The Truth About Cars » Luxury http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com The Truth About Cars is dedicated to providing candid, unbiased automobile reviews and the latest in auto industry news. Thu, 17 Apr 2014 19:32:20 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=3.8.1 The Truth About Cars is dedicated to providing candid, unbiased automobile reviews and the latest in auto industry news. The Truth About Cars no The Truth About Cars editors@ttac.com editors@ttac.com (The Truth About Cars) 2006-2009 The Truth About Cars The Truth About Cars is dedicated to providing candid, unbiased automobile reviews and the latest in auto industry news. The Truth About Cars » Luxury http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/wp-content/themes/ttac-theme/images/logo.gif http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/category/news-blog/luxury-news-blog/ New York 2014: 2015 Alfa Romeo 4C Live Shots http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/04/new-york-2014-2015-alfa-romeo-4c-live-shots/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/04/new-york-2014-2015-alfa-romeo-4c-live-shots/#comments Thu, 17 Apr 2014 15:28:27 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=802842 Alfa-Romeo-4C-01

Coming soon to a Maserati or select Fiat dealership near you, the 2015 Alfa Romeo 4C turned up at the 2014 New York Auto Show Wednesday before its U.S. showroom debut this June.

Putting the power to the back is a 1.75-liter turbo-four pushing 237 horsepower through a dual-clutch transmission, more than enough to move the 2,200-pound sports car and its carbon fiber monocoque chassis down the highway.

Up front, last year’s compound-eye headlamps can now be replaced by the 4C Spider’s more traditional configuration if so desired.

As for how much to take a 4C home, Fiat Chrysler Automobiles has yet to say anything on price, as well as how it will market the car in the United States. Originally, Fiat dealerships were going to sell the Alfa exclusively, but as of now, only a select group of Fiat dealers will sell the 4C alongside Maserati, who will act as the primary dealer.

Whatever happens, the first 500 4Cs will arrive in showrooms this June, and will be a part of a commemorative launch edition.

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New York 2014: 2015 Acura TLX Live Shots http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/04/new-york-2014-2015-acura-tlx-live-shots/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/04/new-york-2014-2015-acura-tlx-live-shots/#comments Wed, 16 Apr 2014 21:52:16 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=800698 2015-Acura-TLX-22

As the Acura TL and TSX are both dropped into the crusher of history, their replacement, the production-ready 2015 TLX, took the stage today at the 2014 New York Auto Show.

Having made its world debut at the 2014 Detroit Auto Show earlier this year, the TLX in New York will retain the former’s beak nose and bejeweled headlamps on its way to the showroom later this year.

As for what future TLX drivers will receive, two engines will put the power to either the front or all four wheels: 2.4-liter four-pot with 206 horsepower and 182 lb-ft of torque through an eight-speed dual-clutch transmission, and 3.5-liter V6 producing 290 horsepower and 267 lb-ft of torque through a nine-speed automatic. The four-cylinder FWD model will be augmented by Acura’s PAWS all-wheel steering system, while the V6 receives the SH-AWD handling system when AWD is selected on the options list. Combined fuel economy is expected to be 28 mpg for the 2.4-liter 4, 25 mpg for both FWD and AWD V6 models.

Inside, drivers will enjoy soft-touch plastics, wood and alloy accenting, leather, Acura’s AcuraLink infotainment system, GPS-linked climate control, and premium stereo sound.

And the price? Acura will make that announcement closer to the launch of the TLX.

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New York 2014: 2015 BMW M4 Convertible Unveiled http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/04/new-york-2014-2015-bmw-m4-convertible-unveiled/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/04/new-york-2014-2015-bmw-m4-convertible-unveiled/#comments Wed, 16 Apr 2014 19:53:57 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=800498 2015-BMW-M4-Convertible-07

There was more than one high-performance convertible taking its top off at the 2014 New York Auto Show today, as the 2015 BMW M4 Convertible made its grand entrance among those attending.

The M4 boasts a retractable metal roof, perfect for deterring thieves so long as the roof is up and the thieves aren’t particularly motivated. Meanwhile, power comes from a twin-turbo 3-liter I6 driving 425 horsepower and 406 lb-ft of torque through either a single-clutch six-speed manual or optional M-DCT seven-speed dual-clutch automatic. Either option brings the M4 Convertible from nil to 60 in under 4.5 seconds.

As for weight and performance, BMW used aluminium and carbon fiber-reinforced plastic throughout its construction — from the fenders and hood, to the driveshaft and front strut brace — bringing the beast down 90 pounds to 4,055 for the U.S. market.

