Gifted Designer Takes The Lead at Acura

Acclaimed author and economist George Bernard Shaw once wrote, “Progress is impossible without change, and those who cannot change their minds cannot change anything.” Acura has recently demonstrated a commitment to this philosophy by replacing their chief executive in the middle of an especially good patch for company profits.

ikedaaaMike Accavitti, who was an executive with Chrysler before making the jump to Acura, was replaced after 16 months as head of the company by Jon Ikeda. The change in leadership comes on the heels of June sales that surpassed last year’s figures by 38.6%. Yet just as Accavitti was instrumental in bolstering sales in 2015, Ikeda will likely prove essential to Acura’s rise from 2015 forward.

Ikeda is in many ways the personification of how Acura thinks about cars relative to its competition. While virtually all chief executives, including Accavitti, have the bulk of their experience in fields like finance, marketing, or communications, Jon Ikeda has spent his career as a designer. Ikeda was almost single-handedly responsible for the approval and creation of Acura’s design studio in Torrance, California, and many of Acura’s most recognizable and beloved cars, like the 2004 TL, were the product of his creative and artistic abilities.

2015-Acura-NSXIkeda has already demonstrated himself savvy at managing talent. He named Michelle Christensen exterior design project leader for the new Acura NSX, making Christensen the first ever woman to lead in the design of a supercar. As Acura looks to take a resurgence in sales into the second half of the decade that saw the car industry come back from the brink, Ikeda’s design pedigree seems perfectly suited to turn Acura’s vision for its future into reality.

We love our current lineup, and we’re not alone there, but the opportunity to have a true visionary with such a rich knowledge of the company take the helm has us even more excited for Acura’s future than we were already. And when the NSX finally rolls up to our lot, we’ll have the head of the company to thank for choosing a gifted designer to take the lead!

Free Alignment Inspection at Any Butler Service Center

Free Alignment Inspection 2 copyIs it starting to feel like your car or truck’s out of alignment?  (Signs include uneven tire wear, vibration, and a vehicle that pulls or drifts to one side while you’re driving on a straight-away.) Don’t wonder any longer!  Print and redeem the coupon above for a FREE alignment check any of our four Butler Service Center locations.  If your vehicle’s fine, you’ll be on your way with no cost.  If an alignment is needed, and you decide to let us do the work, you’ll be entitled to $20.00 off the regular price.  It’s a win-win!  Call us to set up an appointment or just drop by.  We’ll be ready for you!

Warm Weather Driving Prep: Get Your Vehicle Set for Summer

Summer’s a’comin’! So, it’s time again to treat your vehicle to a little TLC. Last November, we posted a list of everything you might need to tackle winter driving conditions. Now that the studded and snow tires have (hopefully) been removed, here’s how to travel worry free into the warmer months:

1. Check tires. Remove and store your winter tires, and rotate all-season radials.

2. Check tire pressure. And check again. Because air pressure increases with temperature you’ll want to check your tire pressure more frequently during the summer months.

3. Check brakes for noise. You’re looking for grinding, squealing, screeching or chatter. Excessive amounts of any or all mean it’s time to invest in new ones.

4. Replace windshield wiper blades. They took a beating over the winter.

5. Wash it! And not just the parts you can see. Spray the underbody and undersides of both bumpers to get rid of build-up. As for the body, wash it in the shade. Then wax it. But wait until it’s completely dry before doing so.

6. Apply “sunscreen”. Hours in the sun can result in the cracking of any vinyl surface or the fading of cloth. Apply a protectant… reapply when needed.

7. Clean – and clean OUT – the interior. You don’t want your old trash blowing around when it’s finally warm enough to drive with the windows down.

8. Change the oil. Consider synthetics… they’re specifically designed for warm weather engine protection.

9. Check all fluids. That means brake, transmission, coolant, power steering and windshield washer fluid. Replace, or refill, to proper levels.

10. Test the AC.

11. Examine belts and hoses for wear or deterioration.

12. Consider assembling a car care kit, if you don’t already have one. Include a couple large bottles of water, non-perishable food items, jumper cables, a flashlight with extra batteries, road flares or an emergency beacon, basic hand tools, and a first aid kit. Maybe throw in a blanket, just in case.

Finally, be aware that heat often makes people uncomfortable and thus, irritated. Irritated drivers tend to be impatient and less apt to pay attention. Give drivers their space and stay alert.

Now all that’s left to do is plan a road trip! Happy travels!

(To read up on Winter Driving Preparations, visit: http://butlerautogroup.wordpress.com/2011/11/18/oh-no-snow-everything-you-and-your-vehicle-need-for-winter-driving/)

Intangibles… or, What Makes Your Vehicle “Yours”?

We recently received an email from a potential customer we’d spent a considerable amount of time with; a man in search of a new car for his wife. The letter was lovely, appreciative… and apologetic. Because while he had considered all the cars we’d shown him to be excellent choices, she had not fallen in love with any of them.

