Buying Bargain Trucks

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If you’re buying your spouse a truck for Christmas we’re envious. However, most of the people buying trucks at this time are businesses trying to make a year-end purchase.

A bargain truck is not a bargain if it doesn’t run and is unsuitable for your company. It’s probably not the best idea to look for bargains if you are looking for a fleet of trucks.

accident-2582430_1920If you only use trucks for one-off events, it may be better off if you hire instead of buy, in which case you will tend to pay about 20% of the costs up front and can use money from the business (hopefully) to assist with further payments.

Then again, if you’re the type of business that requires a truck it renting could cut into profits quickly.

If you are only looking for one truck rather than a whole fleet, here are some helpful hints.

  1. Don’t look for a capacity bigger than you can manage. If you are a house clearer and you only deal with small houses, there is no point in getting a large truck. It is better to make one or two trips. Sometimes a SUV or pickup is a better option, it all depends on the amount of funds you have at your disposal.
  2. If you have to borrow money to obtain the truck it is best to attempt to get the best terms. If you feel that the business it is too unstable for you to borrow money it may be better to leave it until there is more cash flow. Still, all businesses need transport, but don’t go bankrupt, it’s not worth the hassle. It’s a big thing, so seek financial advice, including talking to your tax advisor (as the truck is a taxable commodity).
  3. If you can trade in an old vehicle this will help with financing the truck.
  4. A “good deal” or saving money on a truck requires that you find a well-priced vehicle that won’t cost you more in repairs than you save. Use an inspection service to verify your vehicle before service.
  5. As with buying a car, always see the truck before handing over the money, always pay cash and inspect the vehicle in daylight. This is especially important if you are shelling out for a huge item such as truck, rather than a car.
  6. Always ask for a test drive before you buy. It’s vital that the vehicle can negotiate corners correctly, maybe there are warning sounds? Again, it is better to be safe than sorry and use an inspection service.
  7. If you are using a car to visit the truck, buy it and collect it, make sure you have some way of bringing the car home. And you should be qualified and the right age to drive the truck.
  8. It is better to deal with individuals with references who have experience in selling trucks, rather than someone on EBay or Facebook.
  9. PS if your intending to do business using “ice roads,” you will a special license. You’ll want to examine all the paperwork involved in this kind of enterprise, before selecting a vehicle.

 

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Saving for a Car–Sage Advice Part 3

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Op-Ed by Paul Wimsett and AR Bunch

Following on from the information Sage Advice #2

A car is one of the biggest expenses we have at any one time and a source of constant frustration. Sure, home ownership will come with lots of things that need fixing from time to time, but cars are moving things full of moving parts. It’s a whole other level of ability to destroy itself from the moment you buy it.

Good advice starts with this…get a high yield savings account especially for the car and label it, “fix or replace.”

You may decide to trade-in your current car, or sell it for cash, to help with the down payment for the next car, but that’s not adequate. You don’t want to be financially destroyed by unexpected auto breakdown. These things happen at the worst time.

Searching the market to get the right account for this. It might seem over-cautious but owing for a car is one of the ways that debts accumulate over time. No one here is legally qualified to give you financial advice, but we’ve done enough research to know that savings accounts do exist, that give a slightly higher interest rate in exchange for limiting the number of times you can access it per year. That’s what you want.

Putting as much down as you can will reduce your monthly payment, which is turn lets you squirrel away a little bit toward your next down payment. The idea is to turn some of the money you pay in interest on a car loan into money you’re paid interest on when saving toward your next car loan.

Obviously your going to potentially dip into this account for big repairs but that’s not something you can include when doing the math. (Just consider the decision to fix your current car as delaying the purchase of the next car so your adjusting the timetable buy the amount you’re taking out of savings now.) So for the purpose of doing the math work only with saving toward your next purchase.

Doing the math:

A quick word about maintenance; you should try to keep your car at least five years, which shouldn’t be difficult with regular oil changes and tune ups. (Do not take oil changes/tires/gas etc out of your repair fund—those are operating expenses.)

percent-226316_1920Even though your car SHOULD last five years, assume that you’ll need at least the down payment for new one in two years. There is no telling what sort of car you’ll buy in two to five years, or what it’ll cost, so look at the newest model of the same car you own now. What’s the price of a 2020 Honda Civic, for example? $21,650

What’s price will that car be when you buy it 3 to 6 years from now?

