Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Should I Buy or Lease a New Car?

Leasing vs ownership, man with new car
Source: FreeDigitalPhotos.net

You're faced with the task of getting a new vehicle. Do you buy, or lease? Many people are confused by the idea of leasing a car- some tend to think they could never do it, that it is only an option for business owners. But that isn't the case! In 2011, roughly 25% of vehicle sales involved leases, according to Jesse Toprak, the vice president of Truecar.com. When it comes to deciding between ownership or leasing, each has their own unique benefits and it simply boils down to which suits your needs better.

What is a lease and when should you consider one? 

By leasing a car, you are basically agreeing to rent it for a set duration of time, usually somewhere in the ballpark of several years. At the end of the lease, you can switch to an entirely different and brand new vehicle, or in some cases, you have the option of paying off your current lease and owning the car. With a lease, your monthly payments are going to be much lower as well, sometimes as much as 30-60% than if you were financing a car with the intent of owning it. For example, at the time of this writing, a 2012 Toyota Corolla can be leased for $159 a month (depending on your down payment, though it is generally lower than if you were to purchase a car) and the lease comes with two years of ToyotaCare, which covers most of the maintenance your car will need, as well as complimentary 24 hr roadside assistance. 
If you like the idea of getting a new car every few years, want lower monthly payments, and not have to worry about large repair bills, leasing is definitely an option to consider in your search.

When is buying a car a better alternative?

If the thought of always having a car payment doesn't suit you, you are better off purchasing in the long run. It's also a good idea if you drive a lot, as a lease may end up more expensive than ownership. This is because with a lease, there are generally mileage restrictions on the amount you can travel per year. For Toyota, it's around 12,000, with a cost of 15 cents per mile after. When it comes to overall cost, don't forget to factor in insurance as well- a leased car will in most cases be more expensive to insure, though it is also dependent on the age and driving history of the individual. Of course, with ownership, you also get the freedom to do whatever you want with your car. Feel like modifying it? Adding giant speakers? Selling it? Go right ahead.

Final thoughts:

  • Go with a lease if you want a lower monthly payment, enjoy the thought of driving the newest cars every few years, and not having to worry about regular maintenance.
  • Be sure to check out and stay current with available lease specials- some are much better than others, but only offered for specific vehicles.
  • It is better to buy a car if you drive more than 12,000 miles a year and are wanting an investment for the long run.

Friday, July 27, 2012

Toyota's 200 Million Milestone

Here's a nice little trivia question if you ever want to stump your friends- what was Toyota called before they were Toyota? When they give up out of confusion, put on your best grin and tell them it was Toyoda. They'll likely give you a look like you're crazy.

It's true though! The car company was originally created by Kiichiro Toyoda, and his family decided to change the company name in 1936 from a "d" to a "t" because it sounded better, and when written on paper, was considered to be luckier in Japanese culture. During this time, the first vehicle they produced was the G1 Truck. Interestingly enough, Kiichiro had traveled to Britain and the United States to study vehicles, and is said to have been inspired by Ford and the engines of similar Chevrolet vehicles.

Toyota G1 Truck, First Toyota Vehicle

Now, almost 77 years later, Toyota is celebrating the production of their 200th million vehicle worldwide. From the G1 to the Corolla, Camry, and Tundra, they've come quite a long way (the Corolla has even been crowned the best selling vehicle of all time, beating out every other passenger car or truck).
75% of those 200 million cars were made in Japan, though when Toyota hits their next milestone of 300 or 400 million cars, that percentage is likely to change. They've been making a big push to start producing more vehicles in American and European markets, which is great in the long run. We as consumers will certainly benefit- less cost on parts used to manufacture the cars, and less distance traveled to get them to dealerships means cheaper prices for all of us.

How long do you think it will take for Toyota to produce another 200 million vehicles?

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

5 Things That No Radio Ad Should Do

If you live in St. Louis and listen to the radio on a daily basis during your commute, you probably hear a bunch of different commercials from various businesses (local or afar). Now, if you're like me, you also want to bang your head on your steering wheel when you hear the ear splitting sound effects that some of these employ. Without further ado, here are the five most annoying things that get my hand reaching to change the station. Have you heard all of 'em? See for yourself-

1. Loud weights being dropped / gavels hitting blocks/ the sound of metal clanking:

Giving us a headache every half second in between what you're trying to say generally isn't a great way to keep people interested. Unless you're trying to sell ibuprofen.

