Consistency is Key

For a long time, Chrysler/Stellantis products were considered laughable in both build quality and performance capability. Kia had the same reputation back in the 90’s as well. There was an unproven rumor for a number of years that cars built on Mondays and Fridays would be prone to more errors and problems than a car built midweek. While again, it was unproven, recently Tesla has had some trouble with the build quality of some of their cars, and many of the fixes came quickly, meaning a car built mid month was completely different than a car built at the end of the month.

I wrote a blog a year or so ago about how Dodge could do no wrong. One of the points I made, is that while their Charger and Challenger platforms are over a decade old, they have ironed out all the issues with it and have created a very reliable machine. Something they struggled to do for years. An article on Autoblog listed the best to worst automakers from Consumer Reports. From a very high level view, I want to sum up the top five and the bottom five. These are spoilers and if you want to read more details, you can click hear to go to the Autoblog article, which I believe has the Consumer Reports link in it for even further information.

The top 5 are:
1.) Tesla
2.) Lincoln
3.) Ram
4.) Chrysler
5.) Subaru

My quick analysis of this list is that these are pretty niche auto makers. They only produce a handful of models and what they do have, in some cases, have been around for a long time. They have capitalized on keeping what works and changing only what doesn’t. In some cases, Lincoln specifically, and even Tesla to some extent, they don’t sell a lot of product either. Their volumes compared to some of the bottom makers are only a fraction, meaning they have more time to focus and get it right. Because even with Tesla having as many issues as it does, they are still not pumping out the quantity to make it enough of a market impact. The buyers of theses vehicles are also very different than the bottom bunch as well.

The bottom 5 are:
23.) Mercedes-Benz
24.) Buick
25.) Cadillac
26.) Nissan
27.) Infiniti

The first few things that come to mind of that list are; these are same family vehicles, meaning they have the same parent companies and use the same parts; they are constantly changing up their vehicles and have a vast array of models to choose from; they can be expensive and complex and have a lot of things that can go wrong on them; and they are pumping out a lot of vehicles. Mercedes, Cadillac, Buick, and Infiniti are luxury machines with many technological aids that can fail. That leads to expensive repairs. They are also wildly different in model offerings. While Cadillac, Buick, and Infiniti are somewhat niche, having 22 models collectively offered, Mercedes has 29 different models on their American website alone. Nissan has 17 different models. Mercedes has more models offered than four of the top five manufacturers combined. When you are making that many different cars, at the volume that they are, it begins to paint the picture of why these brands are ending up towards the bottom of the list.

This shows that small, consistent things, done very well, are going to give you an edge over your competitors. Customers want reliable transportation. When a company takes the time to stick to a few models and iron them out over time, the customers will reward that with reviews and returning business. Even if they have issues, like Tesla, they are able to adapt quickly because scale is not at the capacity of the competitors. The fixes can happen almost instantly.

Information like this fascinates me. I’m always excited to look at the market from different perspectives and draw up new and different opinions, commentaries, and conclusions. Facts are facts. So it is fun to discuss the data and then think of ways to make it better. Consistency is the key.

For reference, here are the number of models made by each manufacturer according to their US website.
Tesla 4
Lincoln 6
Ram 14
Chrysler 4
Subaru 8

Mercedes-Benz 29
Buick 6
Cadillac 11
Nissan 17
Infiniti 5

Sedan Man

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Very few sedans are being produced by auto makers now days. It is sad that they are slowly going extinct. While I don’t drive one now, which I understand adds to why they aren’t being made, I had three in the past that I loved. Not only that but my dream car is a sedan and I have a list of sedans I’d like to own.

My dream car is a second generation Cadillac CTS-V. I remember an advertisement calling it a “tuxedo with jet pack.” I have always thought of myself in that way and I believe that car fits me and my personality. I’d take any generation of a CTS-V, and if possible, I’d like to own one each of the three generations. And, while the CTS-V did come in a coupe form in the second generation, I want the sedan.

Another sedan I’d like to own is a Ford Taurus SHO. I got to ride in a fourth generation SHO that my coworker had. It was a great car. It is a big, sort of bulky car, but the SHO nameplate is iconic. I would be happy with any generation, but the fourth generation would be preferable. Then again, if I could have one of each, I’d go with that too.

