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Future of Ford Cars Seen by Workers

Ford Motor Co. is taking nearly 25,000 employees and retirees to what is called “Showroom of the Future.” The latter will showcase concept cars and upgraded versions of Ford vehicles that will be rolled out by 2010. This is Ford’s way of convincing its employees that there is light at the end of the dark tunnel.

Showroom of the Future is scheduled to happen at Detroit’s Cobo Arena on the 27th and 28th day of this Month. Said event will present videos, images and actual vehicles of upcoming Ford models and technologies.

“Through our North America ‘Way Forward’ plan, we’ve spoken a lot about reducing our uncompetitive cost structure, but we have not yet fully explained our accelerated product plans,” said Mark Fields, Ford’s president of the Americas. “It’s time to change that — and to show our full team of employees and retirees how this transformation truly is product-led.”

The event is primarily aimed at boosting confidence in Ford’s product lineup. Sara Tatchio, Ford’s spokeswoman added, “The move is part of a broader effort to communicate with employees and keep them informed as the company pursues a painful restructuring of its North American automobile business.”

Tatchio says the message is straightforward. “It’s ‘keep the faith,’ but it’s also about helping them understand why they should have faith,” she said.

Cecil Crider, a retired designer of Ford received an invitation. Crider’s last design was for 1994 Ford Mustang parts accessories. “Years ago, Design Center used to be run by designers,” Crider said. “Then they put the bean-counters in charge and let them make the decisions. You need bean-counters because this is a business and you have to be profitable. But you need to have people who know how to design designing.”

Ford is expecting to host thousands of employees to thrust confidence in them. “We’ve spent a lot of time during the past year talking about our new customer-focus,” Susan Turner, Ford’s human resources communications manager said. “Now, employees and retirees will not only see how that results in the new sheet metal, but they should walk away with a better understanding of how the business plan, brand plan and product development plan all come together.”

Can I Really Lease That Car In The Newspaper For That Price?

Leasing represents one of the most difficult concepts for most consumers to understand. So it’s no surprise that car dealerships love to use lease prices in their ads to confusion people and make their prices appear incredibly low. Don’t feel bad if you have trouble understanding the leasing process, I’ve spoken to people with MBA’s who could not decipher a lease payment in a car dealer’s newspaper. So, as the auto insider let me show you how to easily estimate what the real monthly lease payment would be for a car advertised in a car dealer’s newspaper ad.

First allow me to bust your bubble, if you are reading your local paper and you see an ad for a car you like, with a monthly lease price you can afford odds are you can not bring that ad to the dealership, sign a couple of papers and drive away with the car you want with the payment you saw in the newspaper. Sadly it does not work that way. I can not say with 100% certainly that there is not a dealer anywhere that advertises accurate lease prices, but I feel comfortable telling you virtually every advertised car lease payment is significantly lower than what you would be quoted when you are sitting in that dealership.

To prove this point I’ve randomly selected an ad from my newspaper, picked a car and I’ll show you how to get a car’s REAL lease price. The car I have selected is a 2008 Mazda CX-9 All Wheel Drive Sport Edition. This car recently won the 2008 Motor Trend SUV of the year and it’s a beautiful car. From the description in the newspaper ad it is nicely equipped and the lease price is $229 per month for 24 months! WOW, according to this ad I could be driving home this afternoon in one of the best cars available ANYWHERE and only have to pay $229 per month. Heck, at first look I can drive this CX-9 for 2 years and it will cost me less than $5,500 ($229 X 24 months)!! For a deal like this I should run, not walk to that dealership.

