Official: Ford Focus ST, Fiesta ST buyers to get free Octane Academy driving school

Filed under: Performance, Hatchback, Ford

The Ford Focus ST and Fiesta ST have created plenty of excitement in the sport compact segment, and Ford is looking to make sure that owners are driving and enjoying their cars to the best of their abilities. As an added bonus for buying one of these sporty hatchbacks, Ford will provide a complimentary ST Octane Academy session to be held at the Miller Motorsports Park in Utah.

Attendees will be responsible for travel and lodging, but Ford will provide the driving school free of charge. Included in this two-day trip, ST owners will get class instruction and driving instruction in prepped Focus ST and Fiesta ST models on the track and autocross course. Some karting action will also be involved as will a tour of Ken Block’s Hoonigan Racing headquarters located nearby. If this doesn’t sound like enough fun, there is also an optional day of activities that includes some more track time in a Mustang GT and off-road instruction in an F-150 SVT Raptor.

Ford told us that those who have already purchased a Focus ST or Fiesta ST will still be able to attend the performance driving school, but the press release, which is posted below, makes it sound like it applies to original owners only. Ford has yet to announce its schedule for the ST Octane Academy or prices for additional activities or guests.

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Ford Focus ST, Fiesta ST buyers to get free Octane Academy driving school originally appeared on Autoblog on Thu, 01 Aug 2013 09:28:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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Report: More car buyers favoring longer term loans, up to 10 years [w/poll]

Filed under: Car Buying, Earnings/Financials

Couple shopping for new cars

The length of car loans in the US keeps on growing as more and more consumers look for ways to save money every month to pay off obligations and necessities. Extremely low interest rates and more durable automobiles have become key factors in driving these new longer-term car loans, which can last anywhere from six to 10 years.

Auto loans used to last four or five years on average, but, in today’s cash-strapped era, automakers are more interested in selling cars than profiting from financing, which has resulted in the low interest rates and longer loan terms consumers are seeing today. While some might be concerned that this is the same sort of subprime lending that led to the housing crash in 2008, James Lentz, chief executive of Toyota North America, tells The Detroit News that there’s little risk added with these longer loans because defaults typically happen within six months. He also told the newspaper that the longer term options can be the difference between a customer buying a Corolla or a more expensive Camry.

And consider Bradley Gallant’s case. The Detroit News reported that he financed a new Honda Accord with a six-year loan at 1.89 percent to divert money to other investments. Compared to a four-year loan on the same car, he saves $130 on his monthly bill and only ends up paying $370 more in interest by the end of the loan. We commend Mr. Gallant on negotiating such loan terms, but it also drives home the point that interest rates must remain low for such loans to be good deals.

In December, we reported that the fastest-growing category in automotive borrowing was the seven-year loan and noted that automakers were reluctant to offer them because it kept customers off the market for too long. Well, apparently, the times they are a-changin’ – and they’re getting longer.

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More car buyers favoring longer term loans, up to 10 years [w/poll] originally appeared on Autoblog on Thu, 25 Jul 2013 19:00:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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Official: Mercedes knows its buyers, designs golf cart of the future

Filed under: Concept Cars, Mercedes-Benz, Design/Style, Electric

Mercedes-Benz Vision golf cart concept - rendering - front three-quarter view

The Mercedes-Benz Vision golf cart isn’t a golf cart at all, it’s an electric luxo-buggy that you can use on the greens and that should have its own model-line designation, like Tee-Class. The Germans gathered suggestions from around the world for the ideal golfer carrier, and the top poll findings are wrapped in a design language that the doodlers at the Advanced Design Center call “Sensual-Purity.”

The doors can be clicked in or out. There are solar cells on the roof to charge the batteries. It’s driven by a center-mounted joystick so that the driver or passenger can take the helm. There’s a head-up display, docking station and touch screen monitors for control of amenities like air conditioning, stereo and Bluetooth, weather updates and maps of the course layout. And a refrigerator and retractable lightning rod. And then there’s the “fore button” – press it and it tells the other nearby Vision golf carts to sound “a warning signal” about an errant shot.

Mercedes says of its creation, “Simplicity is the key.” Obviously. You can read about the rest of its amenities in the press release below.

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Mercedes knows its buyers, designs golf cart of the future originally appeared on Autoblog on Tue, 23 Jul 2013 14:01:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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Report: Lotus in search of new buyers?

Filed under: Performance, Lotus, Earnings/Financials

Lotus CEO Dany Bahar and Toyota president Akio Toyoda

Lotus CEO Dany Bahar and Toyota president Akio Toyoda

There’s no question that Lotus needs to sell more cars if it is to survive in an industry rapidly centralizing into major groups. But when CEO Dany Bahar talks about looking for new buyers, he’s not talking about selling cars. He’s talking about selling the company itself.

