The company says it’s “reinventing” the car, not doing away with it.
Ford has decided to ditch nearly all of its cars in place of SUVs almost exclusively – only the Mustang and Focus Active will remain. The current Focus will go the way of the dodo later in the month, and the Fiesta and Taurus will follow shortly thereafter. But if you ask CEO Jim Hackett, Ford hasn’t killed off its cars at all. Instead, the blue oval is rethinking the idea of the car entirely.
In an interview with Automotive News, Hackett said that “we’re simply reinventing the American car,” not doing away with it. “This doesn’t mean we intend to lose those customers, we want to give them what they’re telling us they really want.” The company promises to still offer affordable cars (i.e. SUVs), hitting nearly “all the price points.”
“We don’t want anyone to think we’re leaving anything,” Hackett said in the interview. “We’re just moving to a modern version. This is an exciting new generation of vehicles coming from Ford.”
By 2020, 90 percent of the Ford range will be made up of SUVs and pickups. The company promises to have one of the freshest lineups in the industry at the start of the new decade, including new additions like a Mustang-inspired electric SUV dubbed the Mach 1, a new Bronco, and a smaller off-road SUV, currently dubbed the “Baby Bronco.”
But execs aren’t exactly happy with the negative reactions the move has stirred up. Bill Ford blames the media for all the negativity, saying “I wish the coverage had been a little different… the headlines look like Ford’s retreating. In fact, nothing could be further from the truth.”
Source: Automotive News
Ted Bumstead often comes across wildlife while he’s on patrol in Yavapai County. But usually, it’s too late to help. This time was different.
PHOENIX — A would-be Good Samaritan became trapped in her car Monday night after trying to rescue what she thought was an injured owl, Arizona officials said.
The woman was driving just north of Tucson when she spotted an owl, officials said. The owl appeared to be hurt, so the woman placed the dazed bird in her car to seek help.
Soon after, the owl latched onto the driver and the car’s steering wheel, refusing to let go.
“She retrieved it (the owl) from the roadway, and it was essentially motionless, and took it into her car and at that time it revived and latched onto her steering wheel and her sleeve,” said Mark Hart, a spokesman for the Arizona Game and Fish Department in Tucson. “Her intention there was to render aid.”
The owl, a great horned owl, appeared to have been hit by a car when the woman found it, Hart said.
The woman’s mother contacted the Game and Fish Department after the woman was trapped in the car, Hart said.
The agency suggested that she douse the owl with water. But the owl drank the water and kept its grip on the woman and steering wheel, Hart said.
“She’s fortunate she wasn’t hurt,” Hart said. “We have instances ranging from people trying to aide a coyote hit by a car and down on the street only to be bitten, to people separating young wildlife from their mothers in the mistaken notion that a mother has abandoned the small animal.”
The owl eventually let go on its own and hopped out of the car, appearing to be in good health, Hart said. The woman’s mother saw the owl again Tuesday in the same general area, Hart said.
“So, do we have a deal?” the salesperson asks, extending a hand.
Wait. Before you agree to buy that new car, take a few minutes to ensure there are no hidden problems that will surface when you’re in the middle of signing the contract. This also is your last chance to use your leverage to sweeten the deal a little more.
Before you say yes to a deal, make sure it’s a solid one. Ask these key questions:
So instead of saying, “Yes, we have a deal,” ask these questions and you will head off problems that could flare up later.
1. What other fees will I be charged? Another way to ask this question is, “What’s my out-the-door price?” Up to now, you have probably been negotiating the price of the car only. You will, of course, be required to pay additional fees, some of which are legitimate and some of which might be questionable. Legit costs include sales tax, registry costs, tire recycling fees and a documentation fee. Some dealerships, however, tack on additional fees as a way to build profit back into the deal. The sooner you find out about these fees, the better you can avoid them. Read more in What New Car Fees Should You Pay?
2. How much is your documentation fee? All car dealers charge a documentation (“doc”) fee when you buy a car. This means they actually charge you for filling out the contract. It seems strange, but it’s universal. What isn’t universal is the amount dealers charge for the doc fee. Some states cap the doc fee, usually at a price below $100. Other states don’t regulate the doc fee, so it can be as much as $600. While expensive in some states, these fees have become standard fare in the car business. If you’re in a state without a capped fee and feel the price is too high, your time will be better spent negotiating the price of the car rather than getting the dealer to waive the doc fee.
