The Truth About Cars » BMW http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com The Truth About Cars is dedicated to providing candid, unbiased automobile reviews and the latest in auto industry news. Thu, 19 Feb 2015 19:17:32 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=4.0.1 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 » BMW http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/wp-content/themes/ttac-theme/images/logo.gif http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com Book Review: End of the Road: BMW and Rover- A Brand Too Far http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/02/book-review-end-road-bmw-rover-brand-far/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/02/book-review-end-road-bmw-rover-brand-far/#comments Tue, 17 Feb 2015 16:00:04 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1001754 Sometimes, the automotive marques we all know and love have to go bust. Such was the case of Duesenberg, Oldsmobile, Hispano-Suiza, and Talbot-Lago despite their heritage and today’s strong collector-car market for those brands. Unfortunately, in the 2000s, Rover had to join them. However, it wasn’t without a fight, as detailed in End of the […]

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800px-Rover_75_Tourer_2001_rear

Sometimes, the automotive marques we all know and love have to go bust. Such was the case of Duesenberg, Oldsmobile, Hispano-Suiza, and Talbot-Lago despite their heritage and today’s strong collector-car market for those brands. Unfortunately, in the 2000s, Rover had to join them. However, it wasn’t without a fight, as detailed in End of the Road: BMW and Rover- A Brand Too Far. The book explores BMW’s massive investment in the Rover Group throughout the 1990s and how it became disastrous for all parties involved. Through piecing together news reports about BMW and Rover during the period and conducting interviews with people involved in the sale, the book gives a hard look at the relationship between the Rover Group and BMW during the 1990s and why BMW ended up paying a large amount of money to get rid of Rover in 2000.

At the beginning, the authors, business journalist Andrew Lorenz, and academic Dr. Chris Brady, give a profile of Rover before its sale to BMW in 1994. Then, Rover was a subsidiary of British Aerospace, who had bought the Rover Group from the British government in 1988, which at the time was going through its own troubles with its aircraft operations in the early 1990s. In order to survive, British Aerospace had to get rid of its non-core businesses, of which Rover was one. Therefore, the Rover management began looking for buyers of the car company. Volkswagen was interested in adding Rover; however, they were coming off badly from the 1990s financial crisis and couldn’t match what BMW paid.

The buying of Rover by BMW was overseen by then BMW CEO Bernd Pischetsrieder, whose goal was to increase the volume of cars made by the BMW Group. Throughout the 1990s, automakers realized they needed to grow in order to survive. That sort of reasoning led to automaker purchases such as Volkswagen taking a large stake in Skoda, Daimler buying Chrysler, and Renault eventually forming an alliance with Nissan. BMW’s purchase of Rover was seen as significant in that it was a midsize automaker (at the time) buying what was more or less another midsize automaker.

During the time of the sale, Rover’s cars were largely Hondas underneath the skin, utilizing Honda platforms and many Honda parts. Honda owned twenty percent of Rover as well. It had a profitable side in the form of Land Rover, but that was included with the Rover sale just so the company could be sold. In fact, Honda was the preferred buyer during the sale of Rover, but Honda didn’t want to buy Rover outright, just increase its ownership stake. Their own valuation of Rover was much lower than the 800 million pounds that BMW was willing to pay. The sale  also included the MG, Mini, Triumph, Riley, Wolseley, Austin, and Morris names (BMW still owns Austin and a couple of others).

Initially, BMW took a very hands-off approach to the running of Rover. They expected the existing British management to take the Rover brand upmarket. As BMW had little experience running factories outside of Germany, that was seen as a mistake by Lorenz and Brady. In the authors’ view, that kept BMW from experiencing firsthand the weakness of the Rover brand. To illustrate some of their points in the book, the authors reference the five-part BBC documentary When Rover Met BMW. Though the documentary was started before BMW ownership, BMW still allowed the documentary to continue filming after the sale. In it, Wolfgang Reitzle, who had then become the chairman of Rover, was seen as irritated with Rover management, especially when stuck in traffic with one of Rover’s managers. Lorenz and Brady characterize the documentary as giving “the television audience a rare insight into a struggling merger.”

As things became worse at Rover, BMW began to bring in its own staff to the UK. Land Rover quality was a huge problem, and warranty repairs represented another financial loss to the company with Pischetsrieder referring to it as ‘a scandal.’ BMW managers also worked hard on the Rover branding, attempting to take it upmarket and working hard on the Rover 75 (above) to help re-launch the brand. By 1997, Rover was costing BMW over 600 million pounds a year. Rover also got a new chairman, Walter Hasselkus, who had come up the ranks at BMW for turning around its once-struggling motorcycle division. Other joint ventures were considered, such as one with Chrysler, which resulted in a joint venture engine plant in Brazil. (That plant ultimately made engines for the Mini and some versions of the PT Cruiser.)

A strengthening British pound, which significantly increased the prices of Rovers in Europe, and would severely hamper Rover sales abroad, did further damage to BMW’s Rover strategy. I talso meant that the possibility of exporting Rovers to the United States would be in jeopardy. Furthermore, BMW had to deal with the British political situation with regard to Rover’s Longbridge plant, an immense part of the economy for the West Midlands region of the UK. Such was the case when BMW asked for 200 million pounds of aid to keep Longbridge open; however, the government didn’t wish to provide the funds necessary because of the optics of the situation. Additionally, any possibility of a further tie-up with Chrysler was halted when Daimler bought them. The lukewarm launch of the Rover 75 was perhaps the final straw. Despite critical acclaim, it never achieved financial success.

Eventually, the Rover purchase resulted in major executive upheaval for BMW. At the top level of BMW, factions between executives had formed. One was behind Bernd Pischetsrieder and putting more resources into Rover, while the top-level faction was led by Wolfgang Reitzle, the number two man at BMW who was in charge of marketing and product development who wanted to shed Rover. On February 5, 1999, Bernd Pischetsrieder and Wolfgang Reitzle ended up resigning on the same day as the Quandt family (BMW’s owners) and BMW chairman Eberhard von Kuenheim felt they were distracting the company with their politics. Such was the impact the Rover purchase had on BMW that something drastic had to be done about Rover.

Surprisingly, the book argues that much of Rover’s troubles wasn’t due to the unions. Sure, there were more employees than were needed considering Rover’s sales, but the British workers’ unions knew largely what was at stake and knew what footing Rover was standing on. In 1999, the unions agreed to a 35-hour workweek without cutting any jobs and agreed to a reduction in their pay raises for the next few years. This was accomplished without protests and strikes, as the workers knew the company was on the line. In fact, other automakers were surprised by how British unions agreed to such low terms, as when such provisions were implemented in BMW’s German factories, a six-week strike took place, while the British agreed to the terms in two months after they were proposed.

Overall, End of the Road: BMW and Rover- A Brand Too Far is a good, short read for those who want to know what happened behind-the-scenes during the last major attempt to get Rover and its brands back on their feet. It will explain the reasoning behind Land Rover sale to Ford and BMW’s retention of MINI, which has paid off in dividends for BMW during the last ten years. It explains why Rover Group eventually ended up being sold to the state-owned Shanghai Automotive Industry Corporation (SAIC) after passing through the hands of a private-equity consortium called Phoenix, which took many of the liabilities from the Rover deal that BMW no longer wanted. In the end, the book provides a very comprehensive look into an automotive merger gone wrong for everyone involved.

Satish Kondapavulur is a writer for Clunkerture, where about a fifth of the articles are about old cars and where his one-time LeMons racing dreams came to an end, once he realized it was impossible to run a Ferrari Mondial. Since he’s writing about Rover, he needs to inform you of his search for a good P38 Range Rover and is hoping that you might know of one for sale.