The M4 Convertible should arrive in showrooms this summer, though no word thus far on how much it will cost to do burnouts under the sun.

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New York 2014: 2015 Mercedes-Benz S63 AMG Coupe Debuted http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/04/new-york-2014-2015-mercedes-benz-s63-amg-coupe-debuted/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/04/new-york-2014-2015-mercedes-benz-s63-amg-coupe-debuted/#comments Wed, 16 Apr 2014 17:34:18 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=799778 2015-Mercedes-S63-AMG-Coupe-01

For the well-moneyed customer who likes the Accord but prefers a German badge, Mercedes-Benz unveiled the S63 AMG Coupe at the 2014 New York Auto Show.

Under the bonnet lies a twin-turbo 5.5-liter V8 driving 577 ponies through all four wheels while providing 644 lb-ft of torque to any driver feeling the need to take down a redwood forest or two. Air suspension, lighter weight and optional ceramic brakes add to the performance alongside the usual AMG enhancements.

As for how much to pay for this experience, look forward to spending somewhere around $150,000 when the S63 AMG Coupe arrives in showrooms.

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New York 2014: 2015 BMW X4 Live Shots http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/04/new-york-2014-2015-bmw-x4-live-shots/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/04/new-york-2014-2015-bmw-x4-live-shots/#comments Wed, 16 Apr 2014 17:33:53 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=799946 2015-BMW-X4-06

For those who wanted an X6 in a smaller package, BMW revealed its new X4 Sports Activity Coupe crossover at the 2014 New York Auto Show.

The X4 can be had as either the xDrive28i for a base entry of $45,625, or for about $3,000 more, the xDrive35i. Both trims come with an eight-speed automatic and all-wheel drive, but the 28i posseseses a 2-liter turbo-four capaable of 240 horsepower under its bonnet, while the 35i makes do with a 300-horsepower I6.

Further enhancements can be had with X4′s M Sport Package, including tighter suspension and unique seats, while its less-useful trunk can be opened with a wave of your foot — perfect for doing the hokey-pokey after a bit of grocery shopping at Whole Foods Market.

Expect the X4 to give it you later this spring.

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Cadillac Flagship, Redesigned LaCrosse To Be Made In Detroit By 2016 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/04/cadillac-flagship-redesigned-lacrosse-to-be-made-in-detroit-by-2016/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/04/cadillac-flagship-redesigned-lacrosse-to-be-made-in-detroit-by-2016/#comments Tue, 15 Apr 2014 11:30:16 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=798938 2013 Cadillac Elmiraj Concept

In light of General Motors’ recent announcement of a $384 million investment in its Detroit-Hamtramck Assembly Plant, two vehicles from Cadillac and Buick could wind up being produced alongside the next-generation Volt.

Edmunds reports IHS Automotive senior analyst Stephanie Brinley expects Cadillac’s all-new flagship to be produced in late 2015, with the Buick LaCrosse — currently assembled in Fairfax, Kan. — joining the flagship in 2016 for the latter’s next redesign.

Though GM hasn’t said much about the flagship, industry insiders claim the vehicle will be aimed at the Audi A8, BMW 7 Series, Lexus LS and Mercedes S-Class, and may be priced as much as $100,000.

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Wash. Governor Inslee Signs Pro-Tesla Legislation, Hackers Find Ubuntu Inside http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/04/wash-governor-inslee-signs-pro-tesla-legislation-hackers-find-ubuntu-inside/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/04/wash-governor-inslee-signs-pro-tesla-legislation-hackers-find-ubuntu-inside/#comments Mon, 14 Apr 2014 13:45:11 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=797458 Ubuntu_GNOME_13.10_ScreenShot

Automotive News reports Washington state governor Jay Inslee signed legislation that would allow Tesla to continue with its direct-sales business model within the state while also clarifying current law that favors traditional franchise dealership networks by preventing other automakers from following in Tesla’s path. The EV automaker thanked the state government “for supporting a culture of innovation and ultimately making the right decision for consumers” with the introduction of the bill into law.

In other government news, the California Air Resources Board is considering cutting EVs priced at $60,000 and above from the agency’s Clean Vehicle Rebate Program as funding continues to run low, according to Capitol Weekly. Though the move would be temporary, the cap would push-out both the Cadillac ELR and Tesla’s Model S and upcoming X, a move that Tesla feels is disappointing:

[CARB] aims to paint Tesla as the sole purveyor of EVs (electric vehicles) to the wealthy, while disregarding the fact that individuals of similar affluence may still continue to receive a rebate by purchasing a different EV.