Let’s take a minute to see if this $229 lease price is… accurate. Now I’ve ripped the ad out of the paper and I am sitting in front of my computer. Looking at the ad the lease price is a big, bold number that I can see from across the room. But, there should be other numbers in the ad that are printed in near microscopic type that we need to help us check what it will really cost me to lease this car. These numbers are usually located in one of two places, the smaller type directly under or on the side of the picture of the car; these numbers are included with the vehicle’s description. Information like the number of cylinders and doors the car has, does it have air conditioning (A/C) etc are called the car’s description and in this area you may find some important figures. The second place you need to look for key figures is in the disclaimer. The disclaimer is usually at the very bottom of the advertisement. To find it hold the ad away from you at arm’s length and look for two or more lines of very small type running the entire width of the ad (if the disclaimer is not at the very bottom, it is usually contained in the bottom 1/3 of the ad). From the vehicle’s description and the ad’s disclaimer you should be able to find the following:

Vehicle’s sale price – very seldom do they list this in ads, but they will list the MSRP and we can use this number.

Cash down and/or trade-in amount – these numbers are often referred to as money down, trade or down payment. If the only figure they give you is the total due at signing or amount due at inception, this figure includes any down payment or trade-in amount plus any bank fee or security deposit.

Bank fee & security deposit – you’ll want to gather these figures if they are not rolled into the total due at signing.

Residual or purchase option – this is the calculated worth at lease end.Lease term – this is the number of months your lease will cover, in the CX-9 ad it’s a 24 month lease.

Miles per year – this is the number of miles per year your lease allows before you must pay an overage penalty. Sometimes this number is broken out by year, in my ad it’s 10,500 miles per year. Other times dealers list it as the total mileage allowed, if they did that in my ad it would read 21,000 miles (10,500 miles x 2 – remember, it’s a 24 month lease).

OK, now that you’ve identified all the numbers we need we can figure out what my REAL monthly payment would be for this CX-9. To get the real lease price I an going to use Edmunds.com, they have a great lease calculator. Go to Edmunds and select ‘New Car’, then click on ‘latest incentives’ and put in the car you are interested in (I am shopping a 2008 Mazda CX-9 AWD Sport) if there are any incentives record that number. Now click the back button on your browser and go to the ‘Financing’ page then select ‘Basic Lease’. When you are on the basic lease page you will need to re-enter the type of car you are interested in leasing.

Once you select a vehicle they will automatically calculate a price for you. But, to get an accurate calculation you need to enter the proper numbers we found in the dealer’s newspaper ad. So you need to make the appropriate adjustments based on the information found in the newspaper ad to get the most accurate calculation:

Vehicle Sales Price – if it is not listed in the ad put the MSRP in here

Sales tax – when I inputted by zip code (Edmunds asks for this it automatically calculated this for me – a very nice feature)

Title registration and other costs – they input a figure for you – not sure how accurate this number is, but it works fine for our purposes

Customer rebate – if you found a rebate insert it here

Trade-in – insert this figure here if there was a number in the newspaper ad. If you use this field be sure to put $0 down for a pay off

Lease term – the number of months the lease is advertised for

Lease residual value – if the ad does not have a figure Edmunds puts in a default number. I had the residual, but it was nice to see that Edmunds figure would have been close enough to use had the dealer not disclosed it in the ad.

Money factor – Edmund’s provides this

Miles per year – as mentioned, in my ad it is 10,500 miles.

Acquisition fee – use the number in the ad or Edmund’s default

Security Deposit – use the number in the ad or Edmund’s default

Now that you have inputted these numbers press calculate. Remember, my monthly payment in the newspaper ad is $229 per month. After plugging in all the numbers Edmunds calculates my monthly payment for a 2008 Mazda CX-9 AWD Sport to be $529.36. A $300 per month difference! If you’re wondering why there is a HUGE discrepancy between the advertised price and the Edmunds price, let’s look deeper into the newspaper ad to shed some light, although I think anyone (who’s not a car dealer) would agree that this is disgrace to advertise cars with such deceptive pricing! To begin with, virtually every car ad excludes the tax along with any and all fees. The Edmunds price includes these costs. As I mentioned, the selling price I used is not 100% accurate because I had to use the car’s MSRP in my calculation because the actual selling price is not disclosed in the ad. So let’s say I’m a great negotiator and I’m able to get this dealer to lease me a 2008 Mazda CX-9 AWD Sport at invoice (in another section on Edmunds.com you can find this information). If I get this car at invoice price I would be paying only $29,020 so my monthly payments would drop to $490.73. A savings yes, but still a far cry from $229 per month advertised price. The other number that could fluctuate is the money factor. This number will not be available in a newspaper ad. But, it’s not important to detail what this figure is, or what it does but I can tell you that it is highly doubtful that Edmunds would use a money factor number that was incorrect to such an extreme to significantly affect the monthly payment calculation.

