Pit Notes – January 2009

Hats off to IMPA for its informative November Impact coverage of a timely presentation and Q & A with Efraim Levy, senior industry analyst in Standard & Poor’s U.S. Equity Research Group. . . . Steve Saleen is back in the muscle car business after selling Saleen, Inc. and departing an aborted venture involving a Chinese automaker. He has opened a 150,000 square foot facility in Anaheim, Calif. and plans to produce high performance versions of the Ford Mustang, Dodge Challenger and Chevrolet Camaro. He provided select Southern California enthusiasts a sneak preview of his first offering, an SMS 570 Challenger prior to its debut at NADA convention in New Orleans

The new time for Autonetwork’s live internet TV show (http://www.autonetwork.com) is 11:00 A.M, EST. Autonetwork.com President and show host Roosevelt Gist advises the show has added live dealer interviews and that they are going to high definition webcasts. They also have agreed to provide a featured blog for a new auto section on www.BlackAmericaWeb.com. . . . The Chicago Auto Show is responding to the financial stringencies of the times by providing a brand-neutral, fully equipped, two-car media conference set for McCormick Place exhibitors during this year’s event.

In a brief note Harold Gunn reports that Harold Gunn is proud and humbled (but not too humbled) to announce that Harold Gunn has been elected to a third term as president of the Texas Auto Writers Association.  . . . Hyundai now checks motor vehicle records of all persons requesting access to its company-owned cars before making them available. . . . Continental Tire North America, Inc. has launched a redesigned consumer website at www.continentaltire.com  . . . The UK Government took action to support its motorsport supplier industry without an uproar in the House of Commons.

Media Post reports that the U.S, is now the third best market for the Smart car and that it has achieved that acceptance without advertising, relying instead on word-of-mouth, press and other grass roots events.  . . .  The publication also summarized a Consumer Reports survey that found “42% of new-vehicle shoppers are putting off a purchase; 39% of respondents are holding off because their vehicles are in good shape; 30% are doing so because vehicles are too expensive; and 30% are holding off because they are skittish about the economy. Eighteen percent are waiting for fuel-saving technologies like hybrids to become more affordable, and another group of 18% are balking at interest rates for financing. A quarter of shoppers in low-income households are delaying because of financing rates.”

Generations Media Group has published its third issue of Mustang Generations, currently distributed through Mustang parts suppliers and expects to offer opportunities for freelancers soon according to editor and publisher Benton Launerts. (ben@mustanggenerations.com).  He says the magazine has “a huge focus on the people behind the car… and features some of the finest photography.” . . . . Thinking of making money with a blog? Technorati’s State of The Blogosphere 2008 Report, as summarized by The Center For Media Research, reveals among many interesting facts that the mean annual revenue for blogs that accept advertising is $6,000 while those blogs with more than 100,000 unique viewers per month bring in as much as $75,000. Other facts of interest: by the end of 2007 there were 22.6 million bloggers in the U.S., 184 million world wide with 94.1 million blog readers in the U.S. and 346 million readers world wide.

Michael Karish reports that his unique www.TrueDelta.com web site, which relies on volunteer owners’ reports on gas mileage and driving experience, now has 38,000 cars enrolled and the number of models represented increased from 71 in November, 2007 to 179 a year later. The site has added “Why (Not) This Car?” reviews, where members describe why they bought the car they bought rather than their second choice.