Finally, Autoblog Green reports a group of tech-savvy Tesla owners have dug into their EV’s console via its exposed Ethernet connector, discovering a subsystem powered by Linux distribution Ubuntu. The individual behind the dig, known only as ‘nlc,’ was contacted by the automaker through its service center, warning him that his exploration could void his car’s warranty should he persist.

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Wolff Out, Woodhouse In As Lincoln Design Director http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/04/wolff-out-woodhouse-in-as-lincoln-design-director/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/04/wolff-out-woodhouse-in-as-lincoln-design-director/#comments Fri, 11 Apr 2014 10:00:54 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=793642 Max Wolff, Lincoln Exterior Design Chief

The Lincoln division of Ford has replaced former design director Max Wolff with David Woodhouse, the former head of the Blue Oval’s Premier Automotive Group, as part of the premium division’s $1 billion makeover.

Bloomberg reports Wolff will remain with Lincoln as the brand’s exterior design boss, and that the change occurred in December with little fanfare, as Ford no longer issues press releases for promotions below the vice president level, according to spokesman Stephane Cesareo. Both design chiefs were brought over from General Motors to Ford, with Wolff arriving in 2010 from Cadillac, and Woodhouse from GM’s design studios in 1999.

Wolff’s biggest mark on Lincoln is the current MKZ, which he reworked immediately upon arrival in 2010. Though the premium sedan — based upon the Ford Fusion — faced production problems that saw the overall brand’s sales fall to a low not seen in over 30 years, the MKZ’s success boosted Q1 2014 sales to 36 percent.

Aside from his styling work with PAG, Woodhouse was in charge of Ford’s advanced design studio in California between 2004 and 2009, and guided Lincoln’s strategy between July through December of 2013 before becoming the brand’s new director of design.

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BMW May Build Second NA Plant To Fend Off German Rivals http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/04/bmw-may-build-second-na-plant-to-fend-off-german-rivals/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/04/bmw-may-build-second-na-plant-to-fend-off-german-rivals/#comments Wed, 09 Apr 2014 14:04:23 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=791289 BMW Spartanburg

In its battle against Mercedes-Benz and Audi for record sales, BMW is mulling over the possibility of a second plant in North America.

Bloomberg reports the automaker would place its second factory in Mexico, with two sites under consideration. The decision to expand will take a few months according to BMW production chief Harald Krueger, Should the move be given a green light, the Mexican plant is likely to build the 3 Series.

The second factory would add to the long-term growth strategy BMW is using to fend off its German premium market competitors in a heated battle for records global sales, fueled by growing demand in the United States and China. Mercedes will add the C-Class to its Alabama facility in June with a new plant in North America due near the end of this decade, while Audi is in the middle of setting up shop in Mexico with a $1.3 billion plant set to produce crossovers beginning in 2016.

Previously, BMW announced it would invest $1 billion to expand its South Carolina plant by 50 percent in 2016, as well as add the X7 large SUV to the X Series lineup currently produced in the plant.

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Lemon Law King Sues Tesla In Wisconsin Circuit Court http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/04/lemon-law-king-sues-tesla-in-wisconsin-circuit-court/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/04/lemon-law-king-sues-tesla-in-wisconsin-circuit-court/#comments Tue, 08 Apr 2014 13:15:57 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=790041 tesla-model-s-09

Wisconsin lawyer and self-proclaimed “Lemon Law King” Vince Megna has filed a lawsuit in Milwaukee County Circuit Court against Tesla under the state’s lemon law.

Green Bay Press Gazette reports the lawsuit, filed on behalf of Robert Montgomery of Franklin, Wisc., takes the automaker to task for failing to refund Montgomery’s $99,515 after his 2013 Model S Performance was in the shop for various issues — including failure to start and inoperable door handles — for over 30 days; Wisconsin’s law requires manufacturers to either replace a defective product under warranty after four attempts in one year to fix a defect, or to refund the affected customer. The refund request was made in November 2013.

Megna told the newspaper that under the lemon law then-in affect when Montgomery purchased his Tesla, his client could receive double damages should the court side in their favor. The lawyer also posted a video on YouTube outlining the case and subsequent filing, with a cameo from a cardboard cutout of famed Tesla owner George Clooney.

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Aston Martin Teaming Up With Daimler For Premium SUV http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/04/aston-martin-teaming-up-with-daimler-for-premium-suv/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/04/aston-martin-teaming-up-with-daimler-for-premium-suv/#comments Tue, 01 Apr 2014 19:00:31 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=785633 SC06_Aston_Martin_Vanquish_green

First Bentley, now Aston Martin wants an SUV for their lineup, with plans to team up with Daimler to make that vision reality.

