No. 833,
February 10, 2016

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Prius? How about no?

I had to laugh at one part of the Prius commercial. “This thing is actually pretty fast! Over!”
No. No, it isn't. The Prius does its level best to prevent any kind of spirited driving. I've had more fun driving a forklift.

Jim Z.
Detroit, Michigan


Sergio's Folly.

So, did I just read this past week that Fiat Chrysler Automobiles is no longer going to be a full-line automaker? I believe I did, because the news stories I read indicated that FCA wants to go big on crossovers, Ram and Jeep while they outsource their midsize Chrysler 200 to another manufacturer and kill the Dodge Dart outright.

Wasn't Chrysler bailed out by the government twice in recent history? And wasn't a big part of the problem in both instances that they did not have competitive vehicles in the popularly priced segments, particularly in the high fuel economy segments? And didn't Chrysler's recovery in all instances hinge on lower-priced gasoline, allowing their fuel-hungry vehicles to attract more buyers?

So yeah, we've got lower-priced gasoline now. My cousin in northeast Ohio posted on Facebook that her local gas station was selling regular for $1.47 a gallon this past week. And yeah, FCA is selling all the Rams and Jeeps they can cobble together (and “cobble together” is a big part of the business plan at that company, apparently).

Wasn't the point of giving Chrysler to Fiat that Chrysler would be able to tap into Fiat's array of small platforms and fill out the lower end of their line? And they've done what? Created one half-decent largish compact and one half-decent midsized car to replace one terrible midsize car and another compact (Caliber) that could have actually been kept in the lineup as a small crossover. And they're going to cancel the Dart outright and give up 87,000 or so annual sales that will be replaced by, well, what? Meanwhile, a company that made the international part of its reputation on fuel-efficient cars is having to buy EPA credits from other manufacturers. Alanis Morrisette is going to have to rewrite that irony song.

Are the people who put together the FCA business plan all under 21 years of age? Because it wasn't that terribly long ago that gas was $4 a gallon nationwide. And that on an adjusted basis, it's been that high several times before that, and for a fairly protracted period of time. And it's going to go back to that level again at some point in the next several years for reasons you and I can only speculate about. But make no mistake, history and common sense both tell us it's going there, if not by the time those additional FCA crossovers come out, then probably not long afterward.

And the all-crossovers, all-trucks FCA will be caught flatfooted once again when that happens. Not that Sergio cares; he's getting his golden parachute now while the getting is good.

Francis Volpe
Carlisle, Pennsylvania

Editor-In-Chief's Note: I will have plenty to say about this subject in the coming weeks. -PMD

 

Spin this, Sergio.

After reading the March issue of Automobile Magazine, it’s clear that BMW has finally and completely lost it. If the rumors are true, in the next few years we will see: A front-wheel-drive 1 Series, an X2 crossover, a 2 Series Gran Coupe, an i6 and a 9 Series. If they start building pickups, I wouldn’t be a bit surprised. As a long time propeller-head, it breaks my heart to see the direction BMW is going. A few years ago there was a wonderful book, Driven: Inside BMW, the Most Admired Car Company in the World. So sad to see a once great car company turn into a parody of itself since.

On another subject, I saw my first Alfa Romeo 4C the other day and given the sales figures it may well be my last. AR has sold only 411 4Cs in this country since its release. Spin that one Sergio.

Bill Linder
Lakewood, Washington

 

Hated the ads, love the Broncos!

I agree completely about the Super Bowl ads. There has hardly been a year in the past that I did not get online so I could see an ad that left me the feeling that I wanted to see it again. NOT this year. Really bland.
I will say that I enjoyed the game. Probably because I'm a fan of the Broncos. Their defense definitely prevailed. It doesn't hurt that Vaughn Miller played here locally at TAMU. He was good then and he's good now!!!

L.M.
Bryan, Texas


Not out of the question by any means.

I've talked with several finance managers in local car dealerships in the past few months, and one thing they all seem to echo: The price of vehicles will continue to go up, leaving those of us whose wages can't and won't keep up at the mercy of the used car lot for newer cars.

They also seem to be in agreement that leasing will become much more common with the average Joe and Jane, as the monthly payments is what it is… what they can afford is it, and buying a car will soon be out of the reach of many Americans, leaving Leasing the only alternative, short of handing over $50k in cold, hard cash… which how many of us can do?

Anywho, I thought that was an ominous sign that the auto industry can sell $65k heavy duty pickup trucks with little markdown, $50k light duty pickups with sometimes substantial markdown, which for those watching really shows the manufacturers are still making money on the markdown vehicles.

Just frustrating knowing my chance to own a Q7 is about gone, as for leasing I really don't feel like putting down $3-5k at the start of a lease. And with the increasing cost of the vehicles, I'm sure that amount will increase as well.

So in ten years will we all be driving a Cruze or a Focus with seven-year payment plans?

Scott Hood
Tampa, Florida

My Happy Motoring Meter is pegged alright, but in the negative direction, ugh.

Best to Team AE as usual, cheers from Tampa, Scott

 

Be prepared.

I caught the Portraits commercial as it aired, but totally missed the 4x4Ever because it was buried at the end of the game, so it clearly lacked the umph that you would expect, except the Boy Scout universe lit up over the 3 second segment with a boy Scout – all under "did you see the Boy Scout ad" (not Jeep). And Jeep is not the preferred vehicle of Scouters, we are hauling tons of people and gear, it's minivan city – I can show you how to use Stow & Go and maximize the payload of the van. So we can add that to Sergio's ‘Not good’ file.

As for the half-time show, until Bruno Mars showed I though Up with People had made a comeback, it was that lame.

GSG
Boston, Massachusetts

 

 

Blandtastic.


The only good Super Bowl commercial was the Doritos spot with the pregnant woman. Everything else was too bland, just like the name of the new large Cadillac sedan.

John B.
Houston, Texas