Archive for August, 2008

When was the last time you bought
something, and its value went up? Especially if it was a car.

Maybe
if I had garaged that two-seat, bugeye Austin Healey Sprite that my father
restored for me as a teen-ager, I’d actually have a car worth more than the
$500 I paid for it.

But
my dad, who bought and sold used cars like Topps baseball cards, taught me
this:  If you do buy a new car,
realize that as soon as you drive it off the lot it’s worth a lot less than
what you just paid for it.

Well
dad, the rule just changed. Soaring gas prices upended the marketplace, and the
Toyota Prius hybrid, if you can find one, often is commanding higher prices
than the sticker shows. If you’re lucky
enough to buy a Prius and decide to sell in just a year or so, you might get a
higher resale price than what you paid, according to J.D. Power &
Associates.

Pulling
off a trick like that in the stock market now will make you look like an
investing genius.

Prius
hybrids, the most fuel-efficient car sold in the U.S., are red hot.  Because Toyota has not been able to
meet demand, used 2008 models with about 8,000 miles are going for about $1,300
more than their original average retail price of about $27,945, according to
the Autopia blog. Even crazier, a 2007 Prius is fetching an average price of
$26,396, just a couple of hundred dollars less than a 2008 model.

I
checked both Vehix.com and Craigslist, and I found prices ranging from about
$27,290 for a 2007 to $29,500 for a 2008.

Boulder Toyota’s Web site listed a
few 2008 models for sale, from $24,239 to $28,984, but, in fact, the local
dealership is sold out. You could take a stack of hundred dollar bills today
over to a Toyota dealer, and you’d be looking at a waiting list of three to six
months, said Philo Grommon, a Toyota salesman. When they get a Prius, it rolls
onto their Web site, he explained, but the car likely is already sold. Options
on different cars, including the higher-end Touring model, obviously also
increase the price.

 Right
up there with Apple’s initial iPod craze and the recent iPhone shortage, Toyota
has been scrambling to meet wild demand in a market where consumers generally
aren’t spending so much.

 I
was thinking about this crazy market flip from SUVs and big trucks to smaller,
fuel-efficient cars on a recent drive down I-25. In what should have been a
busy travel weekend, my friend and I started watching for RVs, and we actually
saw very few, give or take a couple with Texas license plates. We did witness a
slew of these gas hogs parked in storage areas and stacked up like firewood on
RV sales lots.

With a wave of red, white and blue,
Toyota will start manufacturing the Prius at a new plant in Mississippi in late
2010 and increase overall production by 70 percent. Hybrid buyers are awaiting
other new arrivals including the Chevy Volt and an unnamed Honda. Ford will
deliver a hybrid Ford Fusion and Mercury Milan. Many of these will debut at the
2009 Auto Show in Detroit, home until recently to rollouts of high-performance
muscle cars and economy-minded innovations like the Hummer. With U.S.
automakers reporting quarterly losses of $10 billion to $15 billion, you think
they got the message?

Toyota has sold about 1.5 million
Prius hybrids since it was introduced in 1997, and it’s forecasting sales of 1
million hybrid cars a year.

I
know in my neighborhood alone, I’ve counted at least a half dozen Prius hybrids
in driveways.

Rumors also are flying that Toyota
might even include solar panels on its new 2009 model, possibly to power up
accessories like air conditioning or to help charge up the car’s batteries.

When
the Prius first came out, many buyers worried if its batteries would last, and
what other problems would emerge with the new technology.

 Dave
Taylor, a Boulderite who writes several popular blogs, including a tech Q&A
at Askdavetaylor.com, bought his Prius in 2004 and described it as “a geek car
owner’s dream.” But he had problems with the starter battery being too weak for
some Colorado conditions. “The Prius has been dead so many times, I ended up
buying a jumper battery that I permanently keep in the car now,” he said.

“I am seriously considering
replacing the Prius with a different hybrid, one that has a better starter
battery subsystem,” he told me.

 Even
with some problems, Taylor is sold on gas-saving hybrids, and hordes of drivers
are thinking the same way.

