Friday, August 21, 2009

2010 Jaguar XJ

Today's post is on the new 2010 Jaguar XJ. The current XJ model has seen lackluster sales even though the model had been thoroughly redesigned in 2003 then updated for the 2008 model year. The problem was that the new model looked almost identical to the prior model built from 1997 -2003. The new 2010 Jaguar is a bold attempt to redefine the style of Jaguar. The new XJ will launch at one of the most difficult times for luxury manufacturers with sales down 28% versus the same period last year.

Like the current sedan, the new XJ is built of an aluminum and magnesium body that is rived and bonded together. Actually, the XJ is slightly lighter than an Jaguar XFR, which weighs 4400 lbs. Jaguar claims that using aluminum reduces the body weight by 300 lbs.

Power will be provided by three engine choices in the U.S., 385 hp, 5.0 liter V-8 and 470 hp and 510 hp 5.0 liter supercharged versions of the same engine. These engines correspond to the three models Base, Supercharged and Super Sport. Apparently, all models will be offered in standard and long wheelbase. The ZF six speed automatic is the only tranmission offered....with paddle shifters as standard equipment.

The interior is gorgeous but very different that prior Jaguar models. There is plenty of hand stitched leather, wood and chrome trip. The top of the line Super Sport model gets a leather headliner.... and the Supercharged model gets Alcantara as a headliner.

Here is an intersting feature the traditional guages have been replaced by thin film transistor screen. An optional 20-speaker, 1200-watt Bowers & Wilkins stereo and available TV screens in the rears of the front-seat headrests.


Jaguar is positioning itself to be a serious competitor to the German luxury carmakers Mercedes, BMW and Audi. If the new XJ is anywhere near as good as the XF, it will win some hearts and minds. Personally, I like the new front is bold and agressive. Although, the rear styling is very conservative. I cannot wait to drive the car....especially in the XJR model.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

U.S. Automakers Improving Customer Satisfaction

The last year has been a tumultuous year in the automobile business. The bankruptcies of General Motors and Chrysler have highlighted a depression like period in the auto business with sales down by approximately 40%.

A recent survey indicated that the American automobile manufacturers were doing a better job with customer satisfaction than a year ago. That is surprising due to the problems that the automobile industry have been dealing with. Even mighty Toyota lost $5 billion dollars last that shows you it was an extremely challenging year for most automobile manufacturers.

  • 1. Cadillac
  • 2. Lexus
  • 3. Buick
  • 4. Honda
  • 5. Lincoln/Mercury
  • 6. BMW
  • 7. Mercedes
  • 8. Toyota
  • 9. Volkswagen
  • 10. Hyundai
It is noteworthy in this survey that the American brands took three out of the top five spots. GM is generally viewed by the American public as having unreliable cars....but the rankings of Cadillac and Buick show that they are among the best. The Chevrolet and Saturn brands were middle of the pack....with Pontiac among the worst. The Pontiac brand will be discontinued next year.

Ford has been increasing their quality and customer satisfaction over the last few years. Chrysler did improve customer satisfaction over last year....they are still down at the bottom of the pack with Chrysler being the highest rated and Jeep at the bottom.

The Americans have a perception that the Japanese are the most reliable vehicles manufactured with good client satisfaction. Toyota is in eighth place in this survey.....Nissan is in 21st place.

has substantially improved moving up to 9th place...they have placed in last place in a number of prior year surveys

  • 11. Chrysler
  • 12. Saturn
  • 13. Chevrolet
  • 14. Ford
  • 15. GMC
  • 16. Dodge
  • 17. Kia
  • 18. Mazda
  • 19. Pontiac
  • 20. Jeep
  • 21. Nissan


The list did not include all manufacturers but should be viewed as a general gauge. Customer satisfaction is a good indicator of a manufacturers ability to build cars that satisfy the owners.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

James Bond's Aston Martin

I thought that a little bit of nostalgia was in order....especially after the Magnum P.I. Ferrari. These are the kind of cars that people really enjoy! They have such a persona built by the movies or television.

