Consumers Should Take Advantage of This

Consumers can easily take advantage of special offers throughout the U.S. automobile market. On major holidays, there are plenty of nationwide discounts and other special promotions available on car leases and purchases. It is a tradition for car dealerships to mark down prices significantly during major holidays like Christmas, Independence Day and Thanksgiving. Local dealerships team up with auto manufacturers to come up with exciting ways to attract new customers.

For example, some dealers might host special events like barbecue cookouts during summertime holidays. Of course, the ultimate goal is to sell brand-new cars that are nicely displayed in the parking lots. However, auto dealers understand that customers should have a good time in order to show some interest in buying new vehicles. Zero money down is one common offer made during special promotional periods at car dealerships. Zero percent APR is available for a limited length of time, such as 12 months for a financing term that’s 48 months in total.

These days, consumers do not always have to visit a car dealership right away in order to browse a selection of models that are up for sale. Websites are loaded with listings of all the cars in stock in local dealerships. A simple entry of a zip code can yield results featuring the nearest car dealers within a maximum radius from a customer.

When browsing virtual listings, customers can reserve some cars online. Several days are given for patrons to visit a dealership and test drive the reserved vehicle. Communication by email, text message and phone is available when making reservations on cars that are part of a local dealer’s inventory. The MSRP of a brand-new vehicle is typically negotiable. However, the addition of feature packages obviously brings up the price significantly. At the same time, customers can request that certain optional features be removed or substituted in order to adjust the final sale price according to a specific budget. Exploring Toyota Land Cruiser offers and other deals is one way to make buying or leasing full-size sport utility vehicles more budget-friendly.

Is it Worth it for an Automaker to Go Green?

It’s estimated that the world accommodates over a billion passenger cars. Their emissions play a part in global warming and the extreme weather conditions that result. One study showed that vehicle emissions accounted for as much as 90 percent of the air pollution in built-up areas. Per the World Health Organization, two million people meet their end prematurely each year because of air pollution.

The emissions emanating from autos must decrease, and the public becomes more conscious of this by the day. Purchasing a greener car will not only salve your conscience but also save your hard-earned money by lessening the amount of fuel you burn. Honda and Toyota certainly think that car manufacturer should be environmentally-friendly.

Honda is making its engines more efficient and its exhausts cleaner, in addition to reducing the impact of its plants upon the environment. A study by the Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS) found Honda to be the  most environmentally friendly carmaker. You can see Honda prices on Carsales.

Tied with Honda for second places in the UCS study was Hyundai. The company installed the largest extent of solar panels in South Korea at its plant in Asan. Another 40,000 photovoltaic modules are planned. Hyundai’s Sonata Hybrid was named as the Environmentally Friendly Car of Choice by the U.S. government. The CO2 emissions of the Imax fell. You can find Hyundai Imax prices on carsales.

The emissions of the Hyundai Imax have improved

The emissions of the Hyundai Imax have improved

Why might Honda and Toyota have gone green?

Satisfying the increasing customer demand for greener cars would be of great benefit for an automaker as the social responsibility thus demonstrated will negate the demonization of companies that has taken place over the last few years.  There are manufacturers who have drastically bettered their public image by making products that are more socially-responsible. When a market is as advertising-intensive as that of cars, this differentiation is crucial.

A survey of over a thousand U.S. citizens undertaken by Good Must Grow revealed that 60 percent of respondents believed it was important to use socially responsible companies. At the same time, the number that intended to make more charitable donations decreased – there appears to be an inverse relationship between responsible purchasing and charitable giving.

Another U.S. survey found 67.9 percent of people to believe that automakers were “not very” or “not at all” socially responsible, with 48.1 percent saying this consideration was “quite” or “very” important when they chose a car, so increased perception of a car company as socially-responsible certainly provides useful differentiation. One more survey, this time by Ford in 2012, showed 35 percent of Europeans to be prepared to fork out more for an auto that was greener, when 71 percent were reducing their outgoings. A survey by a market research company that was worldwide in scope and encompassed 13,500 people found 59 percent of people wishing to own a greener car. 57 percent wished to make their lifestyle greener.

One of the greatest determinants of how socially-responsible a company is perceived to be is its environmental impact. People don’t bestow such a perception lightly – they confirm the decision through reading the information supplied with products and following the news. Although few people will abandon their iPhone on account its manufacturers’  unpleasant labor practices, the social responsibility associated with a company is important. And Apple has declared that the companies it employs will improve.

