Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Disoriented Car Hauler in FL?, Winds Up in Ditch Headed Wrong Way

Here’s an interesting story about a car hauler crash in southern Florida. The hauler turned over in a ditch at 2:30PM heading eastbound on FL-66 just west of Sebring. The driver was stated to have been bringing a full load of used cars back from Nova Auto Sales to a customer in north Florida; his story was that he had to dodge an oncoming car and found himself in the ditch.

There’s a problem with that story; the Nova Auto Sales that shows up on a Google search is in Miami, which is where the driver in question lives. If the driver were heading north with a load of trucks from Miami, he would not likely being heading eastbound on FL-66. There isn’t a good reason to be heading east into Sebring if you were coming from Miami heading north. The driver would have had to have gone further west, then doubled back east on FL-66 for some reason.

He might be logically heading westbound, having taken US-27 north out of the Miami area; truckers often use US-27 in that area as an alternative to other north-south highways in order to avoid weigh stations. The trucker could then jogged over on FL-66 in Sebring to grab US-17 heading north towards Winter Haven and Lakeland; even there, using US-98 a bit further north to hook up with US-17 would have made more sense if he was angling towards I-75.

Given that background, the driver here may have been a bit disoriented or somewhat less than truthful. The DOT was looking into the case and there might be reason to double-check the car transport driver in this case.

Source: http://www.newssun.com/news/0210-eb-truck-accident

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Chrysler Gives 60-Day Money-Back Deal on Vans, Limited Risk to Chrysler

Chrysler is doing a slightly risky maneuver with its minivans, giving a 60-day money-back guarantee. If it doesn’t work, they’ll have a lot of slightly-used minivans back in their lots with car haulers moving them to fleet customers and auto auctions, with Chrysler taking a loss on the deal.

Such money-back plans often have sound economics behind them, since people will have to be pretty ticked with a car to go through the paperwork of returning the car, then going through the shopping, registration and insurance hoops of getting a replacement car for the lemony Chrysler. With a smaller-ticket item like a TV set or a laptop, the opportunity cost of taking an under-performing new product back is rather small.

Thus, Chrysler is banking on a manageable level of buyer’s remorse; buyers know that they can take it back, but as long as the Chrysler they bought is close to as good as the other vans available in 20-20 hindsight, the opportunity cost will be larger than the remorse factor and they’ll grudgingly hang on to their new van.

Vans tend to be high mark-up items for car makers, so they can afford to give buyers an emotional safety net. The once that do come back will drop in price and have to be sold as used, frequently to someplace other than the dealership for fear of depressing new van prices, so vehicle transport will likely be called upon to take it away either to a used car auction or to a car rental company.


For all of your car shippingauto transport and enclosed transport needs, call us TODAY!


Thursday, February 11, 2010

Ford Figo Rows into Indian Small Car Market, Will be Shipped to Asia and Africa, car transporter, car haulers, vehicle transport

Ford will be keeping car haulers in Asia and Africa busy with their new Indian-built Figo; it’s a small compact with a 1.2 liter gas engine designed to compete in the developing-world’s small car markets. The Figo is a variant of the Fiesta, which has an option for a 1.4 liter diesel engine as well as the gas engine, and is designed to compete for the growing Indian small car market.

The first Figo rolled off the assembly line near Chennai on Friday; the location right near India’s second-largest port will be advantageous for exporting the cars in the future and even transporting them within India; interstate vehicle transport can be problematic in India with their lack of road and rail infrastructure for car transport; sending cars via sea to cities like Mumbai might be easier than going overland. A brief strike at the port of Chennai just ended, as official streamlined the process for trucks hauling products for export, pacifying striking truckers; that’s perfect timing for Ford.

Ford will start exporting Figos this summer, with South Africa an initial target market. However, a growing Indian car market with a taste for smaller cars will be the major target for Ford. The Figo will go mano-a-mano with the Tata Nano on its home turf.

Whether the Figo makes its way to the US remains to be seen; some foreign-based cars have specs that don’t quite meet US safety and emission standards, but if Ford is truly going for a “one Ford” policy, expect to see the Figo on a car transporter near you later in the decade.

Sources: http://www.wheelsunplugged.com/ViewNews.aspx?newsid=5617

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Ford, Toyota to Reprogram Hybrid Brakes, Software to be Fixed in Recalls, car moving, moving cars

Both Ford and Toyota are recalling their hybrid cars with similar braking issues. The big news of the day is that Toyota will be announcing a recall of its Prius to do a programming fix on its breaking system. Ford, while not calling it a recall, is doing a similar reprogramming of the breaking system on its Fusion and Mercury Milan hybrids.

