By on July 24, 2017

german flag and reichstag

Volkswagen will hold an emergency supervisory board meeting on Wednesday to discuss recent allegations that Germany’s automakers have been operating as an automotive cartel since the 1990s. Meanwhile, Daimler’s workers council is demanding answers from management as the automaker reels from a one-two-punch of collusion and emissions cheating accusations.

“I advise the car industry to clear the air now, to say what has happened, and then we can look to the future together again,” parliamentary group leader Volker Kauder, said Monday on German television. “If the antitrust violations prove true, and there’s a lot to suggest that, then one must really say the clear sentence: the rule of law also applies to the car industry.”

However, claiming there is sufficient proof to prosecute is a little premature. With the exception of a somewhat damning letter intercepted from VW, no hard evidence of collusion has been made public. Investigators are still in the early stages of the antitrust probe and have given few details as to its progress.  (Read More…)

By on July 21, 2017

vintage diesel fuel pump

With Paris, Madrid, Athens, and Mexico City all pledging to ban diesel vehicles from entry within the next few years, the fuel’s future doesn’t look particularly bright. While citywide bans like these are becoming increasingly popular in Europe, diesel vehicles still account for almost half of the continent’s registered vehicles.

Germany, which has been speedily moving away from the fuel since Volkswagen’s emissions fiasco, provided more than its fair share of those diesel-powered models. It’s been mulling over how to handle it’s own regulatory matters pertaining to the fuel and the rest of the European Union’s intense pressure doesn’t seem to have fazed it.

Instead of enacting the same transportation ban on diesel vehicles as seen in Paris, Germany has decided to furnish its automakers with the opportunity to clean up their act. Industry officials and politicians have agreed to implement software updates on existing vehicles specifically to keep them eligible for operation within major metropolitan areas. Considering Mercedes-Benz just offered to “voluntarily” recall 3 million Euro-spec cars fitted with diesel engines, that’s incredibly good timing. Likewise, Volkswagen Group claims it will update 850,000 Porsche and Audi vehicles equipped with larger diesel motors.  (Read More…)

By on July 21, 2017

Mercedes-Benz X-Class Nissan Navara - Images: Mercedes-Benz & NissanAustralia’s pickup truck markets wants to know: is the Mercedes-Benz X-Class more than just a badge-engineered Nissan Navara?

“This is hardly a double badge,” Mercedes-Benz Vans’ global boss Volker Mornhinweg told Motoring.

But there’s a tendency to see matters another way. The production X-Class, not yet bound for North America’s nonexistent premium midsize pickup truck market, isn’t exactly a carbon copy of the X-Class Concept shown in late 2016.

Moreover, that X-Class gear lever looks downright familiar to Navara drivers. (Read More…)

By on July 19, 2017

Mercedes-Benz X-Class Studio - Image: Mercedes-BenzWe don’t know, beyond a shadow of a doubt, exactly what Mercedes-Benz USA has planned for the brand’s new pickup truck, the X-Class.

Importing the Nissan Navara-based Benz pickup seems doubtful. The Chicken Tax, a 25-percent tariff on imported light trucks, would bring a $43,000 X-Class’s price up to $54,000. Moreover, premium  brand pickup trucks — Lincoln Blackwood and Mark LT; Cadillac Escalade EXT — have faltered in the past. The X-Class is also set to be almost entirely dependent on diesel engines, and Mercedes-Benz would almost invariably need a gas powerplant to function in North America, both from cost and emissions standpoints. Plus, Mercedes-Benz’s X-Class would be competing for a slice of a slice of America’s pickup truck pie. America’s pickup truck sector is huge, but 84 percent of it is devoted to full-size, not midsize, pickup trucks.

However, if — and it’s a big if — Mercedes-Benz either determines that importing the X-Class to the United States is viable or decides to build the X-Class in the NAFTA zone, the words of Volker Mornhinweg, Mercedes-Benz Vans’ executive vice president, might just come back to haunt the three-pointed star. (Read More…)

By on July 18, 2017

Mercedes-Benz BlueTEC

With Volkswagen’s emission crisis winding down (but seemingly never over), Daimler AG is taking center stage as the next automaker to potentially face serious hardship for dastardly diesel misdeeds. For the last few months, investigators from the United States and Germany have begun suspecting that Mercedes-Benz equipped its vehicles with defeat devices similar to those used by VW. While no evidence of fraud has surfaced, there’s reason to believe Daimler may have violated emission standards — especially now that it has decided to recall 3 million late-model diesels.

