Friday Fun: the world’s biggest, fastest selling, and worst vehicles

A Ford Pinto, allegedly the worst car of all time.
By Jeff Sanford
Toronto, Ontario — February 23, 2018 — In today’s Friday Fun: Cars are rolling out of Costco at record rates, new orders for the world’s biggest tow vehicle, high noon for the burgeoning Vancouver luxury car market, and much, much more!
-Who knew Costco was selling cars? The discount big box store sold more than half a million vehicles in 2017. A press release distributed by the company notes that the Costco Auto Program sold six percent more cars last year than in 2016. This increase in business comes at a time that overall car sales dropped by 1.8 percent. It seems bargain shoppers like the “no haggling” rule for buying a car through the discount chain. A Holiday Sales Event carried out in participation with General Motors saw business rise by 50 percent compared to 2016. These are all new sales records for the company. “Costco members are at the forefront of everything we do,” said a company representative quoted in the release. According to the statement, the most popular vehicles sold are crossovers, followed by cars, SUVs and vans. The single most popular model bought through Costco was the Silverado, which made up over thirteen percent of sales. Costco members who buy through the Costco Auto Program receive a fifteen percent discount on, “the majority of parts, service, and accessories at participating automotive service centres and power-sports dealerships.” So far the program operates in the U.S. and U.K. bit.ly/2EMsPZR
-The NDP government in B.C. is applying a new tax on luxury vehicles. For models over $300,000 in value, drivers will now pay a 25 percent provincial sales tax. According to a CBC report the “mood in B.C.’s auto industry has soured” in the wake of the announcement. The government is looking for any way to fill the huge holes in its budget, including a massive deficit at provincially-run insurer, ICBC. The new luxury car surtax will “help pay for better services for British Columbians,” according to an NDP spokesperson. But the people working at Vancouver’s many high-end dealerships are less than excited. According to the well-known industry consultancy, DesRosiers Automotive Consultants, luxury vehicles now account for one third of auto sales in the province, which is surprising. According to the CBC report, “Sales in the province have also surged in the past decade. Roughly 35,500 luxury vehicles were purchased in B.C. in 2017, a nine percent jump from 2016.” Apparently Vancouver now boasts the highest number of luxury vehicles per-capita in North America. It is no wonder then that repair costs at ICBC are rising so rapidly. If one third of sales are now luxury vehicles, collision repair costs in the province will be massive. According to a source buyers will now, “turn to other provinces to buy luxury cars. Ontario, which commands the second-largest share of luxury car sales, charges 13 percent [provincial sales tax]. Buyers in Alberta pay five per cent,” according to the CBC report. The story goes on to note that, “Buoyed by rising sales, luxury car dealers in Vancouver have poured money into sprucing up their facilities. Burrard Street, between 2nd and 8th Avenue, has become a hotbed for gleaming, multi-level showrooms, including the Ferrari Maserati dealership.” There is even a Lamborghini and a Bugatti showroom in the city now. Those dealerships will now be a little emptier. “It’s a psychological thing for people. Twenty five percent is a big number. Maybe now they’ll buy a boat instead of a car, or maybe a vacation property. Then the province will lose out on the sale completely,” says a source quoted in the story. bit.ly/2ELsg6C
-A study finds there are certain times of the year when insurance rates are cheapest. The study was carried out by the website LowestRates.ca. The company’s two-year analysis found that, “rates quoted in Ontario were at their lowest between the months of July and October. The study noted that rates dipped by as much as 6 percent in August 2017 from the annual average. By comparison, the colder months (from January to April) saw the average rate spike – specifically by more than 6 percent in February.” According to a source, “We were really surprised by this. Summer, in general, is a great time to get auto insurance.” The source went on to say, “similar seasonal price swings occur in other provinces where auto insurance is not publicly managed. On the other hand, January witnessed a low point in car sales (108,600), during a period when auto insurance rates were 6 percent above average.” Apparently insurance companies are desperate to keep their sales numbers up in the winter. “No one wants to test drive a car in the snow. It’s stressful. It isn’t fun. You don’t want to be driving your new car when there is all this salt on the ground. [Sales] correlates with the seasons,” said the source. bit.ly/2Guc7Pq
-In a UK court last week a driver admitted he was guilty of withholding information to get insurance. The delivery driver had recently renewed his policy, but failed to mention he had been in an accident an hour previous. According to the prosecutor, the driver “failed to advise that he had literally just been in an accident, which would have a bearing on the cost.” According to the driver, “I never received anything to say it had been cancelled. I would never drive knowing I was uninsured.” bit.ly/2odyv97
-Japanese cars from manufacturers like Nissan and Toyota are “increasingly being targeted for their expensive parts,” according to a report from the National Insurance Crime Bureau (NICB). A piece in the auto trade press notes there is a “thriving black market for parts for these cars.” According to the story, “[Parts have] typically risen in cost and quality with the rise of technological advancements in the car industry. The Camry’s parts add up to almost $11,000 USD.” According to a NCIB senior vice president, “on today’s cars and trucks, the parts are often worth more than the intact vehicle and may be easier to move and sell. That’s why we see so many thefts of key items like wheels and tires and tailgates. There’s always a market for them.” bit.ly/2CC3W14
-Last year the U.S. army ordered eleven of the world’s single largest tow vehicle, the M88A2 HERCULES. The vehicle is known as the Heavy Equipment Recovery Combat Utility Lift Evacuation System, hence HERCULES. It’s used to recover large tanks from the battlefield. The tracked vehicles are armoured and can provide towing, winching and hoisting. The vehicle’s main winch can tow a 70-ton object, which means the HERCULES can get an M1A2 main battle tank out of the field and into a repair shop. bit.ly/2GfhqDa
-The worst car of all time? According to one website, the Ford Pinto – which is not a surprise as the car has had a historically hard time earning respect in the industry. According to the write up, “First manufactured in 1971, the Pinto had the distinction of bursting into flames during low-speed rear-end collisions – making it both a safety concern and the punchline of late night comedians everywhere.” The entire list of crummy cars can be found here: driversdigest.com/auto-news/the-10-worst-cars-of-all-time/

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