The Truth About Cars » Mercedes-Benz http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com The Truth About Cars is dedicated to providing candid, unbiased automobile reviews and the latest in auto industry news. Fri, 19 Dec 2014 15:54:40 +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 » Mercedes-Benz http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/wp-content/themes/ttac-theme/images/logo.gif http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com MBUSA Looking South For New Home http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/12/mbusa-looking-south-new-home/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/12/mbusa-looking-south-new-home/#comments Thu, 18 Dec 2014 15:00:40 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=962394 With Cadillac getting its inner hipster on in SoHo, and Subaru trekking four miles west to conduct its American hustle in Camden, N.J., Mercedes-Benz USA is feeling the urge to heed the song of the South and go with the wind. Automotive News reports MBUSA is looking at relocating its 800 employees to either Georgia, […]

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With Cadillac getting its inner hipster on in SoHo, and Subaru trekking four miles west to conduct its American hustle in Camden, N.J., Mercedes-Benz USA is feeling the urge to heed the song of the South and go with the wind.

Automotive News reports MBUSA is looking at relocating its 800 employees to either Georgia, Florida or North Carolina, leaving Montvale, N.J. after 42 years. Representatives for the company wouldn’t confirm or deny the plans, believing it to be nothing more than rumor and speculation.

The company is currently looking over tax incentive packages, with New Jersey working on its own package in the hope of keeping MBUSA’s headquarters in Montvale. JLL Inc., the commercial real estate firm that is helping Toyota move its U.S. headquarters to Texas from California, is also lending assistance to the company.

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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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Mercedes-Benz Hikes CLA Price Above $30k Threshold http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/12/mercedes-benz-hikes-cla-price-30k-threshold/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/12/mercedes-benz-hikes-cla-price-30k-threshold/#comments Thu, 11 Dec 2014 17:35:53 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=958585 The sub-$30,000 Mercedes-Benz is no more. For 2015, Mercedes is raising the price of its popular CLA sedan by about 5 percent, putting it above the critical psychological threshold. As CarsDirect reports The base MSRP for a front-wheel drive CLA250 jumps from $29,900 to $31,500, an increase of $1,600 or 5.4%. The all-wheel drive 4MATIC […]

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The sub-$30,000 Mercedes-Benz is no more. For 2015, Mercedes is raising the price of its popular CLA sedan by about 5 percent, putting it above the critical psychological threshold.

As CarsDirect reports

The base MSRP for a front-wheel drive CLA250 jumps from $29,900 to $31,500, an increase of $1,600 or 5.4%. The all-wheel drive 4MATIC goes from $31,900 to $33,500, the equivalent of $1,600 or 5.0%. The top-tier CLA45 AMG creeps up $1,050 or 2.2%, from $47,450 to $48,500. (All prices exclude a $925 destination charge.)

Sales of the CLA have been brisk, with tight inventories leading to minimal discounting on the baby Benz. But the Audi A3 is giving it some competition in the relatively new entry-level German luxury car segment. Whether Audi will follow M-B’s lead or stick to the $29,990 sticker price remains to be seen.

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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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Generation Why: Forget It Pete, It’s Chinatown http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/12/forget-it-pete-its-chinatown/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/12/forget-it-pete-its-chinatown/#comments Wed, 03 Dec 2014 17:07:48 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=954625 What an unfortunate time for Mercedes-Benz. Brazil and India are limping along economically, and the sub-$70 oil prices are surely going to limit the number of Rosneft bigwigs (and outright criminals…err, oligarchs) able to gallivant around in the latest crop of crossovers. At least China is still churning, right? Of all the luxury car makers […]

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What an unfortunate time for Mercedes-Benz. Brazil and India are limping along economically, and the sub-$70 oil prices are surely going to limit the number of Rosneft bigwigs (and outright criminals…err, oligarchs) able to gallivant around in the latest crop of crossovers. At least China is still churning, right? Of all the luxury car makers in China, Mercedes-Benz owners are the wealthiest.

