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  • prlady1prlady1 Posts: 573
    For a television project, we're seeking females who are true do-it-yourselfers that enjoy taking on less traditional projects in areas such as car repair. Please provide a brief description of what inspires you to perform these kind of projects (television programs, hobby, etc.) as well as how long you've been doing them. Also, please share your age and where you reside. Please respond to [email protected] by 3 p.m. EST Wednesday, March 13. Thanks!
    P.S. Questions can be directed to [email protected]
  • prlady1prlady1 Posts: 573
    I'm looking for any woman who has recently bought or driven a hybrid car.

    If you fit this description and care to share your input on the subject, please contact Kristen Gerencher at [email protected] or Jeannine Fallon at [email protected] by noon EST Tuesday, March 19.
  • prlady1prlady1 Posts: 573
    A major midwestern daily newspaper is interested in satellite radio. If you own a system and are willing to be interviewed about it, please post here and/or e-mail me at [email protected] prior to Thursday, April 4. Thanks!
    Jeannine Fallon
    PR Director
    Edmunds.com
  • prlady1prlady1 Posts: 573
    A major national newspaper is hoping to talk with someone today who feels there are too many light and medium trucks on the road. If you hate sharing road space with SUVs and pick-ups, please e-mail me at [email protected] before the end of Monday, April 1.
  • prlady1prlady1 Posts: 573
    American Tastes Move Upscale,
    Forcing Manufacturers to Adjust
    By GREGORY L. WHITE and SHIRLEY LEUNG
    Staff Reporters of THE WALL STREET JOURNAL
    Friday, March 29, 2002

    Who would pay $2,200 for a washer-dryer set with stainless-steel drums, 12 different wash cycles, rounded styling, baby-blue trim and room for 22 bath towels? Whirlpool Corp. thought it knew the answer when it introduced its Duet line last year: a niche of affluent laundry-doers willing to pay about three times the price of the company's midrange machines. Whirlpool expected the Duet would make up only 5% of its North American washer and dryer sales.

    Instead, in its first six months on the market, the Duet line is on track to double Whirlpool's projections, while sales of the company's midrange models are flat. Despite the weak economy, it isn't just the rich who are buying Duets, but many of the middle-class shoppers who might once have bought Whirlpool's standard offerings.

    The same surprising pattern is popping up in cars, retailing, electronics and other industries, upending much of the conventional wisdom of consumer marketing. Millions of Americans who once made up the vast middle of the nation's $7 trillion consumer market are migrating upscale toward premium and luxury goods.

    The Shape of Things

    In the past, high-end goods typically sold in small volumes to the relatively few customers willing to pay top dollar. They formed the tip of a pyramid-shaped market that got broader toward the bottom, as prices declined. Because of its breadth, the mass market was king, dictating the fortunes of auto makers and other consumer-goods manufacturers.

    But no longer. Today's auto market is increasingly "shaped like an hourglass," says Helmut Panke, who is scheduled to take over this spring as head of German auto maker Bayerische Motoren Werke AG. At the bottom, the only differentiator is price, and advantage shifts constantly between rivals that can deliver the best value. At the top are luxury names, which rely on the cachet of their well-known brands and which are aggressively coaxing middle-class consumers to climb up the ladder.

    What's brought about this change? First, there's globalization. Thanks to free trade, the low end of the electronics market, for example, offers plenty of $79 DVD players to tempt the most price-sensitive buyers. That leaves three choices for the middle-market consumers who once would have spent a little more for a familiar brand: buy a low-end DVD player, pay more for a brand-name product with much the same features as the $79 version, or step up to a premium brand that claims to offer higher style, quality or technology.

    Americans' big increase in wealth during the 1990s boom also has put pressure on the middle market. Much of that wealth has survived the stock market's downturn and the current economic slowdown. According to census data, median household income, adjusted for inflation, held steady at a record $42,151 in 2000, the latest year for which data are available. And Federal Reserve data show that household net worth, while down from its 1999 peak, is still above mid-1990s levels. Meanwhile, the personal savings rate for the past two years has remained at its lowest since the Great Depression.

    'Affluent Attitudes'

    Baby boomers, whose tastes have driven consumer markets for years, are a major force behind the current urge to splurge, especially as their kids graduate from college and head into their own peak consuming years. The great migration upscale also reflects a shift in consumers' aspirations. For decades, many Americans were proud just to belong to the middle class. Now, a growing number of them regard the middle class as a starting point, not a goal.

    "Right now, there's no aspiration to be middle class. Everyone wants to be at the top," says J. Walker Smith, president of the market consulting firm Yankelovich Partners, which is based in Chapel Hill, N.C. It dubs the phenomenon "the mainstreaming of affluent attitudes."

    Companies of all stripes are hard at work finding ways to exploit the trend. At Whirlpool, the Duet's surprise popularity prompted the appliance maker to overhaul its marketing plans. The average Duet buyer, says Dave Hurwitt, brand manager for the company's $2 billion-a-year North American washer and dryer business, turned out to have average household income of about $50,000, far less than the $75,000 the company had expected.

    Seeking to broaden its target audience, Whirlpool pulled its original TV ads, as well as its ads in specialty magazines, such as House Beautiful, which targeted the energy-conscious high-income consumer. Now, Whirlpool is emphasizing in-store promotions. Its new TV spots feature a customer testimonial to stress the product's practical appeal.

