Motoring News On the Road Weekly Publication

GM Unfriending Facebook

Facebook’s IPO may have set records last week, but General Motors isn’t impressed, as they’ve decided to discontinue advertising on the social network. Mark Zuckerberg shouldn’t take the decision personally, as GM has also opted out of buying commercial time for next year’s Super Bowl broadcast.  CBS is said to have taken the price of a 30-second commercial in the televised broadcast from an average of $3.5 million last year, when the game was on NBC, to $4 million for the 2013 contest. A GM spokesman said that with the increase in cost, the company could not justify the expense.

“Stair-step” programs a potential plus for buyers

In a controversial move that could benefit consumers, General Motors and Honda, among others, have instituted “stair-step” incentives on several models at their dealers.  While complicated, the programs in their most basic form offer dealers cash for exceeding certain quotas, with the payouts increasing with volume. As a result, dealers can often afford to sell cars below their invoice amount, secure in the knowledge that the stair-step bonuses will allow them to remain profitable. This, in turn, often forces other dealers, even those who don’t have this incentive, to lower their pricing.

Ford introduces Focus Electric; Fisker delays Atlantic model

Electric car enthusiasts now have one more model to consider: the Ford Focus Electric. Last weekend, Ford shipped a batch of 350 cars to 67 dealers located in three markets that initially will offer the vehicle.  Connecticut isn’t among them, so local residents will have to travel to New York or New Jersey to see the vehicle. California dealers are also among the first to get the all-electric Focus. The car will compete directly with the Nissan Leaf and the Chevrolet Volt could also be considered an alternative, though it also uses a gasoline engine to extend its range. The Focus retails for approximately $39,000.

In other EV news, Fisker, which makes the $103,000 Karma sedan, has decided to delay the introduction of its lower cost Atlantic model. Estimates have placed this model in the $40,000-to-$60,000 range. Originally planned for a 2013 appearance, the Atlantic is now slated for a 2014 release.

Fisker also has to contend with an investigation of a garage fire in Texas that consumed a Karma sedan. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has joined the investigation, but no cause has been determined.

-Jim MacPherson

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