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Archive for September, 2009

Will Aston Martin Be Sold Yet Again?

Aston Martin arguably makes the most beautiful sports cars in the World, and has done so for over ninety years, but under several different owners.

The most recent owner change was just a few years ago, when Ford sold out to a consortium headed by a Kuwaiti investment outfit.

However the latest news is that they – The Kuwaiti Investment Dar, are in financial difficulties and have defaulted on some loans.

At the same time Aston Martin themselves aren’t having such a good time either, due to the global financial crisis, having dispensed with a third of its workforce last December.

The Kuwaiti Investment Dar says that it may have to sell some of its assets to help reduce debt, so that may well mean that this iconic brand will be up for sale yet again.

But then who would have the spare cash to take the risk of investing in the really top end luxury car market today?

Storm Erupts Over Ex-Rental Vehicles

A huge storm has erupted in the UK over the highly misleading practice of hiding the identity of ex-rental cars unwittingly bought by the public from official dealerships, paying thousands of dollars more than their real worth.

The UK tabloid newspaper, The Daily Telegraph, reports that it is a widespread practice for car rental companies to register their cars under an ‘innocent’ business name, and then pass their used stock onto the public as a ‘one owner vehicle’.

Of course it’s a one owner vehicle! But with many tens or hundreds of drivers, some of whom love to thrash rental cars!

Had the cars been honestly revealed as ex-rental cars they would have commanded thousands of dollars less in the market place.

The Daily Telegraph claims that two of the UK’s biggest car hire firms used a ‘front’ company name to register vehicles, meaning buyers didn’t recognise the ‘real’ previous owner from the registration documents.

The most controversial cases involve cars that were previously hired out by National Car Rental, which is owned by Europcar, Britains biggest car hire company, which has a fleet totalling 54,000.

The company registered the vehicles in the name of Provincial Securities Ltd. a compnay it owns that did no business.

Can it, does it happen here?

Well, frankly we don’t know. We hope not, but that’s a wish, not a certainty.

If you know, one way or the other, then let us, and our customers, know too.

GM Finally Settles On Buyer For Opel, Vauxhall

General Motors has finally annointed Magna International Inc., a Canadian car parts conglomerate and its Russian bank partner, Sberbank as the buyers for 55 percent of the shares in its European operation that produces Opel cars in Germany and Vauxhalls in the UK.

GM will still own a 35 percent stake and employees will own the remaining 10 percent.

Magna have always been the favoured bidder with the German government, even after receiving a last minute increased offer from the other final contenders, RHJ International.

Magna have undertaken not to close any plants nor dispense with any jobs at Opel, but they have not made the same commitment to the British government who are now seeking urgent talks with senior Vauxhall management to abate plant closures and further job losses in the UK.

The main UK plant at Ellesmere Port is slated to produce GM’s proposed all-electric car, the Ampera, and it is expected that some hard bargaining will ensue between Vauxhall and the government over who pays for a national public network of battery charging centres.

Naturally Vauxhall wants the public purse to fund it, but at what cost and guarantees?

Let the bargaining begin!

Ten Worst Driving Habits

The experts at Driving Solutions gave us their thoughts on the ten worst driving habits that they’ve seen when teaching thousands of drivers.

They summarized the ten worst as follows:-

1. Tail Gating

2. Using Devices Whilst Driving

3. Keeping to the Left Lane

4. Poor Seating Position

5. Speeding

6. Indicating

7. Motorway Merging

8. Poor Vehicle Management

9. Driving for the Conditions

10. Drink Driving

Do you agree?

Are there any that you think are more annoying than these listed?

Would you like to add your own pet hate to the list?

We’d love to have your opinions so click below and let us know your pet driving hates.

GM's European Sale Still Not Finalized

Part of General Motors bankruptcy resolution is to sell its two European factories, Vauxhall in the UK and Opel in Germany.

Despite the urgency, and many months after the initial expressions of interest closed, they still can’t get the deal across the line, even though there are two final bidders, RHJ International from Belgum and Magna, a Canadian car parts group.

The latest turn in this ongoing saga is an increased bid from RHJ International.

RHJ International said it will offer 300 million euros (approx $510 million), an increase of 25 million euros, for its 50.1 percent stake of GM Europe and reduce the guarantees it is seeking from European governments with GM plants from 3.8 billion euros to 3.2 billion euros.

However, even after this further sweetener, Magna still remains the favoured bidder in the eyes of the German government, despite reservations from GM that this Russian influenced consortium could syphon German Opel technology to their Eastern European car plants.