2.  Police sirens or the sound of alarms going off:

Your sale might be so good it's criminal, but every time I hear police sirens, I have to do a double take and make sure there's not actually a police officer nearby trying to pass through traffic.

3. When the GM/CEO of a company voices every commercial in the same repetitive, monotone way:

             It's good to be consistent. It's not so good to be dull to the point of inducing yawns. In the internet world, it is the equivalent of a wall of text, akin to the thought of Ben Stein reading a short novel to you while you're locked in an empty room. This is the kind of stuff that puts you asleep at the wheel, and as we know, drowsy driving is never fun.

4. Mentioning the number you should call more than a few times:

The way this usually works is, it'll be a conversation between two or more people, and some guy will keep asking what the number to call is. We're not just talking once or twice, it'll literally be every few seconds. These types of commercials are usually guilty of #3 as well. What's that number again?!

5. Jingles designed to specifically get on your nerves:

I have nothing against La Bamba. It's a catchy song. But when you try to mimic it or parody it by adding in your own lyrics to tell people to come to your business, it usually doesn't end well. Imagine the song, then imagine instead of "La La La La La Bamba", you hear an awkward voice singing "You should be buying from us!"

What sounds or effects drive you crazy when you hear radio commercials in the car? Or do you skip 'em by using satellite radio or iHeartRadio with Entune?

Monday, July 23, 2012

River District strategy tops best practices in 17 states

Danville’s success in redeveloping the River District as a place to live, work, shop and play and in involving the community throughout the process has garnered an award for best practices from a regional economic development group that represents 17 southern states.

The city won the award from Southern Economic Development Council (SEDC) in competition with other communities with a population of 40,001 to 100,000. Danville’s population is about 43,000.

Click here to access the full media release.

Friday, July 20, 2012

Ready For a Redesigned RAV4?

RAV4 Prototype

You can run, but you can't hide. Even with heavy camouflage! Not too long ago, a prototype RAV4 was spotted as it was being test driven over in Europe. What's Toyota got up their sleeve for this new version?

From the folks over at AutoBlog, rumor has it that the RAV4 will sport design elements from the newest version of the Camry. Consider this: the third generation RAV4 was released in 2005, making it seven years since the vehicle has seen a major redesign (it did receive a slight refresh in 2009). In the car world, that's quite the lifespan. Thus, it's no surprise that Toyota is diligently working to give the car a makeover. Expect the interior to be updated significantly with the latest technology and Toyota innovations, such as Entune. The wheelbase is also supposed to be slightly longer than before, which would free up more interior room.

Are you more excited to see a redesigned RAV4 for 2013, or the electric version of the RAV4 that was developed with Tesla? Both are still awaiting official release dates in the midwest, but I'll keep you posted if I hear anything!

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Music and Millennials

Spiderman, hat
Staying trendy is key when it comes to movies, entertainment, and technology.

My friends used to talk about going out and picking up the latest album from their favorite artist. There was a time when having a cd collection was something you showed off, with big binders full of discs for your friends to browse through as you drove somewhere. I remember when Outkast's double album, Speakerboxx/The Love Below came out. Even if you weren't a huge fan of hip hop, you bought that cd and made sure everyone could see it. Now? Not so much. Step into your nearest Best Buy and the music section is but a fraction of what it once was 10 years ago. Today, where digital downloads reign supreme, most of us require an auxiliary port in our car so we can listen or stream music from our smartphones and mp3 players.

Well, after reading a LA Times article on the habits of millennials and their declining taste in older movies, I imagine the same has happened with their preference for the ways in which they listen to music while driving.
As Neal Gabler puts it in the article- "Young people, so-called millennials, don't seem to think of movies as art the way so many boomers did. They think of them as fashion, and like fashion, movies have to be new and cool to warrant attention."
He compares the newest Spiderman movie to the one that came out a decade ago with Tobey Maguire, saying that Maguire's version is ancient in comparison (doesn't that make you feel old?)

