Tuesday, December 4, 2007

A new way to buy a car?

This may or may not be new to some of you, but I thought I would share with you my recent new car buying experience. By utilizing the internet, I was able to cut out alot of the *pain* in buying my new car (a Toyota Prius). Like most people, I dread going to the car dealership (new or used) because I know that I'll immediately be attacked by a sales-starved car salesman. However, if you want a new car, you'll eventually have to goto the dealership.

Here are the 5 steps I used to make this experience as painless as possible:

1) Research the car you want. Spend a few hours looking at the various websites that devote themselves to cars and car pricing. Sites such as Edmunds.com and KBB.com can give you a very good idea on what invoice pricing is for a car as well as the prices for the option packages. Sites such as Autoblog and Motortrend provide some decent write-ups on the various new car models. The one thing that was missing when I was looking, was a website like PriceHub. While KBB and Edmunds provided a good idea of what invoice price was, I really wanted to know what people were really paying, given the fact that the Toyota Prius was super popular (and very hard to get). However, right as I started my search, there seemed to be a glut of Prius(es) available. It seemed that Toyota had finally caught its supply up with its demand. The crazy premiums people were paying only a few months prior, didn't seem to make sense to me when there were 35 cars sitting on the car lot. A site like PriceHub could have helped me determine how much of a premium I should be paying (if any).

2) Goto Craigslist to find a NEW car dealer. As a frequent user of Craigslist, it was natural for me to use it to look around for cars. At first, I figured I would be able to see what some of the used Prius(es) were listed for. To my surprise, there were actually new car salesman (from all of the Toyota dealerships in my area) posting ads for the models they had in stock. Some advertised super low teaser prices, while others said they had 30 models of all colors and configurations (but no price). Since each of these salesman had an email address, I figured it couldn't hurt to email a few local dealers to see what kind of response I got. I figured out the color and options I wanted and sent off a few emails. I never gave them my phone number, so I didn't have to worry about them calling me 10 times a day. Within about 12 minutes, I received several email responses back. Some of the responses were the typical cheesy "Come in now! We've got what you're looking for". Others said that they wished they could help me, but they didn't have the right color, however they had other similar vehicles. Two dealerships near my house had exactly what I was looking for.

3) Respond to a few to get your best price. So I responded to both of these dealerships, telling them that I was interested but that I wanted to see what their best price was. Using email, over the course of two days, I was able to negotiate my price with both dealerships. Ultimately, I ended up going with the lower price dealership, not only because of the price, but also because I felt that the salesman was honest and more upfront (at least via email). My final price wasn't too far off of what he initially offered, ending up at about $500 over invoice. I was even able to get some floor mats thrown in. At this point, I hadn't even left my computer to actually see the car. I did come to the realization that a few car salesman have whole-heartedly adopted the internet as a good source of customers and that they realize that internet customers are more educated about the cars and car pricing. Not once did I get anyone trying to sell me on a *Dealer Markup* line item.

4) Go see the car that you are going to buy. After negotiating the price, my wife and I finally went to the dealership to see the car we were going to buy (verbal commitment). We spent about 10 minutes looking at it and playing with the controls. We were satisfied and went home.

5) Pick up the car up and drive home. I arranged to meet the salesman to purchase the car. When I arrived at the dealership, the price was already set and agreed upon. He didn't try to up-sell me on any additional options. I spent about 45 minutes at the dealership, mostly signing paperwork. There was no further haggling or negotiation. It was about as painless as it could get.

Again, the only thing I would change is that I wished I had a site like PriceHub which would have given me a general idea of what other people were ACTUALLY paying for their new Prius. I think I got a decent deal after looking at the 60+ actual Prius prices posted on PriceHub, but during my email negotiation period, it would have been great to see some actual data to help guide my expectations and decision.

Is this process going to work for everyone? Probably not. Craigslist worked out great for me, but the smoothness of the transaction can be largely attributed to the car salesman I used. As the shark-skin suit type car salespeople begin to make their way online, others may not be so lucky.

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Tuesday, November 13, 2007

China Copycat Cars? You be the judge.

A friend just forwarded me a link to the various cars that China has been accused of copying. While these pictures and accusations have been floating around the web for quite some time now, I was never aware of these until today. You gotta see these pictures - you be the judge for yourself.

Some the alleged copies are pretty obvious (in my eyes anyways) - especially the Geely Merrie 300, which looks like a Mercedes C Class clone. It doesn't look like Geely even tried to make the cars a little different - oh wait, the logo on the hood is different.

Or the SMART - I guess the manufacturer couldn't think of another name, so they called their version the Chinese SMART. Very creative.

The copying doesn't stop at the actual cars - there are even some questionable logo similarities - BMW vs. BYD and Geely's 4-ellipse logo vs. Toyota's 3-ellipse logo.

