Archive for April, 2011
The Chevrolet Corvette is one of the most famous models in existence, and each year General Motors keeps making adjustments. The 2012 version of the vehicle isn't a complete redesign, but it does feature a number of upgrades over the 2011 version that drivers may want to consider.
This year, GM has focused on upgrading the interior of the Corvette for a more pleasurable driving experience. The optional Bose audio system has been upgraded from seven speakers to nine, and buyers can also upgrade to a technology package that includes Bluetooth connectivity and a USB port. Comfort has been addressed as well, with a brand-new seat featuring padded armrests.
"We constantly strive to make the Corvette a better car on the road and the track," said Tadge Juechter, Corvette chief engineer. "For 2012, the Corvette lineup achieves its highest performance level ever, while at the same time being easier to drive and enjoy thanks to several changes and new features inside the car."
Chrysler has announced that it is finally paying back the nearly $7.5 million dollars that it owes the U.S. and Canadian governments after accepting bailout loans during the economic recession.
With the company on the verge of going under, Chrysler was forced to accept the money to stay afloat. However, the loans came with high interest rates of nearly 12 percent, which were causing Chrysler to lose more than $1 billion each year.
In order to avoid paying that extra cash and get out from debt with the government, Chrysler has secured a refinancing package funded by several major banks. Under the terms of the deal, the banks will pay off Chrysler's debt in full, effectively ending the automaker's bailout. Chrysler will still be in debt to the banks, but will presumably be enjoying a significantly lower interest rate on the loan.
Paying off the debt owed to the government was one of Fiat's key goals for Chrysler when it assumed control of the automaker. Now that the company is no longer in debt to the government, Fiat will be able to increase its stake in the company to a majority share.
Ford has been studying buying trends lately in order to improve its offerings, and one of the areas that the company has looked closely at is how the color of a vehicle factors into a driver's decision.
The company found that the vast majority of consumers in America and Europe played it quite safe with their choices – white, black, silver and gray are the most popular color selections. Yet it's not completely true across the board – tastes vary a bit depending on the region.
For example, silver and gray are the top choice for big cities such as Los Angeles and New York. Black is king in Boston, while white is the top color for San Francisco. Tastes vary in Europe as well: Ireland prefers silver, Denmark likes black, and both French and Italian drivers are fans of tan.
Some places buck the trend of grayscale-inspired car colors and branch out into the rainbow. The Czech Republic, for example, is the only country studied to break out of the gray/black/white/silver mold, as drivers in this country generally buy blue. Red is very popular in the American midwest, while Philadelphia and Pittsburgh drivers "go green."
Drivers in the market for auto loans have a wide variety of sources to choose from when attempting to secure financial assistance. Whether they go to a bank, credit union or the dealer themselves, getting a loan is a pretty simple process, even for those with poor credit.
If you've already got a loan, however, you should keep in mind that it's always possible to refinance your loans and receive more favorable terms. The term "refinance" can conjure up images of mountains of paperwork for some people, as the term is typically associated with the mortgage industry. Contrary to popular belief, however, refinancing in the auto industry is much, much easier.
Refinancing can be very useful for drivers with bad credit. For example, if you have less than stellar credit, you'll slowly but surely build your score as you make the payments on your car loan. As your score rises and negative marks fall off your credit report, you could end up with a much better score down the line. This is where refinancing can be really helpful.
Take a five-year auto loan as an example. Good payments over the first two years will likely repair your credit score substantially, at which point you can begin shopping for refinancing options. The terms that are now available to you will likely be a big step up from the previous interest rates, meaning you'll be able to save a boatload of money for the final three years of the loan.
Refinancing is still applicable even if rates haven't gone down or your credit score hasn't improved. If you feel like you're spending too much money paying off your car loan each month, you can actually lower your monthly payment simply by extending the terms of the loan. By adding an extra year or two, you'll end up with more money each month.
Finally, choosing to refinance can essentially serve as a "do-over" to the initial loan. Dealers make a lot of money off of their financing departments, and some can be less-than-reputable, offering inflated interest rates or unfavorable terms. If you feel like you've been taken advantage of, refinancing can ensure that you get a much more reasonable rate.