As far as Toyota goes, they've taken steps to make sure people's spidey senses are still tingling with their cars. We often focus on safety features, but with my generation, convenience and trendiness are key. Starting with the 2012 Corolla, Toyota listened to customer feedback and finally added much needed USB and auxiliary ports to all models of the car, giving drivers music options other than the cd player. Nice! Entune is also starting to become more widely available on most newer Toyota vehicles as well. It combines a bunch of useful applications, such as Bing, iHeart radio, and data services (so you can find restaurants, weather, traffic, and other useful info all on the fly).

I think we're going to see a whole lot more connectivity between cars, drivers, and smartphones in the next year or two. We might not perfect something as crazy as the self driving car that soon, but hands free entertainment options for drivers are going to become a lot more accessible and available. How long do you think it will be before cd players go the way of the 8 track and cassette players, and are no longer featured in cars? 

Detour removed for demolition of Downtowner

The detour of Main and Union streets that allowed for demolition of the former Downtowner Motor Inn has been removed, and cleanup of the debris is under way.

Normal traffic patterns were restored Monday morning.

Debris and a rear wall that is left standing are all that remains of the building. Additional engineering is being performed before the wall is removed. In the interim, the crew will shift its focus to cleaning up the site from last week’s demolition.

Demolition of the building started on July 6, with a detour of two blocks of Main Street and the closure of Union Street from Main to Spring streets to allow for the demolition.

Demolition contractor D. H. Griffin Wrecking Co. of Greensboro, N.C., used an excavator that had a 95-foot arm with a muncher attached at the end to crush the building’s concrete.

The company will remain on site until demolition and cleanup are complete.

Friday, July 13, 2012

The One Toyota Ad You Have to See

There have certainly been some interesting videos from Toyota this year. From the "how did they think of that?" department comes the series of ads featuring the Prius c and a spoof of the game of Life. They also made an original song to promote their 100 Cars for Good initiative. As a social media guy, one of the spots I really like is the Venza ad where the girl talks about setting up Facebook profiles for her parents and how they've already got 19 friends. Have you seen it? Or would you prefer an endorsement from your favorite childhood celebrity? Fear not, they recruited both BILL NYE and WINNIE COOPER from The Wonder Years to educate you on the Prius.

However, my favorite from Toyota's repertoire of Youtube content this year is the futuristic video they created below. Ever seen the movie Idiocracy? If you haven't, the gist of the film is that a man is sent to the future, where he finds that despite advances in technology, people have actually become less intelligent over time (a brilliant concept, if you ask me. Mike Judge is a genius).
The same principle applies to this alternate reality where a couple set off to work in the morning. I won't spoil any details, but the story behind it all is "a world without hybrids".

What is your favorite video from Toyota? Leave us a comment or tweet it to @LouFuszToyota with your thoughts! 

IDA to Turn Building Into Parking

The Industrial Development Authority purchased the former Acree's Warehouse and they intend to turn into a parking garage.
Click here to view this WSET report.

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Detour extended for demolition of Downtowner

Date: Wednesday, July 11, 2012


Detour extended for demolition of Downtowner A detour of two blocks of Main Street downtown will be extended through Monday, July 16, to allow for the continued demolition of the former Downtowner Motor Inn.

The excessive heat and late afternoon and early evening storms marked by heavy precipitation, wind, thunder and lightning have delayed the demolition crew. More storms are anticipated today and the remainder of the week.

Travel will continue to be restricted to one lane of northbound traffic for motorists traveling along Main Street toward Memorial Drive and Craghead Street. Detour signs route southbound traffic from Main Street onto Market Street and then to Spring Street. Once on Spring Street, motorists are directed to Ridge Street, but Floyd Street remains open.

North Union Street from Main Street to Spring Street is closed.

Normal traffic patterns will be restored when the demolition crew deems the building is down to a safe and manageable level and can proceed with the demolition without an extended buffer.

D. H. Griffin Wrecking Co. of Greensboro, N.C., is the demolition contractor, and it is using an excavator that has a 95-foot arm with a muncher attached at the end. The muncher crushes the building’s concrete.

The city has a web cam set up that allows citizens to view the demolition on the city of Danville website. Go to
www.danville-va.gov, and then click on the Downtowner Demolition link on the left rail. The direct link is http://www.danville-va.gov/index.aspx?nid=1579.