Of course, Lotus is not Bahar’s to sell, strictly speaking. The company belongs to Proton. But the Malaysian state automaker may not have the necessary resources to provide Lotus with the synergies and shared development which Bahar identifies as crucial to Lotus’ future success.

A new report from Inside Line quotes Bahar as saying that Lotus may need to partner with a larger automaker in order to develop into a serious player in the sportscar business. All eyes are on Toyota, the Japanese automaker whose engines and other components Lotus currently uses.

The partnership could emerge as something akin to what Aston Martin is fostering with Daimler – that is to say, some sort of an alliance that does not involve selling the company – or could result in the brand being sold, lock stock and barrel, to the auto giant. One way or another, Lotus probably can’t go it alone.

Lotus in search of new buyers? originally appeared on Autoblog on Wed, 01 Jun 2011 16:02:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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Study: Consumer Reports: Car buyers will pay for higher fuel economy, won’t compromise safety

Filed under: Car Buying, Etc., Safety

Toyota Prius models at a dealership

According to a survey conducted by the Consumer Reports National Research Center, new car buyers are factoring fuel economy as a larger concern in their purchases. That’s no real surprise given that prices at the pump remain high, but the study also revealed that those same consumers are unwilling to sacrifice safety just to net a few additional miles per gallon.

The research revealed that 62 percent of buyers say they are planning to buy a vehicle with much better or significantly better fuel economy than their current ride. On average, that translates to fuel economy of 29 mpg or better. Surprisingly enough, 10 percent of those questioned said that they expected 40 mpg or better from their next purchase. That means that buyers will need to be willing to make all sorts of concessions, including making compromises on purchase price, vehicle size and the number of options.

One factor those surveyed evidently won’t give up on, however, is safety. Only 11 percent of the total respondents said they would be willing to compromise safety for greater fuel economy. Read the complete summary over at Consumer Reports.

Consumer Reports: Car buyers will pay for higher fuel economy, won’t compromise safety originally appeared on Autoblog on Thu, 26 May 2011 18:58:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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Report: GM failing to keep Hummer, Pontiac and Saturn buyers in the fold

Filed under: Car Buying, Etc., Ford, GM, Earnings/Financials

General Motors badgeThe Wall Street Journal is reporting that General Motors has been unable to hold onto the loyalty of new car shoppers who formerly owned vehicles from one of the automakers now-defunct brands. Hummer, Pontiac and Saturn owners are now turning outside of the GM family for their new purchases.

Despite the fact that GM has offered up to $1,000 to those customers during January and February, around 71 percent of Saturn owners traded their vehicle for another brand this year. Likewise, 70 percent of Pontiac drivers opted for a different make when it came time to replace their vehicle in 2011.

While 23 percent of Saturn drivers switched for a Chevrolet, 35 percent turned in their keys for a Honda, Toyota or Ford product.

Speaking of Ford, the report notes that Blue Oval is suffering from similar woes when it comes to Mercury customers. Those buyers headed towards other automakers at a rate of 65 percent this year.

GM failing to keep Hummer, Pontiac and Saturn buyers in the fold originally appeared on Autoblog on Fri, 13 May 2011 13:01:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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All-wheel drive finds favor with Lincoln buyers

Filed under: Car Buying, Lincoln

2011 lincoln mkz

Audi may be the king when it comes to premium vehicles fitted with all-wheel drive. Lincoln, however, must be taking notes because its customers prefer their luxified-Fords with the four-wheel motion as well. Every model in the automaker’s current lineup is available with all-wheel drive, and lots of folks are checking that particular box on the order form.

It seems 2011 will go down as Lincoln’s assault on four powered wheels. So far this year, 72 percent of MKT customers have opted for AWD while 62 percent of those purchasing the MKX have done the same. Of course, as you move into the automaker’s sedans these numbers begin to fall, which is to be expected. Still, 46 percent of MKS shoppers choose the all-wheel-drive version and a quarter of MKZ sedans purchased are prepped for bad-weather driving.

Let’s not forget the Navigator (yep, they still make it), which gets all-wheel drive 62 percent of the time.

Lincoln is enjoying this shift in consumer desire, as all-wheel-drive vehicles command anywhere from $1,850 to $6,890 extra when compared to their non-AWD counterparts. Full press release from Lincoln after the jump.