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Reader Review: 2015 BMW X3 28i http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/01/reader-review-2015-bmw-x3-28i/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/01/reader-review-2015-bmw-x3-28i/#comments Sat, 31 Jan 2015 17:30:36 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=991458 If you’ve been around the automotive journalism long enough (and by long enough, I mean like three months in total), you’ll begin to realize that a lot of press vehicles you drive aren’t indicative of what most people actually buy. Most test vehicles have five figures worth of options, with features that at most, an […]

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X3 Exterior

If you’ve been around the automotive journalism long enough (and by long enough, I mean like three months in total), you’ll begin to realize that a lot of press vehicles you drive aren’t indicative of what most people actually buy. Most test vehicles have five figures worth of options, with features that at most, an auto journalist will expend 50 words on. Meanwhile, on lots across the country, most dealers probably have one or two very loaded cars which end up being discounted heavily towards the end of the quarter.

My experience of full-optioned press cars had to do with a silver BMW 335i xDrive Gran Turismo at a local auto journalist event. While the base price of the car was $47,775, this car had almost $12,000 in options, or enough to buy an E36 M3 in good condition. “Let’s give it the more powerful engine, all-wheel-drive, the dynamic handling package, and the M Sport package” the person in charge of configuring the 3-Series GT must have thought, “at least auto journalists will say it handled very well and forget about the styling.” This car even had head-up display and the $650 M Sport brakes.

Even when I was searching for road tests of the X3 online, I good majority were reviews of the powerful xDrive35i version or for the new diesel model. So when I had access to a 2015 X3 xDrive28i for a few days, I leapt at the opportunity to write a review on it, because it was the version most X3 buyers purchased.

Now, this 2015 BMW X3 xDrive28i that I’m writing about is not a vehicle designated for press people. In fact, it belongs to my dad, and while he chose the color combination, I chose most of the options. As a result, I can’t blame whoever specs BMW’s press vehicles. So the fact it doesn’t have the navigation system, which saves me a paragraph describing it? My fault. That it doesn’t have heated seats? My lapse. The fact that it doesn’t have parking sensors or a rear-view camera? My bad. The fact that I still don’t know what the $500 “Enhanced USB/Bluetooth with Smartphone Integration” option does? I really need to get on that.

As for the things I am proud of, it’s the Deep Sea Blue exterior color and Oyster color interior. (A quick note on the Oyster leather: it’s surprisingly easy to stain, so be careful when wearing jeans or leaving a pen on the seat.) This one also has the Premium Package with a massive moonroof and keyless entry, the xenon lights, and the Harman/Kardon sound system. And all of it was available at an MSRP south of $50K.

Before reading the rest of the review, you might think, “He must have recommended this car to his dad if he’s writing about it! This is totally going to be a love story about the X3!” Believe it or not, I recommended the Jeep Grand Cherokee Ecodiesel, as a very well-equipped one came in easily under $50,000, got good fuel mileage, and I thought it handled very well for its size. But my dad drove it and dismissed it as too big.

Other cars considered were Lexus RX (too soccer mom-ish), Toyota 4Runner (too truck-ish), Toyota Highlander (this is for replacing the minivan). The Mercedes GLK, Audi Q5, and Range Rover Evoque were dismissed as my dad is a BMW person. (For background, the man kept an E39 530i running for 13 years, which is two more than the 1990 Accord he had.) I don’t think he drove any of those alternatives, and neither have I, so I won’t definitively say the X3 is the best out of all those alternatives.

First, I’ll focus on the interior, which is about the same size as the interior of the first-generation X5. It’s a pleasant place with chrome accents and wood trim in the right places. The Oyster interior helps considerably too. The cupholders are usable, which is important when coming from a car in which both cupholders (if you can call them those) are broken. The panoramic moonroof that’s part of the Premium package was great for the scenic photos when driving down Highway 1. In fact, the X3 managed to easily fit five adults and their luggage for a weekend. Moreover, the Harmon/Kardon sound system is a pretty good upgrade from the normal sound system.

However, if you’re over 6”3’, more than 200 pounds, and might need a third seat, don’t consider the X3. Otherwise, when sitting in the driver’s seat, your head will hit the ceiling and you’ll probably find the seat not wide enough. Additionally, while I wrote in the last paragraph that the X3 could seat 3 full-size adults, just make sure the cumulative weight doesn’t exceed 500 pounds. And if you’re a family of four who takes their dog with them on road trips, the X3 is not your car.

Though the options list is long, there’s surprisingly (for a BMW) a lot of standard features. The storage package, which includes cargo nets, a collapsible cargo box, and a reversible mat, is standard. So is the automatic climate control. Even the ambient lighting that I praised is standard. The tailgate and side mirrors are power-operated. However, the tilt-and-telescoping steering wheel is not power-operated, which coming from the 530i, was a disappointment.

Whenever I discuss the exterior, I generally don’t focus too much on styling. But the X3 was facelifted for the 2015 model year, with most of the differences being on the front clip, with the headlights that connect to the grille. BMW offers two appearance packages: the xLine package and the M Sport body kit. Personally, I don’t like the look of the M Sport package (or sport packages in general), while the xLine has the silver trim bits for the faux off-roader look, which I don’t mind. There are also turn signals on the side mirrors. One thing I did like was the exterior lighting beneath the door handles when getting into the car. BMW got the ambient lighting very, very right. Also, the X3 comes with the foot sensor as standard

Regarding performance, I didn’t push the X3 to its limits because a) it belongs to my dad and not BMW of North America, and b) it has less than 1400 miles on the odometer so the drivetrain still needed to be broken in. It has a 2.0-liter inline-four with a twin-scroll turbo that makes about 240 hp. According the BMW website, it can go from 0 to 60 mph in 6.2 seconds, which is quicker than the 530i it’s replacing. On the highway, I never found myself complaining about lack of power, even when it was fully loaded with five people. If you need something faster, the xDrive35i with 300 horsepower is about $5,000 more.

I briefly played with the different powertrain modes, which were: Comfort, Sport, and Eco Pro. Eco Pro makes the X3 rear-drive only and ensures the transmission is in the highest gear possible for the best mileage. I found myself using it in high traffic situations, where quick throttle response wasn’t needed. Sport mode sharpened up throttle response, but I found myself never using it and suspect most owners won’t either. Usually I drove the X3 in its default mode, Comfort, in which I didn’t need to press the throttle closer to the floor and when all-wheel-drive was on.

For those of you contemplating the diesel version of the 2015 X3 (the xDrive28d model), I considered that one too. In fact, I even put a deposit on one until we were informed that Hawaii (no joke!) was allocated the last X3 diesel build slots for a 2014 delivery. However, since the diesel is $1,500 more expensive and the price of premium gas has gone down significantly, the normal xDrive28i is a viable alternative. Also, my dad test drove the diesel X3 (while I was in the back seat playing with the air vents) and found the power deficit noticeable compared to the normal version and noisy at lower speeds.

Ultimately, if you have $50,000 to spend on a luxury five-passenger crossover, you can’t go wrong with the X3. When we were buying the X3 at the end of last year, it became easier to find a 7-Series in a dealer’s inventory in Northern California than any version of the X3. It was even easier to find an Audi S4 than an X3. They’re that popular. So BMW must be doing something right with the X3 (or they’re exporting more abroad for higher profits, or the X4 took up a good portion of the assembly line) that people are snapping them up left and right.

In the end, I understand why. The xDrive28i is surprisingly well-priced as long as you don’t go overboard with the options.  It handles nicely, can accelerate quickly, has a pleasant interior, has four years of free maintenance, and can take a lot of cargo. My dad, and not me, made an excellent decision, and neither of us have any regrets. Except for the “Enhanced USB/Bluetooth with Smartphone Integration” option. I still haven’t figured that one out.

DSC_0174 DSC_0175 DSC_0177 DSC_0179 DSC_0184 IMG_20150130_201148 X3 Exterior X3 front X3 Rear

Satish Kondapavulur is a writer for Clunkerture, where about a fifth of the articles are about old cars and where his one-time LeMons racing dreams came to an end, once he realized it was impossible to run a Ferrari Mondial. He still prefers the Grand Cherokee EcoDiesel.