When you've chosen a vehicle and are ready to talk financing, consider New Jersey State Auto Auction. Not only do they offer a wide variety of cars for sale, but they offer trustworthy auto loans at competitive rates and work with borrowers with all types of credit scores.
Mercedes-Benz has announced the pricing for three of its upcoming models, and as you might have expected, they're not cheap.
The 2012 SLK and CLS coupes are on the way, and they'll be fetching a pretty penny. The SLK350 is the cheapest of the lot at $54,800, while the CLS550 is priced at $71,300. Neither approaches the CLS63 AMG however, which will sell for a whopping $94,000.
All three models have significant upgrades for the 2012 model year. The SLK features a new V6 engine with direct injection and multispark ignition. Both versions of the CLS will be sporting a new V8 engine: a 4.6-liter and 5.5-liter, respectively. The larger version reportedly produces a staggering 518 horsepower and 516 lb-ft of torque for the CLS63 AMG, according to USA Today.
The prices on these cars might be high, but there's no denying that they're great vehicles. Drivers who want to get in a luxury vehicle without breaking the bank may want to wait for the cars to hit the used auto market. New Jersey State Auto Auction has a wide selection of used Mercedes and other vehicles at affordable prices.
Customers who buy a Nissan Leaf or Chevy Volt can now drive not only knowing that they're helping the environment, but that they're also in a very safe vehicle.
Both electric cars received the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety's (IIHS) coveted "Top Safety Pick" award, which puts them in the top 57 percent of vehicles tested. Both vehicles posted strong marks in front, side and rear crash tests.
Joe Nolan, chief administrative officer for the test, said that the vehicles' extra body mass and weight of their battery packs made them overall safer vehicles compared to similarly-sized hatchbacks and compacts.
"What powers the wheels is different, but the level of safety for the Volt and Leaf is as high as any of our other top crash test performers," he told Reuters.
The IIHS is underwritten by insurance companies and primarily provides them with data on the safety of a vehicle so that the insurers can adjust their premiums accordingly.
The Volt and Leaf are still pricey, so drivers might be better served by waiting for them to hit the used car market before they make their purchase. Once they do, New Jersey State Auto Auction can provide a fair deal on the two models or any other vehicles that a driver may be considering.
Japanese automaker Nissan is recalling 196,000 American used SUVs for a potential flaw in the steering column that could cause it to wear down and potentially crack over time.
According to the company, the recall affects used Nissan Pathfinders from 1996 through 2004 and Infiniti QX4 models from 1997 through 2003. Road salt can build up over time in the steering assembly and cause corrosion, which may potentially trigger the entire column to break.
"The strut housing may crack and pull away from the inner hood ledge assembly," Nissan said in an NHTSA filing. "This may lead to grinding noises, increased steering effort, and possibly the steering column to break, resulting in the loss of steering control, which could result in a crash."
Nearly 163,000 Pathfinders and 33,000 QX4s were recalled as part of the notice. Additional units were recalled in Canada, bringing the North American total up to 271,000 vehicles.
Nissan will inspect and fix the problem free of charge. The company says that for the problem to affect a driver, they would have to ignore a very noticeable grinding noise for an extended period of time.
Drivers interested in a used Nissan or any other vehicle may want to consider New Jersey State Auto Auction, which offers a wide range of models to choose from at affordable prices.
Stock analysts are predicting big gains for Ford when the automaker officially announces its first-quarter earnings tomorrow, as the company is expected to do well on the back of its fuel-efficient vehicles.
According to an average of three analysts compiled by Bloomberg, the automaker is expected to report earnings of $2.1 billion for the first quarter, which would be the largest gain to open a year since 1998. Through the first three months, the company's sales are up a reported 15.9 percent compared to 2010, due largely to rising gas costs.
"With the fuel prices moving up, we now have the vehicles that people want," Ford CEO Alan Mullaly told the news source. "The largest vehicles are slowing down a little bit, but all these smaller ones from Ford are now available."
Examples of models that have sold well during the first few months include the Explorer, one of the top SUVs in term of fuel economy, and the Fiesta hatchback, which is rated at 40 miles per gallon on the highway.
