Sunday, August 23, 2015

Automotive Reporter Biz News for Wk of 8-24-15

The design team at Ford Motor Company has created a combination of beauty and brawn in the all-new 2015 Shelby GT350 Mustang that can only be described as knee-weakening. Ford’s PR peeps prefer to describe the newest pony car as “the most athletic Mustang ever.” That’s acceptable.

The Shelby GT 350 boasts a 5.2-Liter V-8 with the flat-plane crank, creating 526-horsepower and 429 pound-feet of torque, driving a 3.73 Torsen limited-slip differential, sprung on MagnaRide suspension.

That last feature you have to say in your “Dr. Evil voice.” MagnaRide.

Spoiler alert: next week I will be driving a Mustang with half the cylinders, which might seem to be a travesty on the surface. I am told it is an experience to behold. Stay tuned.

There is a shifting trend in used-car sales, with the average model getting younger—and more expensive.’s most recent Used Vehicle Market Report says that’s because used car inventories are being inflated by newer off-lease vehicles and certified pre-owned (CPO) programs.

Pardon my wonkiness as I quote from the report: “Average used car prices hit a record high of $18,800 in the second quarter, up 7.6 percent — or $1,300 per vehicle — from the second quarter of 2014. Meanwhile, the average age of used cars sold in Q2 2015 was 4.5 years, down from an average of 4.9 years the same time last year.”

But there’s also more value in what you’re paying more for. Director of Industry Analysis, Jessica Caldwell, says "Three-year old used cars have more bells and whistles than older used cars, and they're actually selling for less than they did just one year ago.” Caldwell says that’s in contrast to vehicles aged eight and over, whose prices are up an average of 11 percent over last year. “There's undoubtedly a growing value proposition these days in newer used cars," she says.

It’s back to school season, and for the college bound, that may mean a new(er) gently-owned hooptie. Which one is the best value? Analysts at have chosen 11 standout cars and SUV’s for your consideration.

The data suggests collegiate car buyers want more than just a dependable ride. Game-day tailgate capability and smart phone connectivity are also must-have features.

“We left out ‘sensible’ used car choices like the Honda Civic, Toyota RAV4 or Ford Fusion," said James Riswick, Used Car Editor for "While these are all great options, they are generic enough to appeal to anyone, and we wanted to craft a list specifically based on what matters most to today's students."

Herewith we present’s Top 11 Used Cars for College Students:

  • Mazda 3 (2004-'09): $4,000-$15,000
  • Honda CR-V (2002-'06): $4,900-$13,000
  • Scion tC (2005-'10): $5,000-$15,000
  • Acura TSX (2004-'08): $6,500-$15,500
  • Ford Mustang (2005-'09): $7,000-$30,000
  • Toyota Prius (2006-'09): $7,000-$15,000
  • Kia Soul (2010-'13): $8,000-$17,000
  • Honda Fit (2009-'13): $8,500-$18,000
  • Hyundai Tucson (2010-'15): $11,000-$26,000
  • Toyota FJ Cruiser (2007-'11): $11,500-$28,000
  • Subaru Impreza (2012-'15): $12,900-$26,000

Nissan continues to roll out refreshed brand introductions, following up its successful 2014 Rogue and 2015 Murano. That back-to-back achievement helped drive Nissan to a record 1,269,565 units in 2014 calendar year sales—a gain of more than 12% in the United States.

2016 promises to continue the trend with Nissan’s presentation of its’ eighth-generation Nissan Maxima "4-Door Sports Car," and a Cummins diesel-powered Nissan Titan XD pickup. The new Maxima arrived at Nissan dealerships in June. The Titan XD rolls out later in the year. Nissan’s Altima and Sentra will also see significant refreshing in the 2016 model year. 

Nissan says the new Titan XD design combines the "capability of a heavy-duty hauler with the drivability and affordability of a light-duty pickup." The truck is anchored by a Cummins 5.0L V8 Turbo Diesel, rated at 310 horsepower and 555 pound feet of torque. It is mated to a heavy-duty 6-speed Aisin automatic transmission. Nissan’s gasoline-powered version of the Titan XD will come out in the Spring of 2016.

The jury is still out on what will happen to Houston’s historic Astrodome, the first enclosed stadium in the world. Down here, folks would rather tear down old buildings and put up new ones, to our cultural detriment, in my opinion. 

So I am pleased to share with you that General Motors’ historic Durant-Dort Factory One in downtown Flint, Michigan, will be converted into an archive and research center as part of a renovation project connecting the site’s  manufacturing history with ongoing developments in the automotive industry.

GM still owns the former carriage factory, and is planning to invest several million dollars to create a modern archive to house the automotive collection currently located at nearby Kettering University

The archive and research center will occupy the first floor of the east wing of Factory One. The second floor of the east wing will become a flexible meeting area for GM, community and educational groups to conduct STEM-related classes, seminars and  research. The high-bay area in the west wing of the facility will be renovated to house classic vehicles and other artifacts from Flint’s carriage-building era.

Located on the Flint River, Factory One got its start in 1880 as part of the Flint Cotton & Woolen Mills company. In 1886, the then-empty facility was leased by William Crapo Durant and Josiah Dallas Dort, who formed the Flint Road Cart Company.

Durant later took control of Buick Motor Company and leveraged his Durant-Dort resources to grow the fledgling automaker into one of the most successful car companies in the country. Durant used Buick’s success as the cornerstone on which he built General Motors, and, a couple of years later, he again turned to his friends from Flint’s carriage industry to form Chevrolet
And the rest is history.

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