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  • TTAC Called It: GMAC Ceasing Leasing Tomorrow. Employee Car Discounts Next to Go?

31st July 2008

TTAC Called It: GMAC Ceasing Leasing Tomorrow. Employee Car Discounts Next to Go?

We’ve just heard from our sources that GMAC is about to announce that it will no longer offer lease deals on the Yukon, Yukon XL, Suburban, Tahoe, all full-size trucks, Envoys and TrailBlazers as of tomorrow. The General’s captive finance arm will also raise the “money factor” (the leasing rate) on Cadillacs by two percent. Needless to say, this will be an enormous blow to GM’s sales. We’re told that GM has called a meeting of all mid-western dealers at the Rock Financial Showcase for the same day, [presumably] so that marketing maven Mark LaNeve can announce the incentive deals that will replace leasing. We also hear that GM is about suspend employee pricing on most car lines, such as the Chevy Cobalt, in order to make money where they can. We’ll have more info as we get it. [hat tip to you-know-who-you-are]

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31st July 2008

Daily Podcast: A Pom-Pom Free Zone

I’ve been exceptionally busy on the flame-suppression front. This week, I’ve removed dozens of offensive comments, and banned more than a few unruly malcontents from our door. I’m not surprised. It’s a painful time for anyone who had faith in the domestic automakers. The bad news coming from Detroit is coming fast and it makes them furious. At us. But a lot of the boneless chickens we’ve identified here over the last four years– giving credit to anyone with a pulse, bad branding, lousy product decisions, and on and on– are coming home to roost. Truth to tell, it’s also a good time for TTAC. Our visitor numbers are up. Nothing rad. Just the same organic growth. Which is fine by me. It means we’re building a solid base of readers who “get it.” And to this group I promise more solid journalistic work like Samir Syed’s excellent interview with CAW leader Buzz Hargrove. We’re limited by finances, but wherever we can, we will break news. Meanwhile, we, like you, watch the scene with an increasing sense of foreboding. Through it all, we’ll be here, telling the truth about cars. 

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31st July 2008

How to Lose an AutoCross for Less Than $100

A month or two ago, I had the brilliant idea to enter a rental car into a car show, and see what I would win. The Avis Hummer H3 I spent untold hours detailing won first place in the truck category. Being only slightly insane, I decided to try another rental car challenge (due to my Porsche still being in various pieces), and enter a weekend special into an SCCA Autocross. Nearly winning my division last year, I believed that winning was mainly due to the driver, not the car, so of course I would come out on top no matter what I was driving. $78 later in rental fees and race entry fees, I had a 2008 Subaru Outback, with a 173bhp, AWD and lots of cargo space. Despite ripping nearly 150lbs of weight out of the car, the Subie couldn’t have been more disastrous. The Sportshift always held the wrong gear, and wouldn’t let you shift manually under extreme maneuvers. The steering became so imprecise that I was no longer driving the car, I was guiding it. The AWD made the car understeer, or oversteer, in a completely unpredictable manner. The lack of low end power had me uttering strings of curses upon exiting nearly every corner. I was easily outrun by a similar 2.5-liter equipped Impreza. I was outrun by a Honda Civic, a Dodge Neon, and an automatic-equipped Toyota Echo. And then we loaded the wagon up with five people, kept to the starting line, and learned the joys of e-braking through the corners, where the Outback stopped skittering, and literally “hopped” around the bends. As a race car, the Scooby gets one-star. But I suppose you already guessed that.

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31st July 2008

GM Pays Oshawa Workers Even After Plant Closes

After accusations of “betrayal,” blockades by the Canadian Autoworkers union, threats of lawsuits against the union and sops tossed to the union, GM is moving ahead with plans to close their truck plant in Oshawa, Ontario. However, it looks like it’ll cost them a bit more than they’d anticipated. The Globe and Mail reports GM and the CAW have struck a deal whereby GM will add another model to the mix produced at the auto assembly plant there. Oh, and pay some workers for four years after the plant closes. The complete details of the deal will be announced to workers later today, but it includes paychecks for laid-off workers with 26 years seniority for four more years at 65 percent of their current wages. That makes them eligible for “a special retirement incentive applicable to people with 30 years of experience.” Workers with 27 to 30 years would also be paid until they reach the 30-year mark. In return, GM gets to keep building cars in the most expensive location in North America. Such a deal!

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31st July 2008

E85 Boondoggle Of The Day: Undersupply

Back in the day, T. Boone Pickens questioned why his then-boss, presidential nominee Bob Dole supported ethanol. Dole’s answer was telling. “Let me explain something to you about politics,” the Kansas Republican replied. “There are 21 farm states, and that’s 42 senators. Don’t waste any more of our time or your time telling us it’s a bad idea, because they’re going to do it.” And when politics trumps policy, you get stories like this one from The Oil Drum (TOD). With gas consumption likely to decline thanks to high prices, TOD wanted to know if federal ethanol mandates would sink with the market. The Department of Energy told them ethanol mandates are still set to increase, from 9b gallons this year to 12b gallons in 2011. Which raises a problem: what to do with it all. By DOE estimates, there won’t be enough gasoline to “absorb” that much ethanol in standard E10 blends in 2011. There’s also not enough E85 pumping stations (or “infrastructure”) for the corn juice. In other words, the feds are mandating more ethanol than we can use so that Midwest senators will be pliant for other senators’ pork projects. We’ve sure got this energy thing licked, huh?

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31st July 2008

Cabbie v sat nav

I created a competition during the week between Len Fox and my Mercedes-Benz C220 CDI Lifer’s COMAND satnav system.

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