Car Salesman Confidential: Making ‘Em Laugh

Call it the Gift of Gab or being kissed by the Blarney Stone. Whatever you call it, a good car salesman has it. They’re quick witted, good with words, and can hold a conversation with just about anyone on any subject — regardless of race, religion, or creed.

Most people probably expect this kind of personality in sales. But what you may not expect is that car salesmen can also be some of the funniest people you’ll ever meet. Maybe it’s just the long hours spent standing around doing nothing that teaches us how to amuse ourselves, just to alleviate boredom.

Or maybe it’s the stress that goes with the job. Yes, buying a car can be extremely stressful — even for the salesman — and humor is one way we cope with stress.

Take my friend, J.D. First of all, J.D. is completely bald. Imagine a taller, better looking Uncle Fester from The Adams Family and you’re close. So, right off the bat, his appearance lends itself to humor. But J.D. is also a little crazy. One of his favorite things to do, if there are any children in the showroom, is to stretch a balloon over the top of his head, making him look like a giant light bulb. Or, he’ll sneak up behind somebody when they least expect it and stick a finger in their ear. This usually causes them to jump, which gets a laugh — and sometimes a string of expletives.

He also likes to make prank calls. Like calling up the General Manager of the dealership and pretending to be a customer.   General Manager: “Hello, this is the General Manager, how can I help you?”   J.D.: “Um, yes, I was just calling to see if you had any of the new Henways in yet?” GM: “What’s a Henway?”   J.D.: “About five and a half pounds, you idiot!” [HANGS UP]   Okay, I didn’t say car salesmen had sophisticated senses of humor, just that they’re funny.

Car salesman humor tends toward the lowbrow and can certainly be in poor taste. Take J.D.’s unique way he introduced a deaf customer to the Finance Manager one day. The customer—we’ll call him Mr. Jones — couldn’t hear a thing. But he could read lips, and as long as you were facing him he had no trouble understanding you. When J.D. led Mr. Jones to the finance office to sign the paperwork for his new car, he made sure to walk a few steps ahead of him so the customer couldn’t see his mouth. As Bob, the F&I manager, rose from his chair to shake Mr. Jones’s hand, JD said: “Hi, Bob. This is Mr. Jones . . . and he’d like to make mad passionate love to you.” The look on the face of the F&I man, who didn’t yet know the customer was deaf, was priceless.

Most of the humor salespeople come up with is situational, and designed to break the ice with customers. For example, when a customer asks me a question about price before we’ve even settled on a vehicle, the conversation might go like this:

CUSTOMER (pointing to window sticker): “You don’t expect me to pay that price, do you?”

ME: “Oh, no sir, of course not… You’ll have to pay taxes and fees on top of that!” Usually, they laugh. If not, I know I have a tough row to hoe. Or, take these little gems:

CUSTOMER: “I’m just looking.”

SALESMAN: “Nice to meet you, Mr. Looking. Do you mind if I call you Just?”

CUSTOMER: “I’m just looking.”

SALESMAN: “Your brother was in here yesterday, wasn’t he? Been Looking?”

CUSTOMER: “I’m just looking.”

SALESMAN: “Well, I’m good looking, so we must be related!” These may cause more groans than laughs, but like I said before, the purpose is to break the ice, not launch a career in stand-up.

Scratch the surface of any car salesman and you’ll find a born practical joker. When I first started in the business one of the older salesmen took me under his wing and did a “walkaround” for me, pointing out the features on a car in the showroom. I didn’t realize it, but he was setting me up.   “Get in that back seat and check out the leg room!” he said, kindly opening the back door for me. Like a lamb to the slaughter I slid into the back seat. “Oh, wow! That really is a lot of room,” I remarked.   And then he shut the door.   What I didn’t know was, he had set the child locks on both back doors beforehand. Now I was locked in the car. Later I found out he did this to all the “green peas” as part of their initiation into the world of car sales. “Let me outta here!” I yelled, pounding on the glass. But everyone ignored me. Finally, I had to crawl over the front seats to get out. Very funny, guys. Very funny.

