RepairPal Blog

A Tesla Roadster, driven by Tesla's Director of Sales, was wrecked in a demonstration gone wrong. He took a turn at 100MPH on a wet road with low visibility and lost control. Remarkably, neither the driver nor the passenger (who was ejected from the car) were seriously injured. According to Wrecked Exotics, this is the 3rd accident involving the Tesla Roadster and none have resulted in serious injuries. Thankfully Tesla has built passive and active safety systems into the Roadster's Li-ion battery to prevent thermal runaway (aka explosion), unlike Sony batteries.

SEMA is in full-swing today, and alternative fuel applications are all the rage.  Yesterday, I wrote about air cars, and today I'm blow away by the Ronn Motor Company's Scorpion. The primary innovation that the Scorpion features is on-board creation of hydrogen gas from water using an electrolysis process.  The hydrogen gas is then combined with a more traditional combustion fuel to power the V6, and the result is 600 horsepower and more than 40 projected miles per gallon.  I'm sold, but I'm also somewhat short of the $250,000 asking price for the Scorpion HX.

Today, the Internet is alight with information and speculation about investment in Air Cars, or cars running on compressed air as fuel.  You can see details in Carol Bengle Gilbert's article. The excitement over alternative fuels and approaches to powering our cars is great for the industry, but one thing we've taken note of at RepairPal is that change in the automobile industry is very slow.  New models have a life of about 6 years, or longer, and new technologies take a long time to catch on and prove to consumers that they work.  Case in point: how long was the Prius around before it gained serious support?  Additionally, the auto repair industry is still learning the fundamentals of hybrids!

Detroit auto giants General Motors and Ford each posted their October sales numbers today and they aren't pretty. According to MarketWatch, GM posted a 45% decline in October sales, blamed mostly by the credit crisis. "If you adjust for population growth, this is probably the worst industry sales month in the post-WWII era", says Mark LaNeva, head of GM sales and marketing. Ford posted a 30% decline in their U.S. auto sales as well, but Ford looks to the launch of their new F-Series pickups to turn things around. Toyota and Honda posted less significant losses but still declined more than 20% each.

While some automakers seem to be getting ready for a firesale, Nissan is busy shrinking engines and price tags. Nissan is coming out with a Versa just 10 bucks shy of $10,000 ($10,685 including shipping). You can get the cheapest car in America starting November 19th. The Versa features a 1.6 liter, 107hp engine, manual transmission, manual windows, and 4x60 climate control (all windows down at 60mph). With sales off nearly 40% from this time last year, Nissan is offering 0% financing for 36 months to try to help move cars.

We've been hard at work adding requested models!  We found the data, and now here they are! Buick Enclave, Buick Lucerne, Buick Roadmaster, Cadillac CTS-V, Cadillac DTS, Cadillac STS, Cadillac STS-V, Cadillac SRX, Chevrolet Aveo, Chevrolet Aveo5, Geo Metro, Chevrolet HHR, Chevy Cobalt, Chevy Cobalt SS, Chevy Equinox, Chevy Express Vans (1500,2500,3500), Chevrolet Colorado (2008), Chrysler Aspen, GMC Rally Wagon (1500,2500,3500), GMC Vandura (1500,2500,3500), GMC Savana Vans (1500,2500,3500), GMC Acadia, GMC Canyon (2008), Hummer H3, Hyundai Azera, Kia Rondo, Nissan Rogue, Pontiac G5, Pontiac Torrent, Saturn Aura, Saturn Outlook, Suzuki Reno, Volkswagen GTI, and Volkswagen Rabbit

As an automotive technician, I can tell you the most difficult vehicle problems to solve are intermittent problems--the kind of problems that only happen some of the time. These problems can be even more frustrating for a customer who has to return to a repair shop several times to have the problem resolved.The best way to avoid this auto repair scenario is for both parties to be prepared.  Service advisers need to ask the right questions of car owners, so that the auto technician has a good chance of success.  Car owners have to come armed with the answers to these questions and any additional information that will help assist in the correction of the problem; however, many owners aren't confident in their ability to find the right answers and describe them the right way.

According to The New York Times, selling gas just isn’t what it used to be.  With profit margins disappearing due to factors such as state environmental requirements requiring costly upgrades to equipment, it simply no longer makes sense to sell gas.  While some gas stations have diversified to highly profitable offerings (repairs, emissions testing, and selling candy), many have stopped selling gas altogether. They’re simply shutting off the pumps.

Porsche increased its stake in Volkswagen to nearly 43%, driving up Volkswagen's stock price and causing billions to be lost by hedge funds. With so many automotive mergers, don't you wonder what sort of influence Porsche may have on the "People's Car"? While these companies have very different markets, there may be some unusual economies of scale. Here is our take at what may be the 2010 Porsche Beetle 911.

I read this morning (on Autoblog) that while overall new car and truck sales have taken an absolute bruising in recent months, the share of those sales going to new SUVs and trucks has actually increased.  The article notes that this gain coincides with a slide in gas prices over the same time period: "Truck sales fell below 10% of overall vehicle sales back in May and June, but the price of gas falling from an average of $4.11 per gallon to $2.78 has helped the share of trucks rise to 14.1% of the overall market for September."  This would also mean that trucks and SUVs should be making big gains right now, with oil prices plummeting. The huge incentives that auto makers have lobbed at these slow-sellers also probably plays a part.  In fact, a friend of RepairPal recently brought in an ad from a Vegas newspaper that showed a still-hard-to-believe offer: buy a Dodge Ram, and they'll throw in a Dodge Caliber for a penny.