The Car and Truck Fleet and Leasing Management Magazine

Am I The Only One Who’s Shocked Today?

March 2004, by Ed Bobit - Also by this author

I will have nought to do with a man who can blow hot and cold with the same breath.-Aesop

One may smile, and smile, and be a villain.-William Shakespeare

When I sell liquor, it's called bootlegging; when my patrons serve it on silver trays on Lake Shore Drive, it's called hospitality.-Al Capone

My method is basically the same as Masters and Johnson, only they charge thousands of dollars, and it's called therapy. I charge $50, and it's called prostitution.- Xaviera Hollander

 

Maybe I am starting to show my age. It really could be that I'm getting decidedly older. Today's news seems to impact me more that I can ever remember. The flip side is that no one else appears to be surprised.

After an early-year tour of our Conference of Automotive Remarketing (CAR) - a most successful show - listening to speakers, reading USA Today and dealer magazines, and browsing my many Web site sources just hammers me.

Who would believe that as Ford finishes its incredible 100th-year anniversary (in 2003), it is Toyota that gains the number-two spot in America? Is this monumental or what?

We in fleet know what kind of goodies there are in CAP incentives (if we purchase enough at any one time), but my latest report says that GM averaged a $4,300 rebate on each car. That's primarily retail because no one ever discusses CAP numbers. Ha.

Chrysler's CEO, Dieter Zetsehe, calls GM "the biggest gorilla in the rebate game." Mr. Zetsehe undoubtedly made that offhand statement well before GM announced that they were giving away 1,000 new cars and trucks. Now that's tough competition; unheard of, actually. (And where are all my good friends at On-Star to tell me which vehicle at which showroom has the lucky button to push?)

Many agree that the bold incentives have kept the iron moving during some thin economy months now. Look around. Everyone on your block seems to have a relatively new ear. Some say, "How can they do it?" Well the answer is, not everyone can. Many of these buyers have signed long-term, no-down-payment loans and enjoy the luxury of a new car. However, nationally, 40 percent of the new-car buyers today are literally upside down with their trade-in car. Think of it; they owe more than it's worth...and still owe.

I loved the comment from the Dallas Chevy dealer referring to vehicle incentives when he compared them to "a drug problem that has gone from marijuana to heroin."

Those who know tell us that between cash rebates and cut-rate financing in our industry last year, it cost $44 billion. Now that's a "b" son, and more than we'd need to bail out the state of California.

Behind the curtain, the makers are constantly raising their MSRP stickers. One reported at least eight rate increases last year. That leads me to relate that according to Edmunds.com, the average sticker price topped $30,000. That's another first, so chew on that.

Finally, and to beat all, we have a virtual "neighbor" down in Orange County (Irvine). His name is Bryan Moylan who's been the fleet manager for OCB Reprographics. He's not only a confirmed subscriber to Automotive Fleet but has been a valued account for Enterprise. Hey, he's one of us.

According to Deputy District Attorney Pete Pierce, Moylan is accused of appropriating company monies to buy 45 delivery vehicles after their 3-year lease had ended. His trail apparently got hot when he, reportedly, sold 30 vehicles before their leases ended. If it proves to be a true story, is this outrageous or what? Now I'd call that darned "enterprising."

There's just no end to the happenings that simply knock my socks off these days. More amazing to me is that my industry friends seem to take it all in stride, immune to any possible shock value in any tale.

After a while more, maybe I, too, will get used to it.

 

 

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