But that doesn’t come close to what happened to another salesperson I know, a man I’ll call Jerry. Jerry was a great guy, but he was always having trouble with his ex-wife, and whenever a Police officer showed up at the dealership, Jerry would pull a vanishing act, fearful that the cop was there for him. So, one day, a Police car pulled up out front and Jerry panicked, running down the hallway. One of Jerry’s “friends” quickly opened the door to a small room that held some air conditioning equipment at the end of the hall , motioning him inside.   “Jerry! In here! Quick!” the helpful salesman said. “I’ll let you know the minute the cop is gone!” “Thanks, buddy,” came the voice from inside the closet.   After picking up some parts from the Parts Department the Police officer quickly left. But, of course, no one informed Jerry. This was too good an opportunity to pass up. Every half hour a different salesman would stop by the closet door to check on their comrade inside. “Hey Jerry?” they’d whisper. “Yeah?” “He’s still here, man! He’s looking all over the place! Just stay where you are and don’t make a sound!!”   They kept Jerry in that closet for four hours. The plan was to lock him up in the building overnight and go home, but the GM nixed that plan and ordered Jerry’s immediate release. With buddies like those, who needs enemies?

Just the other night I sold a van to a senior couple who traded in their ten-year-old convertible. The woman, who was in her 70’s, still had most of her wits about her. But her husband, who was a few years older, had clearly lost it. During the test drive, he asked me what kind of vehicle we were driving . . . four separate times. After they had completed paperwork and were waiting for their van to come up from Detail, he started loading things from their trade into the wrong car. When I asked him what he was doing he said “Isn’t this our car?” Everyone in the dealership could see the trouble he was having, and we all felt sorry for the guy. But as soon as the customers left the wisecracks began. “Can you imagine them tomorrow morning?” I asked. “Waking up and looking out the window at the van in their driveway?”   Without missing a beat the other salespeople picked up the ball and ran. “Whose van is that, dear?” “What happened to our convertible??” “Call the Police!”

Car-Salesman-Confidential-1024-6804Car-Salesman-Confidential-1024-6804If any of you have had a funny experience buying or selling a car, please share them here!

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2017 Aston Martin DB11 Prototype Review: The Ride Stuff

It’s not the way the 5.2-liter, twin-turbo V-12 storms to its 7,000-rpm redline, or the barrel-chested boom from the exhaust on the way there. It’s not the remarkable stability under heavy braking, either, or the wonderful tactility of the steering through the turns. Nope, the first thing that impresses about the 2017 Aston Martin DB11 is the quality of its ride.

We’re at Bridgestone’s European Proving Ground, south of Rome, not far from the beaches at Anzio where in World War II Allied forces landed to begin a grueling campaign to liberate the Italian capital from Nazi occupation. Aston Martin vehicle attribute engineering chief Matt Becker says the prototype we’re driving today is about 80 to 85 percent of where he wants it to be, but even now the DB11 feels special—quick, composed, and amazingly comfortable. It feels like a car you’d happily drive 1,000 miles in a day, arriving at your destination refreshed and ready for a glass of chilled Dom Perignon. It feels like a genuine gran turismo.

“Because this is a GT car, ride is so important,” says Becker, who joined Aston Martin after a 26-year career at Lotus that included working on suspension and chassis tune for cars such as the Elise and the Evora. Development of the DB11 was already well underway when he arrived. “My initial feeling was the steering was a little bit aggressive off-center,” he says, “but that allowed us to relax the primary motions in the car because we weren’t looking for support from anti-roll bars or spring stiffness or damping stiffness to make it responsive.”

In simple terms: Becker knew the DB11 didn’t need to ride like a Conestoga wagon to go around corners.

2017 Aston Martin DB11 Prototype front three quarter in motion 072017 Aston Martin DB11 Prototype front three quarter in motion 07

Thanks to the new Daimler-sourced electrical architecture, the DB11 boasts three selectable damping levels: GT, Sport, and Sport+. In the softest setting—GT—the ride is remarkably compliant, but, critically, the body motions are beautifully controlled. You can push the DB11 hard on the track in GT mode, and it doesn’t devolve to a wobbling mess. It stays straight under heavy braking, turns in nicely, and maintains its composure through the turn.

Switching to Sport and then Sport+ modes tames the body motions a little more and improves steering response, but the ride remains impressively supple for a car running 255/40ZR20 and 295/35ZR20 high-performance Bridgestone S007 tires front and rear. “My brief was I didn’t want to hit Sport or Sport+ and make the car uncomfortable,” Becker says. “I’d rather have a character change but keep the heave motions still fairly compliant and just add a bit more off-center steering response to add a bit more agility.”