Companies will be penalized by advertising regulators if they falsely claim to be socially responsible, as occurred in the United Kingdom with the Renault Twingo, which was depicted with leaves blowing from its tailpipe despite its emissions ranking near the bottom for a car of that magnitude. When the U.S. government rescued General Motors, it dictated that the company must become greener. Children imbibe the green agenda in the classroom, and the ensuing pester power works for the environment.

While companies exist to make a profit, evidently, it would be beneficial to be environmentally friendly while they’re at it.

Is the Federal Fuel Tax About to be Cut?

It what will amount to an absolutely asinine and incredibly stupid move should it happen, some members of Congress may oppose the renewal of the federal gasoline and diesel fuel tax when it is set to expire this fall. This tax generates revenue which is used to keep our highways from falling apart.

Considering our nation’s infrastructure is crumbling, now seems like the perfect time to pull the plug on the tax, right?

In an article published on CNN Money entitled “Gas Tax May Be Next Tea Party Target,” author Steve Hargreaves discusses what exactly is at stake:

A bill was recently introduced by Senate Republicans that would allow states to opt out of the federal highway program. The highway program uses $32 billion each year collected by the gas tax, plus a handful of smaller fees and some borrowing to distribute some $50 billion a year to the states for road construction, maintenance and mass transit projects.

That represents about 28% of all road and transit spending nationwide, with the rest coming from states or towns in the form of tolls, registration and user fees, state gas taxes or their general funds.

The argument for cutting the federal tax is that highways would be better served by state and local governments, which could raise their fuel taxes, should they choose.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m all for states’ rights and less Federal oversight, but at a time when state and local governments are running massive deficits and having to slash their budgets left and right, is this really the time to put the burden of the nation’s highway system on them?

My fear is that the gas taxes would go up at the state level, only to fund non-highway and transportation projects, leaving us with even worse road than we already have.

Besides, as most of you know, I want the Federal gas tax raised as a means of forcing people to change their driving habits and for the government to use the proceeds to invest in renewable energy development. (Yes, I know that’s a contradiction to my less Federal oversight comment. Deal with it.)

Anyway, tell me your thoughts on this. Good idea? Bad idea? Leave a comment below and, as always, please share this post using the social bookmarking buttons – especially Facebook and Twitter.

How the New Fuel Economy Standards Could Kill The Economy

I’ll be upfront with this, I don’t believe that the White House’s soon to be proposed higher fuel economy standards are going to kill the economy. I just don’t think it’s realistic. In fact, I tend to be on the other side of the argument and believe the new standards would create jobs, largely due to more people around the world 1) owning cars and 2) wanting more fuel efficient vehicles.

Just think, if America led the way in fuel efficient vehicle production, how in the world could that be a job killer?

In an article entitled “Obama’s Fuel Economy Standards Threaten the Economy,” Peter Roff of U.S. News states the proposed fuel economy standards would kill jobs and hurt the economy:

Thanks to Obama, the U.S. government now has three agencies–the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration, the Environmental Protection Agency, and the California Air Resources Board–involved in the effort to improve through mandates the fuel economy of U.S. passenger vehicles.

Before 2009, when the current administration added EPA and CARB to the mix, the issue was more or less the sole province of NHTSA.

Why the change? Under the old rules Congress required NHTSA to consider what an increase in the Corporate Average Fuel Economy or CAFE standard would do to jobs and to the affordability and safety of vehicles in the U.S. passenger fleet. EPA and CARB are bound by no such rules; indeed CARB, as a state agency, is largely outside the jurisdiction of the U.S. Congress–which is probably why EPA and CARB are the ones drafting the next round of fuel economy regulations.

Federal regulators at the EPA, working with their counterparts in Sacramento at CARB, are trying to get around Congress in an effort to mandate that the CAFE standard be bumped all the way up to 56 miles per gallon for model years 2017 to 2025, a move that is certain to batter the already teetering U.S. auto industry even further while making cars less safe and more expensive.

(If you’ll look at Roff’s bio, you’ll see he’s a contributor to Fox News, which may explain his slant on things.)

I don’t think Obama included the EPA and the CARB as a means of thwarting the EPA’s authority regarding fuel economy. If you look at Obama as a person, he’s much more of a collaborator, so it makes sense that he would bring these three like-minded agencies together in order to solve this problem.

Also, I would like proof that raising fuel economy standards over the next 15 years is going to “batter the already teetering U.S. auto industry.” As I stated before, I tend to think the improved fuel economy standards would do the opposite. Then again, what do I know, I’m just a blogger.

What do you think? Would the new fuel economy standards kill the economy and auto industry? Leave your thoughts below and, as always, please share this post using the social bookmarking buttons below – especially Facebook and Twitter!

