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The Current State of the US Auto Market

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  • busirisbusiris Posts: 3,490
    As I am a resident of SC, ill say this:

    I'm not really sure having a "southern US culture" is something I'd want too many outside the company to know...
  • uplanderguyuplanderguy Kent, OHPosts: 7,494
    Among the large carmakers, Toyota leads with an 8.6 percent operating margin in the most recent quarter. Hyundai Motor Co.'s was 7.8 percent; VW's, 5 percent. GM's was 2.6 percent.

    What was Ford's and Chrysler's?
  • tlongtlong CaliforniaPosts: 4,756
    What was Ford's and Chrysler's?

    I wonder what GM's margin would be if they didn't have the "tax subsidy" given to them by the BK and government bailout?

    I suspect that if GM didn't have the tax subsidy and also (a suspicion) a bunch of preferential government buying of GM vehicles, they'd look much less rosy than they do. It's in the government's best interests to make GM look as healthy as possible.
  • uplanderguyuplanderguy Kent, OHPosts: 7,494
    What was Ford and Chrysler's?

    I don't know, but I do know there's a habit here of leaving relevant stuff out.
  • lemkolemko Posts: 15,189
    edited July 2013
    Andre1969 and I actually got to test drive one a couple weeks ago. I'd say it's a quantum leap over the "return of the Lumina" current Impala. The car has a lot of features; more than I can list here. It's almost too nice to be a Chevrolet. The strangely padded dash takes some getting used to. It's a contender to replace my aging Mercury Grand Marquis though it's a smaller car than I'm accustomed to driving. The trunk is deep and has a lot of space. The 3.6 V-6 seems to have a lot of get-up-and-go. I don't know what the 4-cylinder version is like.
  • dieselonedieselone Posts: 5,650
    What was Ford and Chrysler's?

    I don't know, but I do know there's a habit here of leaving relevant stuff out.


    According to Yahoo Finance, Ford's operating margin is 4.83%.
  • dieselonedieselone Posts: 5,650
    I've seen a few new Impalas running around. I like it from the front and sides, but I don't care for the rear styling.

    No way would I buy a 4cyl Impala. Considering that my wife's '13 Taurus is similar in weight and power to the v6 Impala, I definitely wouldn't want to live a non-turbo 4 in a car with that much weight.
  • imidazol97imidazol97 Crossroads of America: I70 & I75Posts: 18,263
    >The car has a lot of features; more than I can list here. It's almost too nice to be a Chevrolet.

    The finish of the interior made me feel I was sitting in an MB. Or something else tastefully done as a premium luxury car in appearance and feel of the interior--perhaps even one of VW's Audi sedans based on looking in windows in parking lots.

    I liked it much more than the LaCrosse, I hate to admit. I was feeling the tingle of how nice it would be to have one instead of a Malibu or Cruze, even a diesel Cruze.

    The only thing that bothers me is the 20-inch wheels with low profile tires on it.
  • uplanderguyuplanderguy Kent, OHPosts: 7,494
    I can say without a hint of irony, that if even the most jaded people here walked about even a $27,535 MSRP Impala, they'd say, 'sheesh, is that a lot for the money'. It definitely has 'curb appeal' IMHO and at that price, I'd be tempted to consider a four.

    The four has 66% U.S. and Canadian parts content, is built in the U.S., and the engine and trans are built in the U.S.
  • andre1969andre1969 Posts: 22,008
    I'm not really sure having a "southern US culture" is something I'd want too many outside the company to know...

    Hesh up now, and go tell Jim-Bob to get out of the sheep pasture, wipe that tar and feathers off your hand, and fetch yer Daddy another Mint Julep! :shades:
  • dieselonedieselone Posts: 5,650
    I can say without a hint of irony, that if even the most jaded people here walked about even a $27,535 MSRP Impala, they'd say, 'sheesh, is that a lot for the money'. It definitely has 'curb appeal' IMHO and at that price, I'd be tempted to consider a four.

    I'm sure it would make a fine around town car. But I simply would much prefer the extra power and refinement of the v6 for not a whole lot more money and not that much of a FE hit.
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright CaliforniaPosts: 45,050
    I'd rather not be climbing up a mountain pass with the engine sounding like a WW I biplane struggling for air. :P

    There *IS* a substitute for cubic inches, but it's called a turbo or SC with over 200HP.