    At Abt Electronics, a big retailer outside Chicago, Jim and Diana Boyd say they bought Whirlpool's new Duet washer and dryer to replace their old ones, which cost about a third as much. Mrs. Boyd, a substitute teacher at a public high school, says she and her husband, a field manager for a construction company, have become less price-sensitive and more quality-conscious.

    The Boyds, who live in suburban Chicago, say their income has risen some over the years, but so have their expenses, as their four children have entered their teen years. Even so, says Mrs. Boyd, "we find in the long run it's more cost-effective to have high-quality products," because they perform better and last longer.

    Ways to Adapt

    Abt manager Phil Hannon says his store now carries more high-end appliances and electronics than it did a decade ago, because discounters and even grocery stores have grabbed the low-end of the market for such products as VCRs and stereos. "There's a shift," Mr. Hannon says. "You have to find ways to adapt."

    The shift has roiled even the discount sector, where Wal-Mart Stores Inc. has emerged as the low-price leader and Target Corp. as its upscale rival. Target has thrived by offering consumers more stylish products, such as its curvaceous phones and toasters designed by Michael Graves. Kmart Corp., meanwhile, took the middle road. Unable to compete with Wal-Mart on price or with Target on style, it recently entered bankruptcy proceedings.

    Some former middle-market players have followed consumers up the market as their traditional clientele has evaporated. The Seghesio Family Vineyards, founded in 1895, used to cater to consumers of moderately priced wines, selling bottles of cabernet, merlot and zinfandel, for about $6 each. By the 1990s, however, the company was struggling to survive in the shrinking middle market between cheap jug wines and quality vintages. Sales of premium wines were surging as more Americans set their sights higher.
  • prlady1prlady1 Posts: 573
    In 1995, a younger generation of the family took control and decided to revamp the company. "My dad didn't want any of our wines to be above $10 a bottle," says Peter Seghesio, chief executive of the Healdsburg, Calif., winery. "We saw that the only way we can survive was to make really great wines."

    The winery ditched all its grapes, except for its zinfandels, and slashed production to 35,000 cases from 120,000 cases. Because making premium wines required more labor, it raised its average price to about $20 a bottle. Seghesio, whose biggest distribution channel had been Safeway supermarkets, started pitching its products to independent wine shops.

    The strategy worked. Not only is the winery no longer struggling, but it has managed to boost its production to 70,000 cases, two years ahead of schedule.

    Reaching Down

    In other markets, high-end brands are hoping to prevail by making their exclusive products more attainable. Luxury-car makers, such as BMW and DaimlerChrysler AG's Mercedes, which have set sales records in recent years, are spending billions on new, lower-priced models to coax consumers up from the middle market. BMW's latest offering is the Mini, an updated version of the tiny 1960s British classic. Starting at $17,000, the Mini will offer amenities typical of cars costing thousands more. Its safety features include six air bags, and its options include a computerized navigation system. Mercedes already sells a model called the C-Class Coupe that starts at just over $25,000.

    About 18 months ago, when Terry Kominsky started shopping for a replacement for his 1993 Nissan Altima sedan, he wanted something a little more fun to drive. Friends suggested he try a Volkswagen Jetta. Mr. Kominsky, who lives in Shartlesville, Pa., says he liked the model's sportier European feel, so he decided to try some other German models. He initially set his price limit at $25,000, "then each time I drove another car, I pushed it up a few thousand," says the 38-year-old engineer, whose wife stays home to care for their two children. He wound up buying a $37,000 BMW 330Ci coupe, which he says won him over with its performance and handling.

    "I'm a steak-and-potatoes guy," he says. "But when I buy something for myself -- a motorcycle, a stereo -- or for the kids, I do a lot of research, and then I buy the best that I can afford."

    That kind of attitude has Ford Motor Co. scrambling to exploit its stable of luxury brands -- Jaguar, Volvo, Land Rover and Aston Martin -- most of which it picked up in a $9 billion acquisition spree in the late 1990s. Ford, whose results from its core Ford brand have been slipping for several years, expects its luxury brands, which now account for about a quarter of its corporate profits, to generate about a third of the total by 2005.

    Through the 1990s, Ford chased its middle-market customers up the ladder by offering them pickup trucks and sport-utility vehicles that often cost as much as luxury cars. Meanwhile, demand for its traditional mass-market models, such as the Ford Taurus -- once America's best-selling car -- ebbed as consumers abandoned it for more upscale models or switched to cheaper alternatives, such as the Korean-made Hyundai.

    The shift has pulled the rug out from under some legendary American auto brands, such as DaimlerChrysler's Plymouth and General Motors Corp.'s Oldsmobile, which once populated the broad middle but didn't have the cachet to compete with the luxury nameplates. Sales of others, such as Mercury and Buick, traditionally pitched as step-up vehicles for 40-somethings who had established themselves in careers, have declined steadily as their loyal buyers have aged. Meanwhile, today's 40-somethings are increasingly looking to stylish imports.

    "The Buick Regal looks like a 240-horsepower version of my living room sofa," says Mark Klicker, a Massachusetts defense-electronics worker, referring to the Buick's overstuffed seats. Mr. Klicker, 48, traded in a 1994 Taurus for an Audi A6 sedan last year. He recalls how growing up in the Midwest in the 1960s, "if you drove a Mercury Park Lane or an Oldsmobile, that was the big time, that was a big step up." But now, he says, American brands can't compete with luxury imports.

