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Talk to the Press



  • prlady1prlady1 Posts: 573
    Here is the continuation of the above New York Times article containing quotes from Town Hall participants:

    Mr. Yee bought that $41,000 vehicle anyway because it had many other standard safety features, including side air bags and antilock brakes, along with stability and traction control. "It was the one that met all of my needs," he said.

    Indeed, luxury brands are often first to introduce safety features. Cadillac is touting the latest option, night vision. Night vision is a $2,250 option that is available on just one vehicle, the $47,237 DeVille DHS. Cadillac sold about 6,000 DeVilles with the option last year and expects sales this year to be about the same. It has not decided whether to offer it on other Cadillacs, said Jeffrey Kuhlman, a Cadillac spokesman.
    Experts, though, say this feature may be of little use for city dwellers. "It could be useful for people who drive a lot on two-lane roads at night with a lot of deer," Mr. Paul said. Even Mr. Kuhlman agreed, saying, "It isn't meant for everybody."
  • kenyeekenyee Posts: 738
    I'd have to disagree w/ that statement and the implication of the article that it is not needed for folks who live in the city.

    I had several demonstrations of it this year when we had a lot more snow than normal in Boston. My brother and I have to travel up a 30 degree ramp to get out of a garage we use. One morning, it was iced over. He tried going up it slowly and kept sliding back. He also tried gunning it to have enough momentum. He couldn't get up despite having FWD and relatively new all season tires on his Camry. A few minutes before he left, I left in my ML. I stopped a few times on the hill to see if I could get my ESP light to flicker from the ice. I even tried accelerating a bit. Nothing. It just happily went up the hill like the ice wasn't there. My brother is thinking of upgrading to a sedan with AWD next year :-)

    The snow this year was also bad enough to accumulate several inches before the snow plows could get to it. My brother said his camry was very squirrely and wiggled from side to side. In my ML, I could hear the snow, but it just went where I pointed it. All I had to do was add extra stopping distance to compensate for the snow.

    Never forget that "need" is relative to each person's situation. You can't cast a wide statement like "city folks don't need xx" w/o understanding what they do with their lives (you can't presume to understand what they do in their spare time). If a safety feature saves their life or prevents an accident once during ownership of their car, it is needed...just be thankful that we can still make those choices..for now.
  • prlady1prlady1 Posts: 573
    Thanks, Ken.
    Your comments are interesting, and make me glad the summer is here!
  • prlady1prlady1 Posts: 573
    I'm looking for people to interview who have switched from American to Japanese cars in the past few years-- especially folks who wouldn't have given a Toyota or Honda the time of day in the 1970s.

    I'm a business reporter at the Yomiuri Shimbun, which is the biggest daily paper in Japan with a circulation of 14 million. We are writing a feature story about Japanese automakers' continuing success in expanding production in the U.S. and snatching market share from the Big Three even on their former home turf of light trucks.

    If you fit this description and are willing to be interviewed, please call me at 212-582-5827 or e-mail me at [email protected]

    Catherine Heins
    Yomiuri Shimbun, New York Bureau
  • cgaydoscgaydos Posts: 116
    Hmmm. Well, there are a few of us going the other way. After happily owning 5 Japanese cars (plus 2 German ones), and coming from parents who have bought nothing but Nissans and Toyotas for 23 years, my last 3 purchases have been American. Still like the Japanese cars in general, but have found the US-made cars are becoming competitive, especially when price is considered.
  • spellboundspellbound Posts: 77
    I recently went through a new vehicle purchase (VW Passat wagon) and fuel economy was a factor in deciding what type of vehicle I would buy. I'd been driving a Chevy truck for the past 12 years that averaged around 13mpg. While I could afford the fuel prices I don't like doing it and prefer a more efficiant vehicle.

    Safety was somewhat of an issue to me but not an overriding one. I was more interested in feel, quality, performance and the "fun to drive" factor.