Some models depreciate better or worse than others and an individual car might fair worse than others of the same model. Most cars depreciate about 20% in the first year and 15% each year after that so that 90% of the value is gone in 10 years.

At this rate our Civic should sell for about…

2023 $12,514
2024 $10,637
2025 $9,042
2026 $7,686

The fast way to double check the numbers is to compare to KBB.com when the time does role around. But for the sake of pedicting we’re we’ll use these numbers.

Price will have fallen in half by the year 2024 which is why we’re recommending buying a car 3 to 6 years old. Whenever possible put 20% down and take out a 60 month or shorter loan.

$10,637 x 20% = $2,128

To save that in 2 years just divide it by 24 months = $88.65/ month.

Other Car expenses:

Look to budget for car-related expenses, insurance, roadside assistance, taxes & registration and so on. What is the best way to pay these bills? Would it work out cheaper monthly, quarterly or yearly? Obviously the bills come when they come, but be sure to increase the size of your regular savings to account for saving toward those expenses.

Try to limit your expenses, which is easier to say than to do! Experts we know say that household accounts are where money tends to evaporate and your efforts will be in vain if you leave the heat up on vacation, etc.

Secrets to Saving:

The secret to success is automating your savings. This sounds a bit glib, but there are ways your bank can automatically move money to saving each month so you don’t have to think about it.

Know the bank’s rules on overdraft should you have to take one out.

Other sources of Money for a Car:

Some folks have been able to take out a second mortgage, leveraging the equity in their house instead of financing car? The logic behind this, is that borrowing larger amounts of money results in a lower interest rate. On the downside, your house is essentially securing your car.

As we mentioned in part one of sage advice, if you are buying your first car, you’re probably involving “the Bank of Mom and Dad,” but beware of the stress in family loans can put on relationships. Find out how much are they willing to spend and ask if they need something in writing?

Overall Budget Considerations:

Experts say you shouldn’t spend more than 20% of what you take home on your car. You might have to play this one by ear though, for a low paid job 20% might not be a lot.

Keep in mind cars are a handy tool, but a terrible investment. So don’t make sacrifices to have a nice car. A lot of this advice has been boring common sense, more than sage advice, but it’s a good idea to think logically about cars.

The First Car Buying–Sage Advice Part 1

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Op-Ed by Paul Wimsett and A.R. Bunch

Let us talk directly to some of you on those of you late teens for this blog, with the voice of a couple car experts instead of your over-protective parent…which I’m sure have already weighed in.

There comes a point in your life as a teenager where you have “come of age” and require your own mode of transport. Though you may be tempted to look for a sports car, or even something like an SUV these aren’t recommended. Just like your “rents” have been preaching, the best type of car is a simple, late model, mid-size passenger cars. Here’s why…

This is about more than just trying to break away from being ferried around by our parents. It’s bigger and more symbolic than that; it’s a machine which can take you (within reason) wherever YOU want to go. Instead of, stand here at this time and I’ll get you, it’s be home by a certain time. The subtle difference is huge because now you are responsible for everything it takes to hit the mark and all the free time that responsibility creates. Therefore, the fastest way to more freedom with your car is to impress your parents with your car buying decision.

Making a good choice in purchase:

What you might not immediately consider are airbags but if you are learning to drive, they are definitely a good idea. Go for side air-bags as well. You might also look for an anti-lock braking system, just to be on the safe side. When you voluntarily pick a safe car, it signals your parents to worry less about you.

The first car might be one that we stick with quite a few years. After all, how long will it take before we can afford a new one? That being the case you can’t just buy the cheapest car you see, chances are that it will only break down. No, it needs to be relatively inexpensive, but operable.

You can avoid a lot of haggling with pros (car dealerships) by shopping private sales online. To avoid scammers, robbers, and worse kinds of creeps, mention that you’re going to have the car inspected by a mobile service like Tire Kickers. Be ready to pay in cash to make the purchase a simple transaction and bring someone with you who has some life experience. (Aunt Sally the x-marine will do nicely).

Obviously, never digitally hand over a deposit for a car you haven’t seen, just because the guy says he’s had a lot of interest—there’re actually a lot of decent cars out there so don’t worry.