Drivers in the market for a fuel-efficient car may want to shop New Jersey State Auto Auction, which offers a wide range of used Fords and other brands. Many of the newer models can be found lightly-used and at significant discounts off their retail price.
Toyota has issued a statement warning consumers and dealers that its production levels will likely not return to normal until November or December, as the fallout from the Japanese earthquake continues to take its toll.
The automaker says that its factories in Japan are currently operating at 50 percent of their normal output, while American plants are at 30 percent. The primary reason is a lack of parts: many suppliers that the automaker relied upon were heavily damaged in the earthquake. While Toyota's plants were largely spared by the disaster, getting the parts to make the vehicles has proven difficult.
"To all the customers who made the decision to buy a vehicle made by us, I sincerely apologize for the enormous delay in delivery," Akio Toyoda, the company president, said in the statement. "Our entire company is committed to solving the problems before us so that we can achieve production recovery even one day sooner."
The shortage could cause vehicle prices to spike over the summer when cars are in short supply. If you're in the market for a vehicle, you may want to consider buying now. New Jersey State Auto Auction offers a wide variety of cars for sale at affordable prices.
Chrysler already teamed up with hip-hop star Eminem for their memorable Super Bowl commercial where they debuted the Chrysler 200, so which music industry icon is next on their list?
Turns out its Dr. Dre, Eminem's original mentor, who will be teaming up with the brand through his audio company, Beats. The new 2012 Chrysler 300S will feature a Beats by Dr. Dre audio system installed in the car.
Yet Chrysler didn't just outsource the production of an audio system to the company. Dre and record producer Jimmy Iovine worked side-by-side with engineers at the automaker to develop a ten-speaker system specifically for the vehicle. That means drivers will be getting exceptional acoustic quality that Chrysler says attempts to replicate the sound producers hear in the studio.
"Beats By Dr. Dre has always been about restoring the emotional music connection between an artist and the listener, and Chrysler vehicles beginning with the Chrysler 300S will let drivers hear music the way the artists intended, replicating the feel and the sound that artists and producers work so hard to achieve," said Iovine.
Drivers interested in a used Chrysler or any other vehicle may want to consider New Jersey State Auto Auction, which offers a wide range of cars for sale – some with killer sound systems of their own.
After months of speculation, the 2011 World Car of the Year was announced at the New York International Auto Show, with the all-electric Nissan Leaf taking home the top prize.
The Leaf had some tough competition, as it went up against two luxury heavyweights in the form of the Audi A8 and BMW 5 Series. When the votes were tallied, however, it was the electric compact that was standing tall.
"It is a great joy that the world's first, mass-marketed electric vehicle, the Nissan Leaf, has won the prestigious award," said Nissan CEO Carlos Ghosn.
Nissan's first EV, along with the Chevrolet Volt, have garnered quite a bit of attention as the first mass-produced electric vehicles. But of the two, the Leaf is more dedicated to the concept of electric power. The Volt has a gas generator that kicks in at high speeds or when the motor runs out of juice, but the Leaf functions solely on electricity.
The Leaf was released in the U.S. in December, but is still only available in limited quantities. Nissan plans to ramp up production in the coming months to meet demand.
Drivers in the market for a fuel-efficient vehicle will likely consider the leaf, but it comes with quite the price tag even after a federal tax credit. Buyers might be better served waiting till it hits the used car market.
Drivers looking for a fuel-efficient vehicle have been flocking to the Chevrolet Cruze Eco, which is a special package available on the regular Cruze compact. Essentially, this upgrade adds extra features like air shutters to improve the vehicle's fuel efficiency.
The idea has been successful for GM, so the automaker is now looking to bring "Eco" packages to other models. First up is the recently-unveiled 2013 Chevy Malibu. The car recently debuted at the Shanghai International Auto Show, but already the automaker has announced that the Malibu will be available with the Eco packages.
Outfitting the Cruze with the Eco trim level bumps the highway miles per gallon up to 42, but Chevy doesn't believe that the Malibu will crack 40 mpgs with its highway rating. Instead, the automaker revealed that it is expecting EPA-rated mileage of 38 on the highway and 26 in the city for the Malibu Eco.