    While I find the Big 3's trucks and SUV's to be competitive I don't feel they offer many cars that are attractive or interesting and they suffer on quality.
  • prlady1prlady1 Posts: 573
    CAR GADGETS IN FAMILY VEHICLES - USA WEEKEND. For a cover piece about car gadgets -- e.g., in-vehicle Internet, fax, DVD players and multi-screen monitors -- I'd like speak with families that have loaded at least a healthy sampling of this stuff into their minivans, SUVs, etc. Need leads by June 19. >>> Please write to Dennis McCafferty at [email protected] or Jeannine Fallon (aka PR Lady) at [email protected]
  • prlady1prlady1 Posts: 573
    Thanks as always to those of you who have Talked to the Press recently. Some of you will be quoted in this Friday's New York Times article on Japanese luxury cars. I'll be sure to post it as soon as possible for your reading pleasure. As always, we welcome you to respond to media requests, and to post your own experiences that you think may be of interest to journalists seeking an automotive story. We look forward to hearing from you!
  • prlady1prlady1 Posts: 573
    Thanks as always to those of you who take the time to "Talk to the Press." Two of our fellow Town Hall participants are quoted in the story below. Great job, Bernie and Willard!

    June 15, 2001
    New York Times
    Japanese Grab a Lead In Luxury-Car Sales
    Detroit -- Bernard Dubin, a Philadelphia architect and a lifelong fan of European cars, ran out of patience this winter with the cost of repairs for his 1990 Audi. Although he considered replacing it with another Audi, he bought a 2001 Acura 3.2TL instead.
    Mr. Dubin, 54, said he was attracted by Acura's high quality ratings. He was also pleased with the low ownership costs of his other Japanese car, a Mazda Miata.
    His Acura has a V-6 engine, CD player and sunroof. The price he paid, $26,000, was about $2,000 less than a comparable Audi A4, he said. "European cars handle much, much better in terms of sportiness, but the cost is too high," both in terms of the purchase price and in repairs, Mr. Dubin said.
    Japanese luxury brands are still growing briskly, 15 years after the first cars arrived from Acura, the premium division of Honda. In 2000, sales of Acura, plus Toyota's Lexus Division and the Infiniti unit of Nissan, reached a combined 427,069 vehicles, a record. And this year, the three brands are on track to tote up well over 500,000 sales, thanks to some new and redesigned models.
    "We've gone from question mark to benchmark," said George Borst, chief executive of Toyota Financial Services, the financing arm for Toyota and Lexus and a former general manager of Lexus, which is now the nation's top-selling luxury brand.
    The steady rise of the three Japanese companies coincides with a slide by Detroit's luxury-car leaders. Cadillac and Lincoln dominated the scene in 1986, the year that Acura made its debut and sold a mere 50,000 cars, compared with nearly half a million for the Detroit luxury brands.
    But in 2000, combined sales of Cadillac and Lincoln totaled 348,817. This year, Cadillac is down 24 percent and is offering discount lease deals; Lincoln, off 16.5 percent, is providing interest-free loans.
    Such incentives are far less common from the three Japanese divisions, whose starting prices have always been lower than those of luxury manufacturers from Detroit and Europe. The transaction price of Lexus's vehicles — the amount paid after incentives and negotiations — is averaging $39,994 this year, compared with $53,102 for the second- place luxury seller, Mercedes-Benz.
    "The Japanese have redefined the price versus value equation in the luxury car market," said Susan Jacobs, an industry analyst and president of Jacobs & Associates in Rutherford, N.J.
    They have made another difference as well. In a market where premium-priced vehicles like Mercedes's S-Class sedans used to be redesigned once a decade, Japanese companies are constantly updating their vehicles. The practice is particularly noticeable this year among the cars that are cornerstones of each company's lineup.
    This spring, Infiniti rolled out a new version of its Q45 flagship sedan. Next month, Acura introduces the RSX, which replaces its entry-level Integra, one of Acura's two original nameplates. Later this summer, Lexus will bring out a new version of the ES 300, a sedan that is based on, but plusher than, the Toyota Camry.
