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Archives for the Category: Other Car News

 Customize Your Own Miniature Ford 

Every little boy had a collection of toy cars and model automotives, and now Ford allows you to create your own. By customizing and changing the everyday truck model customers can now create their own perfect miniature Ford.

Available 3D-printed Ford models are 1/32nd (one thirty second) scale in plastic and models included in the launch: the new Ford GT, F-150 Raptor, Shelby GT350R, Focus ST and Fiesta ST. Printed models and digital files for additional Ford vehicles will be available at a later date. The Ford 3D Store is powered by TurboSquid.com, which provides automotive digital imaging and 3D-printable files. I have to say that the F-150 Raptor pickup truck looks pretty tough as a plastic model. When you click on the model within the Ford site, you are immediately taken to the Turbosquid site, which offers more views of the model and pricing. The F-150 Raptor 2017 model starts at $149.

According to a news release the company sent me: “3D printing at home is a growing trend, and it makes sense for us to offer our customers a chance to make their own 3D Ford models,” said Mark Bentley, licensing manager, Ford Global Brand Licensing. “At Ford, we’re using 3D printing every day to rapidly prototype parts, and now we want to share that fun with our fans.” Since I visited the Ford 3D printing lab, in person, last year while on the 3DRV road trip, I can attest to the many ways that the company is using 3D printing and 3D materials science to advance car making. I wrote about their unique metal bending machine and some of their virtual reality work to help engineers move rapidly through product changes. You can read those posts here and here.

According to Juniper research, sales of desktop 3D printers will exceed 1 million units by 2018, from an estimated 44,000 sold annually in 2014. That’s a pretty big increase in new 3D printers soon to be on consumer desks, but one that pales in comparison to the number of people who might try out 3D printing via a service bureau, particularly if you make it easy to customize and click-to-print a model.

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When Does The Time Come To Get Rid Of Your Car

It is hard to get ride of things that matter to us. However, there comes a time where getting something new will help you more than repairing something old.

 

Of all the things we buy, maintain, use, and eventually scrap at the end of its lifecycle, nothing involves emotion like our relationship with our vehicles.

 

Perhaps it’s because of the cost and the sacrifices we make to own and operate them, or because they represent independence and mobility. But regardless, all this emotion can cloud our decision-making process when it comes to parting with our beloved daily driver. Many automakers invest as much time and energy in creating and developing an emotional bond between their products and their customers as they do in designing and building the vehicles themselves. If you doubt this, consider the amount carmakers spend on advertising each year compared to what they spend on R&D. While every auto manufacturer will supply an endless list of reasons why you should buy their particular product, few will help you decide when, and if, it’s time to leave your wheels by the curb and buy or lease something new. Here, then, is some advice to help make that decision easier.

 

Time and distance

Of all the auto executives I’ve met over almost four decades, only one ever admitted to the lifespan for which they design and build their vehicles to survive. While no auto company will admit it, the useful life for the majority of mainstream, non-luxury vehicles is about 10 years and/or 250,000 kilometers. While many cars, light trucks and SUVs may exceed that mark without exceptional repair or maintenance, a good percentage are relegated to the boneyard much sooner. A vehicle’s reliability takes a decidedly marked downturn once these milestones are passed. Does this mean we need to rush to the nearest dealership when the odometer clicks past that fateful mark? No, but it means it’s time create a succession plan. No matter the many variables when it comes to our relationships with cars, there’s one constant you can rely on: when you are forced to make a rushed decision on purchasing or leasing a vehicle (because your present chariot is dead in the driveway) it will cost you more than if you planned ahead.

 

Major repair estimate

Everyone dreads this call. They’ve had the family car towed into their repair provider because it failed to start/move/stop, and they get the estimate to overhaul/repair/replace something big. A good rule of thumb in these circumstances is to review your options of repairing or replacing your vehicle if a single-repair estimate approaches or exceeds its wholesale value. A quick internet tour of just about any used vehicle sales website can pinpoint this value. Just take the average asking price for the same vehicle in your area (with identical equipment and mileage) and subtract around $1,500 from a retailer’s asking price to come up with a wholesale value. Vehicles, unless it’s a collector classic, are a depreciating asset. Spending its entire value in one repair won’t double its worth.

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Will Lack of New Sales Incentives Affect Car Sales Overall?