And unlike the Cruze version, the Eco won't be using air shutters to achieve the higher rating. Instead, it will be getting a battery system that will technically turn it into a hybrid, although these types of cars are referred to as "mild hybrids."
Lexus has been the king of the luxury sales charts in the U.S. for the past five years, but it appears that 2011 could see a new leader when all is said and done.
Toyota's luxury brand seemed invincible at one point, but last year's recall scandal hurt the brand's image in the eyes of many consumers. It still wasn't enough to topple Lexus completely, but it did allow Mercedes-Benz and BMW to make a late charge at the end of the year.
That trend continued into 2011, and both of the German automakers have outsold Lexus thus far this year. What may seal Lexus' fate, however, is a circumstance entirely out of Toyota's control – the Japanese earthquake. Mercedes and BMW have been largely unaffected by the disaster, but Lexus has already told dealers to begin preparing for severe shortages over the next few months.
Essentially, this means that even if Lexus was selling well at the moment, it might not have enough supply to keep up with its German counterparts. These signs point to either BMW or Mercedes – or possibly both – surpassing Lexus before the year is done.
Drivers interested in a used BMW, Mercedes or Lexus may want to consider New Jersey State Auto Auction. These luxury vehicles can be a bit on the expensive side, but shopping the used car market can help drivers score a great deal.
The move is not entirely unexpected, as the 500 dealers were reportedly told back in October that the automaker was looking to cut 175 of them. The closings are ostensibly to make the remaining Lincoln dealers stronger by reducing competition among themselves. Bloomberg reports that more than 100 dealers have already been cut, according to a source familiar with the situation.
Ford's trimming of the dealer network is part of a larger plan to bring the Lincoln brand back to prominence. Of Ford's many brands, Lincoln was the only one to survive the company's restructuring, as Mercury was discontinued and Jaguar and Volvo were sold off. Ford has repeatedly stated that it hopes to revitalize Lincoln with a new lineup of vehicles that will make it more competitive against other luxury automakers.
However, those plans have yet to come to fruition. Sales figures for 2011 so far show Lincoln down by approximately 11 percent, while the rest of the industry is enjoying a 20 percent spike in sales on average.
The recent uptick in fuel costs has caused the prices on many used car models to soar as of late, especially compact cars with good fuel economy ratings.
According to data from Edmunds reported by MSNBC, the price of a used Honda Accord has gone up significantly since September, with a purported price increase of 24 percent. Used Hyundai Sonatas are also up in price, with an average jump of 22 percent. Other big movers include the Honda Civic at 13 percent and the Nissan Sentra at 12 percent.
"Gas prices are definitely starting to ripple in the used car market right now," Bill Visnic, an analyst for Edmunds, told the news source.
The news may not inspire much confidence in drivers considering a used vehicle, but analysts believe that the recent trend is just the tip of what could eventually be a much larger surge in small car prices. In the past, seeing the price of fuel reach above $4 per gallon tends to send consumers into a panic, trading in their large vehicles for smaller ones. The price has already been above $4 in some parts of the country, but the national average is still at $3.80 – meaning small car prices could go higher still if costs continue to rise.
In addition, the recent Japanese earthquake may mean a shortage of vehicles over the summer, making the future appear a bit bleak pricing-wise. Many dealers are already preparing to have a reduced supply of cars for sale, meaning that incentives are drying up and prices may begin climbing in anticipation of the shortfall.
Of course, for those who can weather the low fuel economy, this can be a great time to get a deal on a used SUV or sports car. It's true you might be paying a bit more at the pump while the prices remain high, but if you end up with significant savings on the initial deal, it'll be worth it in the long run.
In essence, it might be smart for drivers considering the purchase of a used car to buy as soon as possible, before the prices start to go up even further. Shopping at New Jersey State Auto Auction can ensure that you get a fair deal no matter what the national pressures may be. Financing is available for those who qualify, and there is a wide selection of cars for sale no matter if you're looking for an SUV or small car.