Today's post is about the most famous Bond car ever...the Aston Martin DB5. The DB5 was actually featured in five films
Goldfinger, Thunderball, GoldenEye, Tomorrow Never Dies and Casino Royale. This DB5 is equipped with some of the most unusual options.
  • Bullet proof windscreen
  • Bullet proof windows side and rear
  • Revolving front license plates with Goldfinger, or JB007
  • Defensive smoke screen
  • Defensive oil slick
  • Rear bullet proof armour
  • Two machine guns that popped out of the turn indicators
  • Passenger ejection seat
My personal favorite option is the ejection seat....the roof falls off then the seat ejects the bad guy. The original cost is for the James Bond Aston Martin is unknown.


This is the most popular James Bond ride....but you can see the other James Bond automobiles via Wikipedia. The Aston Martin DB5 is a fine nostalgic ride!

Monday, August 17, 2009

Magnum P.I. Ferrari

As I have mentioned in previous posts, Ferrari builds some of the worlds most beautiful automobiles. The attention to style and design is exquisite! Most of you have seen the popular 1980's television series "Magnum P. I." at one time or another....the series is currently in syndication around the world.

The Magnum P.I. television series ran between 1980-1988. Tom Selleck played the roll of Thomas Magnum. He was a private investigator that handled security for the 200 acre beach front Hawaiian estate of the wealthy writer Robin Masters.

Magnum was an ex-Vietnam veteran with a background as a Naval Seal and Naval Intelligence. As one of his perks....he drove the red Ferrari 308 GTS that belongs to the elusive Robin Masters. The Ferrari 308 GTS then became known as the Magnum P.I. Ferrari due to the series popularity. The convertible Ferrari was the perfect pick against the lush backdrop of Hawaii....making the car extremely popular with fans and collectors.

The Ferrari 308 GTS added a lot to the television series....with a good looking private investigator driving the beautiful Ferrari supercar....just add some beautiful women and some action. As much as the car made the television series....the television series made Ferrari a household name in the U.S. and the rest of the world. This is a case where the art form television....helped to put Ferrari on the map.

Actually, there were a number of Ferrari's used ....the first season was a Ferrari 308 GTS. Magnum drove a Ferrari GTSi in seasons two and three......seasons four thru eight a Ferrari GTSQv was used. A number of cars were actually used during the filming of the series. The cars were sold at auction at the end of each season....several were crashed in stunt scenes.


Another Ferrari work of art! The Ferrari 308 GTS is not exactly a superstar in terms of performance but it sure looks good. A used Ferrari 308 GTS in good condition sells for approximately $28,000. USD.

Friday, August 14, 2009

GM Now Sells New Cars On Ebay

General Motors has just launched a new sales campaign on Ebay....GM will be selling new cars on the Ebay motors site. The campaign is a test program and limited to only California.

The program is designed to help GM recapture lost market share in California which has dropped substantially lately. The program is limited to California since GM would like to build its market share there. Currently, GM only has a 13.5 percent market share in the state, GM's national market share is 19 percent.

Ebay has listed only used automobiles for sale. GM is closing almost 40% of of their existing dealer network by the end of 2010....they are now looking for more cost effective sales channels.

Approximately 90% of the California GM dealers have signed on to the Ebay plan. The test runs thru September 8th......if the new marketing works GM plans to extend the program to other states.

The new site sells the Buick, Chevrolet,
GMC and Pontiac brands. I was somewhat surprised that Pontiac was listed since they are going to discontinue the brand next year. The former brands Hummer, Saturn and Saab are all brands that have been sold and will not be sold thru the site.

The website allows consumers to search for available models at existing local dealerships.
Some of the additional features of the site are that can do research, compare prices across models and dealerships, determine the value of their trade-in and check whether they qualify for the federal "Cash for Clunkers" program.

In addition, the site allows the customer to pay the discounted price shown or make an offer as to what they are willing to pay, then negotiate with the dealer online.


I am enthused that GM has decided to think outside of the box with the new
Ebay marketing. A car purchase is a major purchase decision for most consumers. I don't think that online car shopping will replace the dealership experience.