    Detroit auto makers insist they're still capturing many of the buyers moving upscale, thanks to SUVs, which continue to post record sales growth even after a decade of explosive popularity. "One of my favorite quizzes is who sells more vehicles for more than $35,000," says GM CEO Rick Wagoner. "The answer is Chevrolet," he says -- thanks to SUVs such as the Suburban, which can cost well over $40,000.

    Nonetheless, GM's biggest challenge remains "our inability to conquest or retain customers in the higher income groups," says GM market analyst Paul Ballew.

    GM is taking aim at the problem in part by investing nearly $5 billion to overhaul and expand its Cadillac and Saab luxury brands. Officials say the company still is trying to figure out exactly where Buick fits in.

    The big luxury car makers like BMW and Mercedes face a big risk: They could undermine the cachet of their $70,000 top-of-the-line cars with their new sub-$30,000 offerings. And those less expensive cars may not measure up to consumers' expectations. In the early 1990s, BMW, known for high performance, offered a low-priced hatchback with a four-cylinder engine. Sales of the car, which was widely panned by critics, were disappointing, and BMW pulled it off the market. BMW takes pains to point out its updated Mini will sell under the little car's own brand name, and not BMW's.

    Undaunted, BMW's Mr. Panke says he expects sales of premium vehicles to grow at twice the rate of the mass market over the next few years. That's because consumers are increasingly willing to pay more for what they perceive as a better value.

    The 'Reasonable Thing'

    Take William Hall, 43, who lives in Alexandria, Va. Mr. Hall had been a loyal Toyota customer for two decades until a year and a half ago, when he went shopping for a new car. After he discovered that a Toyota Camry sedan with the options he wanted would cost more than $25,000, he decided to look at Mercedes, a brand he'd long admired but always thought was out of reach. At $34,000, the C-class sedan he test drove was about $7,000 more than the top-of-the-line Camry he was looking at, and it offered more safety features than the Toyota.

    Mr. Hall and his wife had to "overcome the initial thought of having a Mercedes, that it's like trying to move up to a different socioeconomic class," he says. "Once we understood that" the price difference "was not outrageous at all, it was just the reasonable thing to do."
  • prlady1prlady1 Posts: 573
    Some luxury names haven't had to lower their standards at all to tap into the growing consumer taste for the better things in life. Tiffany & Co. has discovered a simple method of luring less-well-to-do customers into its tony jewelry stores: putting prices in its ads. Its first such ads disclosed that while Tiffany's diamond engagement rings ran as high as $850,000, they started at $850.

    "We found very few men came in looking for an $850 diamond -- they spend in a neighborhood of $7,000 to $8,000," says Mark Aaron, vice president of investor relations for the New York-based jeweler. But seeing that its prices start at less than $1,000, says Mr. Aaron, reassures them that " 'I can go into Tiffany, and I don't have to be embarrassed.' "

    Tiffany's fastest-growing line last year was silver jewelry, which starts at about $50 for a pair of earrings. That's because of shoppers such as Lisa Mason, a 30-year-old high-school teacher, who walked out of Tiffany's on Chicago's Michigan Avenue last month carrying its famous robin's-egg blue shopping bag. Her purchase: a $200 sterling-silver chain necklace.

    Why shop at Tiffany? "I want to move up in the world," Ms. Mason says.
  • prlady1prlady1 Posts: 573
    Hello out there,
    Has anyone been shopping for a vehicle and recently noticing price increases in MSRP, options and/or destination charges? A reporter from a major national newspaper is looking for anecdotes.
    Thanks much for forwarding your comments and contact information to [email protected] no later than Friday, April 5.
    Very best,
    Jeannine Fallon
    PR Director
    Edmunds.com
  • ateixeiraateixeira Posts: 72,587
    What's funny is when prices are increased even when there are rebates that remain in place. Why not just lower the rebate? It's silly.

    -juice
  • prlady1prlady1 Posts: 573
    Good question.

    Think residual values...rebates are just temporary, but MSRP goes down on the books forever. Until invoice-based Edmunds.com True Market Value (R) (http://www.edmunds.com/products/tmv/index.html) is the universal pricing standard for used vehicles, MSRP will continue to play a major role in valuing them, for better or worse.

    And of course, marketing plays a role - automakers can't really advertise that they haven't raised your price, but they can certainly advertise a rebate - "now on sale."
  • prlady1prlady1 Posts: 573
    Drivers line up on both sides of road

    By Rick Popely
    Chicago Tribune staff reporter
    Published April 7, 2002

    Rear-wheel-drive is going to be a tough sell with Wayne Childers, who leased a $50,000 Mercedes-Benz E320 in 1998 expecting it would be his "ultimate car experience."

    It has been an experience, he says now, but not what he expected. Even with electronic traction control, his RWD Mercedes feels treacherous on snowy roads that his wife's front-wheel-drive Acura RL tackles with ease.

    The ultimate experience came last year, when his car began slipping on a flat, straight section of U.S. Highway 14 near Barrington covered with wet, heavy snow.