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Land Rovers, Jaguars Et Al Leave Höegh Osaka After Month At Sea http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/01/land-rovers-jaguars-et-al-leave-hoegh-osaka-month-sea/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/01/land-rovers-jaguars-et-al-leave-hoegh-osaka-month-sea/#comments Fri, 30 Jan 2015 11:00:05 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=991122 Having spent most of January on its side, the Höegh Osaka returned to Southampton, England Tuesday to unload 1,400 premium vehicles bound for Germany. According to The Daily Mail, the car carrier was intentionally run aground in the Solent off the Isle of Wight January 3 when it began to list at 52 degrees shortly […]

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Land Rover Hoegh Osaka

Having spent most of January on its side, the Höegh Osaka returned to Southampton, England Tuesday to unload 1,400 premium vehicles bound for Germany.

According to The Daily Mail, the car carrier was intentionally run aground in the Solent off the Isle of Wight January 3 when it began to list at 52 degrees shortly after departing for Germany through the English Channel. Around 1,400 premium vehicles were onboard, including Land Rover Defenders, Jaguar XFs, MINIs, a Rolls-Royce Wraith, and a Porsche Boxster.

Presently, each of the 1,400 vehicles aboard are being inspected for any damage, especially the type that would mean a final ride to the crusher. The final total won’t come until early next week at the latest, though a decision to follow in Mazda’s footsteps — the automaker scrapped 4,700 units aboard the Cougar Ace in 2006 — would prove costly; the total value of Höegh Osaka’s cargo stands at £30 million ($45 million USD).

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Toyota, BMW Working On Entry-Level MINI Minor Model http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/01/toyota-bmw-working-entry-level-mini-minor-model/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/01/toyota-bmw-working-entry-level-mini-minor-model/#comments Tue, 27 Jan 2015 12:00:18 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=988994 Been waiting for a MINI that actually lives up to its name? Toyota and BMW are working on such a thing, called the Minor. Automobile Magazine reports the Minor is in the earliest phases of development, and would likely pull its looks from the 2012 Rocketman concept and the current Paceman crossover. Pricing would range […]

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MINI-Rocketman-Concept-2012-widescreen-01

Been waiting for a MINI that actually lives up to its name? Toyota and BMW are working on such a thing, called the Minor.

Automobile Magazine reports the Minor is in the earliest phases of development, and would likely pull its looks from the 2012 Rocketman concept and the current Paceman crossover. Pricing would range between $14,500 and $16,000.

As far as platforms go, the two automakers are going all in on a “bargain basement effort” for the Minor — including a reduction in size and content — instead of using a similarly sized platform like that of the Toyota Aygo, BMW preferring the Minor to not be a badge-engineered product developed and assembled elsewhere.

The new MINI would be one of five new models coming into the portfolio between now and 2018, including an all-new 2016 Countryman and a Superleggera roadster for 2018.

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QOTD: When Did BMW Lose Its Edge? http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/01/qotd-bmw-lose-edge/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/01/qotd-bmw-lose-edge/#comments Fri, 23 Jan 2015 17:11:22 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=988002 Twenty years ago, BMW was the coolest automaker in the world. I know this because I – as a young lad of less than ten, growing up in the 1990s – desperately wanted my father to purchase a BMW. And he – as a rational, middle-aged man in his 40s – ended up in a […]

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bambam

Twenty years ago, BMW was the coolest automaker in the world. I know this because I – as a young lad of less than ten, growing up in the 1990s – desperately wanted my father to purchase a BMW. And he – as a rational, middle-aged man in his 40s – ended up in a Camry with cloth seats and a tape player. He wasn’t the BMW type. He wasn’t cool enough. Back then, few were.

Remember the BMW of yore? The sharknose 6 Series. That late-1990s 7 Series (E38) that looked like the kind of thing the devil would drive, if he was late to a board meeting in Hell. The beautiful mid-1990s 5 Series (E34), and the perfect late-1990s 5 Series (E39) that followed it. The Z8. The Z3, which – although it hasn’t aged well – came out to universal acclaim in the mid-90s, and made its way into a Bond movie soon after. And then there was the 3 Series: the E30. The E36. The E46. The brand’s bread-and-butter, perfectly executed, perfectly sized, perfect to drive.

Little did we know, it was the brand’s all-time peak.

Twenty years later, here we are: the BMW of now. Gran Coupes. Gran Turismos. xDrive35i. Sports activity vehicles. iDrive. And a front-wheel drive electric car with a trim level called Giga World. I swear that if a meeting ever took place between the two BMW eras, 1990s BMW would punch 2010s BMW in the face and give it a wedgie while it was lying on the ground.

Things have gotten so bad that there’s kind of a running understanding among modern car enthusiasts that BMW has turned to crap. It’s like when you’re on a boat, and you’re rapidly taking on water. Nobody says you’re taking on water, but it’s plain to see: there you are, in the middle of the ocean, with minnows swimming around your ankles.

Essentially, the problems are as follows: the cars are bloated. The segments make no sense. The names are bizarre. And what the hell is the 2 Series Active Sports Tourer? Is that a joke? Are we supposed to pretend that thing simply doesn’t exist?

So my question today is: what the hell happened? Where did BMW go wrong? When did the once almighty BMW, the ambassador of cool, the diplomat of debonair (eh? EH?!), finally go off into the deep end and lose the plot? I’ll give you my theory – and below, you can submit yours.

My theory: it wasn’t a car that caused BMW to lose it. It was an all-out, no-holds-barred sales-chasing mentality; the kind of mentality Chrysler has with the rental fleets. I think it was this strategy – and not the vehicles themselves – that led to the decline of BMW. Essentially, it was the moment the automaker went from “How can we make this car cooler?” to “Why don’t we have a vehicle in the all-wheel drive rhombus segment?”

Of course, the “sell everything” mentality dramatically affected the products. Out went the careful styling decisions and the restrained lineup; in came segment-busting products and low-payment lease deals. The 3 Series grew huge. The X1 came into existence. And the 5 Series went from “desirable and stealthy” to “enormous and anonymous.”

But in my opinion, none of that would’ve happened if BMW had remained happy with the status quo: build cool cars, and sell a lot of them. Not tons of them, mind you. Not zillions. Not eleven crossovers and twelve variants of the 3 Series. But enough cars to generate a big profit while retaining the “cool guy” image.

So, what say you? Where do you think BMW took a wrong turn?

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BMW, Volkswagen Team With ChargePoint For Bi-Coastal Network http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/01/bmw-volkswagen-team-chargepoint-bi-coastal-network/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/01/bmw-volkswagen-team-chargepoint-bi-coastal-network/#comments Fri, 23 Jan 2015 13:00:57 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=987810 More charging stations are on the way for EV owners, thanks to a new partnership between BMW, Volkswagen and ChargePoint. The first phase of the partnership will be 100 DC fast chargers running north to south between Portland and San Diego on the West Coast, Boston and the District of Columbia on the East Coast. […]

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BMW i3 and Volkswagen e-Golf DC Charging

More charging stations are on the way for EV owners, thanks to a new partnership between BMW, Volkswagen and ChargePoint.

The first phase of the partnership will be 100 DC fast chargers running north to south between Portland and San Diego on the West Coast, Boston and the District of Columbia on the East Coast. Each station will have up to two 50 kW DC Fast or 24 kW DC Combo Fast chargers for most EVs like the BMW i3 and Volkswagen e-Golf, as well as Level 2 chargers for all EVs. Access to each location is granted by a ChargePoint or ChargeNow membership card.

The new stations will be in metro and intercity locations — such as restaurants, malls and rest stops — spaced up to 50 miles apart for long-distance travel, joining a network of over 20,000 ChargePoint stations throughout the United States. The first location is online now in San Diego County, Calif., with the other 99 expected by the end of 2015.

Express Charging.Infographic.300dpi

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NAIAS 2015: BMW May Introduce AWD to M Division, No M Supercar In Future http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/01/naias-2015-bmw-may-introduce-awd-m-division-no-m-supercar-future/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/01/naias-2015-bmw-may-introduce-awd-m-division-no-m-supercar-future/#comments Tue, 13 Jan 2015 21:50:54 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=982377 With Mercedes-AMG models delivering their power to the road through all four wheels, BMW is considering doing the same for most of its M division. However, if anyone was hoping the Bavarians would also bring back the M1, you can breathe now. AutoGuide reports BMW has no plans to add an AWD system to the […]

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OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

With Mercedes-AMG models delivering their power to the road through all four wheels, BMW is considering doing the same for most of its M division. However, if anyone was hoping the Bavarians would also bring back the M1, you can breathe now.

