Monday April 25th, 2011
The Corrosive Effects of Salt on Car Suspensions
More recalls kick off the week, though this time it’s not Ford. Nissan issued a recall on its ’96-’04 Pathfinders and ’97-’03 Infiniti QX4s. Salt often kicks up into the front suspension of vehicles when it’s caked on icy roads, and these specific Nissans are more susceptible to corrosion and the possibility of suspension collapse. The recall applies to 20 states that use salt to keep friction alive and well during the winter.
196,000 Pathfinders and QX4s are canvassed in this callback. But one odd and surprising aspect of this recall are the few states that aren’t covered; cars owned in Alaska, North Dakota and Montana aren’t on the list (though they are allowed to go in for a free inspection and a repair if needed).
Logic leads one to believe these states would use more salt because of the amount of precipitation they receive, but states have a funny way of doing things differently from each other. In 1989, Alaska used 1.2 tons of salt per highway lane or mile compared to 19.4 tons used by Massachusetts. The full report titled “Road Salt Use in the United States” can be found here.
Which I realize is a topic no one really wants to read about.
Tuesday April 26th, 2011
Ford Recalls 1998
That’s just a little word play right there! We ain’t speakin’ of no salt recalls, just good old recollection. Ford posted its best first-quarter corporate profit today since 1998, generating $1,519 in profit per vehicle (up 59 percent from the same period last year) while realizing a 9 percent increase in revenue per vehicle, up to $22,096 from Q1 2010. Customers seem more willing to pay for luxury features like heated seats when buying Ford’s smaller fuel-efficient models.
I recall working for a French bakery in Woodbury called Ovens of France in my first quarter in 1998. Friends would drop me off after school and I’d take over for the soft-spoken, gentle middle-aged woman, who may have been named Marjorie. In between customers, I’d help myself to the homemade soups, crispy French bread rolls, macaroons and various tarts in the display case. Then I’d wash all that down with peach Snapple. Sometimes I’d give my friends free Snapple, too.
I hated the job because of the owners (French husband and American wife). They accused me of stealing from the register (I didn’t; I only gave out a few Snapples and I was encouraged to eat) because the receipts wouldn’t tie out at night. I explained to them how confusing the register was, but they remained skeptical. When the husband asked on a Saturday morning, “eh Steve, wheht are yew gowing to dew when yew garow up and get more stupider?” I quit after my shift.
Those French rolls were really good, though. They were the heated seats of the Woodbury bread world.
Wednesday April 27th, 2011
Volkswagen Profits and Economic Signals
After yesterday’s domestic news for Ford, Volkswagen reported today of their own resurgent prosperity. VW is Europe’s largest automaker, and it reported a record operating profit of $4.27 billion for the first quarter. Most of the growth is due to increasing Chinese demand, and benefits from a concerted push into Brazil, Russia and India. VW hasn’t hid its ambitions of overtaking Toyota as the world’s largest car company by 2018 by leveraging the buying power of the emerging BRIC markets.
(This is where I write that I thought it would be best to include a spot without a personal anecdote and keep it relevant to the industry. Thank you.)
Thursday April 28th, 2011
One More Bit About Financing for the Week
I’m sorry there weren’t more interesting topics this week outside of automobile corporate profits and liabilities. Today, Chrysler said it was ready to repay the high-interest U.S. and Canadian government bailout loans. Chrysler’s interest rates are between 7% and 14% on the $5.8 billion owed to the U.S., and as high as 20% on its $1.7 billion Canadian loans. The company will raise private financing to pay off the debts.
“The borrower’s debt is the only regret of my youth.”
That’s a line from the Fleet Foxes’ song “Bedouin Dress”, off the band’s second album. It seemed appropriate to include the video (below) of the song since the album gets released on Tuesday, and because the lyric fits with today’s post. NPR streamed the entirety of “Helplessness Blues” earlier this week. It’s very good, and I highly suggest readers check out the band.