Here are two pieces of advice that will serve you well in life–Don’t show your fear & haggle a little. There seller probable has more experience buying/selling cars that you do, but they don’t know that for sure until you open your mouth. Just nod and agree with what they say, and if the amount’s too high and they won’t haggle, the best thing to do is move on. Always haggle a little, because it actually reduces the remorse after the fact—wondering if you over paid. Just because they’re asking more than the car is worth doesn’t mean they need to come down in price, they might fail to sell it to several more people before coming to that conclusion. Sales fall through for dumb reasons all the time. Don’t let it get you down, just move on to the next car.

You’re probably noticing a theme to this section—don’t fall in love with the car before you buy it. That’s literally the job of a car salesman at a car lot—get you to fall in love with it before you talk money. So think logically about your car until you own it, then fall in love with it.

Is color important to a car? NO! go back and re-read the last paragraph! Holy cow, did you already forget the lesson. If you’re excited about the color you are not buying right. Look at the engine, the interior, the acceleration, the fuel economy, how suitable a car is for your needs. Then you can work out if it is the right color or not. (One exception: you can turn a car down if the color is too awful.)

What your Parents Aren’t Thinking:

Most teens assume that their Mom or Dad is primarily concerned with price. They don’t want you to overpay, but they don’t want you to drive an ancient gas guzzler either. Sometimes you might have to adjust your ambitions. Don’t worry about your parents; it’s probably you who will have to keep up with payments.

I know we just said to pay cash for the car, why are we talking about payments?

There is a way to finance a car and pay cash if you can pull it off. Some of the smartest teens we’ve interviewed were able to make an arrangement with their parents. They worked and saved up most of the down payment for their vehicle purchase. Then they looked around for the general type of vehicle they wanted and went to their parents with an offer. Match the down payment and co-sign a personal loan. This sort of loan isn’t tied to the vehicle. If you stop paying your parents will have to make the payments. Many banks won’t consider an unsecured loan because they want the title to the car as collateral, but with your parent’s signature and a sizable down payment some of them will. This allows you to take the amount of money you need out of the loan to buy the car in cash.

Paying cash gets you the best price on a car, usually, and by owning the title you can potentially reduce the cost of your insurance.

The key here is picking a car that your parents are impressed that you chose and try and keep to any agreed budget.

Good luck in buying your new car and here’s to safe driving out there.

PS if your parents don’t agree to help you buy a car you have only two recourses. 1) find ways to get better grades, a promotion at your job, and act more responsibly. 2) use your down payment money to buy a motorcycle…your parents will change there mind about the car…

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The Car Collapse

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Op-Ed by Paul Wimsett

For this blog we are going back in time ten years. So picture it in your mind — Lost and ER are on the on TV. Barack Obama had just become president and Sarah Palin began her comeback. The Internet of Things, Alexa and Siri’s parents was born. And on your car radio Bleeding Love by Leona Lewis or I Gotta Feeling by The Black Eyed Peas are playing. And the car business took a strange turn that no-one could have predicted.

The economic events of the period between 2008 and 2010 are best known for the mortgages and stock market crashes but they were also detrimental to a number of car businesses.

In a bad economy people look to save dollars and while it was harder than ever to get a loan if you did need to buy a new car, you were looking for a deal. America made large, expensive, vehicles with bad fuel economy. A crash then combined with an energy crisis to drive sales of vehicles like as SUVs and pick-up trucks to rock bottom. It got so bad in the United States that Chrysler and General Motors needed to be rescued by the government.

For the US government to step in and help a business goes against the grain of what America stands for in the eyes of many of her citizens. Survival of the fittest is the core of any free market and it guarantees the best price for goods. However, the thinking at the time is that if a giant part of the economy, such as the automotive industry, failed too many jobs lost would send the economy into a death spiral. There was no other way to keep the economy stable and allow people to keep buying.

Pre-crash, in 2005, GM’s factories were performing at 85% of capacity. This may not seem much but it was a pattern to be found in other businesses too. So the term too big to fail started getting tossed around. Of course what “too big to fail” means is “too big to let fail.” The idea goes all the way back to 1984 and Stewart McKinney, though its true source probably predates that. Even in 1984 the term was controversial.

A CNN/Opinion Research poll said only 36% of the public supported the bailout. What people may not realise is that there was in fact two bailouts to the car industry, the second mainly going to General Motors and Chrysler. Part of GM’s bail out included an odd sort of bankruptcy that allowed them to default on certain loans. They were allowed to zero out stock that didn’t belong to the government or union members. It was not a good deal for most Americans.

automotive-74070_1920The lasting memory in the minds of “Big Auto” was how only really excelling at selling gas guzzlers had left them vulnerable. After all, this was the second time that a large scale economic crash had knocked out the auto industry. The first time was in the 1980s. When the economy got going again this time it found the American automaker throwing everything it had behind convincing its fans to buy hybrids and electric cars.