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  • tlongtlong CaliforniaPosts: 4,756
    I liked it much more than the LaCrosse, I hate to admit. I was feeling the tingle of how nice it would be to have one instead of a Malibu or Cruze, even a diesel Cruze.

    IMHO GM doesn't really need Buick at all. THIS is the way GM improves - it makes the "normal, pedestrian" cars so nice that the Chevrolet brand rises in stature. Even you GM aficionados are surprised a Chevy could be so nice. That's because you are used to mediocre Chevys, and mediocre isn't going to set the world on fire. It's nice to hear about Chevys that are actually impressive.
  • dieselonedieselone Posts: 5,650
    I'd rather not be climbing up a mountain pass with the engine sounding like a WW I biplane struggling for air. :P

    There *IS* a substitute for cubic inches, but it's called a turbo or SC with over 200HP.


    I agree 100%. GM should have used a turbo 4 like Ford did with the Taurus. The 2.0 Turbo in the Taurus has a better FE rating than the 2.5 4 in the Impala.

    Now, I'm sure the Impala is the better car overall (I'm not all that impressed with the Taurus). But at least with the Taurus, you know you won't be stuck with an underpowered pig.

    I've driven my wife's Taurus enough to know I'd hate it with a n/a 2.5 4cyl buzzing away while laboring under my heavy foot.
  • dieselonedieselone Posts: 5,650
    IMHO GM doesn't really need Buick at all.

    I tend to agree.
  • andre1969andre1969 Posts: 22,008
    if even the most jaded people here walked about even a $27,535 MSRP Impala, they'd say, 'sheesh, is that a lot for the money'. It definitely has 'curb appeal' IMHO and at that price, I'd be tempted to consider a four.

    To use an obscure reference, my mind sort of equates a 4-cyl 2014 Impala to something like a 1981 Caprice Classic with a 229 V-6, a St. Regis with a slant six, or a Crown Vic with the undersized 255 V-8. Cars that were a lot of car for the money, decent enough around town (for their era), but even back then, it didn't cost much money to upgrade to a bigger engine, and the mpg penalty was minor. And you got a HUGE boost in performance..

    I don't know what the 0-60 time of a 2004 4-cyl Impala is, but I imagine it's probably quicker than any full-sized car from 1981, even with the biggest engines. But, we've gotten used to better and faster cars, so even though it may be perfectly adequate, it's probably just not "enough" for the typical new car buyer of today.
  • dieselonedieselone Posts: 5,650
    edited July 2013
    I don't know what the 0-60 time of a 2004 4-cyl Impala is, but I imagine it's probably quicker than any full-sized car from 1981, even with the biggest engines. But, we've gotten used to better and faster cars, so even though it may be perfectly adequate, it's probably just not "enough" for the typical new car buyer of today.



    I'm sure the new Impala is likely still under 10 seconds 0-60. But those low powered v8 cars back in the 80's had good low rpm torque so you really didn't notice how underpowered they were until you really stomped on it.

    Plus, there are few non-turbo 4cyl I've sampled that I'd be happy with. Particularly from the domestics. Just to buzzy for my tastes. From what I've read about GM's 2.5, it likely won't change my opinion of them either. Though I've read GM employed noise canceling tech from the stereo to minimize the "buzz".

    I'll be curious to see what the take rate on the 4cyl will be.
  • busirisbusiris Posts: 3,490
    IMHO GM doesn't really need Buick at all. THIS is the way GM improves - it makes the "normal, pedestrian" cars so nice that the Chevrolet brand rises in stature. Even you GM aficionados are surprised a Chevy could be so nice. That's because you are used to mediocre Chevys, and mediocre isn't going to set the world on fire. It's nice to hear about Chevys that are actually impressive.

    It does seem that its a lose-lose scenario... Make the entry level car with limited appeal value, and lose customers to the competition, or make it really appealing and pirate sales from GM's higher-lux divisions.

    A tough balancing act if there ever was one.
  • circlewcirclew Posts: 8,380
    Thanks. That review along with the way it looks is good enough for me. GM finally restores Impala. :shades:
  • circlewcirclew Posts: 8,380
    But, we've gotten used to better and faster cars, so even though it may be perfectly adequate, it's probably just not "enough" for the typical new car buyer of today.

