Document 108504

» * * * Morning News, Saturday, November 23, 1996 - 3C
Thanks CarMax, AutoNation for putting used-cars on the road
By Jim Mateja
sumers will accept paying more . »•
a used car.
CHICAGO - Thank you.
Ford Motor Co. is the latest to
Gaiw'x. Thank you, AutoNation.
learn the lesson by announcing certi, These companies, which operate fied used car programs for both its
used-car superstores, have awak- Ford and Lincoln-Mercury divisions.
ened the auto industry and made it
To qualify for certification, cars
aware that:
and trucks must be no more than
• More folks buy used cars than four years old (current model year
new cars.
or three previous model years),
m Money can be made in selling have less than 50,000 miles on the
used just as well as in selling new. * odometer and pass a 100-point in. • The person who buys used just spection.
might turn around and buy new if
Dealers participating in the protjiecar-buying experience is a pleas- gram have to send mechanics to
ant one.
special training classes for the in• The best way to guarantee that spections, and dealers will foot the
folks can afford to buy new is to add bill for any repairs that have to be
value to the consumers' trade-in so made.
they can afford the fresh set of
When asked if repairs would inwheels Without having to extend clude major engine or transmission
payments for 60 months.
work, Ford spokesman Dan Bedore
l • If a dealer inspects and repairs said if a car needed major work, it
its cars and the factory warranties probably wouldn't pass inspection in
them, it will reduce the typical con- the first place.
sumer fear that, purchasing used
"These wilj be high quality cars
means you -are simply "buying, and trucks, backed 'by Ford," said
spmeone else's .troubles," and con- Ford division general manager Ross
Chicago Tribune
By Tom Incantalupo
Nlewsday% The theme from "Mission
Hjible" would have been appropriate
background music ipr the videotape
&at Cadillac is mailing to prospective buyers of the Catera, Cadillac
dealers have their wprk cut out for
them to lure BMW, Audi or Lexus
intenders into their showrooms and that's the Catera's mission, you
see.'• ' . • '•• • ' . ."' ,-'.,;; '.-. ..' v'
• Anyway, the music at least
Wouldn't have made this corny tape
any worse. Hosted by sportscaster
Al Michaels and looking more like
something intended -to pitch toys to
-preschoolers instead of luxury cars
-to educated and affluent adults, it is,
along with a red and gold cartoon
{(luck,: part > of a very over-the-edge <
lad campaign;
r Fortunately, Cadillac is in the car
Business, not the video and adyjertis-,
jing vgamesv And the Catera is a lot
>belter than its ads,
;< In fact, although its exterior stylr.
ring did nothing for us or anydne we
e.ricountered durinjg our time with
the Catera, the car is quite likable a fine piece of German machinery
Jhat combines .JEuropean driving
weel; ride and fcgriservative looks
with the creature comforts
of a Cadillac;
0 •••.;?•• I 1 ' . -.; •' - ••--.' • ;-••;•• •-;':';
It is at je^st'Svorth considering
before you make^i decision on what r
is called in/the business a "neaiMuxr
ury" car in the.-$30^000 neighborhood, such fas-Ji Lexus ES 300,
Infiniti 130, Mercedes :C2«0 or BMW
.3281... -..••••,•./,^.-:: •>.,'..,•,.. .
li not only drives like a German
-jpar,. it is German. Although the
JiyAlanL Adler > ~
KnightTRidder Newspapers
TOKYO - Barely a decade ago,
4he growing popularity of Japanese
cars inspired General Motors Corp.
to create Saturn as its import-fighting secret weapon.
Now that Saturn has shown that it
<can compete with the Japanese at
••home, it's beginning a new challenge
•^ taking on the Japanese in Japan.
-.''Thursday in Tokyo, Saturn broke
'ground for one of 14 dealerships that
will bring its often-imitated but so
•far unduplicated, no-haggle pricing
,'and customer-coddling philosophy to
'the world's pickiest car customers.
'• Friday, it unveiled its three rightiliarid-drive models
the upscale
>'SC2 coupe, SL2 sedan and SW2 sta"'U6n wagon - at the Osaka Import
'"Auto Show, the same day its first
newspaper advertisements ap'pdared explaining the Japanese
'translation of Saturn's "Different
Kind of Car Company" molto.
Wednesday. Salurn of Japan
'•launched its Web site on the Internet
(www.salurnjapan com). Monday, it
jJ'opened a toll-free customer informa"tion phone line to fulfill requests for
-•'Saturn brochures
Saturn won't start selling cars in
Japan u n t i l April By then, it hopes
i t s message will have begun to per"inente a car-buying culture known
•••for cutthroat negotiating and relent
• loss pestering by door-to-door sales
Kstablishing a presence in Japan
'might prove easier (Man accomplish
ing its original mission reclaiming
American customers u ho forsook
CM cars m the l!)70s and IMlls for
Hondas ' l ' ( « \ o l a ^ and Ni t ^;m t <
Cadillac Catera
Engine: 3.0-liter V-6, 200 horsepower
Transmission: Four^speed auto-
matic; rear-wheel drive
Safety: Dual air bags, four-wheel
disc brakes with anti-lock, daytime running Jamps
Ruesselsheim, Germany
Weight: 3,770 pounds
Trunk: 14,5 cubic feet
Price as Driven: $36,215, including freight but not dealer-irjstal.led GD
changer .' '''.';_• .. •;:,..'.:.',..' ,;,'•.;..".• .../'
EPA Mileage: iBhipg-city, 25 mpg.