In hybrids, the brakes are used to recharge the batteries when you get the car moving forward, but reverts to conventional stopping functions when the brake pedal is pushed down. The problem with the Prius appears to be that the brakes are slow to change over from recharging mode to stopping-the-car mode. The Fusion/Milan brakes are having much the same problem, which may be a bug of the type of regenerative braking system used in hybrids.

New technologies sometimes need some time to get all the bugs out, and drivers of this first major wave of hybrids may essentially be beta-testers. When Ford and Toyota are having the same type of problem, it might be the technology that did them wrong rather than a particular in-house problem.

Toyota will want to get back to moving cars out to dealers as soon as possible, and this doesn’t help matter. However, if it is a programming fix, it should be easier to administer and could be done in a few minutes rather than the half-hour estimated to fix the brakes on the non-hybrid cars in Toyota’s fleet.

What other glitches does Toyota have? At this rate, Murphy’s Law would say at least one more bug has to come out.

Sources: http://www.detnews.com/article/20100204/AU...to-recall-Prius

Friday, February 5, 2010

Avis and Enterprise Stop Leasing Toyotas, Hertz Yet to Make Decision, moving cars, car hauler

The major car rental companies will be moving cars with Toyota decals to the back of the lot, as both Avis Budget and Enterprise are opting to not rent out the Toyotas currently under recall. The peddle problems generally don’t manifest themselves in the low-mileage cars in the rental fleets, but the rental car companies don’t want to be seen leasing flawed cars.

Fleet sales to rental car companies are large parts of car company’s sales. They are also good marketing tools, as people might go on to buy a car they drove as a rental; I recall giving the PT Cruiser a serious look after driving one as a rental car. Having the major rental car companies pull most of their Toyotas will mean that customers won’t get that experience.

If the affected Toyotas get a bad reputation and people prefer not driving them, the fleet cars could be retired early. That would lead to some premature car hauler business taking the old Toyotas in the rental car fleet to auctions or used car lots and bringing replacement cars in.

On the bright side, this might loosen up a tight used car market. The Cash for Clunkers program took a lot of old cars off the market, but there might be a new set of “clunkers” heading into used car lots to offset their loss. I put “clunker” in quotes, for the cars should be just fine once the accelerator issue is fixed, but they may well have a bad reputation if the press of this week is any indication.

Source: http://online.wsj.com/article/SB1000142405...ustryCollection

Toyota to Close NUMMI, Teamsters, UAW Protest Job Losses, car transport, car hauling

The NUMMI plant in California, a joint venture between Toyota and GM, seems to be on its last legs, much to the chagrin of Teamster car haulers. GM has abandoned its share of the plant during bankruptcy and Toyota is about to do likewise; the Corolla produced there is part of the recall that has set Toyota on its heels. Toyota is planning to shift production of the Tacoma pickup to San Antonio and move Corolla production to Canada and Japan.

That might please the Canadian Auto Workers, but the UAW doesn’t like it; the move has set up a tag-team protest of the NUMMI closure between the Teamsters, the UAW and the environmental group Friends of the Earth, who are going to exchange unpleasantries at the Japanese embassy in Washington on Thursday. Protesting in front of Toyota HQ might be more effective, but doing so in Washington in front of the Washington press corps makes for better PR; the Teamsters protested Chrysler’s apparent lack of interest in unionized car transport in front of the Italian embassy last year, playing up Chrysler’s Fiat connection.

The move should cost some Teamster car hauling jobs, as the Japanese imports are more likely to move by rail than the NUMMI-made cars. The environmental angle here is that moving the cars by sea from Japan will leave a greater carbon footprint.

However, NUMMI’s time has come and gone. When it got started in 1984, it was a way for GM to learn Toyota’s quality-control tricks and for Toyota to get pointers from GM on how to manufacture in the US. A quarter-century on, and Six Sigma black belts abound in US manufacturing; we’ve gotten the quality control bug and Toyota has gone native, as the Lexington high school football highlights from Toyota Stadium in Georgetown point out.

Source: http://www.joc.com/node/416309

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Seller's Remorse, KY Hyundai Dealer Reneges on eBay Deal

Online car auctions are a growing tool for selling cars; it’s also good business for car haulers, since winning bids can often come from the other side of the country, if not the world. However, this story on a car auction gone bad comes from my old neck of the woods of Lexington; I can recall driving past the "villain" of the piece, Glenn Hyundai, on Richmond Road as we went to the nearby Eagle Creek library.

Glenn forgot to put a reserve price on a lightly used (5000 miles) Hyundai Genesis Coupe on an eBay auction, and then when the buyer came to Lexington from out of town to pick up his car (sorry, car transporters, no business here), Glenn refused to honor the deal, which was about $3000 lower than normal market value for the car.