AutoGuide reports BMW has no plans to add an AWD system to the M3 and M4, since the additional weight of such a system would offset any gains the engineers made to shed weight on the two models.

However, for M models above the two, such as the M5 or M6, M Division product management chief Carsten Pries says if his division sees “further increases in terms of horsepower in segments above the M3 and M4,” AWD could be a possibility.

As far as an M1 or i8-based M8 goes, though, he says such a proposition is “very exciting” and “lucrative,” such an effort wouldn’t make sense on either a technical or commercial level. Instead, the focus is on bringing in more profit with models like the M135i, and those from the M Sport range:

[Cars like these] clearly give us an indication of how much demand there is to go up from a top model BMW model into the exclusive products of BMW M. Customers say ‘I want even more of this very emotional experience,’ and they ideally end up with an M Sport and then an M core model.

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NAIAS 2015: BMW 6 Series Reveals New Face For 2016 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/01/naias-2015-bmw-6-series-reveals-new-face-2016/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/01/naias-2015-bmw-6-series-reveals-new-face-2016/#comments Tue, 13 Jan 2015 19:20:10 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=981521 Behold the new face of luxury: the 2016 BMW 6 Series. Our brothers at AutoGuide report the facelift includes revised grill openings, a front apron with a single air intake opening, fog lamps whose decorative surround changes on the body style, and updated headlamps. Revised side view mirrors and a redesigned backside emphasizing the BMW’s […]

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2016 BMW 6 Series 04

Behold the new face of luxury: the 2016 BMW 6 Series.

Our brothers at AutoGuide report the facelift includes revised grill openings, a front apron with a single air intake opening, fog lamps whose decorative surround changes on the body style, and updated headlamps. Revised side view mirrors and a redesigned backside emphasizing the BMW’s wide track make up the rest of the exterior changes.

Under the bonnet is the same story from before: 315-horsepower six-cylinder or 445-horsepower V8, with RWD and AWD available for the 6 Series coupe, gran coupe and convertible. Those who opt for the 640i will have a standard sport exhaust system with switchable exhaust to enhance or reduce exhaust notes.

The revised 6 Series is set to arrive in showrooms Q2 2015.

2016 BMW 6 Series 04 2016 BMW 6 Series 01 2016 BMW 6 Series 02 2016 BMW 6 Series 03

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New Apps, Infotainment Systems Turn Up At 2015 CES http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/01/new-apps-infotainment-systems-turn-2015-ces/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/01/new-apps-infotainment-systems-turn-2015-ces/#comments Thu, 08 Jan 2015 14:00:15 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=973610 Autonomous alien luxury pods and royalty-free hydrogen patents aren’t the only things coming onto the stage during the 2015 Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas. Today, we’ll show you the latest and greatest from BMW, FCA, Audi and Ford, with the help from our brothers and sisters over at AutoGuide. BMW introduced non-contact gesture controls […]

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FCA Uconnect Access Services

Autonomous alien luxury pods and royalty-free hydrogen patents aren’t the only things coming onto the stage during the 2015 Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas. Today, we’ll show you the latest and greatest from BMW, FCA, Audi and Ford, with the help from our brothers and sisters over at AutoGuide.

BMW introduced non-contact gesture controls for its Control Display touchscreen infotainment system, allowing drivers to input a given address with directed gestures made between the instrument panel and gear shift, among other tasks. Another system, Touch Command, will use a standard Samsung tablet to handle all infotainment and comfort functions, and provides wireless access to all onboard electronics for all passengers.

Over at FCA, the automaker debuted new additions to its Uconnect Access suite of apps: Vehicle Finder, Send Destination to Vehicle, Monthly Vehicle Report and Vehicle Health Alert. All four allow owners to keep tabs on their vehicle’s systems, easily navigate to a given destination, and know where their vehicle is at all times. The new suite will debut in H1 2015 on select FCA products equipped with either 8.4A or 8.4AN Uconnect systems.

Audi showed off the new interior of the next-gen Q7 — set to bow in Detroit next week as a 2016 model — to the media in attendance at the 2015 CES. The dashboard arrangement is derived from the TT, featuring a 12.3-inch Audi Virtual Cockpit display with 3D maps and other important information. An additional pop-up central display uses a rotary knob and touch-sensitive pad to operate, while two large, removable, Wi-Fi-enabled tablets mounted in the back of the front headrests provide navigation info and entertainment for those seated in back.

Finally, Ford has added on AccuWeather and Life360 to the AppLink suite of apps on-board the new, QNX-based Sync 3 system. The Life360 Sync 3 app has a special Drive Mode feature that sends text messages to a driver’s friends and family so that they know not to contact the user while driving, with a follow-up text sent upon arrival at the user’s destination. AccuWeather, meanwhile, will use GPS to give minute-by-minute weather forecasts to help drivers better deal with and plan around inclement weather.

BMW CES 2015 01 BMW CES 2015 02 BMW CES 2015 03 BMW CES 2015 04 Uconnect_Access_Smartphone_App_ Vehicle_Finder Send_Destination_to_Vehicle_FCA Monthly_Vehicle_Health_Report Audi Q7 CES 2015 01 Audi Q7 CES 2015 02 Audi Q7 CES 2015 03 Audi Q7 CES 2015 04 Ford CES 2015 01 Ford CES 2015 02 Ford CES 2015 03 Ford CES 2015 04

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BMW Takes US Luxury Sales Crown Back From Mercedes http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/01/bmw-takes-us-luxury-sales-crown-back-mercedes/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/01/bmw-takes-us-luxury-sales-crown-back-mercedes/#comments Wed, 07 Jan 2015 12:00:48 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=972809 After a year-long battle for the top position on the U.S. luxury sales podium, BMW takes back the crown Mercedes-Benz won in 2013. Reuters reports the Bavarians moved over 9,000 more units by the end of 2014 over the wonder boys back in Stuttgart, coming out to a total of 339,738 for BMW, 330,391 for […]

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After a year-long battle for the top position on the U.S. luxury sales podium, BMW takes back the crown Mercedes-Benz won in 2013.

Reuters reports the Bavarians moved over 9,000 more units by the end of 2014 over the wonder boys back in Stuttgart, coming out to a total of 339,738 for BMW, 330,391 for Mercedes. Both automakers also experienced growth in U.S. sales during the last year, though BMW’s 9.8 percent boost over 2013’s numbers raced past Mercedes’ 5.7 percent increase.

Taking third on the podium was Lexus with 311,389 units sold in 2014, though its rate of growth bested the top two finishers at 13.7 percent over 2013.

Rounding out the rest of the U.S. mainstream luxury pack, Audi took fourth from Cadillac, the latter to be the only make to see a decline in growth in 2014, falling 6.5 percent to 170,750 units; Audi sold 182,011 over the same period, 15.2 percent more than it did in 2013.

Acura and Infiniti took sixth and seventh respectively, with 167,843 to 117,300 units moved. Both also experienced the lowest rates of growth in sales in the outgoing year: 1.5 percent in Acura’s favor, 0.8 percent for Infiniti.

Lincoln finished dead last with 94,474 units sold, but had the biggest rate of growth out of its fellow competitors compared to 2013 at 15.6 percent.

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Connected-Vehicle Tech Takes Center Stage At 2015 CES http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/01/connected-vehicle-tech-takes-center-stage-2015-ces/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/01/connected-vehicle-tech-takes-center-stage-2015-ces/#comments Tue, 06 Jan 2015 15:00:16 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=972098 You’ve seen the 2016 Chevrolet Volt at the 2015 Consumer Electronics Show; now see what else automotive-related is debuting at the annual tech show in Las Vegas. Whether you have an iPhone 6 Plus or a Nexus 6, Volkswagen has you covered for connectivity. According to AutoGuide, the automaker unveiled its new App-Connect system at […]

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MirrorLink VW CES

You’ve seen the 2016 Chevrolet Volt at the 2015 Consumer Electronics Show; now see what else automotive-related is debuting at the annual tech show in Las Vegas.