    Remember when a 327/396/427 V-8 were bolted in an Impala? GM has a ways to go to completely restore the Impala name but it's a great start.

    Couldn't pass an Impala that easily back then. Today's 4-cyl. just won't do it for a lot of full size buyers, IMHO. I'm interested to see how the V-6 sells.
  • hpmctorquehpmctorque Posts: 4,205
    edited July 2013
    Remember when a 327/396/427 V-8 were bolted in an Impala?

    Yeah, but buyers could also choose a OHV six bolted to a 2-speed Powerglide.

    The new Impala V6 would easily beat an automatic 327 from back in the day, and would probably give the 396 a good run for the money. A 427 with 4-on-the-floor would eat the 3.6's lunch, however. But, we're only comparing straight-line acceleration here. Those '60s Impalas (and their competitors) had weak brakes, handled poorly, got horrible gas mileage, polluted like crazy, and were death traps.
  • busirisbusiris Posts: 3,490
    Those '60s Impalas (and their competitors) had weak brakes, handled poorly, got horrible gas mileage, polluted like crazy, and were death traps.


    That description fits practically every car made in the 1960's, doesn't it?
  • uplanderguyuplanderguy Kent, OHPosts: 7,494
    I'm sure it would make a fine around town car. But I simply would much prefer the extra power and refinement of the v6 for not a whole lot more money and not that much of a FE hit.

    "Not a whole lot more money" is relative I guess...the cheapest V6 Impala I've seen in person or on their website was $31,700...more than $4 grand more than the four I've been talking about.
  • andre1969andre1969 Posts: 22,008
    Remember when a 327/396/427 V-8 were bolted in an Impala? GM has a ways to go to completely restore the Impala name but it's a great start.

    In some ways, even back then GM was a bit behind the times compared to its peers. For instance, the 2-speed Powerglide that hpmctorque mentioned. Chevy tried playing with 3-speed automatics with the Turboglide, which I think was made from 1957-61. Unfortunately it was unreliable, and didn't give that much of an improvement over the 2-speed. The Powerglide was a good, sturdy transmission. In fact, I think one of the most popular drag race car setups back in the day was a Mopar 426 Hemi with a Powerglide mated up to it.

    But, lacking a third gear definitely hurt performance and economy, especially with the smaller engines. In 1965, you could finally get a 3-speed automatic, the THM400. But, only with the big-blocks. I don't think it was until 1968 or 1969 that you could finally get a 3-speed automatic with a smallblock car.

    In contrast, by 1960, the vast majority of Mopars, even the cheapest Valiants, had the 3-speed Torqueflite. I think the old 2-speed Powerflite was phased out completely for 1961.

    Chrysler was also first to use an alternator. In 1960 the Valiants used it, and for 1961 all cars did. I'm not sure when GM switched to an alternator, but it wasn't too much later. But Ford was still using generators as late as the "1964.5" Mustang!

    It also took GM, or Chevy, at least, awhile to get away from those old fashioned oil filters where you had the big canister with the drop in cartridge. I think Chevy used them until 1967 or 1968. Meanwhile, Mopar started switching to spin-on filters in 1958, when the wedge-head V-8's started replacing the Hemi. Pontiac started using them in 1959 I think. Not sure about the other divisions.

    Where Chevy really shined in those days was the marketing, the variety, and the styling. A '65 Impala is sleek, stylish, and youthful looking. It makes a '65 Fury look about as exciting as a refrigerator. Back in those days, GM also fell into the trap of not being able to make Chevies *too* nice, because you had to have a good reason to move up to a Pontiac, Olds Buick, or Cadillac.

    But, that problem was even worse at Chrysler. Especially with Plymouth, since they were sold in the same dealerships as Chryslers. Because of that, they'd never make a Fury too nice, because they're rather you buy a Newport, New Yorker, or Imperial.