Catera videotape refers to it as
"American/' the midsized, fourdoor Catera going on sale now on the
East Coast is a version of the highly
regarded Opel Omega and, like it, is
built by the; General Motors Opel
subsidiary in Ruesseisheim, Germany.
But Opel and Cadillac made
many -changes to the Omega to
iriake it a Catera, including softerriding tires for lower driving speeds
in the United States, chassis rein-,
forcement and additional-sound in-:
sulation to improve structural rigidity
and reduce noise arid^vibra^ion,
they also made-some changes to
the exhaust jsystem to produce a ;
more pleasing sound, which It does;
it's strong and authoritative without
sounding like your; :neighbor's-Trans
Am,-' "•,.." ."• . '••" "• ' • '
Most auto critics agree that Saturh's cars have never quite measured up to its best competitors from
Japan. But customers loved the
friendly way they, were treated,
from the showroom to the service
Whatever differences exist. between its cars and the competition's,
Saturn plans to bridge with customer attentiveness bordering on romantic courtship. Yes, female buyers really do get red roses upon delivery of their new Saturns.
"I think the (Japanese) market is
ripe for some change," said Ron
Haag, director of retail network operations for Saturn of Japan. "I
wouldn't want to make any predictions as to what time frame it may
happen in, because things seem to
happen here a lot slower than anywhere else."
Among early dealer recruits, enthusiasm appears genuine for Saturn's approach.
Daisaburo Tabala, who has exclusive rights to sell Saturns in the
Kyoto area, has been writing to Saturn since the first reports in the late
1980s that it might someday enter
the Japanese market
"I was particularly impressed
with their attitude toward the customer in this market." Tnbata said
Wednesday at a news conference 1
couldn't wail to sign up. because I
wanted to adopt the Saturn way in
I his market
Tahata t i l s S a t u r n ' s ideal dealer
Somebody who is willing to he a
pioneer, someone who is experi
enced hut who knows there's room
for i m p r o v e m e n t , " l l a a g said
states (which, more than ironically,
are the sites where CarMax and
AutoNation now have used-car
stores) and then roll out nationally
next spring.
"The key to the program isn't so
much CarMax or AutoNation as it is
building a brand image for Ford and
Lincoln-Mercury to satisfy our current customers and attract a new
group of customers," Bedore said.
Sure. The fact that about 43 million used vehicles, valued at about
$370 billion, are sold in this country
annually, and that CarMax and
AutoNation are horning in on the action certainly has nothing to do with
and the 12/12 certified used-car war- the fact that automakers are falling
ranty will be over and above any over themselves to offer certified
new car coverage still left.
used-car programs.
Dealers are responsible for inSeparately. Lincoln-Mercury is
spection and repair. The factory also offering a program called Linpicks up the cost of warranty work.
coln Assured that it began testing
. And each certified vehicle in the earlier this year and will roll out naprogram carries, a three-day. 300- tionally this month.
mile money-back guarantee.
Lincoln Assured makes available
The program will be launched for sale or lease any 1994 or newer
this month in selected southeastern model Continental, Town Car or
To qualify for certification, cars ami trucks must be
no more than four years old (current model year or
three previous model years), have less than 50,000
miles on the odometer and pass a 100-point
inspection. Dealers participating in the program
have to send mechanics to special training classes
for the inspections, and dealers mil foot the bill for
any repairs that have to be made.
Those vehicles then put up for
sale will be given a 12-month/12,000mile warranty covering major components
and systems, such as engine
and1 electrical, as well as 24-hour
roadside assistance coverage.
if the vehicle has any of its original 36-monthV36,000-mHe new car
warranty coverage remaining, that
will be carried over to the new buyer
We ;don*t Jcnow if the Catera is go- system for driver's seat and mirror close.
ing to do any better in the market- positions, a power passenger seat
The Catera's trunk space is 14.5
place than the Ulrfated CadiUa.ciCim- and an engine-disabling theft-deter- pubic feet; it's 13 cubic feet in the
arrbri, actually a Chevrolet '"Cavalier rent system/
.•Lexus.: ' * ''w. '•.'.'•'•"•. .'' 'Y V, : - ' . : "
with leather upholstery, that also
Options for both versions include
The ES 300 is about 4 inches
was supposed to lure younger buyers a power sunroof for $995, a Bose shorter'than the Catera and more
into Cadillac showrooms: v
sound system for $723, heated front than 400 pounds lighter, although the
But at least this time General and rear seats for $400, a builMa ga- manufacturers claim identical zeroMotors' Cadillac division has the rage-door opener for $107 and cast to-60-mph and standing quarter-mile
right hardware for the job. The alufyinurh wheelsfor $355.
acceleration times. EPA mileage.