While the move to EVs and hybrids made fuel economic cars, suddenly needing to retool factories and develop new designs raised the price of all American vehicles. Then there’s the uncertainty of whether electric and hybrid cars will even stay popular.

Given that the economy is not stable long term we’ll most likely see another test of the American auto industries ability to remain viable. Given that they haven’t made cars more affordable they’ve only dealt with half the challenge of selling cars during a down turn. In fact, it’s not an original solution its just copying Asian car makers into an obvious decision.

So has the American auto industry learned anything from needing a bail-out? You decide.

 

Cars in Bulk

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Imagine this scene…

A salesman in a plaid suit wearing a giant cowboy hat and smile he stole from a shark, stands before his many toys; all of them have one careful owner, not scratch or ding on them…at least not on the outside. A client approaches to look over the stock and suddenly from nowhere, orders two thousand of them.

 Welcome to world of buying cars in bulk. Okay, it doesn’t happen like that. An independent used car-slinger doesn’t deal in bulk, as far as we know of. Although many new car lots have a fleet representative that takes over if a buyer wants between two and 20 cars, fleet buying and bulk-buying-are nor the same thing.

But the military, taxi cab firms, other car hire firms, the police and so on have to deal with the idea of buying more of the same car at once.

It goes back longer than you might think. Oshkosh Corporation for instance delivers specialty vehicles, mostly trucks, for access, fire, emergency or military and has been in business for a hundred years.

One recent purchase was for 6,107 light tactical vehicles for the US army – mobile command centers-for which the bill came to a cool 1.69 billion. For that price the vehicles need to be fully operational and well serviced, though having said that army vehicles do have a reputation of breaking down, maybe it’s due to attempting to squeeze the price?

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When you’re talking about emergency vehicles you also need something extremely reliable. Increasingly, these deals go to an electric motor vehicle rather than gas or diesel. Although it is a bulk buy as such there needs to be a customized design to start from.

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They may look the same to an outsider, but something as straight forward as a fire truck varies greatly from one state to another, based on their needs.

When it comes to purchasing taxis what do you go for? Ride-share vehicles are privately owned so each one is unique, but when trying to maintain a fleet of corporately owned taxi s it’s best to have all the same car. Uniformity of vehicle profile helps reinforce the brand just like the paint jobs does, but as an added bonus your mechanic can order parts in bulk as well. Every car is purchased outright, except for special circumstances when cars are leased. The contracts on leased taxis are detailed because of the wear and tear inflicted, and the high mileage added. It’s hard to imagine not going to be out of pocket leasing.

automotive-1250546_1920Another person who might buy cars in bulk is that salesman referred to above. Sure cars come in on trade, and many are purchase at auction, but when an independent car dealer finds another dealership liquidating inventory they may buy sever dozen at a time, sight unseen.

Dealerships who offer new vehicles do so by negotiating a bulk rate even though the cars arrive in batches across the year.

This can really help the salesman because if a customer is looking for one specific type of your brand of car they can order one through you and you still make a commission.

These dealers are also less likely to get stuck with hundreds of cars they cannot get rid of…however, they need to be pretty savvy to avoid low or high inventory. Too few cars on hand and you don’t close as many deals. Too many cars on hand and you run into a host of problems including tax issues.

What considerations do you need in order to make a purchase (or should I say several purchases?) this way? In some ways buying a car wholesale is similar to buying cars retail. You want the full service history. You want the papers to be in order. So you can put the car on your lot, and ideally, sell it. It’s that simple.

 

Facebook – A Driver and Car Seller’s Guide

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Some people believe the relationship between internet technology and the car is simply that the internet has reduced the need for personal car ownership. However, this doesn’t take into account how the internet and social media can be used to sell cars, or to help car enthusiasts to connect with each other.

Selling on the Internet

Many traditional local car magazines have gone online also, which is cheaper than print but increases the pool of competitors greatly. Take for example autotrader.com which was a series of local papers is now competing with the likes of auto.com or even generalized online shopping sites like craigslist.org. eBay actually bridged the gap between it’s general site and the specific needs of the auto industry 10 years ago with it’s eBay Motors.