The newest one to join the list is an Alpha Romeo Julia. It looks great, it sounds amazing, and to me, seems to be an all around worthy sedan. Since it is a little bit of FCA with some Italian flare, I would imagine reliability is not fantastic. That is hard to because since it is new, deprecation will tank these cars new. But, I am a fan of used cars, so I would probably take the risk.

Oddly enough, I have three cars from GM, Ford, and FCA on this list, which wasn’t quite intentional, but it’s funny to notice. I do know that most of these…if not all, are performance sedans. My honorable mention list is long and I wouldn’t mind owning any of the following sedans. A Dodge Charger, Pontiac G8, Chevy SS, Jaguar XE, Maserati Quattroporte, BMW M5 and the M3 sedan, Lexus IS F, Porsche Panamera, oh man, a Nissan Skyline GT-R R34 sedan, at this point I’ll even go with a Toyota Avalon TRD, just to name a few. Goodness, the list can go on and on. A good rule of thumb is, if it is a performance sedan, I like it and it is on my list.

A Patriotic Purge

So there are a few things on my mind today.

I read an article talking about how a guy is selling off his entire project car collection. I have been thinking that people like that should really get into finding the right home for those vehicles. Someone out there would absolutely appreciate the project car you have. In all reality I think the problem is timing and communication. When people want a car, they are going to find someone who has it. The problem is that many of the people who have the cars are not communicating that they have them. Its a sad day when amazing vehicles get hauled off the the junk yard because the owner thinks no one wants it.

I also read about how rally racing is probably the most expensive and hardest forms of racing. I have never been to an actual rally but I can imagine that it is more fun for the participants than the spectators. That is probably a factor into why it costs so much. Then again, there can be watered down versions of rallies that one can do with friends on public roads. The kicker there is just gas prices.

I am pretty impressed at the number of first time winners there have been in NASCAR this year. David Ragan is a wonderful driver and deserved to win last weekend in Daytona. Congrats to David Ragan. This upcoming Kentucky race should be pretty thrilling. These powerhouse teams really have not shown bright this year. Then again, was it really the teams or more so the individuals? If anything, this year has shown it is all about the individuals. Just take a look at the top 12 drivers. Then again, the teams have become tighter simply because of the tension on the track between individuals and the ability for more than one individual on one team to consistently do well. This chase will not be over till its over and I am completely ecstatic to watch it unfold!

I spent a little time with my friend today looking up Hot Wheels on Ebay. Pricing out cars we already have and looking up the cars we don’t. I love Hot Wheels but its hard sometimes to justify buying them when I could save the money to buy a real car. I guess being a passionate automotive enthusiast, I consider such things.

I was also thinking today about how the new styling of the Chrysler 300 would make a perfect coupe. Since the newer styled 300’s came out,  they have always had that watered down Bentley / Rolls Royce look. They have a chance now to take an “Imported from Detroit” vehicle and give it some flair, similar to a two door Audi/Bentley, since that’s what I think it would most collectively look like if it were a coupe. Not to mention that Cadillac has made a gorgeous coupe out of its well loved CTS. Then they hopped it up on some supercharging steroids to make it a CTS-V. Such an epic vehicle. I am a huge fan of GM and particularly Cadillac. However, I will support any American made company, such as Chrysler if they built a world class coupe. After the fourth of July, I have been all but thrilled to be as patriotic as possible. Hopefully the American automotive industry will do the same! 😀 God bless the USA!

Cadillac…no longer caught up

So… I read today that Cadillac is attempting to distance itself from GM.

THANK GOODNESS!

For some reason I believe that Cadillac has been misunderstood by the general public for the past 10 years and even more so in the past 3.

If you look at the sheer price, power, performance, and luxury offered by the Cadillac vehicles, no other vehicle really compares…at least what you get compared to what you give for it.

Cadillac’s are not just old peoples cars, and they are not just gangsta whips. I feel that those associations are fair, and that it adds to the diversity of America, but there is an image, more like an aura around Cadillac’s, that screams Americas finest.  

I think that the GM image has hurt Cadillac. Maybe more in a small way, but still, it has done some damage none the less and especially since taking government loans. I do realize that it is not all happy feelings, as they have not completely cut ties, and they are still supplied by all things GM. But still, I see this as a glimmer of hope that maybe, one day soon, Cadillac will be a free, privately owned car company, competing on the world class stage, and winning!

With all this in mind, I urge you to stand up and support Cadillac and help it gain some independence. While that seems almost oxymoronish due to the present circumstances, every little bit helps!