    "The next thing I know I'm doing a 360 and going off the side of the road," Childers recalls. He spun 1 1/2 times in front of a semi that swerved to avoid him and wound up facing the wrong way, though his car was undamaged.

    "There are hilly, crowned two-lane roads in our area, and any time it gets slushy, it starts hydroplaning," said Childers, of Barrington, who runs a marketing communications firm.

    "If I have to go uphill in snow, it gets sideways. The rear end comes around to meet you. I pray every time I have to climb one of those hills."

    The traction control feels "like it's not doing anything," he says, and the Mercedes, his first RWD car in eight years, "is not what it should be as far as traction. The Acura is much better. It feels much more secure, and it does not slide."

    The Mercedes lease expires in November, and Childers hasn't decided what his next car will be, except it won't have RWD.

    "It will have front-drive or all-wheel-drive," he says. "You shouldn't be afraid to take the car out on bad days."

    Though rear-wheel-drive has been a bust for Childers, others embrace it.

    Atlee Wong, a finance manager for American Express, prefers the feel of his rear-wheel-drive BMW 323is to that of high-powered FWD cars, which he says suffer from torque steer, in which the front pulls to one side in acceleration.

    "They can really be a handful and not much fun to drive," Wong said of FWD cars. "I wouldn't consider myself a particularly aggressive driver."

    Wong, 41, owned several front-wheel-drive cars before buying his 1998 BMW coupe, which has traction control. He says it has no trouble negotiating snow and ice.

    "I think the key is to have a car that is not too nose heavy," he said, noting that the weight of his BMW is evenly distributed between front and rear. "You also have to have dedicated winter tires that are designed for enhanced traction at low temperatures."

    Allan Pincus had a different experience.

    Before Pincus bought a used BMW 323i sedan two years ago, the dealer assured him it would have good winter traction. "Between the traction control and the all-season tires, winters used to be a big concern, but not anymore," he recalls the dealer assuring him.

    "Was he wrong," says Pincus, an engineer who lives in an area of central New Jersey with rolling hills. "The wheels would spin in an inch of snow even on slight grades. It was a pain in the butt on any kind of grade that wasn't completely cleared of snow. You're sitting on the side of the road and your wheels are spinning and you aren't going anywhere."

    Pincus couldn't get the BMW up his steep driveway if there was any snow. After less than two years in the RWD BMW, Pincus traded it for a FWD Infiniti I35.

    "I don't want to switch tires in the winter or put sand in the back. I'm willing to sacrifice some performance for peace of mind," he said.

    "For those purists who really want the performance, maybe rear-wheel-drive is the best thing. I don't think I will ever buy a rear-wheel vehicle again."

    Ray Chapman, a 51-year-old data processing systems programmer, hasn't owned a RWD car since 1989, but he says he might go back if there was one in his price range.

    Chapman says he buys FWD cars such as his Pontiac Grand Am almost by default. The only RWD midsize sedans are luxury models.

    "I didn't have any problem with them in the winter, though those were pretty heavy vehicles back then," said Chapman, who learned to cope with winter in RWD cars.

    He recalls that his first FWD car didn't provide the winter traction that others rave about.

    "I remember driving on an icy, unsalted road and I was basically completely out of control, even with all-season tires," he said.

    Copyright © 2002, Chicago Tribune
  • lancerfixerlancerfixer Posts: 1,308
    "I think the key is to have a car that is not too nose heavy," he said, noting that the weight of his BMW is evenly distributed between front and rear. "You also have to have dedicated winter tires that are designed for enhanced traction at low temperatures."

    Kudos to you, Mr. Wong.
  • im_brentwoodim_brentwood Posts: 4,883
    No kidding.

    Heard a guy complaing that his WRX was undriveable in the snow on his SP9000s.

    "But I thought this was a Rally Car!"

    Yeah, and Wayne Gretzky would have done REAL well wearing Tennis Shoes.

    Bill
  • prlady1prlady1 Posts: 573
    SmartMoney: A Used Car Named Desire -2-

    DOW JONES NEWSWIRES

    While you're lasering in on your dream ride, make sure you take advantage of Edmunds .com's "Town Hall" chat boards. Bob Koop Jr. swears by 'em. Last fall the Newport Beach, Calif., real estate agent decided it was time to get rid of his 1994 Jeep Grand Cherokee and buy a minivan. He'd narrowed his search to the Ford Windstar and the Oldsmobile Silhouette when he hit the Edmunds postings -- and they made his choice clear. The Windstar board was filled with serious complaints, he says, such as an owner of a '95 griping, "I have had the transmission replaced three times. I have had the motor replaced two times." (Ford spokeswoman Marcey Evans says the company extended its warranty on certain 1995 Windstars after some customers experienced engine problems.) "With the Silhouette," says Koop, "the complaints were really minor, like cheesy cupholders." He paid $18,000 for a '99 and says he's thrilled with his choice.

    LAUNCH A FACT-FINDING MISSION Okay, with your target model firmly in mind, it's time to turn to newspaper and online listings to research specific cars. Try AutoTrader.com and Cars.com; unlike some other sites, they give you the dealership's name and phone number up front, so you can call right away and get details. As you comb the listings, be alert for the model you want at a dealership that primarily sells a different brand -- our experts say that mismatch could spell bargain.