Generally, consumers have used the
Internet to gather information about the car and pricing. When someone is interested in buying a car that they have never driven....they need to touch the car and feel the car. It is difficult to tell whether your interested in a car until you have driven the car, see the available colors in person and examine the options.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

2010 Nissan Leaf

As I have mentioned in some of my previous posts.....a number of companies are developing hybrids, plus-in hybrids, and electric cars. Today's post is on the 2010 Nissan Leaf which is scheduled to delivered to dealers in the fall of 2010. It is an electric car that is scheduled to be sold in the United States, Europe and Japan.

The Leaf uses a front mounted electric motor driving the front wheels....with 80 kws of power and 280 nm of torque. It is powered by a 23 kwh lithium ion battery. Nissan estimates that the crusing range if 100 miles before the batteries will need to be recharged.

The Leaf has no engine to recharge the batteries so after 100 miles the Leaf will need to stop at a recharging station. The somewhat similar Chevrolet Volt will travel 40 miles on battery only before the gasoline motor turns on to recharge the battery....but it has an estimated range of 300 miles before it will need to be refueled.

The Leaf has a top speed of approximately 90mph (145 kmh). A special quick charger option can recharge in battery up to 80% capacity in approximately 30 minutes.

Pricing has not been announced but it is anticipated that the Leaf will sell for approximately $30,000 USD plus options. Nissan will probably receive U.S. government approval for the $7500 income tax credit.

The Leaf has an interesting feature that will allow the owner to remotely turn on the air conditioning or heating.


It appears that electric revolution in automobiles has started....the first salvos are being fired.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Can You Believe This Car Gets 230 Miles Per Gallon?

I have done a couple of posts on this ground breaking green vehicle! Unfortunately, it has been one of the least popular posts that I have done with this blog. GM announced today that the mileage estimate for the new 2011 Volt will be an estimated 230 mpg in the city. The mileage for the new Chevrolet Volt is 4.8 times the city mileage for the 2010 Toyota Prius which gets 48 mpg. This is truly a paradigm shift in fuel economy if this turns out to be correct!

The Volt is a true plug in is a totally different vehicle than the Toyota Prius which is a gasoline-hybrid. The Volt actually runs on electricity all the time.....the gasoline motor actually runs to recharge the batteries normally during highway driving conditions. The Toyota Prius does use electricity to run at lower speeds but the gasoline engine turns on to propel the car much of the time. GM also noted that the highway miles per gallon will also be in the triple digits.

The Volt was designed with an objective of running 40 miles on electric power without the engine turning on. According to a survey by the U.S. Department of Transportation, nearly 80 percent of U.S. drivers commute 40 miles or less daily.

GM estimates that the Chevy Volt will save about 500 gallons (1,892 liters) of gasoline based on 40 miles of daily driving and 15,000 miles annually. For drivers that commute 60 miles (96 km) per day or 21,000 miles annually, about 550 gallons (2,081 liters) of gasoline could be saved.

Pricing for the Volt is estimated at $40,000 USD plus options. The Volt would be eligible for a $7500 federal tax credit. It is anticipated that the price would drop for future generations of the Volt as GM when production ramps up.


The most technologically advanced car that GM has ever produced! The race will be on to see who comes to market first with the first plug in vehicle. Chrysler, Ford and Mercedes and Toyota are all developing plug-ins and electric cars.

Saturday, August 8, 2009

The Good..The Bad...and The Ugly of the GM & Chrysler Bankruptcies

The GM and Chrysler bankruptcies have been concluded and the ink is dry! Today, I am going to cover a number of points concerning the bankruptcies. Every major event that the country endures has good, bad and ugly sides to the event.


First, both bankruptcies were prepackaged by the government and the companies. The speed that they went thru the courts was incredible. The Obama administration had taken the mindset that the quicker this was done the better. The bankruptcies needed to be done quickly so not to hinder the already battered and fragile economy.

Basically, I agree with the administration that the bankruptcies were a necessary and unavoidable step. There was no other choice than a liquidation of the companies with the resulting loss of jobs in the automobile sector...then the job loses would continue into the other sectors....sending the fragile economy into a tail spin down.

It was projected that if the bankruptcy had not been quick and smooth, a protracted legal battle in court could have dire consequences that could be felt across the economy, with about 1.8 million jobs lost over the next 19 months, according to the CAR study.

A protracted legal battle could nearly destroy GM as a company and take down many of its suppliers, who also supply parts to Ford, Toyota and other automakers. It would take time to establish new supply chains if major parts suppliers failed.

