GM Wants You to “Shop, Click, Drive”

It turns out this Intertubes thing is pretty popular, and GM wants a piece of the online action. Rather than using a third-party online shopping tool like Edmunds.com or TrueCar.com or any of the other sites out there to find your new Chevrolet, Buick, Cadillac, or GMC vehicle, you can use the “Shop-Click-Drive” process on any GM dealership’s website.

The idea is to streamline the process. Visit the website of any of GM’s 4300 US dealerships anytime, day or night, because the Internet never sleeps, and you’ll find the same system. According to a press release, car shoppers can:

  • Choose a specific vehicle
  • Get a price estimate
  • See if there are any incentives available from the manufacturer
  • Check out financing and insurance options
  • Find out about trading in their vehicle
  • Apply for financing

It doesn’t seem like any of this is guaranteed; you only get price estimates for the new car and information about a trade-in, not any kind of price promise or guaranteed minimum value for your trade-in. But it will arm you with information before you step into the dealership, which is always helpful.

Remember, know what you want and what you can afford before you step onto the showroom floor, even if you did Shop-Click-Drive. And don’t take any shit once you’re there.

Edmunds.com Takes the Bullshit Out of Car Buying

If this is for real, this would be a welcome change for all car shoppers, not just women. Though with statistics showing that we’re still not comfortable at dealerships, the new focus on truth in car dealing at Edmunds.com would be especially great for women.

According to a press release sent out in October, Edmunds.com aims to make itself the trusted middle man between shoppers and dealers. The car shopping site has partnered with dealers who say that will stop the bait-and-switch online shenanigans. They’ll tell you what they’ve got on the lot and allow you to bring in a digital or printed certificate from Edmunds.com with the price on it. The dealers are held to their end of the bargain by the online power of Edmunds.

The website tested its Price Promise idea in early 2013 and rolled it out to everybody in June. It benefits Edmunds.com by further burnishing its reputation as one of the most trusted websites on the Internet; it benefits dealers by getting people to close on promised deals, often within a few days; and it benefits shoppers by making the car buying process 15 percent faster on average. That’s 10 minutes per hour at the dealership shaved off. That alone is probably worth signing up.

Women at Chrysler Killing It at Awards

Chrysler has a lot to be proud of, women-wise, recently. Twelve of their female employees were recognized at the annual Women of Color Conference, and a senior manager was named Working Mother‘s Working Mother of the Year.

The Women of Color Conference serves to shine a light on women working in STEM (science, tech, engineering, and math) fields. One woman at Chrysler, Rajani Sinha, was singled out for the Pioneer Award. She is responsible for plant supply systems, the company said, which means coordinating 14 assembly plants and 10 manufacturing plants in North America, plus coordination with new partners at Fiat to streamline the process of building all these vehicles. The Pioneer Award honors women with some experience behind them, and Sinha boasts more than two decades in information technology.

The other Chrysler women honored at the conference, which is organized by Women of Color magazine, were Technology Rising Stars, young employees who are helping to shape the future of technology.

Meanwhile, over at Working Mother, Mary Ann Kirsch was awarded the title Working Mother of the Year, which frankly sounds like this woman has her shit together. Though she’d probably tell you otherwise, because that’s what women do. We’re humble. As Chrysler Group Senior Manager and mother of three, she has advocated for flexible work hours for all parents and work-life optimization at the company. This comes on the heels of Working Mother naming Chrysler to its list of 100 best companies for working mothers in September, the 14th time the auto manufacturer has made the list.

You can check out all the Working Mothers of the Year in the upcoming December/January issue.

2014 Green Car of the Year Finalists Named

Every year at the LA Auto Show, Green Car Journal bestows the laurel wreath of green-ness and car-ness on a notable vehicle. Pickings used to be slim for this award, but there are slew of contenders anymore. This year, the five finalists include diesels, hybrids, and even a couple of plain-old gas-powered cars that have technological tricks that up their fuel economy into hybrid-like numbers.

Here’s the short list:

  • Audi A6 TDI: diesel sports sedan with a 38 mpg highway rating and 240 hp
  • BMW 328d: diesel sedan with a 45 mpg highway rating and regenerative brakes
  • Honda Accord: makes the list for having an efficient gasoline engine, a hybrid, and a plug-in version
  • Mazda3: gasoline sedan that ekes out 41 mpg on the highway via tech improvements
  • Toyota Corolla: gasoline sedan gets 42 mpg when you push the Eco button

Poll: What Weirds You Out When It Comes to Alternative Fuels?

I’m working on a new e-book to help women navigate the strange forest of green(ish) vehicles on the market, and I’m wondering what you might be wondering.

For instance, what if anything worries you about owning an electric car? What mystifies you about plug-in hybrids? Are you down with diesels? If you’ve got questions or concerns that you’d like to have answered before the new year in a new e-book, let me know!

You can email your answers to khallgeisler [at] gmail [dot] com, or head over to the Take the Wheel Facebook page, or tweet it to me; I’m @kristenhg.

Thanks for the input, ladies!