 Mercedes wasn’t the first to introduce the coupe-cum-crossover to the automotive world. That dubious honor goes to BMW, which introduced, in rapid succession, the X6, the 5-Series GT, the X4 and the 3-Series GT.

Mercedes, on the other hand, has been coasting on the success of the G-Wagen SUV, which, in a world of antiquated designs wrapped in high-dollar vestments and sold at outrageous markups, is the zenith of this formula: a 30+ year old military truck built for the Shah of Iran, flocked in faux-Chanel handbag upholstery and sold to the consorts of the one percent as this season’s must have mode of transportation.

The one and only time I have driven a G-Wagen was when I babysat the owner of a G63 AMG, a friend-of-a-friend who makes bi-monthly appearances at rehab facilities. We had stayed out far too late – or should I say, I stayed out far too late for somebody who hadn’t ingested cardiotoxic quantities of stimulants, and it was up to me to get my friend, and the G-Wagen home safely.

I drove the short distance back to his home, marveling at what a wretched nugget of dogshit the G-Wagen was. It was dynamically reprehensible: every application of the brakes, throttle or steering resulted in some kind of reciprocal pitching or yawing. Even though it packed a twin-turbo AMG V8 under the hood, there was no way you could ever use any of the power. The G63 is a bit like a side of beef that’s rotten and covered in toxic mold, but sold as dry aged steak – at least that’s the best analogy I came up with, while my friend hung his head out the window, cackling at girls in too short bandage dresses ala Heath Ledger’s Joker.

I’ll concede that for a tiny minority, it offers unparalleled off-road capabilities. But the world is no longer made for the Mercedes-Benz G-Wagen, or its cohort of rugged, body-on-frame SUVs like the Jeep Wrangler and Land Rover Defender. The ubiquitous axis of emissions and crash safety regulations imposing an increasing burden on automakers, who must go even further out of their way to achieve compliance in these areas for products that were engineered in the era of belted sanitary napkins.

At this point, OEMs have two options, both sufficiently expensive. They can invest in radical changes to the vehicle (no folding windscreen and aluminum body panels for the Wrangler) or the inevitable pussification of an iconic product (the rumored “lifestyle” Defender said to be debuting in the next year or two). Option A works best if you have sufficient volume that will allow your investment to scale. The Jeep Wrangler is a perfect candidate, since it has sufficient volume, cachet, pent-up global demand and the ability to withstand frequent redesigns, allowing Fiat Chrysler to amortize the costs of such a radical change.

Jaguar Land Rover, recognizing that the Defender’s current “it car status” stems from its position as a Veblen good for those who summer in Newport, East Hampton and other places that once posted signs proclaiming “No Dogs, No Jews”, is taking the other road. Since they will never build a few hundred thousand Defenders per year (capacity and market forces suggest as much), they’re stuck using whatever is laying around JLR’s garage- and you can bet that it’s not the current ladder-frame/aluminum panels setup that, while emulated by the Americans, doesn’t have a hope in hell of meeting the current regulatory regime.

And what about the G-Wagen? I have no idea. It might turn into a castrated version of itself, riding on the GL platform. It might linger on as a very expensive flagship, with Mercedes continuing to churn out small quantities for Arabians and Kardashians.

What I do know is this: Mercedes is re-jigging their entire SUV and CUV lineup to organize a heriarchy of nomenclature. The GLK will become the GLC, the GL will get a new moniker (presumably GLS) and buyers who might normally opt for a G-Wagen will be steered towards the GLE Coupe, M-B’s new X6 fighter.

The GLE Coupe resembles a cross between the new S-Class coupe and a growth of the Human Papilloma Virus. It is unspeakably vulgar, an aesthetic atrocity and we are going to see them everywhere within two years time. How do I know this? Because whenever I feel a conviction this strong and this negative about a new vehicle, the market tends to embrace it with open arms. I had similar feelings towards the Buick Encore, and look how that turned out.