Fuel Economy Standards – It’s Time to Crap or Get off the Pot

Remember when I said the Alliance for Automobile Manufacturers had cancelled their radio ad campaign against the proposed increase in fuel economy standards? Yeah, turns out that’s back on – in addiction to a competing ad trumpeting the benefits of pushing fuel economy standards to 60 mpg!

According to an article published by the Detroit Free Press entitled “Fuel Economy Standards Battle Heats Up on Airwaves,”  Aaron Kessler writes that things are getting pretty contentuous between the two opposing sides:

ads against fuel economy standards, alliance for automobile manufacturers ad, fuel economy and politics, go60mpg fuel economy ads, white house fuel economy standards

Let's be honest, if we leave it up to Washington, this stuff is never going to get figured out.

The ad war over fuel economy standards ratcheted up again today, as both sides of the debate are increasingly turning to the airwaves to make their case and put pressure on Washington decision-makers.

Go60MPG, a coalition of environmental groups supporting a fleet average of 60 miles per gallon by 2025, is launching radio ads today on Washington-area stations touting the benefits of a high fuel economy standard.

The consumer-targeted ad will feature a voice saying: “What if there was a way to create tens of thousands of new jobs, keep billions of dollars in the U.S. economy that now go overseas, and also make it possible for you to pay less at the gas pump?”

It goes on to state that “experts say 60 m.p.g. would mean 700,000 new jobs in the USA,” and that “best of all for consumers, 60 m.p.g. would mean $650 billion in savings at the gas pump.”

He goes on to say:

The automakers’ ad campaign through the Alliance for Automobile Manufacturers was nearly canceled after opposition from General Motors, Chrysler and Toyota. But a second vote Thursday among all of the Alliance members meant the ads would continue through this week, and possibly longer. They claim a 56 m.p.g. target would cost jobs and limit consumer choices.

(CLICK HERE TO READ THE ENTIRE ARTICLE)

Personally, I think this whole thing is stupid and just goes to show how much corporations and their deep pockets influence our political system. That being said, this isn’t the Huffington Post, so I’ll just talk about fuel economy.

As I’ve stated before, I think the government needs to attack our fuel consumption from two sides:

  1. Increase fuel economy standards: we’re technologically advanced enough to get better fuel economy out of most vehicles. Just get it done.
  2. Increase the fuel tax: I truly believe this is the only way they will ever be able to get people to substantially alter their driving habits

Increasing the fuel economy standards helps to offset the pain at the pump brought about by the higher fuel costs, although probably not enough to make it a net gain/loss $0.

That being said, it’s time to crap or get off the pot. JUST DO SOMETHING!

What are your thoughts? Leave your comments below and, as always, please share this post using the social bookmarking buttons below – especially Facebook and Twitter!

Ads Against Raising Fuel Economy Standards Scrapped

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If the White House has its way, the fuel economy estimates will be much higher by 2025. Image via Wikipedia

After several days of posturing and, quite frankly, whining about the Obama administration’s proposed new fuel economy standards, the Alliance of Automobile Manufactures has decided not to air its radio campaign aimed at getting the public behind less substantial fuel economy increases.

(Just a note in case you didn’t know – the new standards, which were to be reached by 2025, pushed CAFE standards to 56.2 miles per gallon, nearly double today’s current fuel economy. Seems to me if we can put a man on the moon we can figure out how to get the average vehicle’s fuel economy up to 56.2 mpg!)

In an article fittingly entitled “Automakers Scrap Fuel Economy Ad Campaign” published on DetNews.com, David Shepardson writes that the ads were scrapped because, more or less, the AAM is still trying to negotiate lower standards with the White House:

The Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers — the trade association representing Detroit’s Big Three, Toyota Motor Corp. and eight others — has canceled a two-week radio campaign planned for 14 states to urge the administration to back “attainable” fuel efficiency standards.

Late Wednesday, the group held a conference call and opted not to run the ads as talks between the Obama administration automakers over the 2017-25 fuel efficiency standards continue.

It seems the original intent of the ad campaign was to show the hardships these new standards would impose on car makers like Ford, Chrysler, General Motors, and Toyota:

“After tough times, today’s auto industry is on the road to economic recovery. But an upcoming decision threatens that progress,” says the ad, obtained by The Detroit News on Friday.

The ad warned that if fuel economy standards were doubled, “families would be hit with higher car prices. Small businesses dependent on vans, SUVs or pickups would face limited vehicle choice.”

So, I wonder what the AAM would think of my proposal: double the current CAFE standards by 2025 and raise the gas tax incrementally by 25 cents per gallon a year over the next eight years.