So, a best car scenario for the economy was arranged thru a surgical bankruptcy...the impact to the economy was minimal. Several million jobs were saved along with saving the United States automobile industry from total collapse.


A number of people lost jobs and a number of people and organizations lost a lot of money.

1. Employees of GM, Chrysler and suppliers that will be laid off due to the bankrupcy.

2. Dealers that were closed due to the bankruptcies along with their employees.

3. Creditors that GM and Chrysler owed money. The bond holders which included individuals, pensions, various investment groups lost a great portion of their investment.

4. Shareholders - most lost a substantial amount of money.


The worst part of the bankrcupties are the legal claims by victems that were seriously injured or killed by mechanical or structural vehicle failures. This actually applies to all the vehicles that GM and Chrysler made prior to each respective bankrupcy.

So, if some driving a 2009 vehicle that was manufactured prior to June was injured due to a mechanical failure...they would not have any recourse against the manufacturer. One such example is 10 year old Amanda Dinniga, she was riding in a GMC vehicle that crashed and the seatbelt did not work as designed. Amanda was left a quadriplegic and her family will not receive any funds to cover treatment or recuperation.


GM and Chrysler were so mismanaged that it is an American tragedy! I thought that a government sponsored bankruptcy was the best solution.....nothing that has transpired has changed my mind.

But, the government and the auto companies involved could have done a better job. Some people have been bankrupted by the loss of their paycheck, or pensions. Other people had money now they have much less....especially the retired that depended on their pension checks.

It is inexcusable that the government and the courts can let some of the abuses of legal process take place. The worst were the people that were killed or severely injured due to car companies negligence.

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Ferrari California

The state of California is a beautiful scenic state......and the Ferrari California is a beautiful example of automotive art. Ferrari has built some of the most beautiful cars ever made...the only decision is which is the most attractive Ferrari ever built.

The Ferrari California is a grand touring sports car that was first launched in 2008. The California actually revives the name used for the late 1950's Ferrari 250GT.

The California is a two door 2+2 hard top convertible. Any Ferrari fan knows that the California is the first hard top convertible ever manufactured by Ferrari. An example of the hard top operating is shown in the photo below.

Power is provided by a Ferrari first 4.3 liter front-mid mounted gasoline direct injection V-8 with 453 h.p. The new motor can accelerate the California from 0-62 mph. in under 4. seconds. Even though the California is over six hundred pounds heavier than the Ferrari F430 and with 30 less h.p. it is just as fast as the F430.

Ferrari decided to increase Ferrari production by fifty percent with the introduction of the California. A separate production line has been build next to the existing factory at Maranello.
Ferrari planned on building 5000 cars during the first two years of production. It has been reported by motoring magazines that the California is sold out thru 2012.

Pricing starts at $192,000 USD plus options. In addition, the California will be subject to the gas guzzler tax.


One beautiful, fast and sexy car!

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Spyker C8 Aileron

Today's post is about an exotic super car the Spyker C8 Aileron. Ok, most of you are not familiar with this company or the car. Spyker is a Dutch sport-car manufacturer based in Zeewolde, the Netherlands. The first deliveries of the new C8Aileron started in May. Spyker is involved in Formula 1 racing flying the Dutch flag.

Note on the rear quarter panel a new air intakes for the motor. The Aileron uses a rear diffuser that helps keep the Aileron close to the ground without the use of a large wing.

Power is provided by an Audi-sourced 4.2 liter V-8 mounted midship. It turns out 400 h.p. and 354 lb-ft of torque. The Spyker estimates that the 3100 lb C8 Aileron can hit 62 mph in 4.5 seconds and reach a maximum speed of 187 mph. Two transmissions are offered, first is a Getrag 6-speed manual with a ZF automatic transmission optional.

Braking is provided by AP Racing, the discs measure 13.8 inches in the front and 13.1 in the rear. An optional upgrade to carbon-ceramic disks will be available later in the year.

Pricing for the Spyker C8 Aileron starts at $239,000 USD plus options for the manual transmission, the automatic starts at $246,000 USD plus options. The standard features are a Kharma audio system, Bluetooth and ipod connectivity, satellite navigation. The Aileron is available in 16 exterior and 14 interior colors.....with the option of any colors you desire for an additional price.