Whether you have an iPhone 6 Plus or a Nexus 6, Volkswagen has you covered for connectivity. According to AutoGuide, the automaker unveiled its new App-Connect system at CES 2015 with a demo in its e-Golf. The system also works with MirrorLink, found on smartphones like the HTC One, Samsung Galaxy Note, and Sony Xperia Z. Other demos involving the EV itself included its Intelligent Charge wireless charging system, and the Perfect Parking autonomous parking feature.

Sticking with VW, future BlackBerry spinoff QNX announced it would partner up with the brand in providing its technology for new 2015 models, including the Touareg, Passat and Golf. The system supports 3D Google Earth and Google Street View, and offers real-time traffic information, reverse camera display, and four-zone climate controls among its array of features. QNX is also in use by parent company Volkswagen AG’s Audi and Porsche brands.

QNX also unveiled its latest concept car at CES 2015. Based upon the Maserati Quattroporte GTS, the Snapdragon 602A-powered QNX Quattroporte Technology Concept Car introduces the company’s take on autonomous driving. The concept uses ultrasonic radar, LIDAR and cameras to navigate and anticipate obstacles, as well as provide warning to those inside via its high-res touchscreen display from the CLA 45 AMG QNX Concept. QNX also brought an updated version of its Jeep Wrangler Technology Concept Car to demo the company’s technologies via a virtualized driving environment.

Those of you dealing with “the second coming of the polar vortex” might be happy to know that one day, you’ll be able to start your car via smartphone. Valeo’s InBlue technology uses Bluetooth to not only accomplish said task, but to also unlock doors, allow for secure vehicle sharing, and access vitals like fuel level and where your car is among the many silver-backed crossovers in the mall parking lot. InBlue is also compatible with smartwatches, and could hit the market as early as 2016.

Finally, 100 select BMW i3 owners in northern California will take part in a pilot program by Pacific Gas & Electric Company and BMW to study electric-vehicle charging time management, with the aim of improving the grid and reducing total cost of ownership of EVs. The target is to give PG&E 100 kilowatts of capacity at any time, even while groups of EVs recharge their batteries; BMW will determine when an i3 is charged, though owners can override via the i3’s smartphone app upon notification. Each participant will be paid a $1,000 incentive for their time.

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Question Of The Day, Grandma Edition: Why Are EVs So Odd Looking? http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/01/question-day-grandma-edition-evs-odd-looking/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/01/question-day-grandma-edition-evs-odd-looking/#comments Mon, 05 Jan 2015 16:46:33 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=971530 Today’s QOTD comes from Grandma, who is on vacation in Florida. Grandma writes: i have a a chevy sonic rental.  i parked it, it is so small it was a breeze   lots of 2014 mercedes sitting in dealer lots here.  saw 2 bmw electric cars.  the back lights look like the kia soul.  it […]

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Today’s QOTD comes from Grandma, who is on vacation in Florida. Grandma writes:

i have a a chevy sonic rental.  i parked it, it is so small it was a breeze   lots of 2014 mercedes sitting in dealer lots here.  saw 2 bmw electric cars.  the back lights look like the kia soul.  it looks cute, but none of the beemer [sic] sophistication.  don’t know why they have to make electric cars look so quirky.
Upon further questioning, it appears Grandma was asking about the BMW i3. Sixt is now renting out the i3 in the South Florida area, complete with burnt orange paint and giant Sixt logos. I didn’t really have a good answer for her, other than “people want to be seen driving an electric car”. In her mind, a Bimmer is still something you buy to show that you’ve “arrived” – but it’s not as good as a “Jag-you-are”.

 

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Autoleaks: 2016 BMW 7 Series Found In Parking Garage http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/01/autoleaks-2016-bmw-7-series-found-parking-garage/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/01/autoleaks-2016-bmw-7-series-found-parking-garage/#comments Mon, 05 Jan 2015 14:00:45 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=971289 Want to know what the big man on the BMW campus will be wearing in 2016? You’ve come to the right place, B&B. AutoBuzz posted a couple of the photos of the upcoming 2016 7 Series — the 730d, in this case — on its Facebook just before 2014 gave way to 2015. The main […]

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It's got laser eyes (hey)/It knows what you're thinking/It comes as no surprise/Christmas lights are blinking!

Want to know what the big man on the BMW campus will be wearing in 2016? You’ve come to the right place, B&B.

AutoBuzz posted a couple of the photos of the upcoming 2016 7 Series — the 730d, in this case — on its Facebook just before 2014 gave way to 2015. The main draw is its new face, sporting a pair of laser headlamps originally used in the i8. It will also have an option to replace its plastic engine cover with leather, a feature available to i8 owners who choose the $10,000 Pure Impulse World package.

The 2016 7 Series — the first to use BMW’s new 35up modular platform — will also undergo a weight-loss regimen, thanks to a combination of aluminum and carbon fiber. The new car could shed as much as 300 to 400 pounds over the current model’s 4,400 base weight, if not more: MotorAuthority believes the big luxury sedan could fall below the current 5 Series’ 3,700 pounds.

2016-BMW-7-Series-back 2016-BMW-7-Series-headlight 2016-BMW-7-Series-interior It's got laser eyes (hey)/It knows what you're thinking/It comes as no surprise/Christmas lights are blinking! 2016-BMW-7-Series-side

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OEMs Suspend Vehicle Sales In Russia Amid Volatile Currency Situation http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/12/oems-suspend-vehicle-sales-in-russia-amid-volatile-currency-swings/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/12/oems-suspend-vehicle-sales-in-russia-amid-volatile-currency-swings/#comments Thu, 18 Dec 2014 19:02:27 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=962674 With the Russian ruble experiencing a near collapse in value, multiple OEMs have decided to suspend sales of its vehicles in Russia. According to a statement sent to Just-Auto, GM’s Russian arm said “In view of the volatility of [the] rouble exchange rate and with the aim to manage its business risk, GM Russia has decided […]

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With the Russian ruble experiencing a near collapse in value, multiple OEMs have decided to suspend sales of its vehicles in Russia.

According to a statement sent to Just-Auto, GM’s Russian arm said

“In view of the volatility of [the] rouble exchange rate and with the aim to manage its business risk, GM Russia has decided to temporarily suspend wholesaling of vehicles to its dealers in Russia as of 16 December, 2014,” said a GM Europe statement emailed to just-auto. At the same time we confirm all Cadillac, Opel and Chevrolet vehicles already purchased by customers will be delivered on the agreed price. We are monitoring the situation.”

Bloomberg is reporting that Audi and Jaguar Land Rover have also suspended sales amid uncertainty in foreign exchange markets. Toyota, Volkswagen are set to adjust their prices in the near future to reflect the new exchange rates.

Russian auto sales have spiked in recent weeks as consumers sought to buy up hard assets to protect against a falling ruble. But the erosion on value of the Russian currency have left several OEMs exposed to currency risks. According to Bloomberg’s report, BMW could stand to lose as much as $135 million dollars due to the recent drop in the ruble.

 

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NHTSA Ready To Force Nationwide Takata Airbag Recall http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/12/nhtsa-ready-force-nationwide-takata-airbag-recall/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/12/nhtsa-ready-force-nationwide-takata-airbag-recall/#comments Wed, 17 Dec 2014 14:00:05 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=962073 The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration is ready to force Takata and three of its clients into a nationwide recall over the catastrophic failure of the supplier’s airbags. The Detroit News reports the agency will bring Ford, FCA US and BMW to court if necessary, compelling the automakers to recall 5 million affected vehicles in […]

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The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration is ready to force Takata and three of its clients into a nationwide recall over the catastrophic failure of the supplier’s airbags.

The Detroit News reports the agency will bring Ford, FCA US and BMW to court if necessary, compelling the automakers to recall 5 million affected vehicles in addition to those already recalled.

The first act in bringing the named parties to trial will be a formal demand letter issued to all concerned. Upon refusal, the NHTSA will file a suit against each party in U.S. District Court, a process that could last for months, if not years.