Bloomberg reports the plan is related to a 5 percent stake in Aston Martin sold to Daimler last year in return for sharing technology with the English automaker, such as Mercedes AMG building V8 engines with Aston in the latter’s upcoming models.

Currently, talks are at the early stages, with signs of the new SUV not expected to come for another three years at the earliest. Aston is also debating whether or not to build a crossover using its own technology.

As for Aston overall, the automaker aims to sell 7,000 cars annually by 2016 by catering to demand in North American, South American and Asian markets.

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Chrysler 200 Earns EPA Rating Of 18 MPG City, 29 MPG Highway http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/03/chrysler-200-earns-epa-rating-of-18-city-29-highway/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/03/chrysler-200-earns-epa-rating-of-18-city-29-highway/#comments Wed, 26 Mar 2014 12:47:49 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=781457 2015-chrysler-200-10

While Fiat Chrysler Automobiles has yet to announce fuel economy for the new 2015 Chrysler 200, the Environment Protection Agency inadvertently leaked figures for one configuration, the V6 AWD model.

Autoblog reports the figures — found on the U.S. Department of Energy’s FuelEconomy.gov — were obtained through the Pentastar V6/nine-speed automatic/all-wheel drive combination found in the 200C and 200S, which returned 18 mpg in town, 29 mpg on the highway and 22 mpg combined. The figure also matches the outgoing 200, though it was front-drive only and possessed a weaker Pentastar V6 than the current 295 horsepower and 262 lb-ft of torque the 3.6-liter engine delivers.

As for where the 200 stands in the AWD midsize sedan fuel economy game, it’s ahead of the Subaru Legacy’s 18/25/20 rating from its 256 horsepower, 247 lb-ft torque boxer, yet behind the Ford Fusion’s 22/31/25 rating in spite of the 2-liter EcoBoost’s 240 hp/270 lb-ft torque four-pot.

FCA says the front-drive version of the new 200 may deliver an estimated 35 mpg highway rating through its 2.4-liter Tigershark four cylinder, though the EPA has yet to validate the figure.

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BMW To Bring X7 SUV To Spartanburg http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/03/bmw-to-bring-x7-suv-to-spartanburg/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/03/bmw-to-bring-x7-suv-to-spartanburg/#comments Tue, 25 Mar 2014 12:50:37 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=780505 BMW Spartanburg

BMW’s Spartanburg, S.C. plant, home of the X Series, will soon have a new member joining the family, in the form of the X7 fullsize SUV.

Automotive News reports BMW will announce the X7′s arrival later this week, and will spend heavily to prepare the plant for production of the three-row, seven-seat vehicle in a bid to chase a global sales record for themselves, with output expected to increase to 400,000 units annually from the current increase of 350,000 per year.

Though BMW remains mum, the majority of X7s are expected to remain in the United States, with production starting as soon as 2017. Meanwhile, the new X4 will go into production this year.

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Tesla Reader’s Digest Vol. 1: The Politics Of Dancing http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/03/tesla-readers-digest-vol-1-the-politics-of-dancing/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/03/tesla-readers-digest-vol-1-the-politics-of-dancing/#comments Mon, 24 Mar 2014 12:19:42 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=779249 Tesla Roadster and Model S

In the first edition of the Tesla Reader’s Digest, Washington state makes nice with Tesla’s business model as Arizona ponders doing the same — while fighting three other states for the right to host Tesla’s Gigafactory, no less. Meanwhile, General Motors pens a letter to Ohio asking the state to force the EV automaker to play by the same rules as they already do, pricing of the Model S falls in Europe, and Edward Niedemeyer offers his view on how Tesla can topple the auto dealer monopoly.

The Detroit News ran our former EIC (originally published at Bloomberg View) a few inches to explain the situation Tesla faces with its revolutionary-for-the-United States model of doing business from the rent-seeking opposition found in the entrenched dealer franchise system. Though the automaker has already been locked out of Texas and New Jersey due to such opposition thus far, Niedermeyer offers that CEO Elon Musk has a few potential allies — including Fiat Chrysler Automobiles, eBay, Costco and TrueCar — who could help him and the U.S auto industry as a whole bring about a future where all automakers can sell directly to customers.

Reuters and CNN Money report the states of Washington and Arizona are or soon will be signing legislation allowing Tesla to market directly to consumers; previously, the automaker’s sole Washington direct-sales efforts were in Seattle, whereas Arizona only allowed showrooms, pushing sales across the border to California.

