Several states are reporting this morning that average gas prices have crept up slightly, despite the fact that oil consumption has dropped and refiners are operating below capacity. The Miami Herald blames the price creep on Wall Street speculators who are optimistic that the economy is getting better, which in turn will lead to increased gas consumption. [More]
Last week, Mercedes showed a bunch of journalists some new safety features it’s working on to prevent deaths in the event of a car crash, and BNET describes them. I hope you like air bags going off all around you–the demo even has air bags for the car. Sadly, the people-scooper feature–something about when you hit a pedestrian, the car “scoops” the body onto the hood and keeps the person there, probably so that his screaming can alert you that you’ve been in an accident–will only be available in Europe. [More]
A woman in Philadelphia says her neighbor just laughs every time he sees her now, because his insurance company refused to pay a claim on her car that he hit. The company told her that the man won’t answer his phone, so there’s nothing they can do. Update: Right after I posted this, the OP emailed with an update. See the bottom of the post. [More]
Here’s a video from The Onion that pretty much sums up our nation’s automobile situation. The added incentive of a free Primus tape is really what sold me.
Edmunds.com, the car info website, is asking people who participated in the short-lived Cash for Clunkers program to contact them if something went wrong. Although they can’t fix any problems, they’re trying to collect data on consumers who are being asked to pay back the government rebate after already being approved, which was forbidden under the rules of the program, so they can present the data to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.
If you own a Honda and don’t like getting shot in the face with jagged metal fragments, you may want to keep an eye out for a recall notice. The automaker announced yesterday that it would recall 440,000 Civics, Accords, and Acura TL sedans sold between 2001 and 2003.
Engine Industries used Google Trends to map the frequency of search terms like “used car,” “new car,” and “buy car” through Google. They found that “people search car-related keyterms most in the summer and least in the winter, with a small spike right before Christmas.”
Reader P. works for one of those big national car rental companies, on the customer service front lines. She has some insights for how to get on the good side of car rental employees, how to make sure the car you ordered ends up where you need it, and the potential hazards of online reservation systems.
Let’s say the U.S. has poured billions of dollars into a failing company. How strongly should it try to protect that money once the company files for bankruptcy? The Washington Post is reporting that the plan for GM—which may go belly up as early as Monday—is for federal officials to select 5 or 6 of the company’s new board members, and have a say over which 6 of the existing board will remain. The UAW gets to choose another, and Canada might possibly be given one slot to fill. The rest of us will probably just get t-shirts or a souvenir mug.
Before you drop off your car at your local dealership for any sort of repairs, make sure you’re clear on the chain of liability should anything happen to it—especially right now, when dealerships can barely afford those flappy air things, much less tires. A woman in Charlotte, NC was left with around $1,000 in damages when the tires and wheels were stolen from the 2005 Audi she’d left with the dealership over the weekend.
Nearing the end of his lease on a Chevy Equinox, Tom wanted to turn the vehicle in before he used up his allotted miles, and drop it from his insurance as soon as he could. The dealership he leased it from, their lot clogged with cars and trucks that nobody particularly wants to buy, wasn’t really keen to take it back. So Tom got creative.
WeSeed directed us to this sad photo album of cars backed up at ports and manufacturer lots around the world. Maybe they can be handed out in clusters as executive bonuses at the end of the year.
Shaken by a huge drop in sales last month, Toyota has announced cash incentives to help move inventory, including (for the first time) the Prius. [Jalopnik]
Not that you necessarily need convincing that GM is doomed no matter how much cash is thrown at it, but here’s a cool graphic that shows all of the auto company’s problems as piles of shipping containers. The designer points out that “many aspects of this graphic can apply to the rest of the Big Three but I focused on GM since they are in the most dire position.”
A reader wrote in to ask us if we’ve ever seen anything like the “Chargeback Abuse Policy” that Luxury Car Tuning in Las Vegas includes in their terms—”You agree not to file a credit card or debit card chargeback with regard to any purchase,” and if you do anyway, you have to pay any fees that normally the merchant must pay when dealing with a chargeback. The reader wants to know, “Is this allowed by any merchant agreement that you know of? Sounds pretty ridiculous to me. How likely would it be that they could get away with this?”
Bob Lutz, GM’s vice president and product chief, told reporters this week that new federal guidelines that require 35mpg fuel efficiency by 2020 (yes, more than a decade from now) are so stringent that it will end up costing an average of $6,000 more per vehicle. “That cost will have to be passed on to consumers,” he then threatened. We can’t help but feel sorry for GM. After all, this whole “better fuel efficiency” topic was only brought up, what, like two or three months ago? And GM only has twelve years to find cost-effective (we’d say “innovative” but don’t want to put too much pressure on such a backwards, fearful company) ways to lighten cars and improve engines.
Hey, you may be asking yourself, why are GM’s profits down 90% from this quarter last year?