And so the saga drags on. We’ll keep you posted as soon as it reaches a conclusion.

In the meantime Holden in Australia continues to promote its cars, in particular the new small Cruze, unaffected by these procrastinations from its parent company.

The Joys Of Buying A Car

 A rather amusing email has been doing the rounds recently, and we just couldn’t let it pass us by without posting it for you to read.

“Recently, my wife and I decided that it was time to buy a new car. My own car had grown so dilapidated that I was depreciating our property value every time I pulled into the garage.

So we visited a local car yard – I won’t say which one – to find a replacement.

And we did.

We found a gorgeous replacement. Right beyond the lion’s den of salespeople.

When we arrived at the dealership, it was four hundred degrees outside because there is no ozone layer.

The salesmen were lurking in the shade, so the lot appeared destitute.

 As soon as we started to browse, however, I sensed movement. The way an antelope senses a lion on the horizon.

Before I could say, “Wow, this is kind of expensive,” the lion was upon us.

“Hi,” my name is Steve. Can I put you in this car today?”

Man, I hate salespeople.

I hate their jargon.

I hate the way they write numbers on paper without saying them aloud.

I hate their parents for having reproduced. While appraising my watch, Steve delivered a speech about dual-side rock and onion steering, passenger-side air holes, and other features that didn’t interest me.

Looking at the price tag, I wondered if the car had a part-time job to help pay for itself.

We took the car for a spin anyway because, alas, we liked it.

During the test-drive, Steve tried to gain a sense of who we were, where we grew up, and how much money he could siphon from our pockets. He made eye contact with us only because it was a good sales tactic. He complimented our clothing for the same reason. Everything he said had been printed in a manual.

This man was a predator who had discovered his niche in the workplace: He was a car salesman.

Unfortunately, we liked the car.

A lot.

As we drove the 101, the issue became not how much the car cost, but whether our lives could carry on without it. Could we concentrate at work each day having left this precious machine behind, or would one of us eventually go postal and hold the car dealership at gunpoint?

Steve sensed our predicament. He also sensed a budding relationship with our bank account.

“The nice thing about this car is that it’s safe,” he told me. “The engine is designed to collapse underneath the driver during a head-on collision. That way your wife won’t get injured.”

 Beyond the four hundred degree shadow of a doubt, I detested this man. He was playing my guilt like a Spanish guitar, serenading my wife all the while.

Returning to the lot, Steve suggested that we go inside to talk things over.

Buying a car is not like buying a loaf of bread. It’s not as simple as “How much is it and will you accept a check?”

The price on the car window is merely a suggestion, a jumping off point for negotiations. There would be compromises and credit checks and “favors.”

 It’s a Geneva Summit to discuss the future of your finances.

I warned Steve that we probably couldn’t afford the vehicle, to which he replied, “No, you just don’t have my talent for juggling numbers.” (Or treading b.s. for that matter.)

Inside we were greeted by 13 salespeople according to the manual.

 They smelled our desire for the car and smiled bigger.

 Steve ushered us in like a fraternity pledge with two hot blondes from the local bar.

 In the conference room, he offered me a soda.

 But I knew better.

Anything we accepted at this point could only work against us – a soda, a piece of gum, a handshake. I wouldn’t hear of it. How dare he even offer.

Steve juggled his numbers for the next 40 minutes until we arrived at a tolerable payment.

Somewhere during the arbitration, the word “affordable” had become “tolerable.” Steve had broken us down with the craft of Jim Jones. We were out of resistance. We had no will.

 By the time it was over, I had accepted two sodas and a trial membership to the Spectrum Club.

I had become entranced by the vortex of numbers before me, a psychedelic voyage through feasibility.

Once we agreed to the payment, Steve had to gain “final approval” from his supervisor (anyone remember Fargo?).

When Steve returned, the numbers had changed again and negotiations started all over.

Thirty minutes later, the supervisor came down to finalize the deal. He shook our hands, confessing the sacrifices he had made to “put us in this car.”

He wondered aloud if his kids would eat this month.

I felt like a sweaty pig. I had just prostituted my principles to a revolting game of greed, materialism, and lifelong payments.

But if you want a new car, there are no two ways about it.

Even now as we drive around town, I sometimes see Steve in the rearview mirror. He is sitting in the backseat with a smirk, purring sweetly as he basks in the afterglow of the big sale. And that is a cost you won’t find anywhere in the fine print.”

Well, that’s one reason why Private Fleet exists, to make car buying easy for you.

If you have any similar car buying experiences we’d love to hear form you and we’ll post it on the blog.