The Washington legislation came as a result of campaigning from that state’s Tesla-owning constituents with help from a lobbyist, which will allow the automaker to expand into more cities while forcing every other automaker — upcoming or long-established — to sell through franchise dealerships, a situation advocates claim will need to be remedied when legislatures return to Olympia next January.

Arizona, however, is coming around to help improve the state’s chances in becoming the home of Musk’s grand energy project, the Tesla Gigafactory. Autoblog Green also reports Tucson has not only a suitable site for the 1,000-acre, 10 million-square-foot battery factory, but the tax incentives to lure 6,500 jobs away from Nevada, Texas and New Mexico.

As for the other three states, New Mexico is working on an economic package, while Nevada remains silent on their moves, and Texas has incentives galore in spite of banning direct-sales, the latter of which could hurt the state’s chances.

Speaking of direct-sale bans, Automotive News reports General Motors penned a letter to Ohio governor John Kasich over concerns his state could open the door to Tesla. GM’s senior vice president of global communications and public policy Selim Bingol explains his employer’s viewpoint:

We understand discussions are ongoing over legislation which could provide a broad exemption for a single manufacturer, Tesla Motors Inc., to circumvent long-established legal precedent on how new motor vehicles are marketed, sold and serviced in your state.

GM is not alone, as lobbyists representing the Ohio Automobile Dealers Association warned the state legislature last week that by allowing Tesla to sell directly to consumers, it would allow all automakers to do the same, casting the franchise model to the wind.

Finally, Tesla may be fighting a different battle in Europe. Inside EVs reports pricing of the Model S has dropped in Germany and Netherlands 6,700 euro and 4,000 euro respectively to 65,300 euro and 66,200 euro. Though Tesla cites currency appreciation against the dollar, low demand and lack of a sufficient Supercharger network may be to blame.

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VW Group, Led By Porsche, Aiming For 10 Million In Sales By Year’s End http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/03/vw-group-led-by-porsche-aiming-for-10-million-in-sales-by-years-end/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/03/vw-group-led-by-porsche-aiming-for-10-million-in-sales-by-years-end/#comments Fri, 14 Mar 2014 11:37:26 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=771258 Porsche-911-991-Targa-01

Volkswagen Group’s goal of selling 10 million units annually may come as soon as the end of 2014, with Porsche leading the way in operating profitability.

Automotive News reports the target, originally set for 2018, is on-track to come this year, according to CEO Martin Winterkorn. The group sold 9.72 million units last year, beating General Motors to become the world’s second-largest automaker.

Fueling the growth are rising volumes in Europe and China, and introductions of over 100 models between now and the end of 2015, including new and updated SUVs for Volkswagen and Porsche.

Speaking of Porsche, the premium sports car brand’s profit earnings tripled to 2.58 billion euro last year, while those of VW and Audi fell to 2.89 billion and 5.03 billion, respectively. Overall revenue for Porsche totaled 14.3 billion euro on sales of 155,000 units worldwide.

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Ellinghaus: Cadillac Could “Easily Flourish” In Australian Market http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/03/ellinghaus-cadillac-could-easily-flourish-in-australian-market/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/03/ellinghaus-cadillac-could-easily-flourish-in-australian-market/#comments Fri, 14 Mar 2014 10:05:57 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=771210 2015 Cadillac ATS Coupe

Sometime in the future, Cadillac global marketing boss Uwe Ellinghaus believes Cadillac could enter the Australian market, being able to “easily flourish” under the proper conditions established on top of the goodwill the brand already has in the country.

Auto Advice reports however the main goal for Cadillac is to go after what Ellinghaus calls “low-hanging fruit” markets:

We see the opportunity [in Australia] and we want to expand into as many markets as we can afford, but it’s also fair to say we have so much growth potential unexploited in China, even in the US, Canada, Russia, Dubai, Mexico… This is the lower-hanging fruit.

We have limited resources and great opportunities elsewhere that we need to make a very careful plan when to enter which market.

Regarding where Cadillac could enter the Australian market, he says the space soon to be vacated by the Holden Commodore would be the perfect point of entry. Offering the brand for Commodore prices, though, would be easier said than done as far as a business case is concerned, pointing toward both the BMW M Series and Mercedes AMG as to where pricing would occur for Cadillac’s high-performance lineup. He also had high hopes for the CTS, and the SRX and Escalade, with the latter two finding huge success in Australian burgeoning SUV marketplace.