    "A couple of years ago, I found a fully loaded, twin-turbo-engine Dodge Stealth at a Mercedes dealership," says Karl Brauer, editor in chief of Edmunds .com. "It was offered at the lower end of its value: $14,900. Now, dealers know that when they have a car that doesn't fit their clientele, no one is coming to look at that car. This guy probably would have sold it at auction soon and maybe gotten $12,000. So he was happy to give it to me at $12,500." One caveat before you go for the mismatch: That BMW dealer with a Honda CR-V may be less likely to repair it well, so be sure to have the car inspected by a mechanic.

    So now you have a list of cars that fit your profile, and you're ready to go check them out on the lot. Not so fast, say our experts -- that's just what the dealers want you to do. They can't wait to get you there in person and sink their sales hooks into you. So before you show up, phone ahead and try to get as much info as you can: Does the seller have all the service records? How many owners has the car had? Not only will you save time eliminating duds and already-sold cars, you'll spare yourself the hassle of dealers trying to switch you to other cars on the lot.

    While you're chatting, you're also sussing out the salesperson at the same time, BS-detectors on full force. Sure, he may not know much about the car's original owner, but does he automatically tell you that it was a little old lady who drove it only on Sundays? (Funny, you didn't think the Corvette had a lot of senior appeal.) Another advantage of phoning ahead: A dealer may know of more cars that fit your needs coming off lease, and if you strike up a rapport with him, he can tell you when they do.

    Keeping it a long-distance relationship will be tough, sometimes impossible. Often, salesmen are unwilling to tell you anything beyond the basics in the ad - - "I can't give out that information over the phone" is one mantra. Before you submit and go in, try one last tactic. Go around the salesmen and ask for the sales manager or used-car manager. They will know more about the car and are somewhat less likely to fill in what they don't know with what sounds good. If there's a car you want to pursue, ask for a salesman and make an appointment to see it.

    BEWARE OF A TROUBLED PAST Be sure to get that car's Vehicle Identification Number (VIN). With it, you can check out each car's history on Carfax.com ($20 for unlimited reports in a 30- day period). This will tell you if the car's title ever bore the dreaded "salvage" tag-meaning the car was wrecked and written off as a total loss by a U.S. insurer. (Your department of motor vehicles can give you this kind of info, too, but only for your home state.) Carfax reports also include the odometer reading each time the car was registered.

    Ho-hum, due diligence, right? Well, not if you're Sue Wojcik of Buffalo, N.Y. Last year she came very close to buying a '97 Subaru Impreza with 28,000 miles on the odometer. Before buying, she took it to her mechanic. "They opened up the hood and said, 'This car is a lie.' They knew right away that the mileage was higher." Wojcik raced home and checked on Carfax, discovering that the car really had more than 50,000 miles on it. She ended up buying a '99 Honda Accord somewhere else, "and that dealer did the Carfax check right there for me."

    There's a trickier, lesser-known benefit to Carfax. In many states, owners and dealers must report to the DMV when a car's title changes hands. That DMV data, which shows up on Carfax, tells you how long the dealer's had the car you're eyeing. That can give you leverage for arm-twisting, especially after 30 days or more. (It's possible that the car is still sitting there because someone else's mechanic found something seriously wrong with it; your guy will presumably find the problem too.) Jerry Horta used this technique while bargaining for his Lexus last summer, and though he ended up taking a better deal elsewhere, he found one dealer willing to lower his price $500 on an RX 300 that had been languishing on the lot for three months.

    WHEEL AND DEAL WITH CONFIDENCE Armed to the teeth with all this information, you are finally going to hit the dealership and actually see that fabulous cream puff. Give it a once-over for any visible problems (for a good how-to, check out the Illustrated Guide to Buying a Used Car, in the Shopping section on Cars.com), then listen for any strange noises on your test-drive. But basically, you're going to leave clunker- detection to the experts. Before you start haggling over price, take the car to an independent mechanic for a thorough diagnostic inspection ($50 to $100) -- even if the car is certified. If the dealer balks, offer to put down a refundable deposit. If he's still unwilling, walk out.

    Once your mechanic has signed off on the car, it's time to wheel and deal. Where to start the bidding? Used-car asking prices usually include a 20 percent markup, says Knapp. If you start just over this number, the dealer won't want to adopt you, but he probably won't throw you off the lot either. If he comes down only a little, bring up the things you've been taking note of: minor repairs that need to be made, the fact that it's been on the lot for a long time. If you plan to finance the car, the dealer may give you a price break if you do so through him.
  • prlady1prlady1 Posts: 573
    See what rates your bank is offering on car loans beforehand, and ask if the dealer can beat it. Very often, he can and still make a profit.

    We already know that dealers don't want to negotiate much on certified cars. But you still have a few weapons in your arsenal. Ask to see the certification checklist of repairs or any other work orders, then scan them for dates that might show how long the car has been on the lot. To figure out your opening bid, use the same 20 percent markup estimate, then add the dealer's cost of certifying the car -- about $500 to $700. Offer a smidgen more. If they really won't negotiate, says Knapp, "there's always another good car around the corner."