3. Are there any dealer-installed options on the car? Most cars come with options installed at the factory when the car is built. But sometimes the dealer adds items as a way to boost profit. Popular add-ons include nitrogen-filled tires, window tinting, wheel locks, all-weather floor mats, paint protection and more. These are called dealer “add-ons” and the markup can be quite steep. A common add-on is LoJack, a vehicle recovery system. Dealers often add the system’s cost to all the new cars in its inventory. Seeing it on every vehicle makes it seem as though it comes standard, but it’s an item the dealer has added. We’re not saying you should never buy a car with dealer add-ons. But you want to know about any add-ons well in advance, ideally when you’re soliciting a price quote. Know that there’s a markup on them and negotiate accordingly.
4. How many miles are on the car? This is particularly important for internet shoppers who might not have seen the car yet. You would think that every new car has less than 10 miles on the odometer. But in some cases, the car might have gone on a lot of test drives or is a “dealer trade,” meaning the dealer traded another car for it and it’s been driven in from another dealership. If there are more than about 300 miles on the car, you need to negotiate a lower price. If the car has been on the lot for a while or has a few hundred miles on it, you may want to ask for the “in-service date” of the vehicle. It’s usually on the date you buy the car, but not always. The in-service date is when the warranty begins, and it is important to know how much coverage you have.
5. Can you deliver the car? This is another great question for internet shoppers. If everything else in the deal looks good, and you haven’t yet said yes, you could ask for this one last little perk. Say something like, “Well, if you are willing to deliver the car, then we have a deal.” Instead of going to the dealership and waiting while the car is washed, gassed and prepared for delivery, why not stay at your home or office and let the dealer bring the car to you? A dealer representative will arrive with printed contracts, and you won’t get sales pitches from the finance and insurance manager for extended warranties and other items and services. If you think you will want one of the extras offered by the finance manager, you can always speak with the manager by phone and have the contract adjusted accordingly.
Global Car Brands, Kathleen
As Mazda and Infiniti have proved, there’s a lot of innovation left in the internal-combustion engine. One of the more wild concepts we’ve seen is called Reactivity Controlled Compression Ignition (RCCI), and it could just be the holy grail of internal combustion. Why? It uses gas and diesel to achieve incredible levels of efficiency.
This engine only lives on a test bench now, as Engineering Explained’s Jason Fenske details. It’s a concept developed by the University of Wisconsin-Madison that in lab testing has achieved 60 percent thermal efficiency. That means this engine is converting 60 percent of its fuel used into power rather than waste energy—a much higher number than any automotive engine in production today. For context, Toyota has a new 2.0-liter four-cylinder that achieves a remarkable 40 percent thermal efficiency, while Mercedes-AMG’s F1 power unit achieves 50 percent.
An RCCI uses two fuel injectors per cylinder to mix a low-reactivity fuel, like gas, with a high-reactivity fuel, like diesel. Theoretically you could mix any low- and high-reactivity fuels for RCCI to occur, but gas and diesel is perhaps the most interesting combination.
The combustion process is quite fascinating. First, a mixture of gas and air enter the combustion chamber, then diesel is injected. The gas and the diesel start to mix as the piston moves up towards top dead center, at which point, a little more diesel is injected for ignition.
This engine is more fuel efficient than a conventional diesel engine, and it’s much cleaner too. It sounds like the ideal internal-combustion engine, so that might make you wonder why it’s not yet in your car? Well, the engine is still very much in development, so if it ever were to enter mass production, it wouldn’t be for some time. There’s also the whole issue of having to equip a car with two entirely separate fueling systems.
But, it’s still a fascinating concept, and one that Fenske explores very in-depth in this video.
For the most part, self-driving car tests have focused on cities. Boston, Pittsburgh, Las Vegas and dozens of other cities have begun or plan on beginning self-driving pilot programs. There are reasons that companies look at cities. Cities generally have clear signage and well-maintained roads, two things that make the huge challenge of AI driving a little easier to break down and tackle.
