi) of Honda R&D Co., Ltd. and Honda Engineering Co., Ltd., associates who will work on the restoration started returning to work. However, based on the expectation that it will take several months until the complete recovery of these facilities, Honda has temporarily transferred some functions such as automobile product development, development of manufacturing technologies and procurement to Honda operations in other locations such as Sayama, Suzuka, and Wako.
  • Honda is cooperating with electricity conservation efforts and rolling blackout measures, prioritizing the relief and recovery of affected areas.

 Aid

With the hope to contribute to the earliest possible relief and recovery of affected areas, Honda will provide the following aid:

  • From Honda in Japan, 300 million yen (approximately $3.7 million) toward the relief and recovery effort.
  • A total of 1,000 generators (gasoline-powered and home-use gas canister-powered), along with a total of 13,000 gas canisters.
  • The Honda family of companies in North America has established special matching gift programs for their associates for donations to the Red Cross to aid the victims of the earthquake and tsunami in Japan. Donations from associates will be matched on a dollar-for-dollar basis, with no personal or corporate donation limit. Honda employs more than 29, 000 associates in North America. In addition, American Honda has established a special website to channel donations to the American Red Cross* from customers, suppliers and others interested in supporting the Japan disaster recovery effort through the Red Cross. Originally established to accept donations from Honda and Acura automobile dealers, and Honda motorcycle and power equipment dealers, Honda opened the site to the public who may wish to donate, To date, the Honda Associate matching gift program and the “Friends of Honda” campaign through the Red Cross have raised more than $800,000.  Honda would like to sincerely thank everyone for their support of this important effort. http://american.redcross.org/hondaacura-emp

This is a very fluid situation, so we are not able to provide more detailed information at this time. We will communicate further details as they are confirmed and become available. Thank you for your continued patience and understanding.

The following vehicles we build in North America are supported primarily by our base of 600-plus North American first-tier suppliers:

Marysville, Ohio Honda Accord, Honda Accord Coupe, Acura TL, Acura RDX

East Liberty, Ohio Honda CR-V, Honda Element, Honda Accord Crosstour

Greensburg, Ind. Honda Civic Sedan, Honda Civic GX natural gas

Lincoln, Alabama Honda Odyssey, Honda Pilot, Honda Ridgeline

Alliston, Ontario Honda Civic (Sedan, Coupe, Si) Acura MDX, Acura ZDX.

El Salto, Mexico Honda CR-V

Honda Fit, Insight, CR-Z, Civic Hybrid, Acura TSX and Acura RL are produced in Japan for the North American market. Honda produces a small percentage of CR-Vs in Japan for the U.S. as well.

Honda’s operations in North America and globally will do everything they can to support the recovery of Honda’s operations in Japan. Honda and Acura products are made in North America using domestic and globally-sources parts.

*The American Red Cross name and emblem are used with its permission, which in no way constitutes an endorsement, express or implied, of any product, service, company, opinion or political position. For more information about the Red Cross, please visit www.redcross.org.

New Car Shortage Imminent…Time to Buy is NOW

April 8, 2011

If you are looking for a new car and believe you will find a better “deal” by waiting until the end of this model year, you may be mistaken. Due to the Japanese earthquake, we are starting to experience a shortage of inventory and the scenario will get worse.  Many dealers are already concerned about their new vehicle allocations and predict that pricing will “spike” rapidly.  Mazda could cut global production by 600,000 vehicles and with manufacturers uncertain about when their plants will resume full production, the figure is likely to increase further.

Japanese -made parts are used all over the world and Toyota may also lower production at its pick-up plant in San Antonio, Texas as soon as this week. 
Toyota is the world’s largest vehicle maker and they have already lost output of 140,000 cars, with Honda losing production of 46,600 cars and trucks.  MAZDA HAS SUSPENDED ORDERS FROM U.S. DEALERS BECAUSE OF THE DISRUPTION CAUSED TO THE SUPPLY OF ESSENTIAL VEHICLE PARTS.

Vehicle paint is also in short supply after production of the pigment Xirallic was disrupted at a plant in Japan owned by Merck.  This has lead to some manufacturers having to suspend orders for vehicles in certain shades of black and red.

Prices on pre-owned vehicles could also continue to increase since more buyers may turn to used vehicles if they cannot obtain a new vehicle at the price they expect to pay.  So, if you plan to wait, you might be prepared to spend additional money, rather than saving money.

Toyota Is Boosting Production!!

June 28, 2010

Toyota has its Mississippi project on track and their North American plants are approaching full production capacity, so now they are ready for the demand!!   The idled shifts have been restored and the line speed is increasing.   Since industry sales decreased in 2008 and 2009, Toyota had to decrease production.  In December, 2008, due to the poor economy, Toyota suspended work on its new plant in Mississippi.   Today, with the economy improving, the manufacturer plans to build 10 to 15 percent more vehicles in 2010 than in 2009.   The Mississippi plant will make Corollas beginning in the fall of 2011.  Tacoma pickups will be produced in San Antonio, Texas.

Toyota is forecasting slow but steady growth in U.S. sales and production, rising to an annual amount of approximately 1 million units during the middle of the decade.   Even with their optimistic attitude, they do not plan to let production capacity get ahead of sales.

Why Are Used Cars So Expensive Now?

June 28, 2010

Can you really purchase a new vehicle now for almost the same price as a late model used vehicle? Absolutely!!   Why is this happening?   New car sales have been down during the past 2 years, which has resulted in fewer trades available at the dealerships.   The law of supply and demand indicates that when supply is low and demand is high, prices will increase.

At the dealer auctions, which is the place where many dealers go to buy and sell their vehicles, prices are up significantly throughout the United States.  So, if you think you are able to “steal” a used car, you might want to think again.

For some late-model vehicles, prices are now bumping up against the ceiling imposed by new vehicle prices.  With new vehicle inventory levels at historic lows, however, that ceiling has not been as rigid as in the past.  There are also fewer lease originations and rental fleet reductions, which lead to a shortage of inventory.


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