 I
just filled up my truck today for the bargain price of $3.819 a gallon. But
even if gas prices do continue their recent slight descent, Americans are
thinking hard about the future. And up in a Detroit high-rise somewhere, car
designers are, too.

 


 

 

 

 

 

    

      

      

 

       

Categories : Business
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Last night I finally got to really enjoy the Boulder County Business Report's 9th annual IQ Innovation Awards. Why? Well, for the past eight years I spent a good part of the summer leading up the event worrying, fretting and sweating out the event details, selecting winners, getting stories and videos completed, etc. as publisher and editor at the Report.

This year, I lent new Publisher Chris Wood a hand as a judge for the IQ Awards, and all I had to do after that was show up at the event and enjoy the evening. And it was fun!

After the winners were announced, I was poking around, tinkering with a new OptiBike, the Boulder-based winner in the Sports & Outdoor category. It's really about time for Optibike founder Jim Turner, who for 10 years has been trying to convince people that the idea of a electric bicycle actually makes sense. Of course, with rising gas prices and new awareness of a smaller carbon footprint, people have finally begun to listen.

As I poked around on the bike's controls, and flicked the on switch, much to my surprise it was ready to go. So off I went, sailing around CU Stadium Club event center on electric power. 2008IQBike1I have to tell you, these bikes are totally cool! Boulder Photographer Jonathan Castner caught this shot of me riding around the room.

The OptiBike's electric motor, with both 400 and 850 watt models, is hidden from view in the bike's aluminum frame, so the bike really looks like a souped-up mountain bike. It has a top speed of about 30 mph as you pedal, although I don't think I quite got there indoors at CU.

I was chatting with Jim's wife, who mentioned how fun it is to cruise up to some of Boulder's fast-riding bicylists, then really start pedaling as the electric motor kicks in. Zoooommmm….off you go around them all.

The bikes are a bit pricey, from $4,995 to $12,995, according to a story in the Boulder County Business Report, but imagine cruising up some steep hills using the bike's electric power.

I'm glad Optibike could capture an IQ Award this year, they are certainly a deserving small company, which is still manufacturing the bikes right here in Boulder.
Categories : Business, Web/Tech
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Freddie-Henchi Band
Originally uploaded by Jerry W. Lewis

I had to go see Freddie-Henchi play on a warm summer night down on the Pearl Street Mall. Vocalists Henchi, pictured here, and Freddie … somehow still have a lot of energy.

For many years, some a bit fuzzy now I admit, I listened to Freddie-Henchi play at the now-defunct Good Earth Bar downtown. Ahhh….the 70s, some kind of fun. Other great Boulder bands like Firefall played the club as well.

Freddi-Henchi’s R&B and on-stage dancing always drew a crowd, and it was no exception for the Bands on the Bricks concert, where a huge crowd of us baby-boomers turned out.

The band reunited in the late 90s, and in one interview singer Freddie Gowdy said, “Don’t call us legends. Call us survivors.”

That goes for quite a few of us Freddie!

Categories : Uncategorized
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Aug
01

Barlow’s new Diamond Crown Lounge

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Barlow’s new Diamond Crown Lounge
Originally uploaded by Jerry W. Lewis

Trey Barlow, right in photo, runs one of the friendliest cigar lounges in Colorado, Barlow’s Premium Cigars & Pipes. I just read an interview with Dennis Hopper where he was walking a beach in California, smoking a cigar and the police told him he couldn’t smoke there. It was a “no smoking” beach!

It’s almost as impossible to find a place to smoke a good cigar around Boulder, although there are two decent spots, Johnny’s Cigar Bar in downtown Boulder, and Fullers Cigar Bar in the Millennium Harvest House Hotel.

Trey Barlow celebrated the July 30 opening of its new Diamond Crown Lounge with Eric Newman, left, president of the J.C. Newman Cigar Co. The Tampa, Fla. company selected 40 cigar lounges nationwide to carry the name. Barlow’s now has a large variety of Diamond Crown cigars in its walk-in humidor, so drop in and try them out.

Several cigar aficionados that night said they were impressed by taste and quality of Diamond Crown brand.

Categories : Food and Drink
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