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Mercedes May Finally Bring Little A-Class to U.S.

New mini-lux model would roll out of new Mercedes plant in Mexico.

by on Sep.28, 2015

The Mercedes A-Class is one of five different models based on the small luxury platform.

The boardroom at Mercedes-Benz was wracked with turmoil when the German maker first considered adding a compact luxury car to its line-up. But the original Mercedes 190 was an instant success, and what is today known as the C-Class is one of the anchors of its line-up.

That meant far less debate when the company eventually decided to roll out a procession of even smaller models. If anything, the new CLA sedan and GLA crossover have become even bigger hits in the critical North American market.

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Until now, however, Mercedes hasn’t been willing to also let its pint-sized A-Class model make the trans-Atlantic jump. But it appears that this reluctance is starting to vanish and American motorists may soon find another downsized offering in Mercedes showrooms.


BMW Speeds Up the Roll-out of its New Plug-In Line-up

Getting a first drive of the new 2-Series Active Tourer eDrive.

by on Jul.01, 2015

This PHEV version of the new 2-Series Active Tourer will be one of four BMW plug-ins coming to market in the months ahead.

For BMW, 2016 is going to be the year of the PHEV. Forget low fuel prices the Bavarians are convinced plug-ins are here to stay, and they’re rolling out and assortment of new models that pick up on the technology first introduced with the exotic BMW i8.

In a matter of months, we’ll see four plug-based models, including versions of the X5, 2 Series Active Tourer, 3 Series and 7 Series.

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Why now? There are all sorts of reasons. For one thing, few expect today’s low fuel prices to last, even in the United States. And tough new emissions and mileage standards will be phasing in over the next decade, making it difficult for luxury manufacturers to remain on the market without adopting cleaner and more efficient powertrain technologies.


Mercedes-Benz GLC Coupe Concept Gets Green Light

New production model gets only few tweaks from concept.

by on Apr.22, 2015

Mercedes officials confirmed in Shanghai that the GLC Coupe Concept will go into production.

Right after the Mercedes GLC Coupe Concept made its world debut at Auto Shanghai, officials revealed it would hit the streets.

Thomas Weber, Daimler AG’s board member responsible for Research and Mercedes-Benz Cars development, confirmed that the dynamically styled SUV will go into production. The concept car is a “near-production-standard” study that transfers the styling of the GLE Coupe into the midsize segment and shows the design of upcoming SUV generations.

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Weber declined to say when the concept would hit showrooms because “first of all there will be the world premiere for the GLC (in June), followed by the GLS.” (more…)

Rolls-Royce Expects Modest Growth Thanks to Bespoke Line

Executives expect customized models to comprise 100% of sales.

by on Feb.04, 2015

Rolls-Royce's new Phantom "Nighthawk" is expected to help the luxury automaker to grow its sales in 2015.

Fresh off another year of record sales, Rolls-Royce expects to see a modest increase in volume this year – largely due to its Bespoke program, which offers buyers an almost limitless range of customized options for the British brand’s models.

The popularity of customization is becoming a real selling point for luxury vehicle makers. In fact, BMW’s super luxury division thinks that the percentage of orders for customized, tailor-made cars will grow steadily closer to the 100% level in the coming years.

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Rolls has not only been adding more models to its line-up, but also offering unique, limited-edition variants – such as the Phantom Drophead Coupe Nighthawk it introduced in Phoenix this week. Said to be “inspired by stealth technology in modern aerospace development,” only nine Nighthawks will be produced. (more…)

Marking a Mini Milestone with the New Cooper S Hardtop

Going down for the count.

by on Sep.15, 2014

Mini celebrated the 3 millionth car built at the Oxford, England plant. The 2015 models are now in production.

It was two, three four for Mini last week: the maker marking the roll-out of the 3 millionth car produced at its Oxford assembly plant, including the 2 millionth Mini earmarked for export.

As for four, the British maker also offered up the first drive in its next-generation four-door Hardtop. A five-door, actually, with the hatchback scheduled to reach U.S. showrooms in December.

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Mini launched production of its original microcar at the end of 1958 at plants in Longbridge and Oxford, vehicles sold as both the Austin Seven and Morris Mini-Minor. In 1962 the Austin Seven was renamed Austin Mini and Mini became a brand of its own in 1969. (more…)

BMW’s i8 Elevates Maker’s Image in Germany

Hybrid electric improves company’s cool factor.

by on Aug.21, 2014

BMW's new i8 is raising the company's profile among new car buyers in Germany.