The die was cast when Takata rebuffed the agency’s request earlier this month to expand its recall efforts beyond high-humidity locations in warm climates around the United States, including Florida and Hawaii.

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Tesla’s Tanking U.S. Sales And The World Of Automakers Falsifying Sales Numbers http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/12/teslas-tanking-u-s-sales-world-automakers-falsifying-sales-numbers/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/12/teslas-tanking-u-s-sales-world-automakers-falsifying-sales-numbers/#comments Tue, 16 Dec 2014 13:00:55 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=958665 The auto journo world is in a tizzy because electric automaker Tesla refuses to post its car sales numbers on a monthly basis and the numbers they do divulge are suspicious as they are without detail and they vary widely from actual registration numbers. Our friends at Jalopnik ranted about it last week, calling on Tesla to start […]

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Teslas in a row Courtesy ibtimes.com

Tesla’s first fleet deal? Around 100 Model S’s were sold to a Las Vegas startup taxi service.

The auto journo world is in a tizzy because electric automaker Tesla refuses to post its car sales numbers on a monthly basis and the numbers they do divulge are suspicious as they are without detail and they vary widely from actual registration numbers. Our friends at Jalopnik ranted about it last week, calling on Tesla to start reporting sales consistently. They based their story on a report by Seeking Alpha that deduced that Tesla may have as many as 12,000 unsold Model S’s, based on registration figures and the automaker’s quarterly financial reports.

We say congratulations, Elon Musk, you truly are the head of an American car company now, as reporting bogus sales numbers to the press is a normal part of an automaker’s modus operandi. Auto manufacturers claiming they sold more cars than they actually did is nothing new.  Sales numbers in the US are based on those deliveries reported by dealers, not when the automakers wholesale the vehicles to the retailers as some believe. Carmaker execs at times may be motivated to look good to their bosses or shareholders or to outsell a rival. They will then pressure, coerce and bribe dealers with one-time cash incentives to have them report bogus sales at month or year-end, often to the dealer themselves as loaner or demonstrator cars.  The vehicles are never driven and then sold as new, ideally as quickly as possible as their warranty clocks are ticking. Dealers who do not comply are thus put in an unfavorable price disadvantage with competing same-brand stores.

The Japanese automakers pioneered this practice during the high-demand, low supply days. At American Honda from the 1970s to the early 1990s, dealers reported every unsold car as sold at the end of each month or they risked losing precious future allocations. Those were the days when every Honda dealership employee “bought” a dozen cars a year and then the dealer would turn to the white pages of the phone book to find more “buyers.” It is not an urban car legend that a California Honda dealer once sold Accords to customers named “Mickey Mouse” and “Donald Duck.”

In December 2012 BMW North America, in their zeal to beat Mercedes-Benz in the US, reported 37,399 vehicles sold, an amazing 69% higher than their 2012 average monthly sales rate, thus claiming the US luxury brand crown. That December the industry rose 21% over the 2012 average due to it being the heaviest incentive month of the year and this no doubt contributed to the rise in Bimmer sales. However, BMW dealers that I spoke with in January 2013 complained that half of their inventory had been reported as sold in December.  BMW got tons of pub for beating Benz but few noticed that when actual registration numbers came out a few months later it was revealed that Mercedes-Benz outsold BMW for 2012. Incredibly, in one of the few occasions where the media sniffed out this practice, the Wall Street Journal had reported about BMW’s shady sales numbers just months before.

It was one thing to report cars sold as loaners or demonstrators under the direction  of the factory; it is another to do report ghost sales when your dealership needs the incentive cash to stay afloat. We covered the story of a South Carolina Suzuki dealer who was convicted of fraud earlier this year for doing just that. It probably did not help his case that he was also convicted of a cornucopia of illegal advertising and finance practices.

As far as Tesla sales this year, here are the facts as near as we can determine: Automotive News has estimated Tesla’s reported sales in the US through October were 19,530 units. Actual registration numbers for the same period were 11,731 cars, a full 40% below the sales figures.  Further, these registration figures show Tesla off 22% from the same period in 2013.  Other sources have pegged the drop off at 26% this year.  This may explain why Tesla may be dabbling in the fleet market for the first time, as pictured above.

Elon Musk responded to these reports by saying they are selling every car they build and his team issued a response saying that don’t report monthly sales because, “the media tends to read all sorts of nonsense into deliveries.” They also pointed out that a car could be sold one month and not registered until the next. Why, yes, just like every other automaker.

 

Elon Musk Courtesy static1.businessinsider.com

If GM or Ford stopped reporting monthly sales and started spewing such drivel, the press would vilify them but the rules are different for Musk.  If he told the media that Tesla sold 200,000 cars one month, outsold all the other luxury carmakers combined and that he personally just got back from Mars, the slobbering press would not question him and resultant news stories would send Tesla stock into orbit.

Don’t get us wrong. We think that a new auto company selling 15,000 high dollar electric cars annually in the US through a unique, direct sales channel is an incredible accomplishment.

The Tesla Model S is one of the most innovative cars available today and Musk is one of this century’s greatest entrepreneurs, not to mention an amazing PR man. Who cares if can’t tell us the truth about how many cars his company sells?

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Lower Fuel Prices Not Slowing U.S. Car Sales At BMW http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/12/lower-fuel-prices-not-slowing-u-s-car-sales-bmw/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/12/lower-fuel-prices-not-slowing-u-s-car-sales-bmw/#comments Sat, 13 Dec 2014 13:01:10 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=958529 Passenger car sales in the United States are up just 1% as the overall industry has grown more than 5% through the first eleven months of 2014. America’s two best-selling premium brands, however, are enjoying more encouraging passenger car numbers in 2014. Quickly decreasing fuel prices are not, as of yet, slowing car volume at BMW […]

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Mercedes-Benz BMW USA sales chartPassenger car sales in the United States are up just 1% as the overall industry has grown more than 5% through the first eleven months of 2014. America’s two best-selling premium brands, however, are enjoying more encouraging passenger car numbers in 2014. Quickly decreasing fuel prices are not, as of yet, slowing car volume at BMW in the least.

BMW car sales are up 12% through the first eleven months of 2014 on the strength of the 3-Series and 4-Series, which account for more than six out of every ten BMW passenger car sales. As the chart’s red line shows, the percentage of BMW’s volume generated by cars was as low as 59% in March, as high as 77% in July and 76% in October, but slid back somewhat to 67% in November.

Mercedes-Benz car volume is up 4.4% this year, although the brand’s cars tumbled 18% in October and 7% in November. Again, as the chart shows in the green line, Mercedes-Benz’s SUVs and crossovers accounted for 36% of non-Sprinter Mercedes-Benz volume in March, a figure which rose as high as 38% in May and 39% in October but fell to 37% in November.

We were clear about the reasoning behind charts like this a week ago, so we won’t go into the justification for displaying figures like these again. Are fuel prices a factor in pushing luxury SUV/crossover sales upward? Perhaps, but the numbers for these two top-selling luxury brands manifest little change.

And there are other contributing factors. Mercedes-Benz now sells their most affordable crossover, the GLA, which didn’t go on sale until September, and the new C-Class is only just beginning to play a role. Meanwhile, X6 volume dried up in August, September, and October as BMW USA waited for the new model to arrive.

Timothy Cain is the founder of GoodCarBadCar.net, which obsesses over the free and frequent publication of U.S. and Canadian auto sales figures.

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A 21st Century 318is http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/12/21st-century-318is/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/12/21st-century-318is/#comments Fri, 12 Dec 2014 16:22:51 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=960225 You haven’t been able to buy a BMW 318is since L.A. Law was on the airwaves, but BMW just introduced the next best thing. A 3-cylinder BMW 2-Series Coupe. Jalopnik reports that BMW is introducing a 218i coupe, powered by the 1.5L 3-cylinder turbo mill from the base Mini Cooper. Pumping out 136 horsepower and 162 […]

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You haven’t been able to buy a BMW 318is since L.A. Law was on the airwaves, but BMW just introduced the next best thing. A 3-cylinder BMW 2-Series Coupe.