Even those who have never taken an economics course knows that any business is ultimately based off of the law of supply and demand. With the recent Japanese earthquake wreaking havoc on Japanese automakers and car parts manufacturers, it seems like the "supply" aspect of the equation could be in great jeopardy over the next few months – leading to a demand that could send prices soaring.
Nearly every dealer seems to use the phrase "now is a great time to buy." In fact, the slogan is so often repeated that it's essentially lost all meaning to most buyers. However, now really is a good time to buy for those seeking a vehicle, before the effects from the earthquake really start to take their toll. Most dealers have a supply of cars that will last them through April and May. But with production slowing down or ceasing completely at several major automakers, many analysts are predicting shortages over the summer. The situation is not restricted to Japanese vehicles either – many domestic models source their parts from Japan, so they're expecting slowdowns as well.
"If you need a vehicle, buy right now," Edmunds president Jeremy Anwyl told USA Today. "Look for the vehicles that are available and have incentives to get a good deal… If you can wait until fall, the pricing will be better."
So with prices likely to rise over the summer, it's a good time to buy a car, but it's also looking like it will be an excellent time to trade in a vehicle. Dealers are fully aware that they may be seeing reduced inventories over the next few months, so they'll be looking to secure cars that they can resell over that time period. That could potentially lead to a higher price for your trade-in.
Of course, the normal rules of trading in your car still apply. Be sure to utilize pricing guides like Kelley Blue Book to determine what your car is worth, and don't be afraid to negotiate. In addition, keep the discussion about the trade and your potential vehicle purchase completely separate. Many dealers will raise the price of the car that they're selling you while seemingly offering a great deal on your trade. Keep the two figures separate. In fact, Edmunds recommends not even revealing that you have a trade until after you've locked down a price for the car.
With some savvy shopping and a little elbow grease, you can get a great price on a new or used car as well as an excellent deal on your trade-in. When you're ready to buy, head down to New Jersey State Auto Auction for a great selection of vehicles and fair trade-in prices.
Chrysler has announced that it will be bringing natural gas-powered vehicles to the U.S. by 2017, possibly utilizing technology already being used by its parent company, Fiat, in Europe.
The automaker reportedly sees the technology as a strong alternative to the hybrid and electric vehicles that many automakers are currently producing. Chrysler says that natural gas-powered vehicles are cheaper to produce and could potentially reduce emissions even further than electric models.
"The technology is very actively being worked on," Bob Lee, Chrysler’s vice president for engine and electrified propulsion systems, told Bloomberg. "It's a good way for some diversity in the market in terms of fuel use."
Currently, the only natural gas vehicle in the U.S. is the Honda Civic GX, although its only available in limited markets. Honda claims that the vehicle is more affordable and has longer range than electric competitors. Fiat, which owns a majority stake in Chrysler, sells multiple natural gas vehicles in Europe, as do other automakers.
Barriers to widespread adoption of natural gas models include a lack of fueling stations and large gas tanks that take up a lot of space in the vehicles.
Natural gas vehicles are still a long way off, so in the meantime, drivers searching for a fuel efficient model may want to instead opt for a used car from New Jersey State Auto Auction.
Ford will be expanding its previous recall of approximately 150,000 Ford F-150 pickup trucks to more than 1 million, after considerable pressure from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA).
The issue relates to a possible short in the electrical wiring that could cause the airbag to deploy unexpectedly, even while the vehicle is in motion. In February, Ford said that the problem could be attributed to an error during a specific shift at a specific factory, meaning just a fraction of the 2004 to 2006 versions of the pickup truck were affected. However, the NHTSA was not satisfied, and urged the automaker to recall all trucks made during the time period, approximately 1.2 million vehicles.
The original recall went through as planned in February, but after discussions with the NHTSA, Ford has decided to expand it to include the extra million vehicles. Drivers will be notified in May, and repairs are expected to take about half a day's work at the dealership.
Drivers interested in purchasing a used Ford F-150 should be sure that the truck is either not included in the recall or has had the necessary maintenance work performed. Those interested in this model may want to consider New Jersey State Auto Auction, where they can get a great deal on these and other vehicles.