BMW’s new i8 is a cutting edge vehicle using new technologies to make it the among the most impressive hybrid electrics on the road. However, few vehicles capture the public’s imagination without great advertising campaigns and, in Germany, the maker seems to be making an impact with the i8.

According to a study by Pulse, a German market research agency, 44% of German car buyers were aware of BMW’s i8 advertising campaign in Germany and that it reinforced the future competence and “coolness” of the BMW brand.

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That number rises to 58% when only BMW owners are polled. Additionally, Audi, Mercedes-Benz and Toyota drivers came in above the 44% mark, which indicates that the i8 campaign is BMW is impacting drivers of competing brands. (more…)

New S-Class Coupe to Maintain Mercedes’ High-Tech Push

S-Class Coupe will be first with new Curve-Tilt Function.

by on Jul.07, 2014

Mercedes-Benz is looking to re-establish itself as a technological leader with the new S-Class Coupe.

With plans to launch at least 30 new models before decade’s end, in a bid to keep ahead of its aggressive luxury competitors, Mercedes-Benz also aims to position itself as the market’s technology leader.

And for those already overwhelmed by the features on the S-Class sedan introduced just last year, Mercedes plans to take things a step further with the debut of its new flagship, the redesigned and renamed S-Class Coupe, which will boast such new technologies as the German maker’s first in-house nine-speed gearbox and the all-new Curve-Tilt technology first seen in concept form several years back.

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The new S-Class sedan is already off to a good start, noted Jörg Bartels, who was responsible for the development of the S-class Coupé, during the presentation of the successor to what was previously known as the Mercedes-Benz CL. Even though the new S-Class is still being rolled out to new markets, sales for the first six months were double those of the old sedan during the first half of 2013. (more…)

Driving the new BMW i8

Reinventing the sports car.

by on May.06, 2014

BMW's i8 plug-in hybrid sports car is expected to roll off the production line this summer with the first deliveries in Europe.

The BMW i8 may look more like a concept than a production car, but it really is street legal. BMW’s first plug-in hybrid sports car has just begun rolling down the maker’s assembly line in Leipzig, Germany, and will soon join the i3 city car as the foundation of an all-new, brand-within-a-brand of battery-based vehicles, collectively known as BMW i.

The appeal of the i8 is not just in it’s distinctive, carbon-fiber skin. Beneath that futuristic body, the i8 boasts game-changing technology that could revolutionize the sports car segment – a good reason for to head off for some time behind the wheel before it officially goes on sale next month in Europe.

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One thing is certain, the i8 has to live up to some grand expectations. Sales of the plug-in sports car have already exceeded BMW’s original forecast, so the Bavarians have decided to ramp up production. Exactly how many will it sell? BMW isn’t saying for sure, though it’s expected this year’s production will run between 3,000 and 3,500 units. (more…)

First Drive: 2015 BMW M235i

Performance with a youthful flair.

by on Jan.20, 2014

The new BMW M235i driving through Las Vegas.

It’s getting to be more and more of a challenge keeping up with the expanding line-up at BMW, but at least there’s a logic to the maker’s madness as it rolls out a modified nomenclature strategy that is far easier to follow than some of its competitors’ alphanumeric offerings.

The worldwide launch of the new 2-Series coupe comes as BMW shifts to even numbers for its 2-door models, whether coupes or convertibles, with sedans sticking with odd numbers.  The new 2-Series was unveiled at the North American International Auto Show, which also staged the world debuts of the M3 and M4 models and the 4 Series Convertible.

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With the 2-Series BMW hopes to tap the interest of the Millennial generation, a cohort of young buyers who have so far been less than friendly to automobiles, many waiting much longer than in decades past to even get their driver’s licenses. The hope is that sporty and relatively affordable models like the new M235i might finally start drawing them into showrooms.


Investments by German Automakers Paying Off

Makers sold 1.33 million vehicles in U.S. last year.

by on Jan.13, 2014

With Mercedes leading the way for luxury automakers, German car companies sold 1.33 million vehicles in the U.S. in 2013.

Last year, German car manufacturers posted record sales in the North American market with 1.33 million light vehicles – an increase of 5% compared with 2012. The jump lagged the overall market’s performance, which rose 8% on a year-over-year basis. The U.S. market came in at 15.5 million units in 2013.

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Compared with 2009, in the middle of the financial crisis, the U.S. sales have grown nearly 50%.

German makers saw their light vehicles sales increased even more by 75% to 1.33 million units, of which 20% were built in the U.S. (more…)