A Spyder variant with a fabric drop top is on the drawing boards and will launch at the Pebble Beach Concours d’Élégance in Monterey, California.


This has to be the car for someone that has everything.....after all when money is no object....this exotic supercar will fit the bill. Personally, I prefer the styling of the Ferrari's....although both cars are ultra expensive.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Cash For Clunkers Program To Be Extended

It appears that Senate Democrats have enough votes to win passage of the additional $2 billion dollars for the Cash For Clunkers program. The additional funds should take the program thru September.

The program appears to have motivated auto buyers into new car dealer showrooms. The Obama administration indicated that the program would end on August 7th without additional funding. The program appears to be a major success with increased sales and taken gas guzzlers off the road.

Here are the top ten cars purchased with the Cash for Clunkers program. The Ford Focus is shown above. The top ten cars sold are basically economy cars.

  • 1. Ford Focus
  • 2. Honda Civic
  • 3. Toyota Corolla
  • 4. Toyota Prius
  • 5. Ford Escape
  • 6. Toyota Camry
  • 7. Dodge Caliber
  • 8. Hyundai Elantra
  • 9. Honda Fit
  • 10. Chevrolet Cobalt

Listed below are the Cash For Clunkers trade-ins. The list is comprized of mainly SUV's and minivans.
  • 1. 1998 Ford Explorer
  • 2. 1997 Ford Explorer
  • 3. 1996 Ford Explorer
  • 4. 1999 Ford Explorer
  • 5. Jeep Grand Cherokee
  • 6. Jeep Cherokee
  • 7. 1995 Ford Explorer
  • 8. 1994 Ford Explorer
  • 9. 1997 Ford Winstar
  • 10. 1999 Dodge Caravan


This is definitely a good deal for consumers! Most of the cars listed above are economy cars, so if a consumer buys a vehicle that costs $15000. Then take the $3500 or $4500 a federal addition to the discount on the vehicle plus any incentives from the manufacturer.

Monday, August 3, 2009

July Auto Sales

U.S. auto sales appear to be improving substantially in July. Overall auto sales for July were down only 12% percent, with June down 28% and May down 39%. So, it appears that the sales trend is improving substantially.

It appears that the U.S. based automakers and some foreign manufacturers are having a rebound in sales....helped by the Cash For Clunkers program. Meanwhile sales of luxury cars are still in the dumps. ales were the best they have been since the summer of 2008....with a annual run rate of over 10 million cars.

Ford is the sales winner with a 2% increase in sales over last year. GM sales were down 19%, meanwhile Chrysler sales were down only 9.4%. An interesting fact is that GM and Chrysler sales were not impacted by the bankruptcies as much as anticipated.
  • Saab down 72%
  • Porsche down 51%
  • Mitsubishi down 50%
  • Jaguar down 45%
  • BMW down 32%
  • Nissan down 25%
  • Mercedes down 22%
  • Mazda down 15%
  • General Motors down 19%
  • Honda down 17%
  • Toyota down 11%
  • Chrysler down 9%
  • Volkswagen down 3%
  • Ford up 2%
  • Kia up 5%
  • Hyundai up 12%
  • Volvo up 26%
  • Subaru up 34%
Ford seems to be the beneficiary of increased sales lately. It appears that the GM and Chrysler bankruptcies have sent a number of customers over to Ford. The following Ford models had material increases in sales Focus up 44%, Escape up 94%, and the Fusion was up 66%.

Other notable increases were posted by the Toyota Prius up 30%, Toyota RAV4 up 33%, Hyundai Elantra up 30% and the Volkswagon Jetta up 31%.

July sales were up at a fairly decent run rate of 11 million cars annually. So, it appears that consumers had more faith in the future to spend money on high ticket items.


This month the Cash For Clunkers program had a substantial impact on auto showroom traffic and sales. Unfortunately, the government implemented a half way program. Increasing sales for the automobile manufacturers would do more than all the government loans available.

An interesting anomaly is that sales of U.S. built cars both by domestic and foreign manufacturers appears to be increasing. Meanwhile imported luxury cars continue with the steep declines over last year.