As for when Cadillac would enter the scene, Ellinghaus says an introduction would occur near the end of the 2010s at the earliest, and would be headed by one or two models converted to right-hand drive. This follows an near-entry into the market back in 2008 before turning back at the last moment, though not before exporting a few vehicles and appointing dealers to sell them.

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Tesla Hires Renault-Nissan Communications Director http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/03/tesla-hires-renault-nissan-communications-director/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/03/tesla-hires-renault-nissan-communications-director/#comments Thu, 13 Mar 2014 12:35:00 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=770985 tesla-model-s-10

In preparation to enter the Chinese market while battling state governments of direct sales, Tesla has hired Renault-Nissan communications director Simon Sproule to the role of vice president of communications and marketing for the EV automaker.

Bloomberg reports Sproule’s experience gained from stints with Microsoft, Jaguar, Ford and Renault-Nissan may be of benefit to Tesla, according to AutoTrends Inc. principal Joe Phillippi:

In many respects he’s got the perfect background. He’s been on the tech side, he’s been on the international auto side and he works for a CEO with peripatetic qualities who runs more than one company.

Sproule will be responsible for marketing Tesla to Europe and China — who aim to increase sales of its Model S 55 percent through exports to the two markets this year — while aiding in the fight with various state regulators over direct sales to customers, including this week’s blow-up between the automaker and New Jersey.

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Audi Takes Lead From BMW In Global Premium Car Sales http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/03/audi-takes-lead-from-bmw-in-global-premium-car-sales/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/03/audi-takes-lead-from-bmw-in-global-premium-car-sales/#comments Wed, 12 Mar 2014 18:17:09 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=770714 2015-Audi-A3-beauty-exterior-005

For the first time this year, BMW loses the best-selling premium brand crown to a rival as Audi squeaks past the Bavarians in the first two months of 2014 to take the title.

Automotive News reports Audi delivered 242,400 units in January and February of this year, 383 more than BMW; at the same time last year, BMW led Audi by 429 units in their nine-year period of dominance over the global premium car market.

Audi CEO Rupert Stadler appeared not to be impressed by the news, however, as he noted in the brand’s annual press conference this week:

We’re ahead of our two main rivals in the first two months, but this doesn’t really interest me much. Our focus is on further growth.

Said growth aims to be driven by the introduction of 17 new or revamped models this year — including the A3 sedan roll-out in the United States and China, as well as the refreshed A3 hatchback and TT — as part of a five-year, 22-billion-euro investment in the brand, with goal of surpassing BMW once and for all in global sales by 2020.

BMW sales chief Ian Robertson, for his part, was confident his employer would take back the crown soon enough:

The innovative new models coming out this year, such as the 2-series Active Tourer and 4-series Gran Coupe, will give us the momentum to keep growing in 2014.

The new models will likely help the Bavarians rule the market for a 10th consecutive year, selling a projected 1.77 million units in 2014 over Audi’s 1.66 million and Mercedes’s 1.56 million according to IHS Automotive. However, previous reports indicate that the United States will not receive the 2-Series Active Tourer, which is taking heat for its front-drive layout.

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Tesla Vacating New Jersey Market Amid Direct-Sales Ban http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/03/tesla-vacating-new-jersey-market-amid-direct-sales-ban/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/03/tesla-vacating-new-jersey-market-amid-direct-sales-ban/#comments Wed, 12 Mar 2014 11:10:33 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=770345 tesla courtesy nicholas fleury via flickr

In the wake of the New Jersey Motor Vehicle Commission’s decision to enact new rules banning direct sales of vehicles by automakers, Tesla may have no other recourse than to vacate the local market come April 1.

Automotive News reports Governor Chris Christie’s administration faces accusations by Tesla from the decision, stating the automaker and the New Jersey Coalition of Automotive Retailers both agreed they would “address their issues in a more public forum: the New Jersey Legislature.”

In turn, the governor’s office responded by reminding Tesla that in order to conduct their brand of selling in New Jersey, the automaker “would need to engage the Legislation” in drafting a bill that would allow for direct sales.

Begging to differ, Tesla vice president of business development Diarmuid O’Connell explained his employer’s standpoint:

The statute in New Jersey plainly allows Tesla to be licensed to sell cars there. Indeed, the Motor Vehicle Commission has licensed Tesla under that statute ever since October 2012, and any suggestion that Tesla was told “since the beginning” about any problem with its ability to be licensed there is false. The only thing that has changed is the Christie Administration’s sudden decision to go around the Legislature in an attempt to enact a rule that the statute doesn’t permit. Worse, it has done so without any reasonable notice or even a public hearing.