    Mr. Borst says such frequent updates help retain mercurial luxury customers, 40 percent of whom lease their vehicles and thus return to showrooms every three years or so. "They don't want to lease what is essentially the same car again when they come back," Mr. Borst said.
    New products also keep buyers intrigued, he said. Here, Japanese luxury companies have excelled. There is a four-month waiting list for the Acura MDX, a carlike sport utility introduced last winter. The wait is as long as two years for the new Lexus SC 430, which has a retractable hardtop.
    That car is a reason why, through May, Lexus sales were up 17.5 percent from a year earlier. Wesley Brown, an analyst with Nextrend Inc. in Thousand Oaks, Calif., places the 12-year-old company on equal footing with the legendary German manufacturers. "There are three luxury brands: BMW, Mercedes and Lexus," Mr. Brown said. "Everyone else is just playing second fiddle."
    Art Spinella, an industry analyst with CNW Marketing Research, said that a dozen years ago, the industry was skeptical "that Toyota could do luxury." He added, "They did it, and they did it very quickly."
    One Lexus loyalist is Willard West, of Woodinville, Wash. He still has his first LS 400 sedan, bought in 1992, and owns three other Lexuses. While some critics have called Lexus's models dull, Mr. West, 60, founder of a computer services company, said he was attracted by their low-key appearance. "I've been buying the LS for the understated elegance of it," he said.
    Willing to drive almost anything Lexus brings out — Mr. West also owns an RX 300 utility and a GS 300 sport sedan — he ordered, but ultimately did not buy, an SC 430, remaining loyal to his two Porsche 911's.
    Indeed, regardless of the strides made by Japanese companies, German automakers still have an edge when it comes to designing low-volume specialty cars like the SC 430, Ms. Jacobs said.
    She added, "The Japanese really have very narrow lineups," compared with the Germans, whose showrooms have various niche vehicles in addition to sedans and sport utilities. "They have a lot of room to move into more emotional kinds of vehicles in coupes, roadsters and convertibles, but the Germans are already there."
    Infiniti, the only one of the Japanese luxury brands whose sales have fallen this year — by 10.5 percent through May — is trying to tap into buyers' emotions with its Q45, which starts around $51,000. "We want to be luxury without compromise and performance without compromise," said Mark C. McNab, vice president and general manager of Infiniti. The process starts with the styling, which is much sleeker than the predecessor models, and extends to the car's 340-horsepower aluminum V-8 engine.
    Infiniti, whose annual sales substantially trail those of Lexus and Acura, has never realized its potential, Ms. Jacobs said. She faults the division's numerous shifts in direction in the last decade — sometimes stressing performance, sometimes styling. Infiniti needs a broader lineup of products, she said, beyond its current sedans and a single sport utilty, the QX4.
    While she gives Lexus credit for size, Ms. Jacobs is highest on Acura, which she says has the most momentum. Acura's sales were up 26 percent through May.
    Indeed, the MDX has brought Acura a new type of customer, said Dan Bonawitz, vice president for corporate planning and logistics. Fully 88 percent of MDX buyers also considered the BMW X5 and Mercedes ML- Class sport utilities, he said. That is a surprise, because Acura has long been a step- up brand from Honda; former Honda owners account for 47 percent of Acura
  • prlady1prlady1 Posts: 573
    Hi friends,
    Here's another chance for your 15 seconds of fame! Earle Eldridge of USA Today is looking for folks who were surprised at the high cost of repair for their vehicles. Eligible interviewees have a 1996 or newer vehicle, and have recently paid for repairs done on it. If you have a relevant story to share, please contact Earle directly at [email protected] or 1-800-USA-3410 ext 3671 as soon as possible, no later than Friday, July 20. As always, I welcome you to contact me with questions or thoughts. You can post here or write me offline at [email protected]
    Thanks as always for your time.
    Have fun,
  • How about a story about us (idiots?) who still buy Oldsmobiles?

