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European Automakers’ US Sales Fared Well in July

Mercedes-Benz still the luxury sales leader.

by on Aug.02, 2018

Mercedes-Benz saw sales fall more than 20% in July, but much of that was attributed to a computer problem during the company's busiest week.

With the threat of steep tariffs hanging over their heads, European carmakers enjoyed positive sales in July even though one of the leaders, Mercedes Benz, struggled a bit.

Mercedes-Benz USA reported July sales of 20,034, a decrease of 22.7% from July 2017 as archrival BMW sold more vehicles. Lexus appears to hold the lead in luxury segment with sales of 25,403 units, which dropped 12.1% on a volume basis.

Sales News!

Meanwhile, Mercedes-Benz Vans reported July sales increased 5.9%. On a year-to-date basis, sales of Mercedes-Benz vehicles totaled 178,882, giving it the lead in luxury vehicle sales for 2018. (more…)

Genesis Tops JD Power APEAL Survey

Korean up-start topples luxury mainstays, but Detroit mainstream brands also gain ground.

by on Jul.25, 2018

The Genesis brand aced another test, a month ago also topping Power's IQS.

Genesis, the upstart Korean luxury brand, has pulled off another surprise, this time landing the top spot in the 2018 J.D. Power APEAL study, surpassing such traditional highline brands as Porsche, Mercedes-Benz, BMW and Lexus.

It’s the latest in a series of coups by Genesis, which was spun off by Hyundai just two years ago. And it comes barely a month after the Korean marque also landed in the top spot on Power’s widely followed In initial Quality Survey. But there were some other surprises in the APEAL report which measures how well individual brands and models are satisfying their owners. Mainstream brands, notably including some Detroit marques, are rapidly gaining ground on the luxury badges that have traditionally led in customer satisfaction.

Beyond the Headlines!

But the industry, as a whole, achieved record levels in the 2018 APEAL study – the name short for “Automotive Performance, Execution and Layout” – the second year in a row that has happened.

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First (Short) Drive: 2019 Maserati Levante GTS

Racing between the raindrops.

by on Jul.13, 2018

The new GTS is the second most powerful model in Maserati's GTS line-up.

What has been an otherwise hot and dry summer turned into a storm of almost biblical proportions as I headed up to the M1 Concourse near Pontiac, Michigan for a chance to check out the latest products from Maserati and sibling Italian brand Alfa Romeo. But almost as if on cue, the rain clouds briefly parted when I was handed the keys to the new Maserati Levante GTS for some lap time on the tight and twisty circuit.

There were plenty of skeptics when Maserati announced plans to get into the SUV game – as there were when Porsche revealed similar plans a decade earlier. But the Levante won over most of those naysayers when it made its debut two years ago, initially offering two versions powered by a twin-turbo 3.0-liter V-6. The GTS turns things up a notch.

Product News and Reviews!

The latest version of Maserati’s first-ever sport-utility vehicle is, certainly on paper, an impressive piece of machinery, thrumming out 550 horsepower and 538 pound-feet of torque from its 3.8-liter twin-turbo V-6 – just a slight bit less than the Levante Trofeo first unveiled at the New York Auto Show last spring. That’s enough to launch the GTS from 0 to 60 in just 4 seconds – and to take a broadside at the Porsche Cayenne Turbo, destined to be its most direct competitor.

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Big Surprises in 2018 JD Power Initial Quality Survey

Overall quality reaches record high – and Korean brands lead the surge.

by on Jun.20, 2018

The Genesis G90 topped its segment while the Genesis brand led the industry overall.

New vehicle quality has reached an all-time high according to the latest J.D. Power Initial Quality Survey, and the 2018 IQS reveals a number of surprising trends, starting with the fact that three Korean brands lead this year’s study.

The latest IQS, which looks at “things-gone-wrong” with vehicles during the first 90 days of ownership, reveals that traditional mechanical issues, whether powertrain problems or squeaks, rattles and wind noise, are today increasingly rare. Motorists are far more likely to experience issues with infotainment and advanced driver assistance systems, but many of those problems are also being addressed.

High Quality News!

“There’s no question that most automakers are doing a great job of listening to consumers and are producing vehicle quality of the highest caliber,” said Dave Sargent, the head of global automotive research for Power. “That said, some vehicle owners are still finding problems. As vehicles become more complex and automated, it is critical that consumers have complete confidence in automakers’ ability to deliver fault-free vehicles.”

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Audi CEO Stadler Arrested as Germany Expands Diesel Emissions Probe

As many as 20 current, former Audi employees now under investigation.

by on Jun.18, 2018

German prosecutors have arrested Audi CEO Rupert Stadler, though no charges have yet been filed.

Audi CEO Rupert Stadler has been “provisionally” arrested, the luxury arm of Volkswagen AG confirmed Monday morning, as the German government probe into emissions rigging by VW and the Audi subsidiary continues to expand.

Nearly a dozen executives and managers from the vast Volkswagen Group empire have been indicted since the automaker was first charged in September 2015 with rigging various diesel engines to illegally pass emissions tests. Several have already been convicted in the U.S., though others have fled to Germany where they cannot be extradited. But as many as 20 others are now under suspicion as Germany moves forward with its own investigation, according to the Associated Press.

We Keep You In the Know!