Many dealerships are putting their entire inventory online and then using social media simply as a tool to draw shoppers there. Social media excels at building and reinforcing brand identity and loyalty so it’s a good chance for dealerships to try to overcome the bad reputation often associated with that class of business.

Selling on Social Media

Selling on Facebook is not the first port of call for something as important as a car. As with selling any product or service on Facebook it helps to grow your potential market, it also makes answering potential questions from your clients a breeze. As a bonus, your communication will automatically be cell phone friendly.

Advertising on Facebook is easy and so far very affordable compared to other forms of marketing. Facebook even has a special person who can list your cars for you, although this is probably not available to the non-dealership seller. Although Facebook is connected in a business sense to Instagram there is as yet no specific way to use Instagram for your dealership. Maybe this will change in future years?

There are many warnings about scams on Facebook, not unlike most marketplaces these days. The general advice is to pay cash for every transaction and never go to a place alone, especially if you believe yourself to be particularly vulnerable. Tell someone where you’re going in any case. Never pay for a car you have not seen.

 

Facebook and Cars (not selling)

Other people may use Facebook just to post blogs rather than sell cars, such as Auto.com. There are pages for specific types of car where you might choose to chat about what is good and what is bad about your specific vehicle. The most popular in terms of likes is both Mercedes Benz and BMW with 20 million likes.

This savvy use of Facebook builds goodwill with potential customers and creates that community effect. Essentially, they leverage Facebook for what it’s good at and keep their sales to themselves.

For those who aren’t car sellers, we can still use Facebook to look at other car related items. A search for “satnav” for example will bring up satnavs being sold in Facebook Marketplace, threads about satnavs from your history and articles posted about satnavs on Facebook.

If you go the Facebook Groups category you can find hundreds of satnav related groups you might like to join up to. As with anything, the more you put into Facebook the more it is possible to get out of it. Alternatively, you might like to look up Facebook Videos to see satnavs in use, though it seems rather similar to YouTube.

Looking for something like kit cars might be more troublesome, as you obtain details for how to make toy cars from kits, emergency car kits, Bluetooth kits for cars and so on. “Kit car” works better and make works better still, say something like “Lomax kit car.” As with anything you need to experiment in order to get the best result.

This has just been a short introduction; there should be a number of features you can take advantage of on Facebook for your car buying and car selling needs. It’s an active market and there is plenty of useful stuff out there.

Best of the Web: 50 Cars that Last

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There seem to be two theories in car ownership:
1. Buy a new car every two or three years to take advantage of the advanced reliability or
2. Pick up a low mileage used car and drive it until it dies–let someone else eat the depreciation.

If you follow theory number 2 (and most of us do) then you’ll want a car with a reputation for longevity.

Here’s what Interesticle has identified as the top cars to run over 250,000 miles.

1.) Subaru Forester
2) VW Passat
3) Lexus RX350 (450HP)
4) Honda CRV
5) Lexus ES 350/450
6) Toyota Camry Toyota 4 runner
7) Lincoln Town Car
8) Nissan Titan XD
9) Chevy Silverado
10) Honda Odessey

11) Acura RDX, Chevrolet Impala, Toyota Corolla etc.

The list is long but helpful.

Age and the Car

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Op-Ed by Paul Wimsett & A. Bunch

It does seem a shame that the moment you can afford a car, that car is out of bounds. Either the car is too big, or too sporty, or too showy, or some other reason society comes up with to disapprove of your choice. It’s the way of the world.

 

automobile-1853936_1920When you first get your license…

Previous generations just wanted a car. It represented freedom to explore the world and also not needing to borrow the family van to take your date out for pizza. Or worse, having a parent chauffer you to and from your date. If you bought your first car yourself, chances are was pretty scary and nearing the end of its life. If you’re one of the lucky few whose parents bought you a car then we recommend keeping your mouth shut. Especially if it’s something sporty, (you should know your peers hate you).

However you got your ride, just drive your chick/dude magnet up to school and remember that all that adoration won’t put gas in your tank. Better ask your date to pay for the pizza.

These days, teens seem to prefer mass transit or rideshare. They see cars as an extra expense, (and well it is, but come on) and since teens are not allowed to have jobs the only teens who get cars are those whose parents bought it for them.