    GM is running great promotions now (0.0% financing, loyalty coupons, free 60/60 warranties)

    How are we going to be able to sell these a few years from now?

    Parts availability?

    Just an idea...

  • paisanpaisan Posts: 21,181
    Parts are no problem, they are all just GM clones. Re-sale, a car is a car is a car. If someone needs transportation they'll buy it. Don't forget a car is a depreciating asset to begin with.

  • prlady1prlady1 Posts: 573
    Hi there,
    Thanks for writing. Interesting idea...I know a number of journalists troll through this board and may very well pick it up. Meanwhile, I'll also suggest it to my colleagues in the editorial dept - I'll let you know how it goes.
    Until next time,
  • prlady1prlady1 Posts: 573
    Hi again,

    Thanks again for the great idea, Mikey. Phil Reed is considering your suggestion for his "Low Down" column which appears at Stay tuned!


  • zueslewiszueslewis Posts: 2,353
    I'll gladly volunteer quite a bit of information. I have to maintain a low profile due to my current line of work, but I have some interesting consumer-protection stuff about dealer scams - with particular interest for folks in North Carolina and Pennsylvania - feel free to e-mail me at [email protected]
  • prlady1prlady1 Posts: 573
    I'm glad you wrote. I'll provide your contact info to the reporter and we'll see where it goes.
  • TotsukaTotsuka Posts: 3
    I just bought a new Toyota Highlander on July 27 from Pacific Beach Toyota in San Dingo. I love the vehicle and highly recommend it. The experience of buy the car was truely disappointing. The dealer can best be described as a dishonest, liar, and insulting. Here are a few highlights;
    - They did not give me the second set of keys. They can't find them and did not want to make me a set. They said they would mail me a set.
    - They did not give me the owners manual. They can't find it. They said they would mail me a book.
    - The lighter is missing.
    - The lighter is missing from the car.
    - I had to ask twice to get the floor mats and then the sales manager said I did not pay for that item. I showed him the invoice and he walked off. The salesman took a set from a different Highlander and tossed them into my back seat.
    - We agreeded on a price of 26900.00 but they charged me $26977.00. I did not catch it until later that night. That will teach me to forget my glasses!
    - They won't take the DMV paper work to the DMV until they get 50 sets. They said it was not worth the trip for just one customer. They acknowledged that would delay me getting my plates and pink slip by a few weeks but so what.
    - I did not require a loan and told them I wanted to pay in cash. They still ran a credit check on me without my authorization.
    - I wanted to pick up the car the following morning since it was late when we finished the deal. (10pm) I called my insurance company, paid for my insurance with a credit card and had them ax the policy to the dealer. The dealer went crazy and insisted that I take the car right then. He said it was illegal for me to leave and also their insurance company demanded that I take the car. We argued and finally he ended up writing up a loan application for one day.
    - I asked several times for a list of the options, catalog of other options etc..but was ignored.
    - I did not want the after market anti-theft device but wanted the Toyota alarm system. They just ignored me and left the after market device installed. When I picked up the car they disabled it but refused to remove it. When I picked up my car I immediately went to Frank Toyota in National City and paid them to remove that device and install the Toyota Alarm system.
    - The finance manager tried to sell me the Extended Warranty, paint coating and aftermarket theft device. She might have made a sale if she knew what she was talking about.
    - The dealership show room was dirty and the tables need some serious 409 cleaning.
    - The dealer insisted that I drive the car out the entrance and back in the exit before I leave.
    - I brought the cashiers check the next day like I promised and found my car sitting where I left it. The head sales manager gave me a receipt and not a word of thanks.
    - The salesman was nice but did not know the product. He did manage to show me how to open the tail gate and where the engine was located. I thought Toyota had a very detailed customer orientation but apparently not.
    - The finance manager described to me how people in the past tried to trick them so they had to be careful. I got the impression that she was calling me a potential thief and don't appreciate that.
    - The dress code can be described as "casual sloppy". The attitude displayed towards me is best described as "let's rip him off".
    - I like the car but I will never buy another Toyota product. I don't like the idea of driving across the country this Friday without a second set of keys, owners manual and the car not being checked out. In the past I have seen people sue car makers for some silly problems, but now I understand why people sue. I wish I knew a good lawyer so I could sue Toyota. If this car has any problems on my trip I will do just that.
    - I spent the last 6 years in Japan and have been used to getting excellent service. That is one of the reasons I chose Toyota. I was sadly disappointed.

    Kevin Laman
    San Diego CA
  • lancerfixerlancerfixer Posts: 1,308
    Why did you buy the car from this dealer, again? I find it difficult to believe there's only one Toyota dealer in the San Diego area! If you like the car but hated dealing with the dealer, you've got no one to blame but yourself. You could have walked away at any time.
  • spellboundspellbound Posts: 77
    So why the heck did you give this dealer your business? By doing so you rewarded their behavior and helped insure their continuing to do business in that manner.

    There are good dealers out there that can generally provide a competative price.
  • prlady1prlady1 Posts: 573
    Sorry about your bad experience, Tosuka. I think Lancerfixer and Spellbound are on target with their advice - the most powerful thing you can do is walk! Have you read "Confessions of a Car Salesman" by my colleague Chandler Phillips yet? It's worth it, even if you don't plan to reenter the process for another few years.
  • odd1odd1 Posts: 227
    ... run from this kind of service. Putting up with it only perpetuates this kind of behavior.
  • TotsukaTotsuka Posts: 3
    I should have walked but without wheels and I'm retiring from the Navy this Friday so I wanted the car. It's been an outstanding vehicle so far. Toyota mailed me the owners manual and I got it yesterday but still no keys from the dealer. I guess I'll just wait till I get back to Florida and work on that problem from there.
  • im_brentwoodim_brentwood Posts: 4,883
    As a dealer nobody hates this crap more than I do.