“Audi CEO Rupert Stadler was provisionally arrested this morning,” VW’s largest luxury brand said in a statement Monday morning. It added that “the presumption of innocence remains in place for Mr. Stadler.”

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Polestar Will Pump Up New Volvo S60 Performance Model

Volvo takes performance to new level with modified S60 sedan.

by on Jun.13, 2018

The 2019 Volvo S60 Polestar Engineered gets unique Brembo brakes, among other modifications.

Few brands have done more to try to transform their image in recent years than Volvo, and the new S60 T8 Polestar Engineered sedan should continue shifting the Swedish marque in its new direction.

The latest version of the S60 not only puts more of a premium on sporty styling but backs it up with a 415-horsepower engine. But that’s no ordinary powerplant. No V-8s or turbo-sixes for this new Volvo. It’s a Polestar-modified version of the carmaker’s T8 plug-in hybrid, the top-performing version of its all-four-cylinder line-up.

First Look!

“The new S60 T8 Polestar Engineered is an electrified car that does what you want it to,” said Volvo’s Senior Vice President of R&D Henrik Green. “All components have been fine-tuned to work together, delivering a responsive and exciting driver’s car.”

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Porsche Renames Mission E “Taycan” and Will Expand All-Electric Line-up

Automakers expect half of its line-up will be plug-based by 2025.

by on Jun.11, 2018

Porsche's Mission E all-electric vehicle gets a name now: Taycan. Pronounced tie-con, the new model is still going to through some tests as shown here.

Porsche’s Mission E battery-electric vehicle has a new name. It will now be called “Taycan,” which the German automaker says is the term for a “lively young horse,” in Turkish – and a reference to the horse on its corporate crest.

The new model, which is set for release early in 2019, will be Porsche’s first all-electric model, but clearly not its last, a senior company official indicating plug-in hybrids and all-electric models, like Taycan, are expected to generate half of the brand’s sales by 2025.

Global News!

The Porsche Taycan will be part of a wave of new all-electric luxury and performance vehicles set to come to market between now and the end of the decade that will take direct aim at Tesla. Jaguar is just launching its first battery-electric vehicle, the I-Pace SUV, with Audi following this year with its own BEV, a variant of its popular Q5. (more…)

Tesla CEO Musk Survives 1st Big Challenge as Chairman as Model 3 “Quite Likely” to Meet Target

Shanghai, European plants could be announced within weeks.

by on Jun.06, 2018

Tesla CEO Elon Musk beat back challenges to his role, while 3 board members were voted back in.

Elon Musk stared down a group of dissident shareholders on Tuesday, surviving the first serious challenge to his dual role as chairman and CEO of the California automaker, while three of his hand-picked board members also fended off challenges.

Musk, who has developed an almost cult-like following among investors and electric vehicle fans alike, has faced an unusual degree of scrutiny in recent months as a result of mounting losses, struggles with production of the Model 3 sedan and a series of widely reported crashes involving Tesla vehicles. But despite some opposition, the company’s annual shareholders meeting was largely focused on promises about great things to come.

News That Matters!

Musk promised that after months of what the CEO has dubbed “production hell,” the pace is picking up at the Fremont assembly plant and that production will “quite likely” reach his 5,000 vehicle-a-week target by the end of June. Meanwhile, he and members of his senior management team outlined other developments to come, including the launch of additional production plants that could substantially boost global demand.

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Trump Wants to Drive German Luxury Car Brands Out of the U.S.

Comment reportedly made during meeting with French Pres. Macron

by on May.31, 2018

An endangered species? Trump's tariffs would drive up prices for imports like the Mercedes S-Class. But Trump may try to ban them entirely.

President Donald Trump apparently wants to force German luxury car manufacturers out of the United States, reportedly telling French President Emmanuel Macron during a recent state visit that he wants to get to the point where there will be no Mercedes-Benz models driving down New York’s upscale Fifth Avenue.

While there has been no White House verification of the report that first ran in the German WirtschaftsWoche, the business magazine – like other media outlets picking up on the story – cited several U.S. and European diplomats.

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Beyond the Headlines!

The news comes just a week after Trump ordered U.S. Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross to investigate whether automotive imports constitute a threat to the country’s national security. Such a finding would allow the president to bypass Congress under Section 232 of the Trade Expansion Act of 1962 and directly impose new tariffs which, White House sources have indicated, could jump to 25% compared to the 2.5% duties imposed on most auto imports today.

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Porsche Recalls 60K Utes in Europe for Diesel Fix

Latest round of diesel problems for VW family.

by on May.21, 2018

Porsche is recalling nearly 60,000 Cayenne and Macan diesel-powered sport-utility vehicles to fix a emissions control issue.

German authorities ordered Porsche to recall almost 60,000 diesel-powered sport utility vehicles in Europe after it was discovered thy found software that manipulates emissions controls to help defeat tests.

The German transport ministry found the software, which could reduce emissions controls for nitrogen oxide, during inspections of Macan and Cayenne SUVs. Parent company Volkswagen has had thousands of vehicles recalled for similar issues with VW and Audi diesels since 2015.

Product News!

The recall covers 52,831 Macan 3.0-liter V6 and 6,755 Cayenne 4.2-liter V8 vehicles. Porsche’s not the only VW brand with a diesel problem right now as Audi recently suspended deliveries of the current A6 and A7 models. (more…)

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