In the time of XTS

After a stunning debut of the Cadillac XTS Platinum concept, the brand has fully emerged itself into my daily talk of world changing automobiles (it had been before, this car just helped it brew over), and more importantly, American iconic automobiles. While some reviews were mixed about the unveiling of the XTS,

“And yesterday Cadillac pulled the wraps of a concept car of heroic proportions; this is the XTS”                                      John McElroy- Autoline Detroit

 “The XTS is easily more elegant than the new A8 from Audi and the 7 Series from BMW in the flesh, and its interior is equal to if not better than any mainstream premium luxury car in the world today. It’s that good.”                                Peter DeLorenzo- The Autoextremist

“We also thought the XTS was significantly better looking in person than in the preview pictures that broke last night.” Jonny Lieberman- Autoblog

“We can’t quite say that we like it — it’s a bit too large and a lot too bland — but it looks significantly better in person than it does in pictures.”                                                                                                                                                                                         Sam Smith- Jalopnik

I say it is a phenomenal step for Cadillac. This vehicle, along with the CTS-V sedan and coupe, are going to put America back on the world stage for superior automobiles. The XTS is not a vehicle that will replace the old peoples generation of vehicles, like the STS and DTS. No, honestly, the times are changing, and the younger generation is beginning to take note on what a fine automobile is. I am 21, and I find the XTS awfully appealing, and why not? It’s American for one. Two, it’s got an aura about it, screaming large and in charge, and what young adult now days doesn’t want to have that space, that object that tells their peers that they are a force to be reckoned with? Three, it’s a car that has the best of both worlds. While I am not a huge hybrid fan, putting it in this car doesn’t phase me. I want this car to get the fuel economy, it’s HUGE! If I want a car for performance, I’ll go buy the CTS-V! But that’s not the goal of the XTS and I’m ok with that. Still, it has power. More than my 1998 Regal, and any power more than that is a step up for me.

I tend to agree with McElroy and DeLorenzo. The Cadillac XTS is a look into the future of what fine American automobiles will be and who will buy them. Once GM decides to build it, then it will be what fine American automobiles are. I wouldn’t want to wait till I’m 50 to own this thing. It appeals to me now and I’d get it if I could!

We The People…who own cars

Dear Car Companies,

We the people realize that you design and build cars for a living. We highly appreciate your talent and dedication to your craft because without you, about 98 percent of us would still be walking to the Seven Eleven down the block.

We recognize that you have been in this business a long time and have a built some pretty incredible machines. However, times are changing and we would like to tell you something. May we ask you for your attention for just a moment.

You have done pretty well thus far feeding us vehicles that we think we need. Actually, it is more like vehicles you think we need. However, you would be lying to yourself if you think you are giving us what we want.

As a person myself, I am taking the role of ambassador to relay important information. I will give you things that we the people are looking for in a car. We want vehicles with incredibly, let me rephrase that, RIDICULOUSLY good gas mileage. But you can’t just give us that, because up until this point, the ones that have done so, have looked like crap. Sorry.

We want the cars to look good, like something you’d buy at Tiffany’s, not the jewelry center at as Wal-Mart. Cheap imitation isn’t going to cut it anymore. We are smart, and can pick out the imposter a mile away. I promise, if you can deliver, we will pay.

A third thing we want is practicality. Don’t give us a seven passenger vehicle if really the only people who could fit in the back seats are children. If you say seven adults comfortably, prove it. Pick-up trucks, vans, cars; get people to drive them to tell you what is practical so you don’t have to guess. If you are right the first time, you don’t have to come up with some lame excuse for a cheap imposter vehicle.

Lastly, we want performance. There are only 24 hours in a day, so the fastest way we can get to 60 miles an hour, or more, is important. A smooth ride and great handling are critical because roads and traffic are terrible now days and we have to be able to dodge a bump, or take one, and the car has to last. Here’s an idea. Start with a race car, add the previous elements of gas mileage, looks, and practicality, and still end up with a race car. Done, walk away.

And, as a side note, don’t name these wonderful machines absurd names. Really think about what it is you have created and name it appropriately. If you have any questions, consult us. You can reach us on Facebook, Twitter, Myspace, or any other online social network known to man. But listen to what we are saying back to you, seriously. We can easily start walking to the Seven Eleven down the street.

Sincerely,

We the People