Smart Car Shopping
So, you want to buy a new car. You know you are likely to own it for at least 7 years or longer. That’s pretty typical these days. So, you not only want to get the best deal today, you also want to make sure it remains a smart choice for many miles and years ahead. Our FYI reporter Lauren Morrison knows the ins and outs of smart car buying, and she’s up next to give us the lowdown.
LAUREN MORRISION: Today’s savvy car buyers know that spending quality time online, researching models, specs and prices...
... ”will save time and money here, on the dealership lot. Doing your homework ahead of time is key, and there are plenty of shopping tools available to help guide your decision.”
Stephen Dupal and his fiancee Sherryn Daniel are in the market for a small, economical commuter car to replace Stephen’s aging Corolla. Before heading to commercial web pages for option packages and pricing info, several federal government sites helped narrow their search in the areas of fuel economy, safety and alternative fuels, three of their key parameters.
The joint Department of Energy and EPA Fuel Economy website provides convenient, one stop shopping for everything most buyers will ever want to know about maximizing mpg in their next car.
Here, consumers can compare up to four different vehicles at a time, and their fuel economy ratings, energy and environment scores, basic engine and transmission size, driving range, and annual fuel costs, along with real-world fuel consumption data provided by actual owners. The web-site had over 25 million user sessions last year!
STEPHEN DUPAL: I like to have like those charts and plots and graphs to kind of compare things in a numerical basis so I know what I’m looking for and then I can verify..oh yes, this car will have what I need based on these metrics..
LAUREN MORRISION: Other useful content on the website, and free fuel economy mobile app, includes driving and maintenance tips to help you get the most out of your vehicle, easy-to-understand descriptions of new vehicle technology, information about available tax incentives for advanced-technology vehicles, trip calculators, and more!
In the area of safety, you can start with the government’s “safercar” website (safercar.gov) for how a car fares in mandated crash testing and rollover ratings. The site spells out which vehicles go beyond requirements, and have cutting edge safety technology.
SHERRYN DANIEL: What I like about the safercar website is there’s just so many little applications, where all we have to do is enter the make and the model of the car, and we can see if it was recalled, we can look for certain safety features, I even learned about rollover that this is the most lethal type of car accident and that with the best type of car, you can prevent damage.
LAUREN MORRISION: But, you’re a consumer or a fleet manager that is up to date... Maybe even ahead of the crowd. So, perhaps a plug-in hybrid or even full electric car fits your lifestyle or business. Or, a vehicle that runs on another non-traditional fuel like e85, bio-diesel, natural gas, propane, or even hydrogen.
Now, you need to know not only the specs, but the pros and cons, and practicality of each fuel. Well, for that, more than 1.5 million users a year check out the Energy Department’s “Alternative Fuels Data Center” website (afdc.energy.gov).
The afdc website and alt-fuel app are designed to eliminate your confusion over the various types of alternative fuels and their vehicles. And now that plug-in and alt-fuel vehicles are being sold with ever increasing range, the website’s fueling station database is enjoying increasing popularity as well.
SHERRYN DANIEL: …there’s this link where you can just type in your state so, if we bought like a hybrid, or a car that uses natural gas or something like that, we can look up stations nearby ahead of time when we travel.
LAUREN MORRISION: The end game in all this is to be the best informed new car shopper you can possibly be. And ultimately, to buy or lease a new car, SUV, or truck, you can live with today, and way into the future. These commercial-free, dot-gov websites can help you to avoid costly mistakes and surprises, before and after you visit the dealership.
Exploring Bentley’s Crewe Campus
Ultra-luxury British vehicle builder Bentley Motors has ambitious plans to be all-electric by the end of the decade. However, you can’t truly look at the future without examining the past and present. So, Bentley invited our own Stephanie Hart to England to explore Bentley’s new Heritage Garage and their world-famous production facilities in Crewe.