Becker says at this point the DB11’s chassis development program is all about adding refinement. That includes final tuning of the stability-control system, which has three settings—On, Track mode, and Off—and is about 70 percent to where Becker wants it to be. Another part of the DB11’s dynamic arsenal still to be fine-tuned is brake-induced torque vectoring. “It’s really only working in a very small way at the moment because we wanted to get the basis of the car right first and then add the icing on the cake,” Becker says.

2017 Aston Martin DB11 Prototype front end in motion 2017 Aston Martin DB11 Prototype front three quarters in motion 2017 Aston Martin DB11 Prototype rear side in motion 2017 Aston Martin DB11 Prototype rear three quarter in motion on track 02 2017 Aston Martin DB11 Prototype side in motion in water 2017 Aston Martin DB11 Prototype rear side in motion 03 2017 Aston Martin DB11 Prototype front three quarter 03 2017 Aston Martin DB11 Prototype rear side in motion 02

In the four weeks following our drive, Aston engineers will have been working with German supplier Continental, whose stability-control system the DB11 uses, to make sure the torque-vectoring setup complements the chassis. “We don’t want to use torque vectoring as a mask, but as a value-add,” insists Becker. “We’re not looking to use it much in GT mode unless somebody really needs it to get safely through a corner. We want to use it more as a pre-control system to make the car feel even more agile in Sport and Sport+ modes.”

Becker’s other challenge before he signs off the DB11’s chassis is final calibration of the EPAS steering system. And for the luddites who still moan that electric power steering lacks the feel and sensitivity of a hydraulically assisted setup, Becker has a simple retort: “EPAS is better.”

Why? “EPAS makes it easier to tune a better steering system because with hydraulics you are restricted,” he says. “You have a certain valve edge and torsion bar stiffness within the hydraulic system, and you have a flow curve, which drops the rate of assistance at a given speed. And that’s all you can do. To tune steering self-centering or effort gradient, you’re relying on caster or damping or other fundamentals in the suspension, which may cause other handling issues. With EPAS you can do it all independently.”

Out on the Bridgestone handling circuit the DB11’s steering is clear and concise; you can feel the front tires working up to the very edge of their friction envelope, and then you can feel—and hear—the slip angles building. It’s a relatively big coupe, the DB11—186.6 inches long and 76.4 inches wide, and rolling on a 110.4-inch wheelbase—but it’s a car you can drive with your fingertips. Part of the secret sauce here, says Becker, is the extremely rigid mounting of the steering rack to the front subframe and the extremely stiff steering column. “You don’t get any compliance through the steering column system, so all the information you want is fed to you when you drive.”

2017 Aston Martin DB11 Prototype front end in motion in water 2017 Aston Martin DB11 Prototype rear end in motion in water 2017 Aston Martin DB11 Prototype front three quarter in water 2017 Aston Martin DB11 Prototype rear three quarter in motion in water

The DB11’s new electrical architecture also allows the selection of GT, Sport, and Sport+ modes for the engine and transmission. Switch the powertrain modes and chassis modes to Sport+, the stability control off, and the DB11 becomes entertainingly playful on the track. And it’s when you become aware that the brand-new 5.2-liter V-12 under the hood is packing a pair of twin-scroll turbochargers.

It’s a torque monster, this engine; all 516 lb-ft is present and correct from just 1,500 rpm and stays on duty until 5,000 rpm. Get aggressive with your right foot out of a tight turn, and you’ll light up those big rear tires, leaving two black streaks on the tarmac as the DB11 lunges away from the apex. The only other turbo telltale is the timbre of the exhaust note; the crackling snarl of the naturally aspirated, 5.9-liter engine has been replaced with a deep-throated roar. The engine revs briskly to 7,000 rpm, and the 600-hp power peak arrives at 6,500 rpm, just 250 revs lower down the range than in the old 5.9-liter, 565-hp Vanquish.

The rear-mounted eight-speed ZF automatic, connected to the engine, as in all current Aston Martins, via a torque tube, delivers crisp yet smooth shifts. There was a little lag using the paddles in Sport and Sport+ mode—final calibrations have still to be completed—but the new automatic is a major improvement over the six-speed used in the DB9.

Switching the stability control to Track mode still allows a little sideways fun in the DB11 but keeps a watchful eye on slip angles and traction. Switching the stability control back on and selecting Sport mode for both powertrain and chassis delivers a nice all-round compromise for fast, comfortable road driving.