“The public debate about diesel engines is creating uncertainty,” Daimler CEO Dieter Zetsche said in a statement on Tuesday. “We have therefore decided on additional measures to reassure drivers of diesel cars and to strengthen confidence in diesel technology.”  (Read More…)

By on July 18, 2017

2018 Mercedes-Benz X-Class Progressive - Image: Mercedes-BenzSet to arrive in Germany in November 2017 and other global markets — but not the United States — in early 2018, the Mercedes-Benz X-Class is, according to Mercedes-Benz, “the first pickup from a premium manufacturer.”

Lincoln Blackwood? Cadillac Escalade EXT? Lincoln Mark LT? You apparently don’t count.

We’ve seen the concepts before. Mercedes-Benz today revealed the production X-Class, a Nissan Navara-based pickup truck from the three-pointed star. (Read More…)

By on July 10, 2017

2017 Mercedes-AMG C43 4Matic Cabriolet - Image: © Timothy CainTo be very honest with you, those of us who track traffic and take the odd look at analytics already know the TTAC audience for a review of the 2017 Mercedes-AMG C43 4Matic Cabriolet is small.

At first glance, it doesn’t make sense. Reviews are the most reliable source of traffic on The Truth About Cars.

The TTAC audience, the B&B, is a pragmatic bunch of car enthusiasts, however. A sensible group of auto industry intellects. $72,305 German convertibles? Not exactly right up the alley of the proverbial 2004 Honda Accord.

And with good reason. Sensible pragmatists don’t see the point in the incremental performance upgrade of a $162,850 Porsche 911 Turbo from an $80,490 Chevrolet Corvette Z06; the off-road credentials of a $52,275 Lexus GX460 over and above a $35,930 Toyota 4Runner; the scant luxurious advantages of a $58,050 BMW X5 in contrast to a $47,140 Kia Sorento SX Limited.

But what if the four-seat, twin-turbo, all-wheel-drive, German convertible was actually worth 83 percent more than the basic C-Class; 43 percent more than a basic C-Class Cabriolet?

Then, maybe, TTAC could actually find an audience for a review of an expensive car. (Read More…)

By on July 5, 2017

Concept EQ, Exterieur Concept EQ, exterior

Daimler AG is dumping half of a 5 billion yuan sum, or 735 million dollars, into China as part of a joint venture with BAIC Motor Corp. Together, the companies plan to establish the groundwork for competent EV production in the region — meaning a good ol’ fashioned battery factory.

The bill is split between the two firms, as China requires every foreign automaker to partner with a domestic one to do business within the country. The new factory will be a product of Beijing Benz Automotive, a blandly named limited liability company created to further Mercedes’ interest within the country and bolster its EV production capabilities globally. (Read More…)

By on June 30, 2017

mercedes-gas-i6

While we knew Mercedes-Benz’s AMG sub-brand had plans to dabble in electrification for upcoming performance models, details of what that could mean for the sub-brand’s products remained pretty thin on the ground.

Daimler R&D head Ola Källenius explained back in January that future AMG-badged vehicles will gradually become “more and more electric.” Never mind the limited-production Project One hypercar that’s in the works — that model is just a plaything for the Dubai set. Well, now we know exactly what AMG has planned for the new rung in its model range, and it indeed makes use of charged particles to lend some extra grunt to the overall package.

It also brings a very sweet inline-six to the table. Baby steps, people. (Read More…)

By on June 28, 2017

2017 Mercedes-AMG C43 4Matic Cabriolet - Image: © Timothy Cain250 years ago, in Prince Edward Island’s 1767 land lottery of 64 parcels, Lot 20 was scooped up by Theodore Houltain and Thomas Basset.

Encompassing the communities of Malpeque Bay, Clinton, French River, Park Corner, Sea View, and other hamlets, and possessing fewer than 1,000 people, Lot 20 is a gem along the Gulf of St. Lawrence. It’s a gem I thought I knew well, at least until I took possession of our new family home earlier this week. Last night, with my friend Jeff The HR Manager operating as a tour guide, we traversed virtually every road on Lot 20 in the company of a 2017 Mercedes-AMG C43 4Matic Cabriolet.

We reached antisocial speeds, as AMGs are prone to do. We consumed fuel, as twin-turbo V6s are inclined to do. We made inappropriate noises, as Mercedes-Benz’s Dynamic Select Sport+ mode (with the Performance Exhaust System’s button also depressed) is wont to do.

