30th October 2010

A car store — and more

The past few years produced a few hiccups for Rob Marshall, a northern Kentucky auto dealer accustomed to steady sales and showroom traffic.

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30th October 2010

Fort Worth and Dallas area dirt track and dragway schedule (Oct. 28-31)

Cowtown Speedway (Kennedale)
Oct. 30 (Saturday):
 Tenth Annual Topless Spooky 100 featuring Modifieds, Limited Modifieds, Winged 600s, Restricted 600s and Bombers
Schedule: Saturday hot laps begin at 4:00.; racing starts at 6:00 p.m. 
Tickets: $15 for adult general admission; $5 for ages 6-11; $2 for ages 3-5; $9 for child (11-under) reserved seat. $18 for adult reserved seat; Pit passes are $30. Tickets can be purchased in advance at the track Web site at no additional cost
More info: www.cowtownspeedway.com
Phone: 817-478-9952

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30th October 2010

News & Rants: MotherProof.com Reviews the 2011 Infiniti M37x

If you’re looking for a luxury sedan that can fill your need for a serious family car with a mix of comfort and space, look no further than the 2011 Infiniti M37x, says MotherProof.com reviewer Courtney Messenbaugh. For 2011, the redesigned Infiniti M37x has a bigger engine that gets better gas mileage than its previous incarnation. However, Courtney found one problem with this sedan when it came time to put her kids’ three car seats in the backseat: They wouldn’t fit. Will the M37x fit your family? Read Courtney’s review to find out.

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30th October 2010

Dealership Choice And The Death Of The Mainstream Auto Media

As surveys go, the Morpace Omnibus Study [full results in PDF here] isn’t perfect. But even though it’s based on only 1,000 online respondents, it’s chock full of provocative insights. Of course Automotive News [sub] misses the best one, in its haste to trumpet the headline

Buyers usually don’t consider loyalty when choosing dealerships
Fine, that pulls uniques out of the dealership bullpen. The real news: when asked to rate how “influential” different media sources are on their “likelihood to visit a dealership,” respondents gave the category “magazines” the weakest scores. A mere three percent rated magazines as the top rating “high influence,” the lowest such number in the survey. A whopping 32 percent gave it the lowest “low influence” rating, the highest result in the test. And all this from a sample in which only six in one thousand rated “an effective marketing/advertising campaign” as the most influential factor in their dealership selection process, while giving top marks to “best deal offerings” (40%), “positive prior experience” (20%) and “referrals from family and friends (10%). But here’s the twist: respondents were asked to assume they already had a brand and model in mind. The plot thickens…
So, what does this have to do with the Buff Books? After all, if a consumer’s mind is made up about the car they want to buy, this survey is focused on the influence of dealer rather than brand or model advertising. Dealer advertising tends to be local, so the national glossies have never gone after their business. In fact, the Buff Books are merely the lowest point of a mainstream automotive media that’s going down hard. In a surprising twist, “the internet” came out with the most “10″ and “9″ scores in the media comparison, barely edging out “television” 12% to 11%. Even the dread “special advertising sections” that make up most newspaper automotive “coverage” received a mere eight percent of “9″ and “10″ scores, while bargain-basement radio advertising took only 6%.
And the effectiveness of online advertising isn’t surprising. Effective ads are ads that reach consumers as close to their active decision-making processes as possible, and for most consumers, deciding on a car means doing research online. Whether the conscious decision-making process takes place while reading reviews at a site like TTAC or doing more in-depth research and comparison at sites like Edmunds, Autoguide or TrueDelta, the ability to match imminent buyers with local advertising options is giving the online media opportunities that Buff Books have never had access to. And because decisions come in groups, former buff book advertisers like automakers, insurers and aftermarket firms are also flocking to where decisions are made, namely the internet.
Obviously, a lot of this sounds like self-congratulation at the expense of a struggling industry, but it’s actually a warning. Large amounts of advertising dollars are what brought about “special advertising sections,” and the internet already has plenty of online equivalents of those newsprint “pimpatorials.” What this survey doesn’t address is whether the growing influence of online advertising is a product of sheer convenience for the consumer, or if a sharper contrast between content and advertising plays a role as well. Because only .6% of respondents thought advertising consciously made a difference for them, it seems safe to assume there’s something to that possibility. More than even the ability to put connect local ads with a global audience, the ability to allow readers to conduct valuable independent research and then click ads based on the decision they came to independently (or at least the decision they think they made independently) is the “killer app” of the new automotive media. For up-and-coming online auto media outlets, providing independent content of the highest integrity isn’t just a question of principle… it’s the pragmatic thing to do.