    Better still, combine your research, your willingness to walk and another old- school tactic that still works: declaring loudly that you really want and need to buy a car today. (No, this doesn't have to be true.) Kurt Huhn of Warwick, R.I., put this triple play together last fall when he was shopping for a '99 Dodge Ram pickup. His wife had found two certified trucks with nearly identical options at two local dealerships, each priced at about $19,500. But the Huhns drove off with a Ram and paid only $15,000, plus their trade-in, worth about $1,500. How'd they pull it off? "We went into the first place and told the salesperson, 'Listen, we came here today to buy a truck. We're prepared to spend $15,000, and we're either going to spend it here or down the road. Make your choice.'" Certify that.
  • prlady1prlady1 Posts: 573
    A major daily newspaper is looking for luxury SUV owners to talk about why they bought their vehicles and what they like/dislike about them. We're defining luxury as the traditional luxury brands (Mercedes, BMW, Lexus, Cadillac, Lincoln, etc). Cadillac Escalade EXT and Lincoln Blackwood owners especially encouraged to respond. Mercury, Buick or GMC owners need not apply for this article, no offense. Please respond with your contact information and vehicle description to [email protected] no later than May 10. Thanks!
  • paisanpaisan Posts: 21,181
    Well I have the top of the line luxury model in the Isuzu line. I wonder if that counts? :)

    -mike
  • prlady1prlady1 Posts: 573
    Mike, you can tell your friends in Edmunds.com Town Hall all about your truck, but I don't think I can pass you along to the media on this one, buddy!
    Anyone else?
  • im_brentwoodim_brentwood Posts: 4,883
    I got a Range Rover... but primarially for its off-road capabilities.

    Buddy of mine just got an Escalade..but to be a showoff I think :)