And we made friends, as convertibles have always and will forever do. (Read More…)

By on June 19, 2017

2017 Mercedes-AMG GLC43 4Matic Coupe - Image: © Timothy CainTwo turbochargers. 362 horsepower. 384 lb-ft of torque. AMG’s 31:69 front/rear torque bias. 0-60 mph in 4.8 seconds. AMG-tuned air suspension. 14.2-inch front rotors. 285/40R20 rear tires. 640 watts and 14 speakers of Burmester surround sound.

Forget all that.

This is a story all about cargo volume. 10-14 percent more cargo volume. Sweet, sultry, scintillating cargo volume.

The 2017 Mercedes-AMG GLC43 4Matic lineup is two vehicles strong. In one AMG GLC43, your dog stands up and waits for the liftgate to close. In the other, your dog rolls over, plays dead, and doesn’t get up until the end of your journey.

This is the latter, the 2017 Mercedes-AMG GLC43 4Matic Coupe. It’s a genuine performance vehicle, with the power, grip, tenacity, and even finesse one expects from a performance vehicle, but also with style — love it or loathe it — that has practical implications for ol’ Bailey, the Bouvier des Flandres. (Read More…)

By on June 19, 2017

A Class Concept Mercedes, Image: Daimler AG

Get ’em young and get ’em poor upwardly mobile. That seems to be Mercedes-Benz’s rationale behind the upcoming A-Class sedan, which should arrive in the U.S. later next year.

According to dealers who spoke to Automotive News, the German automaker has confirmed the front-wheel drive model will indeed appear on these shores, slotted below brand’s current least-expensive car, the CLA. No longer a somewhat geeky, Euro-centric mini hatch, the global A-Class appears tailor-made to lure buyers away from other brands. (Read More…)

By on June 15, 2017

Drone, Public Domain

Now that automakers have more or less mastered the ability to assemble competent transportation for the masses, the quest to build a better car has branched out into strange places. Connectivity is one of the burgeoning frontiers of automotive achievement and its threshold for greatness continues to be raised. With navigation and phone integration handled, manufacturers have begun seeking other ways to interconnect vehicles with all manner of devices. Occupants can now benefit from onboard GPS, Wi-Fi, and — more recently — smart home devices like Amazon’s Echo.

Drones could be next.

While it sounds almost comically implausible, several automakers and suppliers have begun toying with the idea of equipping specific models with drones. Last September, Mercedes-Benz introduced the idea that its delivery vans should have the option of being equipped with package-toting quadcopters as part of a five-year-plan to terrify suburbia. FCA designed a concept Wrangler for the Easter Jeep Safari that included a roof-mounted landing pad for a recreational drone. Mitsubishi Electric is showcasing its new FLEXConnect.AI infotainment platform with drone functionality.  (Read More…)

By on June 15, 2017

2017 Mercedes-AMG GLC43 4Matic Coupe - Image: © Timothy CainVehicle classifications are important. They enable governments to better regulate. They allow uninformed buyers to get a grip on the market. They foster competition. They clarify conversation.

The passenger car sector is subdivided in countless ways, and not just by size. In the car realm, there are hatchbacks and liftbacks, convertibles and roadsters, station wagons and shooting brakes, sedans and coupes.

Yet when it comes to utility vehicles, besides differentiating (or attempting to differentiate, if there’s even any point) between SUVs and crossovers, much of the classification conversation revolves purely around size, from the subcompact Honda HR-V to the full-size Chevrolet Suburban.

So what’s this? I’m driving a Mercedes-AMG GLC43 4Matic Coupe this week. But we all know it’s not a coupe, which is traditionally known as a car with two doors and a fixed roof. Sometimes the coupe’s definition is even narrower. Yet never has the traditional coupe definition allowed for vehicles such as the GLC, BMW X4, BMW X6, or Mercedes-Benz’s GLE Coupe to be called coupes.

Still, we need to call them something. (Read More…)

By on June 6, 2017

Toyota Camry NYIAS 2017, Image: Toyota

Yes, we’re talking #brands, because brand value is a point of pride for all companies, not just automakers. In the latest ranking of brand value, it seems Toyota needn’t worry about losing its lofty perch among automakers.

For the fourth year, the Japanese automaker beat out all other car companies in the 2017 BrandZ Top 100 Most Valuable Global Brands ranking published by market research company Kantar Millward Brown. Valued at $28.66 billion, Toyota sits in the 30th spot, one notch above Walmart. That’s two spots lower than last year’s rankings, something Toyota can blame on increase costs and a weak yen.

The ranking also contains good news for Ford and troubling news for BMW. (Read More…)

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