So, it is safe to say that if I want to lease a 2008 Mazda CX-9 AWD Sport for 24 months with $3,995 down (what I saw in that dealer’s newspaper ad) I need to expect to pay approximately $500 per month, a price NOT anywhere close to the advertised $229 payment. In closing, I find it just as absurd that a car dealership advertises a $229 payment for a car that will really cost people approximately $500 a month. Dealers do this because they want their newspaper ad to get you in their doors, and then they’ll try and fit you into a car you can afford. Now, with the information in this article you can take any car dealer’s newspaper ad and quickly determine the REAL lease price for any car (it took me less than 5 minutes to get on Edmunds site and calculate the real monthly payment)!

Blue Hybrid Concepts Reveal Hyundai’s Direction

The 2010 Paris Motor Show has offered a number of interesting first time reveals, vehicles just now hitting the market and others planned for release over the next 3-4 years. Major auto shows are always good indicators where the market is headed and which vehicles we’ll be driving a few years out.

Korea’s Hyundai Motors is on a tear, rising from the eleventh largest automaker in the world in 2000 to the fourth largest manufacturer in 2010. The company has improved its image and has expanded its product lines, building cars which offer more content and are priced slightly less than what its competitors are offering.

Paris Motor Show

In Paris, the two vehicles creating much of the buzz for Hyundai are a pair of concepts. Concept vehicles are just that — ideas — with no firm plans to build them. Yet, Hyundai has indicated previously that several models they’ll be showing at auto shows this year and next will provide an excellent indication where the automaker is headed.

The two concepts offered at the Paris Motor Show are the ix20 Blue and ix35 hybrid models which are expected to become part of the company’s existing leading edge Blue DriveTM program. These vehicles are part of Hyundai’s effort to advance environmentally conscious technologies and assume fuel efficiency leadership worldwide.

Gas and Diesel

Some of Hyundai’s new models will utilize Hyundai’s all-new 1.0-liter Kappa gas and 1.7-liter U2 diesel engines. Likely not in the U.S., in Europe, Asia and wherever else small gas engines and diesels are likely to be embraced. However, that may soon change as far as the United States and Canada are concerned.

Each engine features several environmental enhancements including the use of high-performance, low-friction engine oil to improve combustion efficiency, optimize the gear ratio and increase engine efficiency.

Stop and Go

Also revealed at the Paris Motor Show is Hyundai’s new Idle Stop & Go (ISG) system. This particular engineering innovation turns off the engine when the car is at a standstill and the gearbox disengaged, such as at a traffic light. When power is needed, the engine instantly restarts the moment the clutch pedal is depressed. Hyundai claims that this technology is especially effective at reducing emissions and fuel usage in city traffic.

Along with ISG, Hyundai is including an alternator management system to maximize energy regeneration while braking in a bid to provide good acceleration performance by decreasing the alternator workload.

Other Changes

Hyundai is also making good use of underbody panels on at least one model, the i30 Blue, in an effort to cover the drag-inducing areas found on vehicles which adversely impact fuel economy. Some Hyundai models offer reductions on brake pad drag on the discs in addition to wheels fitted with low rolling resistance tires, which are inflated to a higher pressure.

Yes, Hyundai is continuing its relentless push upward. Though they are far from having the sales numbers enjoyed by the current Big 3 — Toyota, General Motors and Volkswagen — the company has its eyes set on being number one, a possibility that was unthinkable just a few years ago.