Jalopnik reports that BMW is introducing a 218i coupe, powered by the 1.5L 3-cylinder turbo mill from the base Mini Cooper. Pumping out 136 horsepower and 162 lb-ft of torque, the 218i is about as quick as an old 318i, hitting 60 mph in roughly 9 seconds. By American standards, this is dreadfully slow for a BMW (even an X1 can hit the speed limit in 6 seconds), but in Europe, where the car will be sold, it’s just fine.

For now, if you want a BMW packing a triple, you have just one option: the i8 supercar.

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Volkswagen Unveils Plans For 5 Series/E-Class Fighter http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/12/volkswagen-unveils-plans-5-seriese-class-fighter/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/12/volkswagen-unveils-plans-5-seriese-class-fighter/#comments Wed, 10 Dec 2014 11:00:54 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=957841 The world is not enough for Volkswagen AG, as it now has plans to introduce a mid-size sedan to slot between the Passat and the Phaeton. AutoBild reports the proposed model will do battle with the BMW 5 Series and Mercedes E-Class, with sedan and wagon variants on the table, with U.S. and Chinese markets […]

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The world is not enough for Volkswagen AG, as it now has plans to introduce a mid-size sedan to slot between the Passat and the Phaeton.

AutoBild reports the proposed model will do battle with the BMW 5 Series and Mercedes E-Class, with sedan and wagon variants on the table, with U.S. and Chinese markets receiving the sedan while the Europeans can buy either style.

Regarding platforms for the sedan, VW is considering either its MQB architecture — following the next-gen Passat in 2017 — or Audi’s MLB platform, which underpins the A6. Power is expected to come from four- and six-cylinder gasoline and diesel engines, and would be linked to all four corners via DSG and Audi’s Quattro AWD system.

The proposed base price for the model would begin at €37,500 ($46,500 USD), and would be assembled in either China, Mexico or North America. The new model would go on sale sometime near the end of this decade.

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Undisguised Mercedes-Benz GLE Coupe Still Looks Like A Mash-Up Of An S-Class And A Wart http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/12/undisguised-mercedes-benz-gle-still-looks-like-mash-s-class-wart/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/12/undisguised-mercedes-benz-gle-still-looks-like-mash-s-class-wart/#comments Tue, 09 Dec 2014 23:28:31 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=957610 Not long ago, I described the Mercedes-Benz GLE as “a cross between the new S-Class coupe and a growth of the Human Papilloma Virus.” I stand by that statement. A completely unoriginal derivative turd, the GLE is basically an X6 rip-off made by Mercedes-Benz. Even worse, it wears an “AMG” badge, despite sharing nothing with the […]

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Not long ago, I described the Mercedes-Benz GLE as “a cross between the new S-Class coupe and a growth of the Human Papilloma Virus.” I stand by that statement.

A completely unoriginal derivative turd, the GLE is basically an X6 rip-off made by Mercedes-Benz. Even worse, it wears an “AMG” badge, despite sharing nothing with the great AMG cars of past and present. It is little more than a sop to consumers in the BRIC countries, and a naked play at profit and volume by Daimler.

One part of me wishes them well for shrewdly playing off the needs and wants of the legions of people who would buy this thing. The other part of me wants to reach for the liquid nitrogen canister and cryo-therapy this thing off the face of the earth.

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BMW: We’re Not Working With Tesla On Anything http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/12/bmw-working-tesla-anything/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/12/bmw-working-tesla-anything/#comments Wed, 03 Dec 2014 11:00:04 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=954977 Were you hoping BMW and Tesla would join forces for the future of electrification? Not so fast. According to Wirtschafts Woche, a BMW representative stated the company will not be buying shares in the California-based automaker, nor offering much more than its carbon fiber technology, which BMW states is open to all comers. The Bavarians […]

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Were you hoping BMW and Tesla would join forces for the future of electrification? Not so fast.

According to Wirtschafts Woche, a BMW representative stated the company will not be buying shares in the California-based automaker, nor offering much more than its carbon fiber technology, which BMW states is open to all comers. The Bavarians believe the only benefit from a relationship with Tesla would be in favor of the latter, claiming CEO Elon Musk would enjoy the PR from such a collaboration.

The statement comes on the heels of an interview by Der Spiegel with Musk, who proclaimed his company was in talks with BMW to “collaborate on battery technology or charging stations,” something that was news to BMW. The automaker also has no interest in working on a battery factory with Tesla, stating such things can be purchased from its suppliers. Musk said he had plans to build a factory in Germany within five to six years.

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BMW Unveils 3 Series PHEV Prototype, Plans For Future PHEVs http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/12/bmw-unveils-3-series-phev-prototype-plans-future-phevs/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/12/bmw-unveils-3-series-phev-prototype-plans-future-phevs/#comments Tue, 02 Dec 2014 13:00:35 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=954681 BMW’s i Series is lending its technology to the automaker’s core portfolio, spurring a new generation of PHEVs in so doing. The automaker introduced the prototype for the 3 Series PHEV in France, which pairs a four-cylinder gasoline engine — based on the TwinPower Turbo mill — with an electric motor, both of which are […]

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BMW 3 Series PHEV platform prototype

BMW’s i Series is lending its technology to the automaker’s core portfolio, spurring a new generation of PHEVs in so doing.

The automaker introduced the prototype for the 3 Series PHEV in France, which pairs a four-cylinder gasoline engine — based on the TwinPower Turbo mill — with an electric motor, both of which are linked to BMW’s eDrive technology found in the i3 and i8.

Beyond the 3 Series PHEV, BMW plans to deploy eDrive among the rest of range, with the aim of having PHEVs handle long-distance travel while pure electrics — and possibly hydrogen down the road — deal with urban mobility requirements. The system will also help the Bavarians deliver high-performance models whose emissions fall under 100 g/km of CO2, with future PHEVs models expected to provide 100 kilometers of range in full-electric mode, 20 kWh of capacity in their lithium-ion packs, and a combined power rating of 500 kW.

From 2015 forward, the eDrive system will be assembled in the automaker’s plant in Dingolfling, creating 200 jobs surrounding the technology, with “many tens of millions of euros” invested into the plant over the next five years.

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Oh, Chris Harris, You Brilliant Man http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/11/oh-chris-harris-brilliant-man/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/11/oh-chris-harris-brilliant-man/#comments Fri, 28 Nov 2014 22:33:34 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=953553 Everybody loves YouTube personality, gentleman racer, and autojourno-of-the-moment Chris Harris, and I mean everyone. I can still vividly recall a party I attended in New York earlier this year where a lady friend of mine saw Chris and exclaimed in a kind of hysteria that was no doubt aided by the Hendrix-esque combination of painkillers […]

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Everybody loves YouTube personality, gentleman racer, and autojourno-of-the-moment Chris Harris, and I mean everyone. I can still vividly recall a party I attended in New York earlier this year where a lady friend of mine saw Chris and exclaimed in a kind of hysteria that was no doubt aided by the Hendrix-esque combination of painkillers and alcohol she’d managed to swallow, “He’s just adorable!” She then proceeded to totter in his general direction. Since she was (is) six feet tall in her heels and Mr. Harris is about five foot five, this was quite terrifying to Mr. Harris and he promptly hid behind Matt Farah, which is always a solid place to hide.

Luckily for Chris, Travis Okulski happened to wander in at about that time and divert my companion’s high-volume attention. “IT’S TRAVIS! THE GUY WHO CRIED DURING THE PEPSI COMMMERCIAL!” What a night that was, dear readers. Did you know that the last time I started dating someone under five foot nine or so, the Deepwater Horizon was still functioning properly? We’re talking about an entire volleyball team’s worth of tall girls here. Anyway, back to Mr. Harris. He’s written something rather interesting on Jalopnik today, and I’m only feeling slightly smug about it.

Years from now, when the smoke of history clears, another name will be added to that list of designers who were capable of re-imagining the automobile. Born and raised in the American Midwest, Christopher Edward Bangle joined BMW with a rather singular goal in mind: to create what would be only the second major design direction in the company’s history. His complete and utter success in this task has permitted BMW to become a major player on the global stage; along the way, he rewrote the design language for the entire auto industry.

