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Vroom Room

Good Morning,

Its Friday, its the Vroom Room, come in make yourself comfortable enjoy the cappuccino and biscotti, join the conversation.

We all knew that it was just a question of time for the "low price of oil effect" to gain momentum, and start spreading across Canada. If you have had an opportunity to travel in Canada, you surely noticed that many individuals from other parts of the country would work in the "oil patch" especially during the winter months.

Obvious that is not the case this year...

An informative, and fascinating article from The Economist on the distinctive engine sounds of a 4-6-8 cylinder engine. Agreed, the rumble of a V8 is endearing.

There is continued and ongoing talk about self driving cars, its reaching the point in some circles that humans are no longer capable of driving a car. A few days ago there was a 50 vehicle pile up on the east bound 401 at Trenton. You have to wonder how self driving cars and trucks would have dealt with the situation. Would it have been a technical glitch that did not recognise the ice?

We will continue to have winters in Canada for the foreseable future. As we mentioned last month winter conditions are not conducive to autonomous driving.

Yes...tomorrow is the 12 Hours of Sebring race.

An impressive photo gallery of the Amelia Island Concours d'Elegance 2015.




Leadership Reality

Back in the golden days of the auto business when personalities and egos were expected, and often delivered. Do we really need to mention names?

These guys back then, right or wrong had an innate understanding and knowledge base of the auto industry and business. Compared to today there was a minuscule media bubble around the auto industry. At the time the social autosphere did not exist.

Fast forward to today, the individuals in the auto business have subdued public personas, while the social autosphere is constantly expanding and evolving.

Here is the deal:

There remains a lack of leadership, accountability, populated by sidestepping, supported by reasoning that often defies gravity. This often captures the attention of the autosphere for a few fleeting moments, before its lost or superseded by another story which is more timely and might capture a few additional eyeballs.

In the autosphere its the superficial opinion often supported by a catchy headline (you need the headline for the eyeballs). When the opinion is discussed or questioned, the ensuing discussion is often deflected, since there is little "real" knowledge to corroborate and support the opinion.

In the business arena its the project that goes forward at a glacial pace, speeds up to a snails pace, while never getting into real time. It begs the question "Who owns this sh&t?"...which often is deflected with a seemingly rational explanation of various stakeholders, acronyms, and teams. While never answering "who owns the sh&t" or who is going to make it work.

Leadership, teams, teamwork, contributions, knowledge workers, the "thing" gets bogged down, and its easy to double back and distribute the ownership of the sh&t. To the point of "this broke while the team member was in the bathroom"

Think about this...who in his right mind is going to step up (lead) and own the sh&t while potentially jeopardising their mortgage payments?

Yes...we agree the Peter Principle remains enduring.




Top Fuel Drag Racing

First, its great that Larry Dixon is OK after such a spectacular crash.

All the safety equipement, and landing on the tires on the track side of the guardrail were fortunate.

NHRA shortened the quarter mile (1,320 feet) to 1,000 feet to lower the speeds. Its clear that with technology the Hemis are generating massive horsepower. While dragsters have flexible frames to improve traction.

Massive horsepower, massive torque, the wings in front and back, the frame flexes, then breaks.

Hopefully the folks at NHRA will take a "hard look" at what happened, and what caused the frame to break.



Paddle Shifter Revisited

We still wonder why many street vehicles have a paddle shifter. From one perspective it makes sense, some have gear selector buttons on the consolde or the dash, and no actual means to select a gear.

The paddle shifter becomes the gear selector.

It probably goes like this: "Here is the D button and these dainty plastic paddles behind the steering wheel will enable you to shift gears if you so desire".

Perhaps there is a longing for the H pattern shifter accompanied by a clutch pedal which is truly on its way to extinction.

Lets take a look at a few points:

In the early days of drag racing, when a torque converter was "slow" and a manual was slow to shift. Racers would resort to modifying the synchronizers in the manual transmission (crash box) to improve the power shifts that often led to clutch explosions.

The purest of manual transmission had spur cut gears and no synchronizers. Talk about driver engagement, double clutching, rev matching to upshift / downshift. Does it sound like what a paddle shifter car does it all by itself (aided by technology).

Those were also the days of race driver having callouses on the hand he was shifter gears with. Especially around the classic Nurburgring.

More recently Corvette Racing was losing a competitive advantage by having a shift lever to change gears on the XTrac transmission. A few milliseconds here and there at the end of a lap, and race it makes a difference.

In addition to making a driver's life easier: "Let's forget the clutch pedal except to start and put more wear and tear on the transmission". In a competition environment a paddle shifter is a requirement. For street use not so much.

Why do all these street vehicles have paddle shifters?

Watch and listen...Michael Schumacher (we wish the best) use a paddle shifter.



March Sales Update

Weekly payment amounts.Its mid month March, lets take a look at the auto sales front.

Since last week most if not all manufacturers are offering one deal or incentive piled up on top of another and it all ends on March 31, 2015. Every incentive promotion has a "marketing name" to heighten the awereness.

The end of the first quarter is only 2 weeks away, needless to mention that everyone is seeking to conquer sales along with everyone else.

Yes...the auto business is hyper competitive.

CMS (Citizen Main Street) is sitting back and watching this advertising frenzy in print, TV, radio, online.

Perhaps...getting confused by all the deals, promotions, incentives. Certainly conclcuding that its a case of dynamic pricing run amock.

Needles to mention that whoever had a strong start to 2015 is in a dramatically better position than the manufacturers seeking to conquer in the last 2 weeks of the month.

Before we forget, many dealers are piled up with new vehicle inventory, while others have vehicles temporarily stalled in snow at Autoport (Halifax).

Some indicators:

  • The "nothing down" deals are getting scarcer.
  • The loan terms are extending at a faster rate than last year.
  • The transaction price is higher than last year.

Although interest rates are marginally lower, the Canadian dollar is dramatically devalued (in the dumpster) compared to last year.

The manufacturers that waited till March to throttle up, are in a less favorable position that the one that did a "hole shot" in January.

Let's see what month end will bring.