Who’s Driving Your Car?

Who’s driving whom?

In the early 1900’s, there were over 2000 manufacturers making cars, over 1500 of these in the USA alone. Now, there are only 39 brands of vehicle which you can buy. Of these, 30 of them are controlled by just nine players. Six companies maintain some form of independence: Honda, Hyundai-Kia, Rover-MG, Proton-Lotus, Porsche and Morgan. Honda and Hyundai sell millions of units, the others are responsible for a comparative handful of sales. Therefore, we have just 12 companies who are responsible for the look and feel of the entire world automotive industry. No wonder my car looks the same as 100 others!

The great American Ford empire now controls the European Volvo and British Jaguar; General Motors Holden has links with Fiat, Subaru and Saab; Fiat in turn, controls Ferrari, Lancia and Maserati; Mercedes & (Daimler)Chrysler now own Mitsubishi; The ‘old commoner’ Volkswagon now controls the more prestigious Audi, Bentley and Lamborghini; BMW owns the almost opposite ends of the spectrum, Mini and Rolls Royce. Toyota has invested heavily into Daihatsu; Nissan has merged with Renault.

In the next few years, it is expected that further mergers and buyouts will occur, leaving perhaps five or six mega-corporations to decide what the world will drive. If you think that it is confusing now that we can buy Lexus, Lexcens and Nexus, or drive Barinas, Berlinas and Berninas… If you already think that it is getting hard to tell whether a car is a Falcon, a Commodore or a Toyota… just wait, things may get even more uniform…

In a few years, it may be possible to have everyone in your family driving a car with a different badge on it, (for example, Jaguar, GM, VW, Mercedes, Subaru and Mini) and yet find that the cash you pay out all goes to the one ultimate recipient company. (See Invest News #33 “Who’s Taking Your Money”, issued December 2004 for even more jaw-dropping revelations. Online at [http://www.invest.org.au/news] or ask me for a paper or email copy.)

Who drives the cars that drive us?

In the early days of motoring in the US, the Rockefellers controlled the Standard Oil trust. A few other companies, including Texaco and Gulf, were backed by the Mellons, Morgans and Vanderbilts. European capitalists rushed to develop their own oil industry, out of which came Royal Dutch, Shell, British Petroleum (BP), and the Petroleum Company of France (CFP), which eventually became Total.

Dozens of oil companies battled it out for most of the century; one by one they were defeated or absorbed by larger ones. The five super majors which today dominate the oil industry are the result of mergers that swept the oil industry starting just a few years ago.

In 1998, 12 already enormous oil companies combined to form five. Exxon (who owned Esso, Rockefeller’s “SO” or “Standard Oil”) merged with Mobil; then Chevron, which had already bought up Gulf and Caltex, merged with Texaco; Shell & Royal Dutch combined, BP bought out Amoco, Marathon and Arc; Total merged with Elf and Fina.

Watch the five, focus on one or two

Even if you only own shares in Telstra, it makes sense to keep an eye on what Optus, Vodafone or Virgin are doing. Are their deals better? Are their profits higher? Will their new marketing campaign mean that Telstra sales will suffer? Will bad publicity about the National Bank make my Commonwealth stocks worth more? Think about it. Now, back to oils and cars…

Exxon/Mobil Exxon is the largest company of any kind in the world as measured by sales, which totalled US$242 billion in 2003. That is more than the budget revenue of 185 nations, including Brazil, Canada, Spain, Sweden and the Netherlands. In 2003, the five biggest oil companies operating in the U.S. (ExxonMobil, Chevron-Texaco, ConocoPhillips, BP and Royal Dutch/Shell) made US$53 billion in net profits. Almost half of this profit was made by Exxon alone. Last year, Exxon produced US$21.5 billion in profits.

The five biggest auto companies in the world (GM, Chrysler, Ford, Toyota and Volkswagen) produced only US$15 billion in profits – combined. Twenty one billion… hmmm, that’s a lot of money… That’s a lot of profit. How do they spend it all? Feeding the world? Saving the whales? Or diversifying into other areas to make yet more profits?

Exxon has been granted over 10 000 US patents for new inventions in the last ten years alone. They also own the chain of “On The Run” convenience stores, and ‘smart-card’ technology based “Speedpass”, a system which enables you to pay for food and fuel by waving your key-ring in front of a service station scanner. You can actually fill your belly, fill your tank and pay for the purchases, with one company making money on all three transactions.