    It makes us all look bad. Please, next time.. walk out! The longer people reinforce this behavior the longer it will continue...

    Good luck in FL though! I live here and love it! :)

  • prlady1prlady1 Posts: 573
    The Wall Street Journal is wondering if the exhaust note of a vehicle is important to automotive consumers. Were you sold on the 2002 Cadillac Escalade because it can quietly cruise but let out a low, throaty roar in traffic? Did the SC 430 surprise you because it has a great rumble rather than the typical Lexus tranquility? What is your opinion of the sounds of the Corvette, BMW Z8, Acura CL Type S, Ford Special Harley Davidson Edition F150, Honda S2000, Ford Mustang GT, Porsche 911 - and what other vehicles have sounds that appeal?
    Please post your thoughts and/or respond to [email protected] no later than Friday, August 17th to be considered for use in the article. Thanks as always for your input!
  • prlady1prlady1 Posts: 573
    Here's one passionate response to get the conversation started:

    As a recent Bullitt Mustang buyer, I can state for a fact that exhaust note was EXTREMELY important to me. I ordered the car months before it was available, but when I read in the press release that the engineers had worked hard to recreate the sound of the original Bullitt Mustang from the movie, I was very excited and hopeful (I know that exhaust sound well from hours of movie viewing).

    Now that I have possession of the car, I can confirm that the Ford guys did their work well. So well that only a few vehicles currently available even come close to the Bullitt's cool sound. Those would be: A 12 cylinder Ferrari, a Viper GTS, and a Porsche Turbo.

    Note that all of those cars cost between $75,000 and $200,000. To get a sound from a $26,000 Mustang that is on par with those vehicles is a screaming bargain, and a stroke of pure genius on Ford's part.

    Ford's other hot Mustang, the SVT Cobra, also has a killed exhaust note. But the sound is more high-tech while the Bullitt is more retro/muscle car-like. As a muscle car fan I love the Bullitt's sound, but the Cobra is undeniably appealing as well.

    I find it interesting that the mainstream automakers have just discovered the value of exhaust sound. Ferrari, Ducati, and the aftermarket have known about the power of a cool sounding exhaust for decades.

    Karl Brauer
  • paisanpaisan Posts: 21,181
    I'm of the opposite camp. I don't care what it sounds like or looks like, so long as it moves, and handles well :)

  • bcloughbclough Posts: 97
    A nice sound is, well, nice. But it's not a dealbreaker. I wouldn't buy a car on the sound alone, any more than I would buy it on whether the cupholders were attractive.

    I trust that the WSJ reporter has talked to the people at Harley Davidson? They actually tried to patent the sound of their motorcycles once, I am told.

  • no sound. I want the exhaust tuned for the best engine efficiency consistent with the mission of the vehicle. Therefore, a family sedan would be essentially silent. A sports car will be louder because the exhaust is larger, and tuned for power. The sound of barely restrained power is fine with me - just nothing artificial, please!
  • prlady1prlady1 Posts: 573
    Thanks for your responses. The Wall Street Journal is reading and considering each of them. How long do you think this will remain a one-sided perspective? There must be someone out there who loves a grumbling engine!
  • But if I want to hear one, I'll go to a race track or drag strip. The honest sound of open pipes on a competition motor is very stirring. On the road, where you may be listening to 15 or 20 cars at once, the quieter the better.
  • prlady1prlady1 Posts: 573
    Now I know where your nickname comes from, Mr. Hiwaysanity!
  • qbrozenqbrozen Posts: 27,627
    I love the sound of a nicely tuned engine. No, I don't want the obnoxious screaming of a 4 cyl car at 9,000 rpms with a coffee can strapped to the muffler. What I do like is the sound of real performance. The nicest sound I can think of in recent months is the Subaru WRX. Everytime I hear that commercial on the radio, I get jazzed. That just sounds INCREDIBLE.

    Another car I think has a great sound is a Ram Air Trans Am. Even when I hear that car at idle, I think "that just SOUNDS fast!"

    However, I do agree with others that its not the reason I buy a car. I love to hear it and I love to listen to it, but, of course, a quiet car that gives me everything else I need is just as good to me.