Maybe if you pass this article around and make it go viral, you’ll hear a radio campaign aimed at shutting me up!

What do you think about either proposal? Leave your comments below and please share this article using the social sharing buttons below – especially Facebook and Twitter!

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Michigan Lawmakers Prepare to Fight Possible Proposed Fuel Economy Standards

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Why can't we seem to figure out this gas mileage stuff?

Despite having a large portion of their state’s economy saved by the Federal Government’s auto bailouts, lawmakers in Michigan are preparing to express concerns and discontent over the White House’s rumored new fuel economy standards.  In case you’re not already aware, it is believed the White House will push CAFE standards to 56.2 miles per gallon (mpg) by 2025, nearly doubling today’s standards.

In an article entitled “Michigan Lawmakers Prepare Letter on Fuel Economy Rules”, published in the Detroit Free Press, Aaron M. Kessler writes:

It currently remains unclear whether the letter will specifically take on the 56 m.p.g. target by 2025 that the White House wants, or raise more generalized concerns.

As the Free Press reported Tuesday, Michigan’s congressional delegation gathered this morning to decide whether to publicly join the fuel economy debate. Michigan’s members of Congress had mostly remained silent in public as the negotiations have continued in recent weeks.

While this article seems to be rather ambiguous, if you read between the lines it’s obvious to see that the Michigan lawmakers will oppose the large raise in fuel economy standards, mostly because they will be inconvenient to some of the largest businesses in Michigan.

You see, state and local governments are not immune to being “persuaded” (read: in bed with) corporations, and will do whatever is in the company’s best interest.

Despite the fact I believe simply raising the fuel tax would achieve a greater reduction in fuel consumption, I’m still all for raising fuel economy standards.  Unfortunately, it appears that Michigan lawmakers will take the stance of going with neither.

What are your thoughts?  Should Michigan lawmakers oppose?  Are you tired of our governments putting the best interests of corporations first?  Leave your comments below or share this post via the social sharing buttons – especially Facebook and Twitter.

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Fuel Economy vs. Fuel Taxes – Which Will Do More?

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Which is better, higher fuel economy or higher fuel taxes? Image via Wikipedia

Here’s an interesting question: which is more likely to make you use less fuel, forcing you to buy a more fuel efficient vehicle or forcing you to pay a much, much higher fuel tax?

This is sort of a relevant question because there is news that the Obama administration is considering raising fuel economy standards for all cars and trucks sold in the U.S. to 56.2 miles per gallon by the year 2025:

The Obama administration is considering a fleetwide average of 56.2 miles per gallon for all new cars and trucks sold in the US by 2025, The Wall Street Journal reported late Saturday citing two people briefed on the matter said.

The proposal would roughly double current fuel-economy targets, and would likely raise the price of some cars by several thousand dollars.

Read more of this Fox News article by clicking here.

2025 is certainly a long way off, these new standards are certainly worth debating in the meantime.

While I think most of us would be willing to argue that reducing fuel consumption is certainly something we need to do, there are arguments that simply raising fuel economy standards isn’t the best way to go about it.

In an interesting article entitled Fuel Taxes vs Fuel Economy: Are Stricter Fuel Economy Standards a Good Idea? by Ed Dolan (published on OilPrice.com), it is argued that raising fuel economy standards tackles only a small portion of the problem:

The problem with higher CAFE standards is that they encourage fuel saving only with regard to the choice of what car to buy. Once a consumer buys a low-mileage vehicle, the cost of driving and extra mile goes down, thereby reducing the incentive for fuel-saving measures like moving closer to work, working at home, riding the bus to work, or consolidating errands.

The very fuel-saving strategies that CAFE standards discourage, like moving closer to work or consolidating errands, are often the ones that have the lowest costs. That is why the total cost of reaching a given national fuel-saving target will be greater when achieved through CAFE standards than when induced by an increase in fuel taxes.

If you’re a fan of economics, studies in spending habits, or just interested in the topic, I highly recommend you read the article in its entirety.

Anyway, in looking at this side of the argument, I think I would have to agree with Dolan.  Think about it, in order to get the biggest environmental bang for the buck you need to fundamentally change people’s driving habits.  You’re not going to do that by increasing fuel economy standards.  That’s painless.

The only way you’re really going to invoke substantial change is to cause pain, particularly pain in the wallet.  That’s why a dramatic increase in the fuel tax would mass a larger reduction in fuel usage and pollution than simply raising fuel economy standards.

Yes, I realize this is a so-called “regressive tax” meaning it affects the poor far more than the wealthy, but, as heartless as it sounds, I don’t think that should stop politicians from moving forward with a fuel tax increase.