With all of those items, our tester ratings for the two cars are almost
Gatera's list of standard equipment
. has what it takes to impress a gener- would list for $35,575, except that it identical.
ation raised in Toyotas and aspiring also had a dealer-installed, 12-disk
An ES 300 equipped as closely as
to Lexuses. ; , . • - • • ; .;•-••••/"'.v />••'•' . . '••.'.-- CD changer whose price is set by posgibje to our Cadillac tester, ex; Everything,- that is, except the dealerships and for which Cadillac cept for 'the disk changer, would list
for $33,270, but without the rear-seat
front-wheel drive that many, of us publishes no suggested list price.
now swear by in wet weather,
inside, the decor is tasteful and heaters, integrated garage-door
I The,Catera is- rear-drive; ind the controls are simple, to learn and opener or the; fold-down -rear
that could.spell trouble for Cadillac. to locate time after time. Rear-seat seatback, all of which are unavailThe Catera's standard traction con- legroom is quite generous and ex- afcle in the ES 300. The Lexus also
trol and the transmission's ; winter ceeds that of the Lexus ES 300 by has a 200 horsepower^ V-6 engine.
driving' mode, thpujgh, should imv more than 3.inches. Otherwise* the Lexus' disk changer lists for $1,050.
So, the Catera is priced quite
prove its go-power oh snow and ice. .two cars' interior dimensions are
The Catera has a 24-valve, y-6
engine that delivers 200. horsepower
. - W i t h premium gas - through a
smooth^hiftjng; transmission! Together, they produce zero4p-6r>mph.
sprints in 8:5seconds!'
It also has four-wheel, independent suspension; four-wheel disc
brakes with ariti-lock; speed-sensitive steering; power driver's seat; :
dual-ione; automatic; qh'tnate ^contrpl; three-piece, fold-down /rear
:seatback; and full set of readable^;
gauges augmented by warning lights
-. • for. a base price of. $29,995 plus ;
$640 freight; Next spring,. Cadillac
plans to add side-irilpact; air; bags for
the front.
'-. /V '"-- " :":,'•','' : '..;,
Opting for the version with father upholstery H listirig for 132,995;
plus freight - also adds a memory
Like Salurn in the United States,
franchises are awarded by market
area. Each Saturn outlet, a singlebrand showroom designed to specific criteria, costs $1 million to $2 million, excluding pricey real estate.
Keith Wicks, general-director of
Saturn Japan, expects the business
to cover 25 market areas with 65 to
75 stores, but he's in no hurrf to expand. Nor will he predict how many
cars Saturn will sell in its first year,
other than to say it will be in the
Senior GM executives have
promised to be patient with Wicks
and his 32-person staff, all Japanese
nationals except for himself, Haag
and two other Americans. There are
no short-term profit goals, only a 10year business plan.
"The success of our launch,"
Haag said, "will be judged on the
quality of the start that we make,
the quality of the buying and ownership experience we create, the type
of retailers we bring in."
GM is using Saturn's experience,
both in launching a new brand in the
United Stales six years ago and its
application of that knowledge in Japan, to learn how to re-enter the
market it left afler World War II
CM also is focusing on the Cadillac,
Saab and Opel brands for the Japanese market
"Over the long term, for General
Motors In succeed, it is important
I hat you get the experience of being
an active marketer. ' said Joseph
Kennedy, vice president of Salurn
sales service and m a r k e t i n g "All
< J M is l e a r n i n g from Saturn's application of those skills "
Mark V I I I that had been previously
driven under Ford's Red Carpet
lease program
The cars must be one-owner vehicles with less than 36.000 miles on
the odometer and not have sufferea*
any major damage or had any poprly performed repairs.
They are given a ISO-point inspection and reconditioning and backed
by a three-day/30-day exchange.
plus a minimum 24-month/24,000mile bumper-to-bumper limited
warranty coverage or the remaimteir
of the original factory warranty.;
whichever is greater.• •
^' •'•\.u.
•• '•;••
The brake pads are replaced before sale or lease on any vehicle wfth
more than 25.000 miles, and UncqlnMercury performs the next require^
maintenance interval.
, ,
, Lincoln Assured also offers 2f
hour roadside assistance coverage,
service loaners for overnight warranty work and trip-planning ser*
vice lha'l includes maps and trip
: :»C
Minor flaws: The glove box is
long but so shallow that it won't hoW
.much;.'Those of you who don't drink
coffee or soda while jyqu driyesAvJll
Find out that the pop-out cupholder
significantly reduces thei center cmsole's storage space when it's uh ...
Overall, though, the Catera
good job by Opel and Cadillac j/tot
one that has some very tough competition from car makers • whoge
.brand names still are niore Ukel^to
evoke a more positive respbhse
among the 40-ish professionals being
targeted by the Catera.
>#One day, perhaps< thai gnu^p
won't be embarrass;^
friends they bought a cat in ihe
same store as their parents did, tot
for now, overcoming that is goingr to
be Cadillac's biggest challenge. M
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