    '19 Ioniq plug-in, '08 Charger R/T Daytona; '67 Coronet R/T; '14 Town&Country Limited; '18 BMW X2. 50-car history and counting!

  • prlady1prlady1 Posts: 573
    I agree entirely, and I'm sure the WSJ will be interested in talking with you. If you are willing, please send me a note at [email protected] containing your e-mail address, phone number and city/state of residence. No pressure. Thanks for writing!
  • lokkilokki Posts: 1,200
    It's the sonic equivalent of the difference between kissing your sister and kissing your lover. Wtihout the sound of the engine it's a sterile experience.

    When I hit the gas, I love the (muted) burble of the exhaust.

    Now, I want a quiet car for wind noise and road noise. My last car an Acura drove me insane because I couldn't hear the engine over the tire noise. I want to hear that engine moaning...and growling.

    My BMW 328i does this trick quite nicely. It is quiet but present when you cruise, and has a nice muted throaty noise when you hit the throttle. (There's a special valve in the muffler that opens when you hit the gas. BMW says it's for better torque at low throttle - yeah right - it's for the sound when you stomp it). A silent BMW would be like sitting in a Doctor's waiting room.

    A car with no engine note is just an appliance.

    A Volvo and a refrigerator - what's the difference and who cares?
  • lancerfixerlancerfixer Posts: 1,308
    "A Volvo and a refrigerator - what's the difference and who cares?"

    Hey now... :-)
  • zueslewiszueslewis Posts: 2,353
    heard this before, but why do Brits drink warm beer? Because Lucas makes electrical systems for Jaguars and refrigerators!
  • prlady1prlady1 Posts: 573
    Haven't heard a Jaguar joke in a while - and no, that is not an invitation for more to come my way! Lokki, thanks for your passionate response on the topic at hand. I'm sure the WSJ will be interested in talking with you. If you are willing, please send me a note at [email protected] containing your e-mail address, phone number and city/state of residence. No pressure. Thanks for writing!
  • im_brentwoodim_brentwood Posts: 4,883

    I'll remember that. Old Joke man!

    1995 Vanden Plas (among others)
    Bought new. 129K miles (Abusive miles actually).
    Total Repairs:
    Broken Cupholder
    Broken AC Air Vent in dash
    New Tilt motor for power steering column.
  • 0patience0patience Oregon CoastPosts: 1,712
    As a mechanic, I am always listening to the engine. Habit you know.
    I don't care for the four cylinder bee sounding exhaust some of these young pups seem to favor. I like the rumble of the V8 engine. I will admit though, there are some V6 engines out that do have a bit of the old rumbly sound.
    I don't care too much for these absolutely quiet cars either, some of them it is tough to tell if the engine is running or not.
  • prlady1prlady1 Posts: 573
    As a mechanic, no doubt you can tell us how terrible it is to crank the ignition on an engine that is already going...
    I saw your e-mail address in your user profile, and have forwarded it to the WSJ reporter working on this story. If you have any questions, or care to provide your phone number and other contact info, please feel free to drop me a note offline at [email protected]
  • zueslewiszueslewis Posts: 2,353
    my demonishing comments towards Jaguar - at least yours. I owned a '73 XJ-6 when I was a hard-partyin' Air Force airman in Athens, Greece. (Sounds like the title of a song!)