    Bill
  • prlady1prlady1 Posts: 573
    SmartMoney: A Used Car Named Desire

    DOW JONES NEWSWIRES
    While you're lasering in on your dream ride, make sure you take advantage of Edmunds .com's "Town Hall" chat boards. Bob Koop Jr. swears by 'em. Last fall the Newport Beach, Calif., real estate agent decided it was time to get rid of his 1994 Jeep Grand Cherokee and buy a minivan. He'd narrowed his search to the Ford Windstar and the Oldsmobile Silhouette when he hit the Edmunds postings -- and they made his choice clear. The Windstar board was filled with serious complaints, he says, such as an owner of a '95 griping, "I have had the transmission replaced three times. I have had the motor replaced two times." (Ford spokeswoman Marcey Evans says the company extended its warranty on certain 1995 Windstars after some customers experienced engine problems.) "With the Silhouette," says Koop, "the complaints were really minor, like cheesy cupholders." He paid $18,000 for a '99 and says he's thrilled with his choice.
    LAUNCH A FACT-FINDING MISSION Okay, with your target model firmly in mind, it's time to turn to newspaper and online listings to research specific cars. Try AutoTrader.com and Cars.com; unlike some other sites, they give you the dealership's name and phone number up front, so you can call right away and get details. As you comb the listings, be alert for the model you want at a dealership that primarily sells a different brand -- our experts say that mismatch could spell bargain.
    "A couple of years ago, I found a fully loaded, twin-turbo-engine Dodge Stealth at a Mercedes dealership," says Karl Brauer, editor in chief of Edmunds .com. "It was offered at the lower end of its value: $14,900. Now, dealers know that when they have a car that doesn't fit their clientele, no one is coming to look at that car. This guy probably would have sold it at auction soon and maybe gotten $12,000. So he was happy to give it to me at $12,500." One caveat before you go for the mismatch: That BMW dealer with a Honda CR-V may be less likely to repair it well, so be sure to have the car inspected by a mechanic.
    So now you have a list of cars that fit your profile, and you're ready to go check them out on the lot. Not so fast, say our experts -- that's just what the dealers want you to do. They can't wait to get you there in person and sink their sales hooks into you. So before you show up, phone ahead and try to get as much info as you can: Does the seller have all the service records? How many owners has the car had? Not only will you save time eliminating duds and already-sold cars, you'll spare yourself the hassle of dealers trying to switch you to other cars on the lot.
    While you're chatting, you're also sussing out the salesperson at the same time, BS-detectors on full force. Sure, he may not know much about the car's original owner, but does he automatically tell you that it was a little old lady who drove it only on Sundays? (Funny, you didn't think the Corvette had a lot of senior appeal.) Another advantage of phoning ahead: A dealer may know of more cars that fit your needs coming off lease, and if you strike up a rapport with him, he can tell you when they do.
    Keeping it a long-distance relationship will be tough, sometimes impossible. Often, salesmen are unwilling to tell you anything beyond the basics in the ad - - "I can't give out that information over the phone" is one mantra. Before you submit and go in, try one last tactic. Go around the salesmen and ask for the sales manager or used-car manager. They will know more about the car and are somewhat less likely to fill in what they don't know with what sounds good. If there's a car you want to pursue, ask for a salesman and make an appointment to see it.
    BEWARE OF A TROUBLED PAST Be sure to get that car's Vehicle Identification Number (VIN). With it, you can check out each car's history on Carfax.com ($20 for unlimited reports in a 30- day period). This will tell you if the car's title ever bore the dreaded "salvage" tag-meaning the car was wrecked and written off as a total loss by a U.S. insurer. (Your department of motor vehicles can give you this kind of info, too, but only for your home state.) Carfax reports also include the odometer reading each time the car was registered.
    Ho-hum, due diligence, right? Well, not if you're Sue Wojcik of Buffalo, N.Y. Last year she came very close to buying a '97 Subaru Impreza with 28,000 miles on the odometer. Before buying, she took it to her mechanic. "They opened up the hood and said, 'This car is a lie.' They knew right away that the mileage was higher." Wojcik raced home and checked on Carfax, discovering that the car really had more than 50,000 miles on it. She ended up buying a '99 Honda Accord somewhere else, "and that dealer did the Carfax check right there for me."
    There's a trickier, lesser-known benefit to Carfax. In many states, owners and dealers must report to the DMV when a car's title changes hands. That DMV data, which shows up on Carfax, tells you how long the dealer's had the car you're eyeing. That can give you leverage for arm-twisting, especially after 30 days or more. (It's possible that the car is still sitting there because someone else's mechanic found something seriously wrong with it; your guy will presumably find the problem too.) Jerry Horta used this technique while bargaining for his Lexus last summer, and though he ended up taking a better deal elsewhere, he found one dealer willing to lower his price $500 on an RX 300 that had been languishing on the lot for three months.
    WHEEL AND DEAL WITH CONFIDENCE Armed to the teeth with all this information, you are finally going to hit the dealership and actually see that fabulous cream puff. Give it a once-over for any visible problems (for a good how-to, check out the Illustrated Guide to Buying a Used Car, in the Shopping section on Cars.com), then listen for any strange noises on your test-drive. But basically, you're going to leave clunker- detection to the experts. Before you start haggling over price, take the car to an independent mechanic for a thorough diagnostic inspection ($50 to $100) -- even if the car is certified. If the dealer balks, offer to put down a refundable deposit. If he's still unwilling, walk out.
    Once your mechanic has signed off on the car, it's time to wheel and deal. Where to start the bidding? Used-car asking prices usually include a 20 percent markup, says Knapp. If you start just over this number, the dealer won't want to adopt you, but he probably won't throw you off the lot either. If he comes down only a little, bring up the things you've been taking note of: minor repairs that need to be made, the fact that it's been on the lot for a long time. If you plan to finance the car, the dealer may give you a price break if you do so through him. See what rates your bank is offering on car loans beforehand, and ask if the dealer can beat it. Very often, he can and still make a profit.
  • prlady1prlady1 Posts: 573
    We already know that dealers don't want to negotiate much on certified cars. But you still have a few weapons in your arsenal. Ask to see the certification checklist of repairs or any other work orders, then scan them for dates that might show how long the car has been on the lot. To figure out your opening bid, use the same 20 percent markup estimate, then add the dealer's cost of certifying the car -- about $500 to $700. Offer a smidgen more. If they really won't negotiate, says Knapp, "there's always another good car around the corner."
    Better still, combine your research, your willingness to walk and another old- school tactic that still works: declaring loudly that you really want and need to buy a car today. (No, this doesn't have to be true.) Kurt Huhn of Warwick, R.I., put this triple play together last fall when he was shopping for a '99 Dodge Ram pickup. His wife had found two certified trucks with nearly identical options at two local dealerships, each priced at about $19,500. But the Huhns drove off with a Ram and paid only $15,000, plus their trade-in, worth about $1,500. How'd they pull it off? "We went into the first place and told the salesperson, 'Listen, we came here today to buy a truck. We're prepared to spend $15,000, and we're either going to spend it here or down the road. Make your choice.'" Certify that.
    Additional reporting by Ryan Malkin and Sean Burke
  • prlady1prlady1 Posts: 573
    Hope you enjoyed seeing Town Hall front and center in a Smart Money article. Now, back to luxury SUV owners...a major daily newspaper is hoping to talk with you about your experience. Bill, I've already forwarded along your information, so the journalist will be in touch with you directly.
    Thanks!
    Jeannine Fallon
    PR Director
    Edmunds.com
  • prlady1prlady1 Posts: 573
    Writing for a major national daily, a journalist needs to find business-types who drive
    a 2001 GMC Yukon Denali no later than Friday, May 10.
    Please direct your response, including daytime phone number and occupation, to [email protected]
    Thanks as always!
    Jeannine Fallon
    PR Director
    Edmunds.com
  • prlady1prlady1 Posts: 573
    Writing for a major national daily, a journalist needs to find businesspeople who drive
    Saab 9-5s no later than Thursday, May 9. Please direct your response, including daytime phone number and occupation, to [email protected]
    Thanks as always!
    Jeannine Fallon
    PR Director
    Edmunds.com
  • prlady1prlady1 Posts: 573
    Amy Lehtonen at NBC is looking for an Edmunds.com visitor from the Charlotte, NC area to help with her story on using the Internet in the car-shopping process. Please respond asap to [email protected] and/or [email protected] if you care to participate.
    Thanks!
    Jeannine Fallon
    PR Director
    Edmunds.com
  • prlady1prlady1 Posts: 573
    Writing for a major national daily, a journalist needs to find businesspeople who drive
    Subaru Forresters no later than Thursday, May 9. Please direct your response, including daytime phone number and occupation, to [email protected]
    Thanks as always!
    Jeannine Fallon
    PR Director
    Edmunds.com
  • im_brentwoodim_brentwood Posts: 4,883
    I think you need abtseller

    Bill
  • qbrozenqbrozen Posts: 27,599
    What is a "businessperson" anyway? Always wondered. Is it a person that owns a business? Or just a person who works for a business? Which is, basically, everybody.