The word of the day will now have to be “ubiquitous”, as in “seeming to be everywhere”. Just think of Volkswagon beetles in the 60’s or McDonald’s restaurants in the 80’s, or the prefix “www” in the “noughties”. Now go to http://www.dictionary.com to hear an American accented robot pronounce the word “ubiquitous”… ☺

Shell/Royal Dutch

Every four seconds, one plane and 1200 cars are refueled by a Shell oil company. Shell also “goes green”, running hydrogen-powered cars, vans and buses in the USA, Europe and Asia. But the ubiquitous company doesn’t just make fuel, oh no…

Shell also makes the chemicals used in plastic bags, detergents, lubricants, clothing, packaging, paints, adhesives, unbreakable windows, plywood, computer casings, compact discs, foams for furniture and bedding, coatings for floors and furniture, artificial sports tracks, ski suits and waterproof leisure wear, medicines, dyes, antifreeze, PET drink bottles, car tyres, telephones, carpet backings, nitrile rubber hoses, footwear, road surfaces and neoprene items, like wetsuits.

Next time you are playing sport, it is entirely possible that you drove your Shell petrol filled car on a Shell-built asphalt road, walked on a Shell-made artificial grass with your Shell-built sports shoes, and washed down your Shell-manufactured pain-killer with a drink from your Shell-made water bottle. What was that word again? Omnipresent? Struth! Just thinking about all that different stuff made by one company makes me feel like I need a good lie down. Or was it thinking of sport that made me tired? ☺

So now what? You should be aware that there are only a handful companies who control the market for oil and cars. They are not going to disappear, nor will they get smaller. Even if global oil supplies do run out, and we are all forced to drive hydrogen, steam or electric cars, you can be certain that the giant oil companies and car companies will be one step ahead of us. Be assured that the major corporations have already manufactured the new breed of vehicle which will drive us rapidly into the 21st century, complete with its rubber tyres, rubber seals, plastic dashboard and foam seats all proudly manufactured by a major oil company.

When you realise that all of the major companies are interrelated, you start to care a little less which car you are going to hitch a ride with, as you realise that they are merely five carriages on the one train. Climb aboard any one and you will get to where you are going. Invest in any one and you will be sure to make money.

This article, email and its attachments are not intended to constitute any form of financial advice or recommendation of, or an offer to buy or offer to sell, any security or other financial product. We recommend that you seek your own independent legal or financial advice before proceeding with any investment decision. Oh, and be REALLY careful cos it’s a jungle out there!

4 Useful Car Detailing Tips

Car detailing is an essential process to clean and restore the interior and exterior of the car. This type of work is a deep, top-to-bottom clean that leaves the car looking like new. It can even include removing wheels or other parts to reach the otherwise unreachable parts like the brake components, arch liners, and suspension. Here are a few simple car detailing tips to leave the interior and exterior of the vehicle looking like new:

Leather upholstery

Cleaning the leather upholstery as soon as a spill or mark is left behind can significantly increase the likelihood of a complete cleanup. If any marks like dye transfers from clothing, ink, or lipstick are left for 24 hours or more, the stain can easily set in permanently. There are plenty of purpose-made leather-cleaning kits in the market that can be left in the car to help with the timely cleanup.

Air vents

Brush out the air vents at regular intervals. The vents are a great dust magnet and easy to clean using the brush attachment on a vacuum cleaner. But, if the brush attachment is not small enough to collect all the dust, a simple artist's brush can be used to collect any dust that is left behind.

Deep-clean

Give the carpet and upholstery a deep-clean. A high-quality carpet cleaning machine can quickly lift the deep dirt that has been left to build up over time. Most of the cleaners will spray a cleaning solution to help leave the carpet looking like new while also sucking up the grime and dirt. The hardware to deep-clean the vehicle is widely available to rent for a day or two, or buy outright, which will likely be the most cost-effective option in the long-term.

However, for the carpet that is too ingrained with dirt, the best option is simply to have it replaced with new. It is relatively easy to buy the replacement carpet to match a specific make and model of car.

Squeaky doors

Car doors with an annoying squeak can quickly be rectified with a few squirts of WD-40 or a similar lubricant. Once the doors are moving freely, add a small amount of motor oil or lithium grease to keep away the squeaky noise and avoid issues with corrosion. Also, it is worth inspecting other parts of the vehicle, such as the door latches for the early signs of corrosion. A quick squirt of the silicone spray can help to maintain the condition of these parts.