What really sets one car apart from another? Are incentives, price, or specific features the most important factor for consumers? If it is the incentives, there is a possibility of them drying up for good.If so, will people still buy as often and what will happen with competition between companies? What will drive people’s decisions?

This has become a concern due to the fact that we Canadians may have become addicted to incentives and recently the amounts of incentives are decreasing. Last year alone the average amount of incentives was only 17.2% of the $29,312 purchase at $5,041.

That’s about as rich in real dollars as the average in 2013, when the incentive money represented 17.6 per cent of an average transaction price of $28,259 — or $4,973.58. Thus, for more than two years now, carmakers and their dealers have used $5,000 to lure Canadians to pull the trigger on a new ride.

The incentive money certainly lit a fire under buyers. In 2014, Canadians bought a record 1.85 million new cars and light trucks. That sales boom broke the previous all-time record set in 2013. As J.D. Power put it in a note to clients, “the doldrums of the recession years are clearly in the rear-view mirror, albeit perhaps closer than they appear.”

We’ll call that a cryptic caveat. That is, J.D. Power and auto analyst Dennis DesRosiers of DesRosiers Automotive Consultants both see reasons to be optimistic about what lies ahead for 2015 – but it’s a cautious optimism.

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Supercar to be Built in Ontario

The new 2017 Ford GT super car, will be built in Markham, Not., in partnership with the privately-held Toronto based company Multimatic. Joe Henrich, president of the Americas for Ford Motor Co,. and former president of Ford Canada, told the press Thursday a the Canadian International Auto Show. There was some speculation that Ford would build the supercar with an outside supplier.

The two-door supercar, developed secretly before being revealed at the Detroit auto show in January, will feature lightweight carbon-fibre design, rear-wheel drive, a two-seat cockpit, upward swinging doors, and “a mid-mounted, next-generation twin-turbo EcoBoost V-6 producing more than 600 horsepower,” Henrich, in animated voice, told a gathering of media on press day at the Toronto show.

A privately held company headquartered in Toronto, Multimatic designs and develops lightweight composite automotive system at manufacturing and engineering facilities in North America, Europe and Asia. The company engineered and built the Aston Martin CC100, contributed to GM’s Camaro Z/28, and has worked with Ford for about 30 years.

To read more about this amazing supercar, click here.

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Buffett Buys in to Auto Industry

The billionaire investor, Warren Buffett, has made his debut in the auto industry by agreeing to buy America’s fifth largest auto retailer with plans to buy more dealerships over time.

The billionaire investor on Thursday agreed to buy America’s fifth-largest auto retailer and use it to launch a consolidation of the highly fragmented business.

His Berkshire Hathaway Inc. would acquire an about $8 billion retail business with operations from Florida to California, and use it to snap up family-owned dealerships elsewhere. The retailer, which will be named Berkshire Hathaway Automotive, can leverage Berkshire’s other companies to provide car sales, financing and related services.

he move comes as car-retailing is poised to undergo significant changes that provide greater efficiencies. Dealer profits have been rising as auto makers culled less financially stable businesses during last decade’s financial crisis. Customers also have embraced the Web to shop for cars, cutting dealer overhead costs.

“We’re certainly thinking big and would like to grow the business,” said Jeff Rachor, president of Phoenix-based Van Tuyl Group, which Berkshire agreed to acquire in an all-cash deal. The purchase price wasn’t disclosed.

Mr. Rachor, who will become Berkshire Hathaway Automotive’s chief executive, said the new company intends to pursue dealer acquisitions in the South and Midwest where Van Tuyl already has stores, relying on its new owner’s deep pockets. He estimated there are about 5,000 dealerships that have the scale that match its acquisition goals.

Van Tuyl, a closely held business that was founded in Kansas City nearly 60 years ago, owns dealerships that now sell about 240,000 vehicles a year. The company has been controlled by Larry Van Tuyl, the founder’s son who will become chairman of the new business.

Read the full story here.

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Brands that Dominate North American Car and Truck of the Year Short List

It may not come as a surprise that the these four popular car brands – VW, Ford, GM and Toyota – are dominating the North American Car and Truck of the Year short list.

Volkswagen Group of America has four vehicles in the running for North American Car and Truck of the Year awards.