All these modes are accessed via switches on the DB11’s steering wheel. The chassis settings are controlled by a switch on the left, powertrain settings by a switch on the right. Small graphics immediately to the left and right of the central tach/speedo display on the new 12-inch TFT-screen digital dash let you know at a glance what settings you’ve selected. Different modes also change the graphic presentation on the instrument panel.

2017 Aston Martin DB11 Prototype front end in motion turn 2017 Aston Martin DB11 Prototype front end in motion 02 2017 Aston Martin DB11 Prototype front three quarter 02 2017 Aston Martin DB11 Prototype front three quarter in motion on track 02 2017 Aston Martin DB11 Prototype rear side in motion 04 2017 Aston Martin DB11 Prototype rear side in motion 03 2017 Aston Martin DB11 Prototype front three quarters in motion 02 2017 Aston Martin DB11 Prototype front three quarter in motion 03

Our prototype’s interior was finished in a particularly hideous pale blue leather—left over from a batch that failed durability tests, apparently—but even in its rough and ready state, with wires running to boxes bolted on the center console and racer tape slapped here and there, it’s clear the DB11’s cabin will deliver far superior levels of functionality and occupant comfort than any current Aston Martin. The new digital dash is legible and delivers all the additional information you’d expect in a modern car. The center stack switchgear is logically deployed, though Aston’s now-trademark push-button PRND layout is retained, and the fixed sat-nav screen now looks like factory fitment instead of something from Pep Boys.

We’ll get to spend time with fully baked 2017 Aston Martin DB11s in July when the car will be launched to the world media. But based on our wheel time in the car so far, we’re not expecting to be disappointed. This new DB11, which goes on sale in the U.S. in November with prices starting from $211,995, will be a benchmark Aston Martin.

2017 Aston Martin DB11
BASE PRICE $211,995
VEHICLE LAYOUT Front-engine, RWD, 2+2-pass, 2-door coupe
ENGINE 5.2L/600-hp/516-lb/ft twin-turbo DOHC 48-valve V-12
TRANSMISSION 8-speed auto
CURB WEIGHT 3,900 lb (mfr est)
WHEELBASE 110.4 in
LENGTH X WIDTH X HEIGHT 186.6 x 76.4 x 50.4 in
0-62 MPH 3.9 sec (mfr est)
ON SALE IN U.S. November 2016

View photos of the 2017 Aston Martin DB11 in non-prototype form right here:

2017 Aston Martin DB11 front three quarters 2017 Aston Martin DB11 rear three quarter in motion 2017 Aston Martin DB11 side in motion 2017 Aston Martin DB11 front three quarter in motion 2017 Aston Martin DB11 rear end in motion 02 2017 Aston Martin DB11 rear three quarter 2017 Aston Martin DB11 front three quarter 2017 Aston Martin DB11 rear end 2017 Aston Martin DB11 front three quarter 03 2017 Aston Martin DB11 rear three quarter 02 2017 Aston Martin DB11 rear three quarter 03 2017 Aston Martin DB11 front end in motion 2017 Aston Martin DB11 gauge 2017 Aston Martin DB11 interior 2017 Aston Martin DB11 interior seats 2017 Aston Martin DB11 push start 2017 Aston Martin DB11 interior door panel 2017 Aston Martin DB11 paddle shifter 2017 Aston Martin DB11 headlamp 2017 Aston Martin DB11 front badge

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2017 BMW i3 Estimated to Offer 114 Miles of Range

BMW has added a host of upgrades to the i3, including a more powerful battery. A new 33-kWh battery offers more range than the previous 22-kWh unit.

The new i3 benefits from a 50-percent increase in battery capacity, a feat BMW managed without changing the battery’s exterior dimensions. The 33-kWh unit offers usable energy of 27.2 kilowatt-hours, up from the previous battery’s usable 18.8 kW-hrs.

Now, the i3 can travel 114 miles on a single charge, BMW estimates. That figure refers to combined city and highway driving under everyday conditions, but it hasn’t yet been confirmed by the EPA. The previous i3 maxed out at 81 miles of all-electric range.

The 2017 BMW i3 continues to offer 170 hp and 184 lb-ft of torque from its standard all-electric powertrain. BMW says the new model has gained a little weight, hitting 2,961 pounds in all-electric form. The new i3 also takes longer to charge—about 4.5 hours with a Level 2 charger compared to 3.5 hours on the old model.