Get By with a Little Help from Your Automotive Friends

So things were already a little sucky for anyone who isn’t a San Francisco hipster with an IPO pending, and now that the government has shut down, it’s gotten a lot more sucky for a lot of federal employees and the people who depend on them.

When everyone seems intent on screwing us over, where can we turn? Well, in one case, it may be the folks who take your car payments every month. Toyota and Nissan have both recently announced that they’ll be offering some breathing room to their buyers.

Anyone who financed their vehicle through Toyota Financial Services or Lexus Financial services and is affected by the shutdown (furloughed employees, government contractors, and more) can defer up to three months of payments. Prior to the shutdown, your loan had to be in good standing, but I’m sure it was. You’re good people.

Nissan’s program has been around, but in these shutdown days, they thought a reminder might be in order. Any Nissan or Infiniti owner who used Nissan Motor Acceptance Corp. to finance their vehicle can also get up to a 90-day extension on their loan.

If you’re finding yourself on an unpaid, unplanned, uncertain vacation thanks to the US government, it might be worth checking into these programs. Best of luck.

Ladies Takin’ Care of Business … in 1924. With a Model T

Women may not have been the economic powerhouse in 1924 that they are in 2013, but smart marketers recognized that men weren’t the only ones taking care of business even back then. In honor of Henry Ford’s 150th birthday, Ford released a handful of vintage ads, like this one, aimed at women.

In another ad from the same year, Ford calls the modern woman “a business manager of the home,” lauding her close attention to the household budget. That still rings true, due to women’s influence over 80% of household purchases in the twenty-first century. And in a third ad from this campaign, Ford even acknowledges that women might have things to do other than hover over their kids: “With a Ford closed car she can share [her children’s] good times and yet hold to the necessary schedule of her day.”

1924 Model T Ad (Woman in Business)

2014 Nissan 370Z NISMO Sez: “OMG, Let’s Go Already!”

I like the Nissan Z series. They’re fun, inexpensive-ish little sports cars. They come with a kneepad in the driver’s door so you can brace yourself as you speed around the bend. Super fun little guys, really, and they always have been.

2014Nissan370ZNismo

Then I drove the NISMO version of the car on the twisty back roads of Oregon’s mountain passes. Oh, it loved it. “Shift up!” it screamed. “No, no shift down! Go around that car! Now shift up again! Yeaaaaaahhh!” Up hills, around tight bends, and back down, it was in heaven.

Then we got behind a normal car doing a normal speed. The NISMO was very much not happy.

“Oh NOES!” it whined. “Not a steady forty miles an hour! I will die! I WILL DIE!”

“You won’t die,” I told the 370Z. “Cars these days are really well made, and they rarely just die, especially 2014 models with a few hundred miles on the odometer. You’re revving really high. Maybe you should settle down.”

“NISMO does not settle down!” NISMO also does not speak without exclamation points, it seems. “Go faster! Do more! Do not settle for poking along behind this ten-year-old Camry or Taurus or whatever the hell this car is in my way! NISMO can’t tell the difference!”

Lucky for NISMO, there are lots of dotted white lines in mountain passes, and we made it safely around the perfectly fine, reliable car ahead of us. NISMO smiled and roared as I shifted up and down and up and down and matched revs and tore around corners. I’ll admit, I smiled too.

Good night, little NISMO.

Good night, little NISMO.

2014 Nissan 370Z NISMO

  • 18 mpg city/26 mpg highway
  • Optional equipment: Bose audio, in-mirror rearview monitor, etc.
  • Price as tested: $46,370

Two Infiniti Sports Cars Get the Gilt.com Designer Treatment

Designers Zac Posen and Thom Browne have gussied up two already fancy 2014 Infiniti Q50 sports sedans to be sold on Gilt.com just in time for the holidays, on December 12.

Thom Browne’s car is a subtle chrome with red, white, and blue seats and sterling silver interior accents. This car is not for the shy, the unpatriotic (of either US or UK persuasion), or those who hate to see their reflections distorted in a fender on the daily. It also comes with fitted luggage in the trunk and a solid silver personal card case with red, white, and blue stripe.

Thom Browne trying very hard not to smudge his Q50.

Thom Browne trying very hard not to smudge his Q50.

Zac Posen’s car is an ombre silver-to-gray number with red velvet, shagreen, and leather interior. (If this were a men’s car site, I would explain that shagreen is a pebbly leather, but you know that without my having to spell it out.) It comes with a red smartphone clutch.

Zac Posen looking uncomfortable on the hood of his Q50.

Zac Posen looking uncomfortable on the hood of his Q50.

Each of these stunners is $75,000, with a portion of the proceeds (but not all the proceeds. We’re not that into the spirit of giving) going to St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital. If that’s a bit steep for your holiday list, you can get just the card holder for $650 or just the smartphone clutch for $250. They’re both limited editions, though, so get in the Gilt line fast.

You can also, of course, just get a regular old 2014 Infinit Q50, which looks pretty cool even without getting the designer makeover. It starts at $36,700 and comes in a hybrid version, too.