NJ CAR president Jim Appleton, however, believes the commission is doing what is mandated in the enforcement of the statute. He doesn’t want to see the automaker leave the state, only wanting to help Tesla “operate in a manner consistent with the law.”

The commission’s decision places New Jersey on a list of states barring direct sales, including Arizona, Ohio and Texas.

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Volvo, Geely Aiming For BMW, Mercedes With A-Segment Lineup http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/03/volvo-geely-aiming-for-bmw-mercedes-with-a-segment-lineup/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/03/volvo-geely-aiming-for-bmw-mercedes-with-a-segment-lineup/#comments Fri, 07 Mar 2014 17:52:49 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=767329 2015 Volvo V60 T5 Sport Wagon Exterior-005

Volvo, with parent company Geely, is developing a lineup of premium A-segment vehicles aimed at the BMW 1 Series and Mercedes A-Class.

Edmunds reports the upcoming lineup will include a five-door crossover, a sedan and a hatchback, and will also offer the opportunity for Geely to sell their wares in the United States while offering a similar lineup in its home market.

Under the bonnet will be a range of engines driving either the front or all four wheels, including gasoline, diesel and their respective hybrid pairings, all based upon Volvo’s current four-cylinder engine family.

The A-segment joint venture will be based upon the upcoming Compact Modular Architecture developed in their China Euro Vehicle Technology research and development center, with the first cars due in 2017 at the earliest.

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FCA Beginning Maserati SUV Production In 2015 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/03/fca-beginning-maserati-suv-production-in-2015/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/03/fca-beginning-maserati-suv-production-in-2015/#comments Thu, 06 Mar 2014 13:45:29 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=766289 Maserati_Kubang_front

Fiat Chrysler Automobiles CEO Sergio Marchionne announced this week production of the Maserati Levante SUV will begin at the automaker’s Mirafiori plant in Turin, Italy beginning in 2015.

Reuters reports Marchionne also proclaimed the Alfieri introduced at the 2014 Geneva Auto Show could go into production within 28 months if FCA wanted to make it so, noting that “the platforms and motors are there” for the grand tourer, though no word was given on whether the Alfieri will join the Levante at Mirafiori should plans come to pass.

Regarding the financial health of Maserati, Marchionne remained optimistic for what the future holds, stating the Alfieri was “an indication of things to come” for the luxury brand. Maserati’s increased profits also signal a sea change for FCA overall as they prepare for Alfa Romeo’s re-introduction into the United States this summer.

However, an uphill battle still waits for FCA; while Maserati moved 15,400 units last year, the figure is far short of the brand’s goal of 50,000 units for 2015. The brand must also contend with the likes of Audi and BMW, emulating their successes with more affordable vehicles while also avoiding potential damage to its image.

Along with the aforementioned re-introduction, FCA is crossing its fingers that their two-prong strategy will pay off big by bringing the Italo-American automaker back in the black by 2016, surviving the economic storm in Europe that has all but battered the auto industry as a whole.

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Tesla Unveils $5 Billion Gigafactory http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/02/tesla-unveils-5-billion-gigafactory/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/02/tesla-unveils-5-billion-gigafactory/#comments Thu, 27 Feb 2014 15:10:18 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=755721 Tesla Gigafactory

After months of speculation, Tesla drew back the curtain on their most ambitious project to date, the Gigafactory.

Yahoo News reports the Gigafactory’s price tag would total $5 billion, $2 billion of which would directly from Tesla — including a portion from a proposed $1.6 billion convertible note offering that will also be used for future vehicle development — with current partner Panasonic and their partners fronting the remainder of the investment. Interestingly, Morgan Stanley announced it was expecting to collect underwriting fees from the note just one day after also issuing a research memo that called for a doubling of their price target for Tesla shares.

Four sites in Arizona, Nevada, New Mexico and Texas are under final consideration for the site of the Gigafactory, and the finished project will employ 6,500 workers. The first goal for the Gigafactory is to begin construction this year in time to open its doors in 2017 at the same time the low-cost Model E is set to enter showrooms, with battery costs projected to fall 30 percent in the same timeframe. The milestone will be followed by a push to increase cell and pack outputs by 35 and 50 GWh/yr by 2020, where Tesla expects to move 500,000 units a year into showrooms around the world. Despite widespread reports to the contrary, Musk told Bloomberg that Panasonic’s participation “is not 100 percent confirmed“.