 

auto-2179220_1920At the quarter life-life crisis…

This may be in the middle of your twenties. It’s when you realize every day you wake up you’re closer to 30 than 20. There’re three schools of thought here:

1) If you can pull it off, this is the time to get the car of the dreams. It doesn’t have to be practical when you’re established in your early career and splitting rent with friends. Well, work with your budget that’s the only solution. If you can’t get something like the Ford Mustang, go with a car slightly more reasonable option. Having said that the Mustang is better on the old finances than a Beamer…

2) This is the time when you can really impact your financial future. Buy something reliable, fuel economical, eight to ten years old with a reputation for living a long time. Pay it off in four years and make that car last for a decade.

asia-2179107_19203) Go for something strange in car, truck, or motorcycle. If you dance to the beat of your own drum, well go ahead and buy that surplus meter-reader mobile that get 60 miles to the gallon and has just enough cargo space for a bag of groceries. Maybe buy that scary van from the guy down by the river so you have a place to crash if you lose your apartment. If all else fails you can buy something practical in five years when you hit your next life milestone.

When you get married…

There must be an unwritten law that you must buy an SUV. You need something with a third row of seating and you just can’t make yourself go “full minivan.” You’re not really fooling anyone. It’s just today’s equivalent of the station wagon. Unless…you go for it and get something that actually can go off-road if needed…maybe a jeep grand Cherokee, Toyota FJ, or an H2. Another option might be a crossover. Something like the Grandland X SUV which combines both agility with brilliant design. And it’s useful even if you aren’t on the school run. What you have to watch for here is gas mileage. Some of these guzzlers drink a gallon every ten miles.

In all seriousness, think about a car that can get your kids to soccer now and that you don’t mind loaning them in a few short years. Unless you’re one of those mean parents who insist on driving your teens to pizza. (Assuming they still eat pizza when our kids are teenagers.)

 

ford-63930_1920The mid-life crisis…

This is when the temptation sets in to buy something sporty and impractical, but it’s really not worth it. I get it, your kids have left home and you want a car to relax in. If you can avoid it don’t buy either the luxury car of your dreams and the street racer. You’ll save money and avoid looking ridiculous. Kids have an annoying habit of moving home. You may not be as financially free as you think you are, and you sure don’t want to loan them either kind of car.

That Ferrari won’t hide your belly fat anyway, and the BMW won’t make your hair grow back. On the other hand, if you’re going in for a regular prostate exam, you probably deserve a comfortable ride…maybe a Mercedes is just what the Doctor ordered. You certainly deserve it.

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When its time to retire…

Well, we would never tell you to wait until you retire to live your dreams. BUT in our highly unprofessional opinion, it’s finally time to be impractical. Go ahead and buy the car of your dreams. You know the one teenage you couldn’t afford because your parents wouldn’t buy it for you. Sure it’s now called a classic car but just ignore all that. The point is, it’s yours and you don’t care what anybody thinks. Enjoy it. At least until one of your kids decides you need to be chauffeured.

 

How New Are The New Years Features?

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Ever notice that every year we get a new model of the same line each automaker made the year before? Well, it’s not a coincidence. When car designers and marketers collaborate to create the new models of car for sale they often start with the features in the last model to see what might be incorporated in a new design.

Why Not Start From Scratch?

While an automaker may decide they have identified a market segment they haven’t yet exploited which requires a whole new model of car, there’s a reason you generally just get a new year’s version of last year’s model. The reason is they’ve sunk a lot of money into establishing that model, creating name/style recognition and reputation, for that model and a certain number of people will buy it simply because they’re looking to replace their old version of that same vehicle.

20180725_111838It’s a big decision to discontinue a model line and it’s not always replaced with a new model in that category. Sometimes it signals a retreat from that category entirely. One example would be when, in 2008, Ford announced that they would no longer continue to produce minivans for sale in the US market. The Aerostar line seemed plagued with reliability issues and sales were lukewarm compared to competitors. Ford needed to start from scratch and that included letting the consumer forget the bad taste in their mouths around the failed minivan.

Then in 2010, Ford returned to the minivan market with their Transit Connect Eurostyle model of delivery van. Given the trend of a family vehicle from Station Wagon to Minivan to SUV, the gamble y Ford to return to minivans seemed a bit crazy. But their strategy included manufacturing the vans as cargo vehicles outside the US and then importing them to be retrofitted as passenger vehicles domestically. This lets them tip their toes back into the minivan market without a full-blown commitment. It also gave them a way to introduce a vehicle that looked so different from it’s predecessor that it didn’t bring the failed Aerostar back to mind. The gamble seems to have paid off.