[Source: Lincoln]

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All-wheel drive finds favor with Lincoln buyers originally appeared on Autoblog on Thu, 28 Apr 2011 14:30:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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New York 2011: Nissan says subcompact buyers aren’t looking for styling, sportiness

Filed under: New York Auto Show, Budget, Sedan, Nissan

2012 Nissan Versa

2012 Nissan Versa – Click above for high-res image gallery
After Nissan unveiled its redesigned 2012 Versa sedan at the New York Auto Show yesterday, coverage was almost unanimous in declaring it, at best, inconspicuous. David Reuter, Nissan’s VP of Corporate Communications, tells Autoblog that’s fine:
“The Fiesta may have been getting the press, this is what was selling. We were up 20 percent last year. Our competitors have gone for sporty and styling, but that’s not what these buyers want. Subcompact buyers want a dependable, roomy car with good fuel economy, and they want the features and specs to feel they spent a lot more on a car than they did.”

The formula, inconspicuous as it might be, has worked: Nissan moved 99,705 Versa sedans and hatchbacks in 2010, running away from everything else in the class – next were the Honda Fit with 54,354, the Hyundai Accent with 51,975, and the Chevrolet Aveo with 48,623 units sold. Say what you will about the looks, with a segment-leading 103 cubic feet of room in the 2012 Versa and more standard features at a competitive price point, the momentum will likely continue.

Gallery: 2012 Nissan Versa: New York 2011

Live photos copyright (C)2011 Drew Phillips / AOL

New York 2011: Nissan says subcompact buyers aren’t looking for styling, sportiness originally appeared on Autoblog on Thu, 21 Apr 2011 14:21:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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Consumer Reports: Most car buyers not looking to downsize

Filed under: Car Buying

simpsons canyonero

Back in 2008, gas prices soared past $4 per gallon and car buyers clamored for more efficient forms of transportation. But once fuel became affordable again, we’re guessing there were quite a few Honda Civic and Chevy Cobalt owners who longed for their old SUVs. The price of gas is skyrocketing yet again, but it appears that customers aren’t inclined to make that mistake again.

Consumer Reports recently polled 911 new car-buying adults to gauge the size of their next vehicle, and 56 percent responded that their next car or truck will be the same size as the one it replaces. The poll shows that a quarter of the respondents did plan to downsize, but another 19 percent were inclined to buy bigger the next time around. And if you’re 18-34, you’re more likely to up-size your next vehicle, in part because younger buyers will in many cases own a smaller vehicle because they are typically cheaper to purchase. This demographic also falls into the heart of family starting years, so children could be driving the growth.

Among those who wanted to downsize, 92 percent were looking for improved fuel efficiency, while 71 percent wanted less expensive repair costs and 67 percent were concerned about the environment. Improved reliability and a lower purchase price are also factors. Unsurprisingly, 80 percent of those who wanted a larger vehicle were looking for more space, while comfort came in second at 72 percent. Safety, reliability and lower maintenance and repair costs were also factors.

Hit the jump to read over the Consumer Reports press release, and let us know in the poll below whether you plan to up-size, downsize or retain the status quo when you buy your next vehicle.

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[Source: Consumer Reports]

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Consumer Reports: Most car buyers not looking to downsize originally appeared on Autoblog on Mon, 18 Apr 2011 19:01:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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Subaru offering more powerful WRX STI for UK buyers

Filed under: Car Buying, Sedan, Performance, Hatchback, Subaru, UK

2011 Subaru WRX STI

2011 Subaru WRX STI – Click above for high-res image gallery

For a limited time, Subaru UK is offering customers a slightly more powerful version of its Evo-battling WRX STI. Between April 1st and June 30th, buyers can fit their four- or five-door STIs with a power package, good for an additional 20 horsepower and 32 pound-feet of torque.

This means the turbocharged 2.5-liter flat-four now puts out 320 hp and 332 lb-ft of twist. What’s more, the torque punch is now delivered at 3400 rpm – 600 rpm sooner than in the standard car. According to AutoExpress, these upgrades are enough to shave three-tenths of a second off of the STI’s 0-62 mile-per-hour time.

In addition to more power, Subaru will be fitting its STI with a standard Pioneer navigation system at no extra, complete with Bluetooth connectivity and iPod integration. Pricing for the upgraded STI starts at £32,995 (a whopping $53,572 based on current exchange rates).

Gallery: 2011 Subaru Impreza WRX STI: First Drive

Photos copyright (C)2011 Zach Bowman / AOL

[Source: AutoExpress]

Subaru offering more powerful WRX STI for UK buyers originally appeared on Autoblog on Tue, 05 Apr 2011 18:21:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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