2017 BMW i3 with Battery2017 BMW i3 with Battery












2017 BMW i3 Side 2017 BMW i3 Rear 2017 BMW i3 Moving 2017 BMW i3 Rear Three Quarters

BMW will still offer a range-extended version of the i3 for those who need a little more juice. This version features the improved battery in addition to a two-cylinder gas engine that switches on once the battery dips down to a 6.5-percent charge. The Range Extender engine delivers up to 38 hp and is located adjacent to the electric drive above the rear axle. Thanks to increased weight, 0 to 60 takes an estimated 8 seconds, compared to 7 seconds in the new all-electric i3.

Other changes are mostly cosmetic. For 2017, customers can choose a Protonic Blue metallic paint color, which until now was only available on the i8 supercar. Shades of white, black, silver, and gray are also available. New standard features on the i3 include a universal garage door opener, real-time traffic information, and Comfort Access keyless entry.

Also, BMW is now offering an improved Home Charger Connect system. The system, which becomes available late this year, offers a more compact solution for charging your i3 in 4.5 hours. It’s operated using an LED interface and comes standard with WiFi.

Source: BMW

BMW Home Charge Connect 2017 BMW i3 Doors Open 2017 BMW i3 Closer Look 2017 BMW i3 Charging 2017 BMW i3 Battery 2017 BMW i8 Home Charger 2017 BMW i3 2017 BMW i3 with i8 2017 BMW i3 with i8 Supercar 2017 BMW i3 Stripped Down 2017 BMW i3 Rear View 2017 BMW i3 Inside 2017 BMW i3 in Motion 2017 BMW i3 Front View 2017 BMW i3 Front Three Quarters

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We Hear: VW Seeks New Partnerships, But Not with Google or Apple

As automakers start offering ride sharing services and more ways for consumers to connect to their vehicles, Volkswagen now wants a piece of the pie. According to a new report, VW is seeking partners to help expand its reach, but isn’t currently talking to Apple or Google.

“The era in which our sector kept itself apart from everything is now over,” VW Group CEO Matthias Mueller said in Germany last week, reports Automotive News Europe.

The CEO said VW is in “advanced stage” discussions with partners in the area of future mobility services, but he refused to name which companies. Apple and Google aren’t on the list, he noted.

VW already has a foot in the door. The automaker has teamed up with software developer Pivotal on mobility services. Last November, the automaker hired former Apple exec Johann Jungwirth to lead VW’s new digital strategy division. Before joining VW, Jungwirth had ties to Mercedes-Benz’s Silicon Valley unit and Apple’s secretive Project Titan.

Rumor has it that Fiat Chrysler is close to clinching a deal with Google. The partnership may involve FCA supplying vehicles for Google to test out its self-driving technology.

Meanwhile, automakers are slowly beginning to think of cars as mobility service providers. BMW launched its ReachNow car sharing service that charges drivers for cars by the minute. Meanwhile, General Motors has announced a new car sharing platform under the Maven label. FordPass is targeting a wide range of solutions to help people get around town, including smart parking reservations and bike rentals.

Source: Automotive News Europe (Subscription Required)

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Acura Celebrates 30th Birthday, Says It’s No. 1 Luxury Brand with Millennials

Acura is only as young as its buyers. The brand is celebrating its 30th birthday with a new marketing campaign—and by touting its leadership in Millennial sales.

Acura says it captures the greatest rate of buyers aged 18-34 than any other luxury car brand, citing data from IHS Automotive. The RDX leads its segment among Millennial buyers, the automaker wrote in a recent release.

As part of its “30 Years Young” campaign, Acura has debuted a 60-second spot narrated by actor Michael B. Jordan, also the new voice of the brand. Acura’s ad runs through the brand’s history, spotlighting the original NSX and the Integra Type R. It also puts a heavy emphasis on the new 2017 Acura NSX, which starts at a not-so-Millennial-friendly price of $157,800.

“The Acura brand is 30 years young, and we wanted this spot to communicate the energy, excitement and optimism that surrounds Acura at this important moment in our history,” said Jon Ikeda, vice president and general manager of the Acura Division, in a statement. “As we continue to focus on advancing our Precision Crafted Performance DNA, we are excited at how this direction is resonating with our millennial customers.”

The new campaign will extend into dealerships with 30th Anniversary posters and collateral.

Source: Acura

2017 Acura NSX front three quarter in motion 20 2017 Acura NSX front three quarter in motion 21 2016 Acura RDX side in motion 2016-Acura-ILX-Tech-Plus-front-end-011

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