The Goal is Reinvention:

Selling a car is a strange type of alchemy, as with anything else, it’s impossible to know whether a new style of car or even a new brand will sell. Usually, it’s safer to simply update and add features while staying within the same price point and target market.

car-2220039_1920There’s always something that can be tweaked, for instance, color. Can we upgrade the suspension and add a roof rack and call it a sports package? Silver is currently the most popular color for cars, but that changes decade by decade. It’s quite tricky to know when tastes in car color will change.

However, the most frequent type of big change is to reinvent the existing line. When creating a new car it’s all about the little improvements, can a two-door work as a four-door? Can a gas car work as a diesel, or maybe as a hybrid? The cars may have similarities to what has gone before, but the small differences make the car.

The First Thing to Look at is the Consumers Need:

Consumer need and desires will change over time. What sells now will not be what sells in a decade’s time, or even in five or six years. This is why new models need to be designed. Even bigger shifts occur though when the actual consumer make up changes.

In the 1980’s it was all about bigger audacious cars, perhaps because automakers were still targeting predominately the male, young-urban-professional. Even though women had been entering the workforce in droves the car industry still perceived that men made the car purchase decisions for families. Cars targeted at women were sporty for single women or second vehicles. This has now changed.

Nowadays, with mass transit, we aren’t so interested in people who live in the bigger cities, though we are still interested in those who work for the big companies. Fuel economy is a winning consideration regardless of gender but the primary family vehicle needs to appeal to women regardless of who actually ends up driving it. The second vehicle is often a truck which may still need to have room for four or five passengers.

In other words, the best sellers are going to be gender neutral small, easily parked cars, or big max passenger vehicles cars, but either way with the best gas mileage possible.

It’s Not All About Size:

The biggest changes may be on the inside. The general trend from year to year is making the car easier to operate. To make it interesting let’s go way back to the earliest Ford’s.

When Ford went from the Model “T” to the Model “A” the outside differences were mainly:

  1. The Model T has a straight line across the top of the radiator core; the A has a double curve dipping in the middle that looks somewhat like the top of a valentine heart.
  2. The vertical sides of the T radiator shell are perpendicular and parallel; those of the A slant outwards going down and are not parallel.
  3. The A has a gas cap in the middle of the cowl; the T has a rectangular vent door there.
  4. The A has smoother, rounder front fenders.
  5. The T headlights are painted; the A headlights are shiny metallic.
  6. The A usually has a black horn immediately below the left headlight.

And so one…pretty small stuff really.

ford-164406_1280On the inside, however, the car went from having a pedal for every gear including “reverse” and “reverse slow,” to having a transmission and stick shift. The ease of drive move didn’t reduce the cost to build the car, this was a direct result of the consumer base expanding when the car became easier to operate.

Of course, the 1927 “T” and the 1928 “A” were more alike than the 1928 “A” was to many of the later “Model A’s.” The Model “A” Ford had so many different styles that it wouldn’t be considered now one make of car. Some versions had two doors, some had four doors, some were a sedan (that is, had an obvious trunk area). Because the car had so many different functions (mail car, taxi cab, etc.) it wasn’t practical to make all the cars the same.

My How Things Change:

traffic-3404254_1920Compare those early models to the current successful model is eye-opening. The most popular car in 2018 was the Honda CR-V, which according to carandriver.com, is a compact car which uses some of the features of a hatchback. Described like that, it’s clear Honda’s not trying to break new ground when they could just give the American public what they like at the moment.

Although what is in vogue in car design changes all the time the Honda CR-V went on the market in 1997 so that’s a good deal of staying. It only really caught on in the American market in 2007, whereas people in Japan or the UK have begun looking for a different make of car. A car maker that can ride a successful design from one country to another without making a significant redesign is a company that’s making money hand over fist.

One Trend Above All:

How does the Honda CR-V and the Model A compare to drive? Well both need gas and oil and new tires once in a while. But the Model A has strange arrangements of levers and rods (such as the choke rod), as with all modern cars, with the Honda it’s mirror, signal, maneuver and then put the key in the ignition. So an automaker is never wrong to focus on easier driving in new year models.

Over ninety or so years many things have changed about a car but they are still about getting from point A to point B in relative comfort and quickly. What never changes is the need to new your customer.