STEPHANIE HART: I’m here in the UK at Bentley’s headquarters in Crewe. 4,000 people are employed here and all five of Bentley’s models are produced here. I’m going to take you behind the scenes and show you how it’s done, but first I’m gonna take you back in time.
Bentley’s stunning new Heritage Garage shows off the most historically significant Bentley models from the last 100 plus years. Every decade of Bentley is represented. There are 45 cars in the collection– 37 road cars and 8 race cars.
All of the vehicles here are maintained in full running order. This collection provides a clear picture of where the Bentley of today comes from.
Starting with the oldest Bentley on the planet. It was built in 1919 by Bentley’s founder W.O. Bentley.
MIKE SAYER: What he wanted to combine was a car that was suitably quick, so had performance, could be driven a long way without tiring you out, and was comfortable. And that’s true of every single car that’s been made by this company ever since.
STEPHANIE HART: So now we’re taking a look at the 1930 8-liter. Tell me a little bit about this vehicle?
MIKE SAYER: So this is one of the most special cars that we own. This was W.O. Bentley‘s masterpiece. This was the car which he was most proud. It was the one where he thought, perfectly linked performance and luxury and grand touring.
STEPHANIE HART: The Mark V Corniche is my favorite in the collection. It’s a one of one. Tell me a little bit more about this amazing vehicle?
MIKE SAYER: So, there are three key lines on here that still define the modern Bentley of today and they are this very pronounced rear haunch here, the slope of the roof line at the back…
STEPHANIE HART: Beautiful…
MIKE SAYER: And then this very pronounced front power line that flows from the top of the front wheel and then blends into the side of the car.
STEPHANIE HART: Gorgeous, very elegant.
MIKE SAYER: This is our 1991 Turbo R, another important turning point in Bentley‘s history. This is the car that changed Bentley’s fortune, so it caused a complete reversal. Suddenly, Bentley was outselling Rolls Royce. Bentley got its performance credentials back and it was the start of a rebuild of the brand all the way to where we are today.
STEPHANIE HART: The cheesiest feature on this vehicle is the horn. Let’s test it out… and there’s another sound… two options.
It was captivating experiencing the Bentley DNA from the last 100 years or so, up close and personal. Just beyond the Heritage Collection, my Crewe visit continued inside the Factory. About 14,000 cars a year are produced here. And production here is carbon neutral and sustainability prioritized.
WAYNE BRUCE: The veneer that we use from our trees comes from fallen trees, but we’ve introduced new, more sustainable finishes which are proving very popular.
STEPHANIE HART: As I explored, I learned fine craftsmanship, engineering expertise and cutting edge technology make each luxury vehicle special.
GARY LAZENBY: A normal day at Bentley is 80 cars being processed through here. All of these are inspected by eye by a colleague.
STEPHANIE HART: It’s amazing to watch as a raw piece of material is transformed into a gorgeous finished product. A personal touch contributes to Bentley’s reputation as the most sought-after luxury car brand in the world.
CRAFTSPERSON: So…over, under, and through.
STEPHANIE HART: As I learned, cross-stitching a Bentayga can be very relaxing and rewarding.
One-on-one interactions and customization options are truly limitless over here in Mulliner, which is Bentley’s personal commissioning division.
BEN LINDE: This is where we came from and it’s recreating that. It’s exciting for the customers in one way. Next door is where we want to be going to. So, we use the Bacalar and the Batur as platforms for technology, for materials…to really stretch the Bentley brand into the future.
STEPHANIE HART: That future is on a fast track, as Crewe evolves to produce 100-percent fully electric vehicles by 2030.
MATTHIAS RABE: Basically, we are creating the biggest product offensive Bentley ever had. This five and five; That means five new electric cars in five years, and I can promise you it will be absolutely pure Bentleys.
STEPHANIE HART: Evolving from the world’s largest producer of 12-cylinder petrol engines to having no combustion engines at all requires Bentley to re-invent itself as the most sustainable luxury car company in the world. And after visiting Bentley’s headquarters in England, it’s clear to me it’s achievable as Bentley is on top of its game.