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29th October 2010

Virginia: Red Light Camera Installed at Accident-Free Location

Albemarle County, Virginia plans this week to install its first red light camera system, ostensibly to reduce accidents caused by red light running. County documents show that at one of the two intersection approaches selected, there has not been a single accident caused by red light running in the past three years.

The county applied to the Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT) earlier this year for permission to allow Redflex Traffic Systems of Australia to install and operate a pair of cameras at the intersection of US 29 and Rio Road. The east bound approach at Rio Road had no reported angle collisions caused by red light running violations between 2006 and 2009, according to county records. The other monitored approach, US 29 southbound, did have related crashes. The annual crash total for the type of accidents that the photo enforcement system might address is 1.8 per year.

While not having a red light running crash problem, the location reported 68 percent of its accidents (121 out of 177 in three years) were rear end collisions. A 2007 VDOT report concluded that use of red light cameras increased the number of rear end collisions by an average of 42 percent in Northern Virginia. That means if the system worked perfectly, there would be 1.8 fewer angle collisions, but 17 more rear end collisions each year.

“We acknowledge VDOT’s comment that accidents most commonly associated with red light running are angle crashes and as such traffic signal enforcement may not help to reduce the majority of the crashes at this particular intersection; however, this is only one of the factors to be considered in the evaluation,” the county’s application admitted. “As provided in the sections that follow, our assessment and conclusions also factor in the violation volumes.”

The two selected approaches proved to be the most lucrative for citation issuance. The intersection is one of the busiest in the area with an average of 71,549 vehicles — mostly non-residents — passing through each day. During the test, the system would have generated $7,600 worth of tickets in a 12-hour period — about $5.5 million per year if the violation rate held constant.

“Both of these approaches pose a threat to the safety of the motorists, bicyclists, and pedestrians who use this densely developed corridor now and in the future,” the county asserted.

The data show in three years, there were zero bicycle accidents reported and a single pedestrian incident. The report also lists yellow signal timing for the intersections that may prove to be too short for the conditions. At Rio Road, the yellow lasts 4.0 seconds for traffic facing a speed limit of 35 MPH. At US-29, however, the speed limit is 10 MPH faster and the intersection requires more time to traverse because it is 60 feet longer. Longer yellows are needed when speeds are faster and distances are greater, but US-29 is set at just 4.0 seconds, below even the short timings recommended by the Institute of Transportation Engineers guidelines.

A copy of the application is available in a 160k PDF file at the source link below.

Source: Photo Enforcement Engineering Safety Analysis (Albemarle County, Virginia, 7/13/2010)

[Courtesy:Thenewspaper.com]

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29th October 2010

Sobering



Visiting a major supplier today I got a very personal account of what it has been like here over the past couple of years – the enforced ‘restructuring’ that is. We all know how many tens of thousands of jobs have gone in many of the big companies, but hearing what it has been like to actually live through those times is pretty sobering.

Another history lesson is in prospect this evening – but I’m not sure sobering is quite the word for this one. I’m meeting some industry people at a downtown Detroit bar with a bit of history. Actually, the taxi ride into town (leaving the car here at the hotel in Troy) will be sobering if we pass through the worst of the run-down areas not far from the CBD. I have seen it before and it always makes an impact. No easy answers to that one, but at least the local economy still has a sizeable automotive business, the major OEMs and many suppliers doing well to still be standing.

http://grandtrunkpub.com/

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