I've never personally compared any of these cars side by side, so I couldn't really tell you how different or similar they are. I've just been looking at the pictures like everyone else. You be your own judge.

Here is another blog that details these copies...

Unfortunately, we currently don't have actual sale prices for Geely cars. Maybe in the near future - or you can just look at the actual sale prices for a Mercedes C230.

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Saturday, November 10, 2007

Wow. A Tour of Nissan's Zama Storage Facility

For anyone who is a Nissan fan, you are going to love this. I came across a post from AutoBlog.com that features a plethora of pictures from Nissan's Zama storage facility. Apparently, an avid Nissan fan was lucky enough to get a tour of the facility and he brought his camera.

All I can say is wow. From 510s to Sentras to Skylines - all of Nissan's cars are there. Whether it be the first Nissans built (looks like Nissan's version of the Model T) to the 280Z - anything Nissan related can be found in this vast storage facility. The fan took tons of pictures - you've got to see these if you are a Nissan fan. There are cars you've probably only ever heard about pictured. Highly recommended.

Here are more pictures from the source. Don't miss these either.

If these pictures inspire you to buy a Nissan, here are some recent, actual 350Z prices too!

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Wednesday, November 7, 2007

What is a used Honda CRX worth?

When the 1988-1991 Honda CRX came on the market, it was advertised as having 105HP, which was an incredible amount of power for such a small car back then. The SI version was the version everyone wanted - available in red, yellow, white and black.

When I got my 1988 red SI, I paid about $3500 for it, with 90,000 miles on it at the time (in 1997). My CRX had the power sunroof and even had aftermarket power windows. The popularity of these little cars is still very strong - while I don't see as many of these out on the road today, I always look twice when I drive by one. When the time came for me to sell my CRX, I had put 80,000 additional miles on the car. Overall, it was still in good condition - it was my daily commuter, so it had the usual wear and tear. 6 years after I bought the car, I was still able to sell it for $2300, extra 80K miles and all.

Looking at the prices for CRXs on PriceHub, I noticed that the range of prices was between $500-$5000 for a 1988-1991 CRX. For such an old car, the range of prices was quite wide:

Honda CRX Actual Prices

I was especially interested to see the $5000 CRX - it had 54,000 original miles. It's a SI too. For a CRX fan who is looking for a pristine example, it doesn't get too much better than 54,000 original miles.

It's a great little car if you can find the right one.

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Monday, November 5, 2007

What is my used car worth?

When shopping for a used car, I have always wondered what I should offer the seller. While the normal resources, KBB, Edmunds and NADA all provide guides as to what a used car is worth, given its mileage and condition, these are only suggestions.

I have always wanted to know what people really paid - what did the seller ultimately accept as a price? Full price? 10% off of the asking price? 40% off of the asking price? After all, car sellers can price their car based on a number of things: emotion, unrealistic expectations, a false sense of reality, the list goes on... Furthermore, none of these attributes are regulated or tracked very closely.

As far as I can tell, there isn't a place to see what people actually paid for their used car - after their negotiating, low-balling, or begging. For houses, the actual sale values are a matter of public record. Websites such as Zillow and many others openly provide sold home values. For cars, there is no such resource - until now.

PriceHub was founded to provide car buyers and sellers a way to see actual values for their cars and trucks. By allowing consumers to submit the prices they actually paid, other consumers can benefit and learn. Is $31,000 worth it for that 1999 Porsche 911 Coupe? Is the Toyota Prius with 3,000 miles worth $22,500? These questions can now be answered to a certain extent by the actual prices other people paid for similar cars.

For used car buyers, PriceHub is a great way to get a feel for how much the car you are interested in is worth.

For used car sellers, PriceHub is a great way to see how much you can charge for your car - you'll get to find out what people actually paid for a car with similar miles and options.

With PriceHub, you will hopefully be able to answer the question, "What is my used car worth?"

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Monday, October 22, 2007

About PriceHub

PriceHub is the creation of two guys who are car enthusiasts. Over the last decade, they have collectively bought, owned, and sold over 30 cars (some new, but mostly used). While doing the research to prepare for the purchase or sale of each vehicle, they realized that there’s not a true source of real, actual car transaction prices. There’s the published invoice price, MSRP price, book value, trade-in value, private-party value, etc, etc, etc, but there was no visibility on REAL, ACTUAL transaction prices.

Our goal with PriceHub is to provide price transparency for vehicle transactions, as well as provide a community for people to share & discuss prices. There’s price transparency in almost every other marketplace, so why not have one for cars & trucks too!

PriceHub is a privately held company based in the San Francisco Bay Area. To contact us, send an email to info@pricetacular.com

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