    As for the Impala, the vast majority of them, back in the day, were just 283's and mild 327's, with 2-speed Powerglides. They really weren't that fast. But then again, the typical Fury had a 318, and the typical Galaxie probably just had a 292 in the early years, and a 289 or 302 in later years. They all offered powerful engines though, and a lot of that mystique would rub off on the lesser, everyday models.
  • andres3andres3 CAPosts: 5,341
    Toyota definitely started with the "Can't make Toyota too nice because of Lexus" with the 2007 Camry redesign. It's a terrible policy, and never works. They should make cars as nice as they can make them, and the people at Lexus will just have to do EVEN better.
  • dieselonedieselone Posts: 5,650
    edited July 2013
    A v6 2LT starts at $30,760 vs 27, 535 for a 4 cyl LS. A v6 2LT is only like $1, 000 more than a 4cyl 1LT. A no brainer to me. If you want to save money, buy a malibu.
  • andre1969andre1969 Posts: 22,008
    My uncle just bought a 2013 Camry last Friday, and even though it's just an LE, it's actually pretty nice inside, IMO. I think it MSRP'ed for around $24,412, with a couple options such as a power driver's seat and floor mats (I HATE that they make floormats an option, but a lot of brands do that), and freight.

    In some ways, it seems like the Lexuses are getting a bit cheaper inside. I remember at the DC auto show back in January, looking at the Acuras with a friend, and noticing how much hard plastic was starting to show up. But, we reasoned, that was the difference between an Acura and a Lexus. Well, imagine the shock when we saw how much hard plastic is cropping up even in the Lexus cars. The main thing I noticed was stuff like the lower door panels and parts of the dash, that once upon a time would have been soft to the touch, or had carpeting on them, were now just hard plastic.

    But, I guess they have to cost cut where they can here and there to keep prices reasonable. When you consider all the technology, features, safety stuff, etc on cars these days, they're actually pretty cheap IMO. I think my uncle's car was around $22,500 out the door, and that included two years of free oil changes, and an extended warranty. Well, back in 2002 he bought an early 2003 Corolla CE, which was around $16K out the door.

    Adjusting for inflation, that $16K Corolla would be about $20,718 today. And that $22,500 Camry back in 2002 would have come out to around $17,376.

    On the subject of Toyotas, I heard that the 1992-96 Camry was considered "too nice", so they cheapened it for 1997.
  • hpmctorquehpmctorque Posts: 4,205
    edited July 2013
    Practically, yes, but there were a few exceptions from Europe (e.g., Mercedes and Alfa Romeo sedans, to name two brands) and even the U.S., if you discount safety. For example, the first generation Valiant equipped with the 225 Slant Six, although the styling was controversial; some other mid-size, compacts and pony cars, when equipped with the optional better handling suspensions and disc brakes.

    They weren't up to today's standards, for sure, but the ones mentioned were decent.
  • berriberri Posts: 4,203
    edited July 2013
    I think Buick is kind of an interesting marketing thing right now. It seems to me there are three distinct things driving it's current existence. Foremost, it is a big, profitable seller in China. But Asian culture can be driven by aspiration and status. If the US dumped Buick I think it might rapidly lose it's consumer appeal in China since American's no longer want it. The next Buick driver is GM's desire to move Cadillac upscale, but hold on to the lower priced buyer who still perceives some prestige in buying above a Chevy. Finally, GM still has a lot of dealerships, particularly in rural markets that still prefer D3. Buick and GMC give it additional distribution channels.

    Having said all of that, I see some risk with it all. First, GM has to maintain #2 and #3 with minimal incremental costs. Second, it appears to maybe be putting out too many, and too wide of. a product line. I'm not sure that vehicles like Encore and Verano support an upscale division image. There is also a lot of me too product, with no halo product like a Riviera to prop up the brand image. Personally, I'm having trouble seeing five grand more in an Enclave versus a similarly equipped Traverse, but so far they seem to be moving them out at those higher prices.
  • andre1969andre1969 Posts: 22,008
    Personally, I'm having trouble seeing five grand more in an Enclave versus a similarly equipped Traverse, but so far they seem to be moving them out at those higher prices.

    I used to think the Enclave looked more upscale enough, compared to the other versions, to command a big price premium. But then GM recently went and massaged the Traverse and Acadia, and in the process made them both look a lot more upscale themselves. To my eye, at least. Maybe the Enclave is still nicer inside?
This discussion has been closed.