Companies like Google or Uber also invest in complex 3D-mapping for these urban areas, labeling each and every road sign and lane. Given the complexity of the operation and the fact that millions of miles of U.S. roadsare unpaved, unlit, or unreliably marked, it’s no wonder the development focus so far has been decidedly urban.
That’s something MIT’s Computer Science & Artificial Intelligence Lab (CSAIL) wants to change.
Rather than relying on 3D mapping, MapLite focuses its efforts on satellite mapping like the kind you can find on Google Maps, and a series of LIDAR and IMU sensors.
The system then creates two goals: a final destination and a “local navigation goal,” in view of the car. The LIDAR then estimates where the road begins and ends. Without sign markings, the LIDAR makes basic assumptions that the road will be relatively more flat than the surrounding areas that are not road.
“The reason this kind of ‘map-less’ approach hasn’t really been done before is because it is generally much harder to reach the same accuracy and reliability as with detailed maps. A system like this that can navigate just with on-board sensors shows the potential of self-driving cars being able to actually handle roads beyond the small number that tech companies have mapped,” says CSAIL graduate student Teddy Ort, who was a lead author on a paper about MapLite, in a press statement.
The system was tested around Devens, Massachusettes, a census-designated area in central Massachusettes with a population under 2,000. Driving a Toyota Prius around on multiple unpaved country roads, the CSAIL team was successfully able to self-drive and detect the road more than 100 feet in advance.
The system isn’t perfect yet. It’s best equipped for forest-type environments like those around Devens, it can’t handle a mountain road due to their dramatic changes in elevation. But the successful test is a first step, researchers hope.
“I imagine that the self-driving cars of the future will always make some use of 3-D maps in urban areas. But when called upon to take a trip off the beaten path, these vehicles will need to be as good as humans at driving on unfamiliar roads they have never seen before. We hope our work is a step in that direction,” says Ort.
Here, then, are seven things to know about your credit report. A better understanding can speed up car shopping and clarify what can be an intimidating and confusing process.
1. Why is the salesman eager to get me to fill out a credit application?
The dealership uses the credit report both as a tool to increase sales and a way to protect itself from undesirable or even fraudulent shoppers, according to auto financing and car-selling experts.
Dealers know they have access to the best financing available, and they are eager to share these opportunities with their customers, says Marv Eleazer, finance director at Langdale Ford in Valdosta, Georgia. Almost 80 percent of his customers arrange financing through the dealership.
“The reasons are pretty clear,” Eleazer says. “We generally get rates lower than most customers can obtain elsewhere and the amount we can typically get financed is greater than most local banks or credit unions.” This is a huge benefit to customers who owe more on their trade-in than it is worth, he adds, because sometimes the dealer finance office can add this debt to the new loan.
Chris Cutright, a former car salesman, cites another reason dealers ask for a credit report. When people walk into a car dealership and request a test-drive, the dealer will want to know if they have the ability to pay for a car if they ultimately say they want to buy it. The fastest way to answer that question is to run their credit report.
Further, if a customer “looks kind of rough,” a manager will want to protect the dealership’s cars against theft or damage that might occur during a test-drive, Cutright says.
“Sometimes, just asking for a credit report will end the whole process.” Other times, it shows that the customer really is capable of affording a car.
Of course, asking for permission to run a credit report before a test-drive requires good people-reading skills and diplomacy on the part of the salesperson. The last thing he wants to do is alienate a scruffy but qualified buyer.
Another reason dealerships like to get the credit application filled out early on is because it is a rapport builder for the salesman, Cutright says. Some shoppers fill out the application themselves, while other times a salesman can fill it out with information the consumer provides verbally. If the customer agrees to provide information for the credit report, this is a chance for the salesman to earn the customer’s trust as they discuss their employment, salary and provide other personal information, he says.
Consumer advocates, meanwhile, caution that shoppers should not agree to have their credit run until they are ready to actually begin the vehicle financing process. If consumers have run their own credit report before car shopping (to ensure that there are no errors on the report, for example), they have nothing to gain by allowing a premature credit check.
Some dealers use the credit report for another, less consumer-friendly purpose, says Chris Kukla, senior vice president of the Center for Responsible Lending.
“The result of the credit report has an impact on what the buyer pays for the car, and whether they get a hard sell for additional products in the finance and insurance office,” he says.
