Durangos on fire!
Talk about being on the hot seat.
Driving around in a flaming Durango may get a lot of attention, but it’s clearly not what Dodge had in mind just before the launch of the silly season, meaning the time of year when domestic automakers get all creative (read: desperate) in discounting their automobiles. Starting July 1, we’ll see the debut of employee pricing from Chrysler, with this twist – a 30-day money-back guarantee. That’s just in case, you know, you decide to buy a Honda or something. The guarantee is not official, and Chrysler is apparently also thinking about the now – standard zero percent financing deal. If they go with the guarantee, however, it will likely come with a miles penalty. This is great news for car buyers, because if Chrysler’s doing it, GM will do it – with what reports claim is a zero percent offer for 60 months. Ford, by the way, is still offering its Drive On Us summer offer: 0 percent financing and a debit card worth up to $1,100. Cash rebates are also available on Ford vehicles. Any day now, one of these automakers just may launch the Lot Boy Giveaway – just come on down and grab yourself some keys off the lot boy!
Of course, there’s always the Sebring, that symbol of middle-class, middle-aged and mediocre fun, getting a decidely rakish new style and a through revision with new engines and new technology. Ready for this fall, the Sebring offers heated and cooled front-seat cup holders, a 20 gigabyte hard disk drive that includes a music juke box, and bluetooth wireless technology. New engines include a 2.4-liter four-cylinder world engine, a 2.7-liter V-6 and a 3.5-liter V-6.
US Gets Smart
We all know the feeling: you call your boss, but he doesn’t pick up. You go home, but the spouse won’t open the door. So we can all sympathize with the lot of the Big Three auto making chiefs and their ongoing journey to visit with Mr. Bush. So far, the meeting has been delayed 3 times. First on May 18, but Bush was getting his hair done. Then, on June 2, he had food poisoning. Now, he’ll meet with them “sometime” in July. It’s gotten so bad that the Republican gubenatorial candidate in Michigan offered to “make a call” and help them out.
How embarrassing. All they want is some cash, and maybe if he could outlaw hybrids – that would be cool too. Seriously, the automaking chiefs are said to be worried about healthcare costs, yen manipulation and energy. And, of course, they want to set the Prez straight on that whole “build relevant cars” thing. That comment from Bush, made earlier in the year, prompted Bob Lutz, our favorite cigar chomping GM boss to toss up a tantrum and say that “I’m gonna vote Hillary next time.”
The only thing that makes my day more than a peeved auto executive is a preening politician. There were plenty of pols peacocking about last week in Washington over the Corporate Average Fuel Economy regs – you know – the law enacted in 1975 and never updated until recently. The same one lawmakers continually avoided for all these years. Today, with gas over $3 per gallon, CAFÉ all of a sudden looks like a real good soundbite. So now we’ve got the likes of Sen. Diane “I swear I thought she was legal” Feinstein saying "You know the automotive industry fought seat belts, if you can believe it." And getting all uptight over it. That’s her job, though. Feinstein is leading a charge to increase CAFÉ more drastically – to 35 mpg by the 2017 model year, a mandated fuel economy display on all cars by 2013 and a new set of near-term requirements – by 2009, cars should average 31.1 per gallon, with trucks wheezing averaging 23.6.
It’ll never happen.
Photos courtesy of the automakers