The 10 cars and 12 trucks on the 57-member jury’s short list also include three each from Ford Motor Co., General Motors and Toyota Motor Sales U.S.A. The list of nominees will be reduced to three cars and three trucks in December, with a winner from each category revealed in January at the Detroit auto show.

No vehicles from the BMW, Cadillac or Kia brands made the short list, despite having multiple eligible nameplates. The awards recognize the best vehicles that are “new or substantially changed” in the past year, according to the program’s website.

GM swept the 2014 awards with the Chevrolet Corvette Stingray and Silverado. GM also won the 2013 car of the year award, for the Cadillac ATS, but it has no cars on this year’s short list.

Ford last won in 2011 when the Explorer received the truck of the year award. The redesign of Ford’s most important vehicle, the F-150 pickup, to use an aluminum body makes it a favorite to win truck of the year. The F-150 won each of the last three times it was redesigned — 2009, 2004 and 1996. But among its competitors this year are GM’s two new small pickups, the Chevrolet Colorado and GMC Canyon.

Read the full story here.

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All New 2015 Honda Fit Designed to Top the Subcompact Class

Small car grows up a bit with new features and more safety. The old Honda Fit was so popular in the United States that Honda consistently struggled to produce enough Fits in Japan to keep up with demand here. The 2015 Honda Fit hatchbacks are already rolling off the line at a brand-new plant in Celaya, Mexico, that has a production capacity of 200,000 units per year. Problem solved. This new plant will also be home to a new addition to the Fit family, a subcompact crossover that will compete with the funky Nissan Juke.

Despite all the love for the first two iterations of the Fit, Honda saw room for improvement with the 2015 Honda Fit. The subcompact segment has evolved over the past few years, with newer competitors offering better fuel efficiency, more technology, and higher levels of refinement than the outgoing Honda Fit. To get back to the top of the class, the redesigned Fit must zero in on these areas without straying from Honda’s proven small-car formula.

There’s no reason to think that demand for this new Fit won’t be just as high as before, if not higher. The 2015 Honda Fit is more efficient, more refined, and better-equipped than before without sacrificing the practical appeal and peppy personality that have made it a success thus far. To accentuate the fresh exterior styling, the Fit will be available in eight colors, including several vibrant options.

Read the full article here.

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What is the Future of the Convertible?

Even in Canada with our less than accomodating weather, we still love convertibles – in-fact my next car will be a mini convertible!  Whether fitted with soft or hard folding lids, today’s droptops are better than ever for year-round motoring. Advancements in power top mechanisms, sealing, aerodynamics, structural rigidity, rollover safety and creature comforts like heated and cooled seats mean that modern convertibles are more versatile and better to drive than ever before. Yet the segment’s sales took a dive during the recession and haven’t come back, Automotive News reports.

Part of that is because automakers are looking at today’s more sensible buyers and simply not developing as many new models, and that lack of fresh iron is curbing sales. AN cites R.L. Polk data which notes that only about one per cent of new vehicles registered in the US last year had tops that folded. Back in 2009, it was 1.4 per cent, and it was 2 per cent in 2006. All-in, some 151,636 convertibles were registered in 2012. That’s more units more than were registered in each of the past three years, but the market has also grown as the economy has picked up speed, and as a per centage of new vehicles purchased, convertible sales are lagging.

Read the full article here.

Learn About the RIDE Program

Great little article with all the details you need to know about the RIDE program.

Telltale Signs: Toronto RIDE program officers have identified a number of behaviours that give away an impaired driver. Among them: weaving, gum-chewing, driving with open windows in cold weather, failing to turn on headlights, evasive responses to questions, leaning away from the window when questioned, and rolling down the rear window instead of the front when questioned by police.

Read the full story here.

Mercedes Pushing Hard Against BMW for Top Spot

It’s one of the most bitter battles in the American automotive marketplace, and it pits two of Germany’s luxury automakers in a grab for the brass ring.  But this year, Mercedes-Benz is betting it can topple rival BMW to become the best-selling luxury automotive brand in the world’s largest high-end market.

But volume alone isn’t the measure of success, said Mercedes’ top American executive. The maker is looking at significant future growth that it hopes will also position it as the industry leader in terms of gross margins.

And key to that growth, said Mercedes-Benz U.S. Chief Executive Steve Cannon, is a wave of new products that will not only cover existing market segments but also some “white space” areas where the luxury maker currently doesn’t participate.

Read the full story here.