    I couldn't keep that thing running, and that's where I first heard the Lucas joke - from a group of British tourists laughing at me while my buddy and I pushed the car out of the "pick up" lane at the Athens Int'l Airport. I would rather that they helped push versus making humor.
  • prlady1prlady1 Posts: 573
    Hi there,
    The New York Times is interested in talking with folks who made sure they were on the waiting list for one or more of the most anticipated vehicles of the decade, such as Navigator, Beetle, Miata, Z3, M-class, PT Cruise, SC430, Escalade, MDX, and Tbird. If you trade in vehicles frequently in order to have the hottest new thing, you are eligible for 15 seconds of fame in the NY Times. Please post here in Talk to the Press, or respond to [email protected] with your phone number and city/state of residence no later than Monday, August 20.
    Thanks, folks. As always, I look forward to hearing your stories!
    Jeannine Fallon
    Director of Public Relations
    [email protected]
  • prlady1prlady1 Posts: 573
    Hi again,
    The New York Times is looking to interview owners of diesel and alternative fuel vehicles.
    If you are interested in sharing your experience with such vehicles, please post here in Talk to the Press, or respond to [email protected] with your phone number and city/state of residence by Friday, August 24.
    Jeannine Fallon
    Director of Public Relations
    [email protected]
  • 0patience0patience Oregon CoastPosts: 1,712
    I sent you an e-mail with the info to forward. Thanks.
  • prlady1prlady1 Posts: 573
    A reporter is looking to talk with someone who bought a large suv or truck within the past year and is thinking about trading it in for a smaller vehicle. Please respond to [email protected] with your daytime contact info and vehicle info by Monday, May 1, 2006.
    Jeannine Fallon
    Corporate Communications
  • prlady1prlady1 Posts: 573
    Thanks so much for the exhaust-note examples. They're great. That story is in pretty good shape and my editor has a draft.
    Now it's on to the next big thing. I'm looking into how small sport sedans are taking over the market. Seems that high fuel prices and the teetering economy have more people looking at smaller cars. But they don't want econoboxes! We're looking at the likes of the 3-Series BMW, C-Class Mercedes and Jaguar X-Type.
    The ideal example for my story is someone who recently traded in a big
    luxury car for a smaller one--like a 7-Series for a 3-Series, or a big Jag for the new small one. Any help is much appreciated! Please post your comments here or send them directly to [email protected] Thanks as always.
  • 2 years ago I traded a Chrysler Concorde for a Passat for much the reason you gave. I wanted to get from the heavy metal to a smaller, more efficient sedan, but was unwilling to accept the mundane. Unfortunately, I couldn't afford a 3-series at the time, so I went a couple notches lower.

    Now I am in considering trading my minivan for the 3-series I wanted last time. That will be done about the end of this year.
  • paisanpaisan Posts: 21,181
    the WRX is a sedan. And it'll whip the 3-series and the Jag's butts!

  • prlady1prlady1 Posts: 573
    Thanks again to those of you who (along with CEO Peter Steinlauf) responded to post #92 re: hot cars. Below is the NY Times article that resulted. Enjoy!

    When Hot Cars Go Cold
    DETROIT -- THE Lexus SC 430 is the chief object of automotive desire this summer. Demand is high, supplies are short and dealers are charging thousands of dollars over the $60,000 sticker. But to Jay Shoemaker, the elegant convertible is old news.

    Mr. Shoemaker of San Francisco got his SC 430 in March, and he has already sold it, pocketing $8,000 in profit. When he ordered the car in December 1999, he was the second person on Lexus's waiting list.

    Now he is looking ahead to his 2002 Mercedes SL500, which he ordered a year ago and plans to pick up in Europe next April. It will be the 74th car that Mr. Shoemaker, 49, has owned, most of them convertibles and all but five of them imports.

    "My average tenure for owning a car is one year, although if I really like it, maybe two years," said Mr. Shoemaker, chief executive of the Coppola Companies, a collection of businesses — including a winery and movie studio — owned by the filmmaker Francis Ford Coppola. "I generally try to be early on the curve so if I don't like it, I can always get rid of it without losing my shirt."

    While the market for generic cars and trucks has been buoyed by discounts and incentives, there is strong demand for a handful of hot models. Aside from the SC 430, there are waiting lists for the Ford Thunderbird roadster, the Acura MDX sport utility and even the Honda Odyssey minivan. Their scarcity makes them all the more desirable, said Ron Pinelli, a consultant with Autodata in Woodcliff Lake, N.J.

    "When something is in short supply, you feel special because you have it," Mr. Pinelli said. "Despite the economic downturn, there are still plenty of people with the money to buy whatever they want."

    Automakers both love and fear trend surfers like Mr. Shoemaker. Their early-bird purchases help to kindle interest in new cars, but their fickle tastes have been picked up by the broader market. Shoppers looking at an array of vehicles, with a wide range of prices, are now eager to drive the hot new thing. Carmakers are scrambling to figure out not just how to generate heat, but how to keep hot cars from getting cold.

    Wesley Brown, an analyst with Nextrend, a market research firm in Thousand Oaks, Calif., says vehicles have become personal accessories as much as transportation. "We've become a much more fashion-oriented, image-oriented society," he said. "We're always looking for what's going to make me look great, what's going to make me feel great."