    I just like being a pain in the a**.
    :)

    '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'm not sure how to define "businessperson" myself - the journalist included it in her query, so I left it in for your interpretation. As far as I can tell, all are welcome to apply - she'll choose the most appropriate examples to use in her story.
  • prlady1prlady1 Posts: 573
    A journalist from a major daily newspaper is looking for folks who drive new yellow or orange cars... they're out there, somewhere! If you are eligible and willing to participate, please post here and/or send an e-mail to [email protected] containing the make, model and official color name of your vehicle, as well as your daytime contact information.
    Thanks as always!
    Jeannine Fallon
    PR Director
    Edmunds.com
  • ateixeiraateixeira Posts: 72,587
    I was interviewed, so apparently a computer geek qualifies. :-)

    -juice
  • jsh139jsh139 Posts: 42
    Does it have to be 2002/3?

    My yellow car is a '97. :)

    -Josh
  • prlady1prlady1 Posts: 573
    Yes, the yellow and orange cars have to be 2002/03 to qualify this time around...but what do you drive, Josh? Don't tell me it's an NYC taxi...:)
  • prlady1prlady1 Posts: 573
    Hi,
    This time, a major daily newspaper is looking for folks who successfully or unsuccessfully attempted to negotiate the purchase prices of their vehicles at the end of their lease terms. If you care to share your story, please post here and/or drop a line directly to [email protected] no later than Tuesday, May 14.
    Thanks,
    Jeannine Fallon
    PR Director
    Edmunds.com
  • jsh139jsh139 Posts: 42
    Don't tell me it's an NYC taxi

    Nah ... it's a Stuttgart taxi :)

    image
  • prlady1prlady1 Posts: 573
    Great answer - I'll see if the reporter changes his mind since the car looks very new in the picture!
  • prlady1prlady1 Posts: 573
    A television reporter is interested in hearing from folks who have driven long distances to get good prices when buying new cars or trucks. If you have a story to tell, please drop a line including your contact info and city/state of residence to [email protected]
    Thanks,
    Jeannine Fallon
    PR Director
    Edmunds.com
  • gangeltgangelt Posts: 11
    Top priorities for a new car: Comfort, Power/Handling, Safety, Looks, then Price (as long as it was under say $45,000)

    I live in Germany and am in the U.S. Air Force. I'm buying a 75th Anniversary Edition S80 T6. I'll pick it up from the factory loaded with "Everything" for $42,000.

    This car beat out the BMW 530i and Audi A6. I just felt more at home in the Volvo. It has massive power, looks fantastic and yes... it's Volvo safe.

    This will be my 3rd Volvo. My wife still drives our 1995 850 Wagon. 95,000 miles with no problems.

    Drive a T6 it will change all your preconseptions regarding Volvo

    Sorry it's not yellow :-)
  • prlady1prlady1 Posts: 573
    Enjoy your Volvo! I worked there before coming to Edmunds.com in June 2000, so I'll always have a soft spot in my heart for those Swedish machines! (I drive an S40 myself...)
  • gangeltgangelt Posts: 11
    The wait is killing me :)
  • lancerfixerlancerfixer Posts: 1,308
    I do like those S40s. Now if only they'd import the manual version...I'll hold on to my '89 Volvo 740 (5 speed, of course) until that happens!
  • qbrozenqbrozen Posts: 27,599
    How about a nice T4 with a stick? :)

    '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!

  • lancerfixerlancerfixer Posts: 1,308


    Sweeeet....
  • gangeltgangelt Posts: 11
    If we're talking to the press we soung like a Volvo add :) The S40 is a sweet ride and I think it looks great. The S80 T6 I ordered has the geartronic transmission. It's the best of both worlds. In town I can relax and let the car shift. Then when I want to stretch it out some I can shift. Print that in the commercial!
  • prlady1prlady1 Posts: 573
    Having worked for Volvo for four great years, I doubt anyone who knows me is surprised this turned into a Volvo-thon...but tune in, I'm about to change the subject with another media request...
  • prlady1prlady1 Posts: 573
    I need to interview a few people by telephone who are currently shopping for cars and are looking at vehicles in several different categories or at least are looking for one type of vehicle and are cross shopping several different brands. If you respond, you must be willing to be quoted by name in a national publication.

    Interested, qualified parties, please send your name and telephone number to [email protected] no later than Monday, May 20, 2002. Thanks.
  • im_brentwoodim_brentwood Posts: 4,883
    Hey,

    Did you work at Rockleigh???

    Bill
  • gangeltgangelt Posts: 11
    I looked at the Audi TT, Audi A6, BMW 330i, 330xi, 530i (second place), before going with the Volvo S80 T6. The first thing I test drove was the S80 2.9. It didn't grab me and I was off for two months looking at everything else before getting back to Volvo. All of them were great but the T6, to quote goldilocks, "Felt Just Right"
  • Kirstie_HKirstie_H Posts: 11,098
    gangelt, your experience sounds like what they're looking for. You should e-mail your contact info to [email protected] if you're willing to participate.

    kirstie_h
    Roving Host
    Edmunds.com

    MODERATOR

    Need help navigating? [email protected] - or send a private message by clicking on my name.

    Share your vehicle reviews

  • gangeltgangelt Posts: 11
    I did, thanx

    Glen
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