The buyer then posted the story online, and Glenn has got a lot of nasty phone calls and e-mails from car enthusiasts for playing hardball on the deal. The buyer is also now in the process of suing Glenn to honor the deal. Glenn seems to be getting more than $3000 worth of badwill out of the deal, but it does point out that you can have seller’s remorse as well as buyer’s remorse in an auction.

In a traditional auction, the buyer takes possession right away and the seller doesn’t have a good recourse if the auction didn’t quite go their way; the car carrier has already come and taken the car away before seller’s remorse can set in. If there is a time-lag between the auction and taking possession of the car, the seller can try to back out of the deal and may be forced into court if they refuse to honor their end of the bargain.


Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Sharp Decline in Vehicle Carrier Transits

As per the 2009 Annual Report of The Panama Canal Authority (ACP), vehicle carrier segment registered a double digit fall in important traffic indicators in the fiscal year 2009 spanning from Oct 1, 2008 to Sep 30, 2009. Vehicle carrier transits plummeted by 42.6% (469), tonnage by 36.9% (25.1 million) and toll revenue by 28.8% (B/.87.2) in 2009 compared to the last fiscal year. Substantial drop in demand and subsequent fall in car sales, poor consumer confidence and weak credit badly affected the auto industry during 2009 recession. Vehicle shipment volumes of the shipping companies, thus, fell.

The container segment registered a drop of 5% each in transits and PC/UMS (Panama Canal / Universal Metric System) in 2009 over the previous fiscal year. Reduction in finished good consumption and demand, economic downturn and cost control measures by shipping companies are ascribed to the drop.

Despite recession in Eurozone, the U.K., the U.S. and Japan, total trade flow via the Canal did not fall substantially in the fiscal year 2009. The total Canal transits decreased from 14,721 in fiscal year 2007 to 14,702 in 2008 to 14, 342 in 2009. Vessel tonnage recorded a fall of 3.4% to 299.1 millions of PC/UMS in the fiscal 2009 from 309.6 millions of PC/UMS in the last fiscal year. PANAMAX vessel transits fell by 1.2% in 2009 due to decline in vehicle carrier and container transits.

ACP is responsible for the Canal administration, operations, improvements, modernization and maintenance.


Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Manheim Pulls Toyotas From Auctions, Fix Found for Toyota, Honda Recalls Fits

Toyota is facing more fallout on its recent pedal issues with significant ramifications for car haulers. Two congressional committees have started hearings on the issue and, more importantly, the National Auto Auction Association has suggested that the affected cars not be sold at auction; the largest car auctioneer, Manheim, has pulled all affected Toyotas from its auctions.

That’s going to mean a drop in auction business and a drop in car transportation until Toyota does fix the problem. The news of today has the potential fix being a metal shim inserted into the friction level so that it does stay stuck. It seems to be an inelegant solution for a company that taught the US car industry how to do quality control, but any solution will be an improvement.

In the meantime, the liquidity of a Toyota dealer’s used car inventory is next to nil, as the option of selling a car at auction if it isn’t moving in the used car lot has been taken away. That might prove problematic for some dealers with a lot of Toyotas on hand and might be the final straw for a few car dealers.

Right in the middle of the critical pile-on over Toyota, Honda has announced that they are recalling 646,000 Fits, who proved to not quite live up to their name; their power window switch controls could allow water in and catch fire, which has happened at least three times. If you’re going to have a recall, this is the time to do it, as Honda won’t face near the bad press in the auto news universe.


Tesla Files IPO Paperwork With SEC, Roadster Production on Hiatus in 2011

Tesla Motors, the luxury electric car maker, has issued the initial registration of its IPO registration with the SEC, but while they hope to be shipping cars that don’t need any gas, their Roadster may be taking a hiatus in 2011.

Back when I was teaching finance, I pointed students to the Management Discussion and Analysis section of a company’s annual 10-K report with the SEC, for there is often some good in-depth information that you might not get elsewhere. The folks at Wired’s Autopia blog caught an interesting point in the MD&A of the S-1 form; on page 62, Tesla notes that they will be changing versions of the Roadster and that only the new Model S will be available in 2011. Manufacturing of the Roadster is being contracted out to British car-maker Lotus and retooling there will have their lines down in 2011.

That is going to make Tesla a dicey stock, since they will be banking on the Model S to make money in 2011. If there are any problems getting the Model S up and running, there will not be moving cars in 2011.

That may make investors in Tesla a bit skittish, as will the red ink that has already been endured at Tesla and the position of convertible preferred stockholders ahead of them at present and as future fellow common shareholders in the future. However, the nature of the stock will have both car enthusiasts and green investors interested in the stock, so that the Tesla IPO might come out at a price higher than it would if it were a more mundane stock.

However, if all goes well, car haulers will have some new customers to deliver to as Tesla goes more mainstream.

Sources: http://www.sec.gov/Archives/edgar/data/131...htm#toc51863_12