    That is one reason Peter Steinlauf bought his SC 430. Mr. Steinlauf, 54, chief executive of, a Web site for car buyers, fell in love with the SC when he saw the first pictures of it a year ago. The romance continued upon delivery. "You sure feel very popular" behind the wheel, he said. "Strangers stop you to talk about it."

    There is a price to be paid for being first. Some California dealers are charging premiums of $10,000 and more for the 2002 Thunderbird, which starts around $35,000. One dealership that is charging only the sticker price is Albion Motors in Albion, Mich., about 100 miles west of Detroit. Seven customers have placed nonrefundable deposits of $5,000, said Andrew Blackledge, the dealership's Internet sales manager.

    Trouble is, Albion Motors will get just two 2002 T-Birds; its prospective buyers are on waiting lists for 2003 and 2004 models.

    Even those guaranteed to get T-Birds may wait longer. Production was halted on Aug. 15 because of a cooling system problem, and resumed only yesterday.

    Such glitches can contribute to a car's losing its buzz, said Art Spinella, founder of CNW Marketing Research of Bandon, Ore. His research indicates that interest in the T- Bird, which has been repeatedly delayed, may already be fading. Mr. Spinella conducts focus groups in which he shows photos of coming cars and asks consumers to rate their interest. An average score is 100. On his first test of the T-Bird, conducted in June 2000 in Florida and California, buyers gave it a score of 140. By January, its score had dropped to 129.

    Another Ford vehicle, the hulking Excursion S.U.V., shows how quickly a hot vehicle can go frigid. When Ford unveiled the Excursion in 1999, the company expected it to be a huge success. But even before the Excursion came to market, environmentalists attacked it as an excessively large gas-guzzler. Soon after, gasoline prices spiked.

    "A lot of high-income people just decided, `Enough is enough,' " said Michael Luckey, analyst with the Luckey Consulting Group in Pompton Plains, N.J.

    At the height of its popularity, Albion Motors sold about 10 Excursions a month. It now sells about 2, Mr. Blackledge said.

    Interest remains high in the Honda Odyssey minivan, still a suburban status symbol three years after it came to market. Odyssey sales are actually down slightly this year — not for lack of buyer interest, but because of a production quandary. Both the Odyssey and the Acura MDX sport utility are built at a plant in Alliston, Ontario, that is at full capacity. Honda has had to cut Odyssey production to build more MDX's.

    At the moment, the scales are tipped in favor of MDX, which has a four-month waiting list; the Odyssey wait is generally about three weeks nationwide, said a Honda spokesman, Andrew Boyd. Supplies of the Odyssey should ease up late this year, when Honda opens a factory in Alabama that will be devoted to the minivan.

    But even the biggest sensation of the late 1990's, the Volkswagen New Beetle, has struggled to stay in the limelight. When that car came out in 1998, "you could have sold truckloads if you could have gotten them," said Gary Smith, general manager of Halbinsel Volkswagen in Escanaba, Mich., who sold the first New Beetle in the country.

    Since then, the cars have become widely available and deals abound. says customers across the country have been paying an average of $400 below the $17,325 sticker of a basic New Beetle.

    But Mr. Smith is already looking ahead. He is awaiting a convertible version of the New Beetle, for which he already has one order, though VW still hasn't said when that car will go on sale. Mr. Smith is also lobbying for VW to build a new Microbus based on a design study that was shown to the public last year. "If they ever decided to produce it," he said, "it would be a smash."
  • I live in rural SW Virginia and had several 4 & AWD vehicles due to the possibility of snow and the need to get out. I sold a nearly new Subaru SVX to get a midsize SUV - a Mercury Mountaineer. I needed a vehicle to carry loads after my wife traded the Suburban. After two years of the SUV I decided I wanted a small wagon (I could carry loads and still have AWD) and looked hard at the Subaru WRX wagon and the Audi A4 Avant. Neither fit exactly (turbo lag of the Subaru and price and availability of the Audi). When I saw the Mercedes Benz C230 it was love at first sight.

    I had to give up the AWD but got a Mercedes for less than the Audi and only slightly more than the Subaru. I gained great handling, very good economy, and a hatchback to carry stuff. I have to wait for winter to see if it can handle snow with its RWD (which I like) and electronic/mechanical controls (of which I am leary).

    So far I am VERY pleased. Good handling, 10+MGP better fuel economy (albeit with premium gas) in a very taut package,and a good price (>$30K).
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