Tips on How to Dye Car Carpet

Carpets, whether used at home or in cars, are certainly very difficult to tidy and maintain. They are easily stained and they fade as time passes by. We know the fact that buying new carpet can be very costly. Luckily, since there are various dyeing kits readily available in the market today, you no longer have to buy new carpet for your car. You may just consider dyeing it to give it a fresher and new appearance.

Useful Tips in Dyeing Your Car Carpet:

When purchasing a car carpet dye kit, it is advisable to pick the one that is one tone darker than the standard color of your car carpet. The reason behind this is that you can be assured that your carpet will get a brighter appearance. But, make sure that the color you pick is almost similar to the original color of your carpet so that they will blend well. Car carpet dye kits available today comes in dye concentrate, stain remover, spray bottle and bleach neutralizer. There are even some that come with red stain remover and scrub brush. The procedure below will be successfully accomplished with the use of a car carpet dye kit.

Procedure:

1. Gently remove the carpet from your car and carefully remove the dust, soil and dirt particles. You may use the stain remover and apply it to the carpet's stained area. Afterwards, scrub out the stain through the use of a wet wash cloth. Ensure that the carpet is thoroughly cleaned and free from any dirt or stain for this will help to make it look newer. Dry the carpet completely.

2. Read the instructions on the car carpet dye kit carefully. Proportionately blend the dye concentrate with water and then put this mixture in the spray bottle. Afterwards, spray it evenly on the entire car carpet.

3. Scrub the dye in a manner that allows it to spread evenly on the carpet with the use of a brush. For better results, you may spray the mixture on the carpet and gently scrub it using the brush in a side by side technique. Afterwards, allow the carpet to dry up.

4. Once the carpet is completely dried, it's high time to put it back in your car. Make sure to put it into the appropriate place and you will see how different your carpet is. It will certainly look new, making your car interior truly attractive and pleasing to the eyes.

By following this helpful technique, you can effortlessly finish the task in no time right at your own home. If you follow the steps accordingly, your car carpet will absolutely achieve a new and brighter look which can last for more years to come. The dye does not easily fade off even if you wash and clean your carpet again. All you have to do is be patient enough to do the process. The car carpet dye kit is worth its price and you can even save more on it as opposed to buying a new car carpet.

How to Select a Car Carpet

When it comes to the interior of your car, the carpet is an important but often overlooked element. Choosing the right colour and style will transform the vehicle; ultimately, it will determine the feel and fashionability of the inside of the car, and can make it a very pleasant place to be seated for long periods of time.

Not only that, but carpet is a very functional part of the car’s interior too. Good automotive carpet will prevent mould and mildew from growing in the cabin by repelling moisture from passengers’ feet, and is designed to resist the wear and tear of general everyday use.

So there are a few things to think about when looking at interior carpet for your cherished motor. Looking at colours, you’ll be spoiled for choice. Blacks and greys tend to be most popular for general use because they won’t show dirt and grime as much as lighter colours, but when looking for something a bit more extravagant you may want to opt for something red or beige to match a luxurious interior. Obviously this comes with the compromise of more regular cleaning and maintenance, but the right eye-catching colour can make a world of difference in making your car look special.

Another thing to consider with car carpet is the materials and construction that goes into it. Some “universally absorbent” type carpets are designed for rainier areas, which will also be suitable if you’re keen on the outdoors since it’ll draw away water and protect the car from spills. Alternatively, there are generic “universal carpets” which are mats designed to fit any vehicle – generally these are cheaply made, but can be a budget-conscious way of protecting the floorpan area of your car from general wear and tear, though they’ll rarely match the contours of your vehicle properly.

Since carpets like this are specially woven to trap dirt and debris, it’s also important to maintain your automotive carpet properly. Regular vacuuming is a must to keep your carpet in top condition, and how often you do this will ultimately depend on how often you use your vehicle (and how roughly the carpets are treated). Generally though, a good rule of thumb is to give your carpet a once-over every one or two weeks. This’ll prevent the carpet from becoming permanently damaged and stained by ground-in dirt and grime, since all the loose particles will be vacuumed away.

So, what this all means is that there are options for you to consider. What kind of carpet you’ll end up using will really be determined by your requirements and personal taste, and of course which vehicle you’d like to fit the carpet into! As long as it’s properly cared for and cleaned, a well-chosen carpet solution for your car will look and perform fantastically for a long time.