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Hyundai To Challenge BMW, Mercedes With Genesis Sedan In Europe http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/02/hyundai-to-challenge-bmw-mercedes-with-genesis-sedan-in-europe/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/02/hyundai-to-challenge-bmw-mercedes-with-genesis-sedan-in-europe/#comments Thu, 27 Feb 2014 13:55:32 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=756313 2015 Hyundai Genesis

Set to be introduced to the European premium market at the Geneva Auto Show next week, the Hyundai Genesis will be aimed at establishing a foothold for the automaker in the market against BMW and Mercedes upon arrival in showrooms in June, particularly in Southern Europe, Slovakia and the Czech Republic.

Automotive News Europe reports Hyundai expects to sell 1,000 of the premium sedans to a targeted group of customers who are familiar with the brand, especially those ready to attach diplomat plates to their new purchase. No price has been announced thus far, though the automaker has pegged the BMW 5 Series and Mercedes E-Class as rivals to their Genesis.

Overall, Hyundai aims to increase their market share on the continent from 3.4 percent currently to 5 percent by 2020. Though sales fell 5.5 percent last month, there are already 6 million vehicles on the road, with 70 percent under seven years of age. Customer retention also increased, moving from 36 percent in 2010 to 50 percent in the present, which benefits Hyundai in Europe according to regional head Allan Rushforth:

Working on loyalty is really fundamental to the economics of our business, and the success of our business in Europe. We’ve been a conquest brand to get to this point, but we’ve got to evolve and mature to balance retention and conquest in the future.

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Less Than Thirty Percent Of Kia Dealers To Sell 2015 K900 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/02/less-than-thirty-percent-of-kia-dealers-to-sell-2015-k900/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/02/less-than-thirty-percent-of-kia-dealers-to-sell-2015-k900/#comments Thu, 27 Feb 2014 13:55:24 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=756329 kia-k900-la-auto-show-09

Kia’s first RWD V8 premium sedan for the United States is set to arrive next month, though less than 30 percent of all Kia dealerships will be ready to welcome the K900 when the first shipments arrive.

Edmunds reports the $60,000 sedan — aimed at the Lexus LS 400 and Mercedes S550 — will be sold by dealerships who signed up for the $30,000 training and display package designed around the K900, according to Kia spokesman Scott McKee:

The experience is designed to shift the culture, prepare authorized K900 dealers to welcome customers who may have never visited a Kia dealership and bring with them expectations set by other luxury brands. That cultural change will have a ripple effect through our network, elevating the experience for all Kia customers.

Kia executive vice president of sales and marketing Michael Sprague added that 220 of Kia’s 765 dealers in U.S. premium markets along the coasts and within the South and Chicago have signed up thus far, though he expects more will join the party once the first phase of the training and marketing push behind the K900 is successful.

As for what customers will see when the K900 arrives in those select showrooms, the premium sedan will have its own space, with dark wood inlays cut into the floor, displays highlighting various color and trim options, and a touchscreen device showing a video of the car’s interior.

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Panasonic, Partners Plan To Invest $1 Billion In Tesla Gigafactory http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/02/panasonic-partners-plan-to-invest-1-billion-in-tesla-gigafactory/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/02/panasonic-partners-plan-to-invest-1-billion-in-tesla-gigafactory/#comments Wed, 26 Feb 2014 15:00:08 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=754985 Toyota Panasonic TF108

In the wake of Tesla shares hitting an all-time high of $259.20 after Morgan Stanley raised its target price to $320/share, battery maker Panasonic is gathering a few partners to go all in on a $1 billion investment in the automaker’s Gigafactory battery production plant.

The Globe and Mail reports that the plant, set to open in 2017 (just in time for production of the Tesla Model E), will help bolster Panasonic’s supply of lithium-ion batteries already found in the Model S and, soon, the Model X. The Gigafactory would also provide packs to Toyota and various automakers interested in the technology.

Though the proposed factory would lower production costs by placing the entire process under one roof, the main purpose according to Tesla CEO Elon Musk is “to support the volume of the third generation car”:

Meanwhile, investors heeded the advice of Morgan Stanley Tuesday, pushing Tesla share prices to a record peak of $259.20 before falling to $248 at close. The firm raised its target price per share from $153 to $320 based on the potential effects the Gigafactory could have on the United States auto industry in the next 14 years, an assessment Stifel analyst James Albertine believes to be a game-changer in the energy storage market:

While we remain negative on Tesla shares above $200 as an automotive OEM (original equipment manufacturer), the energy storage opportunity requires a broader perspective and could very well justify current, if not higher valuation levels.

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