By Jim Taylor, Editor MACS ACtion Magazine
Some random head-scratchers from recent automotive releases and general news items.
● Kaggle introduces itself as “an online platform that brings together thousands of intelligent minds to come up with a predictive model on a given industry.” They recently did a “study” on how to avoid vehicles that are most likely to have defects. One of their conclusions for ducking used car problems was to “pick an orange car — they are less likely to have been badly treated.” They also advised avoiding red and purple ones.
● In off-road news, a Minnesota man was recently taken into custody after being found drunk while operating an ice-rink resurfacing machine – yup, the Zamboni. Parents at a PeeWee hockey match noticed the operator weaving on the ice and bouncing the machine off the boards during the break and called police. The driver failed a field sobriety test at the rink.
● A long-fallen flag may be coming back – Studebaker, last seen on a hood in 1966. A U.S. business group is looking into bringing back the name, and they propose to paste it onto a line of cars, trucks and motorcycles imported from Korea. Right now, the project isn’t much beyond the proposal and napkin sketch stage though.
● By any account, January was a really good month for U.S. car sales. Almost all the OEM’s were up, but Chrysler led the pack with more than a 40% sales increase against January, 2011. Add to that news of its $1.83 million profit for all of 2011 and that the company will make its first profit sharing payment to workers since 2005. Moreover, CEO Sergio Marchionne recently told the U.S press that Chrysler’s overall success in 2011 sustained parent company FIAT”s bottom line as well; without the Yanks, the Italian company would have shown a yearly loss of over $80 million. Would you have guessed that a year ago?
● Go on, admit it…you watched the Super Bowl for the commercials. Nielsen, the folks who take great interest in what you watch on TV and why, recently looked at five years of Super Bowl ads. In terms of money spent (roughly equal to the number of commercials aired), the auto companies have held first place status for the last two years, although closely followed by beer ads. No news there, but who holds third place?—movie promos! The next two rankings are “regular soft drinks” and tortilla chips.
● Sun Oil, providers of Sunoco fuel and oil products, has shut down its 330,000 barrel per day refinery in Philadelphia. It will either sell or de-commission the plant. The company noted that its refineries had operated at a loss for the last three years and cited “declining demand for motor fuels” as part of the reason.
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