What do you think?  Which is more apt to bring bigger changes?  Leave a comment below and be sure to spread the word using the social buttons below.

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The Top Eco Car of 2011

toyota prius 2011, nissan leaf 2011, chevy volt 2011, top eco cars

These fuel economy figures are lame! Image via Wikipedia

After gasoline prices tanked in the midst of the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression and the pain at the pump eased, there wasn’t as much of a monetary incentive for people to get rid of their gas guzzling sports cars, trucks, and SUVs and trade them in for more practical, fuel economy friendly vehicles.

Now that gasoline prices are back to pushing all-time highs, it seems as if buying a fuel efficient vehicle is back in style.

Today, CNET published a great article by Wayne Cunningham entitled By The Numbers: The Top Eco Car, which, as you probably guessed, talks about the most environmentally friendly and fuel efficient vehicles on the market today, and compares all of them based on the following criteria:

  • Cost
  • Range
  • Annual fuel cost
  • Seating
  • Cargo capacity

Looking through the EPA listings for 2011 model year cars, we picked out the most fuel efficient and compared them by a few different data points. Topping the EPA list is the 2011 Nissan Leaf, with its massive 99 mpg equivalent fuel economy. This number represents the combined city and highway mileage.

The 2011 Chevy Volt is more difficult to place, as the EPA lists two fuel economy figures, 93 mpg equivalent for electric operation and 37 mpg for gasoline operation. A simple average shows 65 mpg, which isn’t particularly accurate but will do for this comparison.

That hybrid stalwart, the 2011 Toyota Prius, rings in at 50 mpg, and is the top fuel economy performer that can’t be plugged in. We also decided to throw in a diesel, the 2011 VW Jetta TDI Sportwagen, which gets 34 mpg. We chose the Sportwagen because it gets the same fuel economy as the sedan, yet has more cargo area.

So, which car drove away with the award?  If you guessed the old favorite, the Toyota Prius, you’d be right, although, there were some caveats:

Given these categories, the 2011 Toyota Prius comes out the winner. Its base price is the lowest and it offers the most range, while at the same time having the largest passenger compartment.

That fact, however, does not mean the Prius is the best choice for everyone who wants an ecologically sound car. If the majority of your drives come under 35 miles, than the Leaf or Volt might make a better choice. If you don’t have easy access to the charging stations or need to maximize cargo volume, the Jetta TDI Sportwagen would serve well.

Which would you have picked?  Leave a comment below!

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In Europe, Ford Needs to Highlight Fuel Economy and Technology

henry ford, ford europe, ford china, ford expansion, ford fuel economy, ford technology

Henry Ford was one of the greatest businessmen of all time. How would he grow his company? Image via Wikipedia

Despite being an American icon,  in order to succeed and continue to grow, Ford needs to expand its reach in two key areas: China and Europe.  (After all, the world is flat.)  While Ford has been growing its Asian presence relatively quickly, they have been unable to expand at the same pace in Europe.

My guess is this is mostly because Europeans have the same misconceptions about Ford that Americans used to have: they produce low quality, gas guzzling, road-hoarding vehicles.

I’ll be the first to admit I’m an American car kind of guy – specifically Ford and Dodge – so I’m a bit biased.  That being said, I think Ford can legitimately succeed in Europe.

In a great article in Motor Trend by Jake Holmes entitled To Win Over European Customers, Ford Will Highlight Vehicle Fuel Economy and Technology, Ford’s path to success is outlined

Ford currently holds just 7.5 percent of the German automotive market, whereas Volkswagen has cornered 20.8 percent of the market. To help woo European buyers into Ford showrooms, the Blue Oval will highlight the impressive fuel economy of its newest models. Sales people will be given Apple iPads filled with information on fuel-saving features of new Ford cars. In addition, the company plans to tout the fact that it builds vehicles and engines in Germany, employing about 29,000 German workers.

On top of those tenets, Ford will use technological prowess to win over drivers. Ford’s Sync connectivity system will launch in Germany in 2012, with electric and hybrid cars arriving in Europe the year after. Such systems are reportedly very important to European buyers, which partially explains why they may gravitate to Volkswagens with more tech features.

If Ford can improve its image among European customers, the company stands to improve sales as well as vehicle purchase prices. That would mean increased profits throughout the European market, assuming that buyers will be influenced by promises of fuel economy.

Seems like a pretty good plan to me!

What are your thoughts?  Think Ford will ever be able to succeed in Europe?  Leave a comment below and share this post using the buttons below!

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