2. What information does my credit report contain and what does the dealership do with that information?
A person’s credit report shows two things that are essential to getting a good car loan:
a. The report shows your financial history. It is a record of your ability to borrow money and repay it on time. It weighs about 30 different credit-related factors such as your payment history, amount of outstanding debt and the length of your credit history.
b. The credit bureau combines all the factors in your credit history into one numerical score commonly referred to as the FICO score. This ranges from 350 to 800, with the higher score being the best. The dealership will use that score as it contacts different lenders to determine if they will give you a loan and at what interest rate.
3. I’m paying cash. So why is the dealer asking to pull my credit report?
Federal consumer protection and national security laws require that dealers verify the identity of buyers, according to Bradley Miller, associate director of legal and regulatory affairs for the National Automobile Dealers Association (NADA). The Patriot Act has requirements meant to counteract terrorists who might use car buying to launder money. Other federal regulations, known as Red Flag Rulesrequire dealerships to protect against identity theft. Pulling a credit report is a quick way to verify that the person presenting himself as a buyer isn’t actually trying to steal someone else’s identity.
In a legal sense, a dealer only needs a “permissible purpose” to access a person’s credit, Miller says, and there are a number of such instances. Usually, it occurs when a consumer wants to take advantage of low-interest financing via the dealership. But it would also be permissible, for example, for a dealer to ask for a credit report before accepting a personal check from a customer. It may be the dealership’s only hedge against taking a bad check when sales take place on evenings or weekends. That’s when banks are closed, and it’s difficult to verify that the funds are available.
4. Can the dealership run my credit without my knowledge?
It’s not supposed to. The dealership is required to get your permission to run a credit report. Usually, the salesman asks you to sign a credit application. If you are shopping over the Internet, you can sign the application and send it back electronically, says Cutright, who managed Internet sales departments during his car-selling career.
A dealer does need a Social Security number to run a credit report. And in a few instances, dealers have asked for the customer’s Social Security number, telling them that the Patriot Act required them to do so. Then the dealer used the number to pull the customer’s credit report without permission.
In fact, the anti-terrorism law only requires a Social Security number for a cash car purchase of more than $10,000. It does not require a dealer to review a credit report, say attorneys from both NADA and the National Independent Automobile Dealers Association.
Sometimes customers fear that when the salesman asks for a driver license (as is often the case before a test-drive), he will use the driver license number to run a credit report. States can no longer use a Social Security number as a driver license number, so this is less likely to occur. If you have an older license that still lists your Social Security number as your license number, contact your registry of motor vehicles to get it changed.
5. If the dealership runs my credit, will my FICO score drop?
The first “inquiry” (a request for a credit report) has a minor impact on the credit score, but subsequent inquiries do not, says Melinda Zabritski, senior director of automotive credit for Experian.
“It’s well known that consumers shop around when they are car buying,” she says. So Experian, for example, groups multiple inquires occurring within a two-week period and they have no further effect on a consumer’s credit score.
According to the Experian Web site: “10% of your credit score is based on inquiries or ‘credit checks.’ Every time you apply for credit, a ‘hard inquiry’ is placed on your credit report. Having too many hard inquiries could indicate to lenders that you’re trying to overspend.”
6. Besides the impact to my FICO score, are there other risks to having a dealership check my credit history?
It isn’t a good idea to divulge personal information unless it is necessary. There is always the chance someone could take your Social Security number and other personal information and use it to access your bank or credit card accounts. So, despite his explanation of why dealerships do what they do, Cutright advises consumers to decline early invitations to run your credit.
“Only allow them to run your credit when you are certain you are interested in buying a car,” he says.
7. Is there anything I need to do concerning my credit before I go car shopping?
Check your credit report yourself. This is the most recommended piece of advice by both dealership representatives and consumer advocates. Eleazer says to pay attention to the accuracy of the report and challenge any mistakes with the credit reporting agency. Resolving these problems ahead of time could raise your credit score and give you access to a wider range of finance options.
“I tell consumers to take advantage of one free credit report each year,” says Shawn Petersen, regulatory, legislative and compliance counsel for NIADA. “Going into a car transaction armed with that information, and knowing what your credit report says, will show the dealer that you are knowledgeable.”
That knowledge could help you avoid mistakes and save a lot of money in the long run.