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Heritage Florida Jewish News
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January 20, 1978     Heritage Florida Jewish News
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January 20, 1978
 

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SUPPLEMENT TO: THE APOPKA CHIEF, THE HERITAGE, LEESBURG/COMMER- CIAL, THE METRO NEWS, THE NEWPAPER, THE PLANTER NEWSPAPERS, SOUTH LAKE PRESS, SUN HERALD, THE SUN OF PINE HILLS, THE WINTER GARDEN TIMES Vol. 1, No. 12 Wednesday, January 18, 1978 1977 / ii' / Consumer Automotive Report YOUR COMPLETE GUIDE TO NEW CARS, USED CARS, TRUCKS, VANS, JEEPS, RECREATIONAL VEHICLES, AND SERVICE SPECIALS! Sears sparks to electric car? CHICAGO--Sears, Roebuck & Co., the nation's largest retailer, may be marketing an automobile in the future, and not through its toy department. Speculation has been growing that Sears is taking a serious look at the electric car after theproduction of the XDH-1, a battery-power car Sears created last year for publicity during the tenth anniversary of its DieHard battery. Working with a.Fiat 128, Sears removed the gasoline engine and other related equipment and put in an electric motor powered by 20 experimental DieHard batteries, plus a Sears marine battery for accessories. Since then, the car has drawn so much attention it has surprised even Sears. The company estimates that since the car has been displayed on the road, it has received about $2,000, ,0, worth of free media space and time. Sears Judd Sackheim, natural merchandise manager for auto parts and accessories, said that the car was built for publicity and for research anl development projects. He did not, however, rule out the possibility of Sears marketing an electric car, but claimed Sears was "a long way from deciding whether to even consider developing the electric car." Sears may be cautious about tipping its marketing plans, or it may still be smarting from its unsuccessful attempt to sell cars in the past. But some marketing observers think the prospect of entering the new-car market is tempting to Sears. Market researcher Leo J. Shapiro, head of Leo J. Shapiro & Associates, said Sears probably sees an end to the number of new stores it can open in new markets and will have to add new categories of merchandise to continue its growth. He also said that today's car dealership is not really where. people want to buy their cars. His own consumer polls indicate that the number of people who want to buy a car from Sears is fantastic." The O&M survey results "open marketing opportunities for anyone with the resources to enter the U.S. auto market--be it a foreign automaker or a mass-merchandiser like Sears or K- Mart," Mr. Shapiro said. He noted that Sears has built an automotive reputation for its DieHard batteries and its Road Handler tires and, according to his survey, consumers expect they would get better service availability, price and warranty or guarantee with a car purchased from Sears. These consumer expectations are critical, given some of the drawbacks attributed to the few electric cars that already have been marketed. In a survey by market researcher J.R. Powers & Associates, Los Angeles (AA, July 8), owners of these cars cited a need for improved vehicle safety, increased range, greater dependability and more dealer support. With its 862 stores, Sears has a national distribution system for auto parts and accessories, and many of Sears' stores also operate complete service centers. Mr. Shapiro sees this as a ready-made dealership network, which overcomes one problem that plagued many foreign automakers trying to enter the U.S. market. Mr. Shapiro added that by designing and marketing its own car, Sears would have the advantage of marketing one that is inexpensive to repair and, as a result, Sears could offer insurance as part of a total package. Sears' Allstate Insurance Co. is the world's largest stock company insurer of autos and, as part of the Allstate group of com.panies, it helps provide more than 30 percent of Sears' net earnings. Aithough Mr. Sackheim remained vague abot Sears' plans for its experiment in autos, he did speculate that any company considering entering the auto market should probably have its cars built by someone else, a practice Sears uses for almost all of its merchandise. The cost of a new plant would be too high, he said. A representative of Globe,Union, Milwaukee, which supplies Sears' batteries (and converted the Fiat to electric power) estimated that at a volume of about 50,000 units, an electric car could sell for about $6,000. Another indicator of Sears' interest was Mr. Sackheim's comment that Sears and Globe-Union are searching for a battery system that is smaller and more efficient, to reduce car weight and leave room for a back seat. Mr. Sackheim, however, attributed this further work to the possible need for such a battery for the aftermarket. Befo building its experimental car, Sears researched the idea to 'be sure that consumers and media (not to mention sagVernment and private industry) didn't think it was a joke," he d. The XDH-1 is powered by a 110-volt aircraft starter motor which develops 27 horse power at cruising speed and 40 hp under full acceleration. The car also is equipped with a regenerative braking system, which, to a small extent, helps recharge the batteries when the brakes are applied. GM's goal is to build an electric car with a range of about 100 miles between charges and with a top speed of 50mph. 'If we could achieve that in a lightweight two-seater, we be/ve many urban families would use it as a second or third car, said E.M. Estes, president of GM. The year 1985 is widely mentioned as the earliest date that a significant number of electric cars will be rolling--and then slowly and for a limited range. 0 VER 165,000 COPIES WEEKL Yr.