So I wrote in February of 2009 for Speed:Sport:Life, in a column that would later on appear on TTAC. (It’s also in — shhhh! — my book, which is coming out after Christmas some time, I hope.) That was nearly six years ago, but my then-controversial ideas are now being co-signed by more than a few people.

That’s fine with me, because I was right then about Bangle and I’m still right. Without Mr. Bangle and his new approach to vehicle surfacing, automotive styling would have struggled to this present day with the additional vehicle body height that is the primary characteristic of a “modern” automobile. Think of the original Ford Focus and its breadvan chic. That’s what every car would look like nowadays without flame surfacing. Tall, tippy, cheap, and not-so-cheerful. If you think the BMW X6 or Acura MDX is hideous now — as I certainly do — imagine the same vehicle with flat flanks.

So I was right. But if you’d rather hear Chris Harris say it, then see for yourself. Over to you, Mr. Dickinson:

 

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All The Minis Are Down Except The One That Counts http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/11/minis-except-one-counts/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/11/minis-except-one-counts/#comments Thu, 27 Nov 2014 13:38:08 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=950297 They’ve been certified, although not with the fuel economy figures we first heard. They’re available, although many Mini buyers will want their cars individually tailored. And as a result, U.S. sales of Mini’s core model – the one they call the Hardtop – jumped 64% in October 2014. All other Mini variants posted fewer sales […]

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2015 Mini Cooper SThey’ve been certified, although not with the fuel economy figures we first heard. They’re available, although many Mini buyers will want their cars individually tailored. And as a result, U.S. sales of Mini’s core model – the one they call the Hardtop – jumped 64% in October 2014.

All other Mini variants posted fewer sales in October 2014 than in October 2013. In some cases, the declines represented significant losses.

As the current Clubman is phased out, sales of the elongated Mini slid 98% to just 15, a loss of 932 units. Convertible sales slid 20%; Roadster volume was chopped in half, year-over-year. The Coupe, always rare and expected to soon die along with the Roadster, was down 74% to just 24 units. Paceman volume slid 42%. The Countryman, the best-selling Mini bodystyle over the first ten months of 2014 with a 7% increase in year-to-date sales, was down 9%.

As a result, the massive 1068-unit increase from Mini’s best-selling model was overshadowed by declines from the brand’s six other cars, resulting in a 7% loss for the brand in October 2014. Through the first ten months of 2014, Mini USA volume is down 20%. After generating 19% of BMW of North America’s volume at this point in 2013, Mini has produced just 14% of the company’s sales in 2014.

mini usa sales chartYet the bright spot couldn’t be brighter. This is not an obscure improvement from one of the brand’s mostly ignored cars. The Hardtop, Mini’s most traditional three-door hatchback, in Cooper and Cooper S form, is Mini. It is likely the brand’s least opinion-dividing car. It’s also their most affordable model.

This car was sorely needed in Mini showrooms. Total non-Countryman/Paceman sales were down 7% in 2013 as the Hardtop variant fell 8%. Cooper Hardtop sales had decreased on a year-over-year basis in 18 of 20 months leading up to October. Through the first three-quarters of 2014, Hardtop volume was down 36%, a loss of 7501 units.

We may not see huge 64% improvements added to the Mini Cooper Hardtop’s sales each month in the near future, and whatever gains it does achieve may be offset by continued losses of other models, and then buoyed again by the arrival of a five-door. But as a sign that Mini’s still kickin’, October’s total for the brand’s most popular model was an especially strong one.

Timothy Cain is the founder of GoodCarBadCar.net, which obsesses over the free and frequent publication of U.S. and Canadian auto sales figures.

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NHTSA, USDOT Demand National Recall Action From Takata, Automakers http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/11/nhtsa-usdot-demand-national-recall-action-takata-automakers/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/11/nhtsa-usdot-demand-national-recall-action-takata-automakers/#comments Fri, 21 Nov 2014 16:00:33 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=949217 While we were looking over the latest and greatest from the 2014 LA Auto Show, the Takata band played on. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and the U.S. Department of Transportation are both calling for a national recall of all vehicles with Takata’s airbags, citing a catastrophic failure of a module outside the high-humidity […]

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While we were looking over the latest and greatest from the 2014 LA Auto Show, the Takata band played on.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and the U.S. Department of Transportation are both calling for a national recall of all vehicles with Takata’s airbags, citing a catastrophic failure of a module outside the high-humidity zone previously established in an earlier recall.

The NHTSA also issued a General Order to the airbag supplier and 10 automakers — BMW, Chrysler, Ford, General Motors, Honda, Mazda, Mitsubishi, Nissan, Subaru and Toyota — requiring all to submit documents regarding “completed, ongoing or planned testing” of the supplier’s inflators outside of the current recall zone, with the goal of having all involved come correct with the agency and the American public about what they all plan to do about the airbags. Takata alone received a Special Order, regarding the propellent used in its airbags.

Responses to both orders are due by December 5.

Three of the 10 automakers involved with the General Order — Ford, GM and Honda — may likely have the hardest time replacing Takata completely. Per Bloomberg, the trio worked closely with the supplier to develop special features for their vehicles — Ford’s Adaptive Steering system, GM’s front center airbags — features that would take a while to work out with a new supplier if a deeper relationship were to take hold.

Meanwhile, only 6 percent of the 8 million vehicles equipped with Takata’s airbags have been repaired thus far, a rate critics of the supplier and its client base find appalling. The pace isn’t likely to quicken, however; Toyota says it would take a year at minimum to test and replace its units with those from other suppliers, while Nissan said doing the same for itself wasn’t feasible.

Returning to the Beltway, Reuters reports Takata had presented documents to the NHTSA linked to a 2009 accident involving its airbags, only for the agency to decline, as it had closed its investigation on the supplier and Honda, whose vehicle was involved in said accident. The NHTSA informed the news agency that the documents “would not have added to the agency’s understanding of the issues involved in that particular investigation.”

Speaking of Honda, senior executive Rick Schostek admitted before Congress that his company failed to notify the NHTSA or its customer base about the issues with Takata’s airbags, promising to offer consumers a loaner if their affected vehicles are repaired quickly due to supply shortages. As for Takata’s Hiroshi Shimizu, Automotive News says he went on the defensive, going so far as to claim that it was “hard” for him to “answer yes or no” to several questions asked by the U.S. Senate Commerce Committee, much to the dismay and bemusement of the committee members.

Prior to the call for a nationwide recall, the regional-specific actions, as well as the NHTSA’s order to consumers to have their airbags replaced immediately, contributed to public anxiety over whether or not the airbag before them would disfigure or kill in an accident. According to Bloomberg, Takata itself believes a national recall would only further exacerbate those fears, potentially diverting resources “from where they’re needed, putting lives at risk.”

Meanwhile, Reuters reports the Monclova, Mexico facility where the defective units were assembled had issues from the moment it opened its doors in 2000. Aside from the units made in 2001, 2002 and 2012, an explosion in 2006 — one some workers claim was fueled by the same ammonium nitrate used in Takata’s airbags as a propellent — jump-started a production run where quality slipped against hourly quotas. Whether the top brass knew of the problems, however, is a different story, as it never sent permanent staff to Mexico from its headquarters in Japan.

Over in Germany, BMW is working with the supplier to have its airbags made closer to home in Freiberg, transferring production from Mexico. The move only applies to BMW, who expects additional production to come online by mid-December. Alternative arrangements would take two years and “divert attention from current recall efforts,” per the automaker.

Finally, U.S. Air Force First Lieutenant Stephanie Erdman gave her testimony before Congress, detailing what had happened to her when a vehicle turned in front of her 2002 Honda Civic in September 2013. According to The Detroit News, the resulting injuries and ongoing surgeries led to a lawsuit against Honda, whose certified dealership in Destin, Fla. failed to notify Erdman of the February 2010 driver’s side airbag recall or what would happen if the airbag deployed in the wrong conditions, nor did the dealership replace the unit in question. She also feared that once the spotlight subsides on Takata et al, the problems would still be there, and urged Congress to continue to hold all accountable for their actions.

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