“Love” is one of those words you could define for the rest of your life and never unravel its essence. When it comes to “loving” a hunk of steel on four wheels (or two… motorcycle lovers are a loyal breed) there are the pragmatic issues: Can I afford it? How’s the gas mileage? Is there seating for the whole family? There are the aesthetic issues: Do I like the way it looks? Does the color fit my personality? Will the beige interior stain when the kids spill grape juice? And then there’s the grand intangible: Does it feel like me?
There are those who say a vehicle “fits” them if they can afford it and it meets certain rational needs like towing capacity, payload, comfort. But others of us look for the *irrational*. I’ve driven – and enjoyed – lots of cars and trucks and, if given the option of having more than one set of wheels in my driveway, I might even consider signing on the dotted line. But just because I have fun in, and appreciate the many attributes of, a vehicle does NOT mean I’d want to own it. I know what I’m looking for, and it’s not stuff that can be explained (see http://butlerautogroup.wordpress.com/2010/12/27/left-brain-or-right-brain-which-side-makes-your-vehicle-decisions/) although I do have to like the way it drives, feel safe and comfortable, and be able to afford the payments (guess the the Batmobile’s out of the picture). Other features, like power windows, I can live without. I’m looking for something low-maintenance, fun-driven, adventurous, durable… kinda like a Tonka truck. What makes a vehicle feel like it fits you? What’re your intangibles?

Leasing vs. Buying: Which Works for You?

When I was a kid my father used to come home with a new car every two years.  I’ve since learned that he had a great need for variety in his life and that, rather than uproot his family so as to accept new jobs in new places he channeled that need in the direction of the car lot.  I don’t know how he financed all those automotive changes but I do know we drove fancy new wheels every other year.

I, on the other hand, drive the one vehicle that makes me consistently happy, a vehicle I continue to love even four years after paying it off (some might argue that paying it off made me love it even more).  I’ll drive it until it doesn’t want to drive anymore.

So, my father was a perfect candidate for leasing while I’m the ideal buyer… right?

At least I used to think so.

We’ve put together a list of the pros and cons of buying and leasing, with a few extras thrown in for context.  If, after reading this, you’re surprised to find you’re a buyer when you thought you were a leaser, or vice versa, drop us a line and tell us what changed your mind.

Here goes:

LEASING

BUYING

PROS
  • Down-payment has more impact on monthly payment
  • Sales tax based on monthly payment, not overall price
  • Allows you to drive a new vehicle every few years
  • You’ll never owe more than the vehicle is worth
  • May offer business owners certain tax advantages
  • Might offer lower
    monthly payments*
  • Assuming you pay it off, you’ll eventually own the
    vehicle
  • There are no mileage restrictions
  • Insurance limits may be lower
CONS
  •   You’ll always have a car payment **
  • Restrictions on the number of miles you drive every year (usually between 12-20 cents per mile, depending on the lease program
    and the vehicle manufacturer)***
  • Insurance costs may be higher
  • Up-front, out-of-pocket costs may be higher (ie:
    sales tax)
  • Down-payment has less impact on monthly payment
  • The vehicle depreciates faster than you earn equity
  • Might require a
    higher monthly payment*

Okay, now some clarification:

*One of the most common misconceptions about leasing is that the monthly payment will be lower than buying the same vehicle.  That’s not necessarily true, so says Butler
Acura Sales Manager Mark Zinn.  Mark says the leasing concept was primarily created for business owners in order to allow them to move their fleet from the asset column to the expense column.  Because, let’s face it, we all know our car or truck isn’t an asset; It loses value the second we drive it off the lot and it becomes “used”.  Leasing allows
business owners, and now the rest of us, to “rent” our transportation, investing as little as possible into a depreciating product.   So, say you have your eye on a $30,000
vehicle.  Finance it for 60 months or lease it for 36, either way it will be worth the same amount at the 36 month mark.  The only way you can guarantee a lower monthly payment through leasing is if you would have financed the vehicle for the same length of time.

**You’ll only always have a car payment if you continue to lease new cars.  If however,
you reach the end of your lease but you’ve fallen head over heels for your ride, you may have some options, depending on your lease program.  You can drop the keys off at the dealership and walk away (forever referring to that car or truck as “the one that got
away”), or you can finance the remainder of the vehicle’s value and turn the lease into a loan.

***Mileage restrictions. As we mentioned in the Pros and Cons, the penalty for driving more than the allotted number of miles per year can be pretty steep at 12 to 20 cents per mile.  But let’s put it in perspective.  Mark Zinn says, “There’s no such thing as a person driving too many miles to lease.”  Here’s why:  When you lease a vehicle you are guaranteed a residual value, or the predetermined value of the car at the end of the lease
period.  That value is figured by taking into consideration the amount of wear and tear the vehicle will go through in your care.  Your sales consultant will ask you how many miles a year you think you’ll drive before arriving at a residual value.  So, say you think you’ll drive the $30,000 car that’s calling your name 10,000 miles a year and your sales consultant guarantees you residual value of $15,000.  But then you drive the vehicle 12,000 miles a year.  When you turn it back in it’s less valuable than it would have been if you’d stuck to your original estimate.  So, in order to guarantee you the $15,000
equity residual value, the dealer has to charge you the difference between what was promised and what the vehicle’s now worth.

On the other hand, if you bring your leased vehicle in at the end of the contract with fewer miles on it, and that leads to an appraisal higher than the residual value, the dealer owes you money!  The bottom line is the wear and tear you put on your vehicle will result in lowered value.  As an owner, you may make money when you decide to sell it but, you
could also lose money.  With a lease, you’ll either make money or break-even but you’ll never lose money.

Which brings me back to my family’s automotive history.  Remember my father, the perfect lease customer?  Well, he’s surprised us all and stuck with the same car for at least the past 5 years.  And as for me… I’m still in love with my little rig and wouldn’t trade it for anything.  But, should I ever need a second car, you can bet I’ll consider a lease.