In his latest column, Peter De Lorenzo chastises Mercedes-Benz for thinking that “…they will reach the Promised Land through volume, plain and simple.” I’m not sure what PDL thinks the promised land is for M-B, but I am confident that in the eyes of Dr. Z, it’s spelled “E-B-I-T-D-A”. We are in an era where the auto world is a mature market, where volume matters and greater economics of scale drive profits, and where the unrefined tastes of consumers both at home and abroad is now the focal point for brands that we enthusiasts once held in high esteem.

Forget it Pete, It’s Chinatown.

 

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UAW Aims To Push MBUSI Managers Into Compliance With NLRB Ruling http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/12/uaw-aims-push-mbusi-managers-compliance-nlrb-ruling/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/12/uaw-aims-push-mbusi-managers-compliance-nlrb-ruling/#comments Tue, 02 Dec 2014 14:00:43 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=954705 Following reaffirmation of the National Labor Relations Board ruling in its favor, the United Auto Workers will push managers at Daimler’s Mercedes-Benz facility in Tuscaloosa, Alabama to respect the ruling, allowing the union to discuss organization on the factory floor. Reuters reports Mercedes “remains neutral” on the issue, preferring to leave the choice to organize […]

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Following reaffirmation of the National Labor Relations Board ruling in its favor, the United Auto Workers will push managers at Daimler’s Mercedes-Benz facility in Tuscaloosa, Alabama to respect the ruling, allowing the union to discuss organization on the factory floor.

Reuters reports Mercedes “remains neutral” on the issue, preferring to leave the choice to organize among its 2,500 full-time and 1,000 temporary employees. The UAW, meanwhile, wants the automaker to follow its labor policy used outside of the United States, acknowledging “the human right to form trade unions” and respecting “the right of collective bargaining.”

The NLRB ruling reaffirms the original ruling made this summer, ordering Mercedes to rescind a rule in its employee handbook that barred employees from talking about unionization on the floor while not on the clock.

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Uber Hitting E-Class Taxi Roadblock In Germany http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/12/uber-hitting-e-class-taxi-roadblock-germany/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/12/uber-hitting-e-class-taxi-roadblock-germany/#comments Tue, 02 Dec 2014 12:00:54 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=954649 Uber is having a hard time breaking into the German livery market, and not just for its business model. According to Bloomberg, Germans prefer their taxis — 60 percent of which consist of Mercedes products, including the E and S classes — over Uber’s Volkswagen Golfs and lower-cost fleet vehicles. The taxis are also younger […]

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Uber is having a hard time breaking into the German livery market, and not just for its business model.

According to Bloomberg, Germans prefer their taxis — 60 percent of which consist of Mercedes products, including the E and S classes — over Uber’s Volkswagen Golfs and lower-cost fleet vehicles. The taxis are also younger — average age of 3.5 years — and more luxurious, as well.

Familiarity — or lack thereof — is another factor in grabbing mind share. Berlin-based consultant Boris Knoblich says that while Uber’s lower fares are attractive, he didn’t know “anything about those drivers or the cars they’re driving.” Per Die Zeit, 73 percent of Germans feel the same way, showing no interest in the transportation network company, even if its fares are lower.

Uber’s German boss, Fabian Nestmann, is attempting to change those opinions and to bring the fleet on par with the taxis. Regarding the latter, Uber is considering making direct deals with automakers for newer, higher-quality vehicles. Nestmann also suggested in an interview with Frankfurter Allgemeine Sonntagszeitung last month that the German government drop mandatory health checks or local geography testing for tax drivers, likely to help his company make further in-roads into the market.

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Mercedes-Benz Releases Automotive Rorschach Test http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/11/mercedes-benz-releases-automotive-rorschach-test/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/11/mercedes-benz-releases-automotive-rorschach-test/#comments Tue, 25 Nov 2014 16:09:47 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=950993   The collective distaste for the Mercedes-Benz CLA and GLA is known among the B&B and the wider automotive world – but now, Mercedes has dropped a collective bomb on the psyche of enthusiasts everywhere. A reflexive love of all things station wagon/shooting brake pervades the gearhead mentality. Will they accept a station wagon version […]

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Mercedes-AMG CLA 45 Shooting Brake (X 117) 2014

 

The collective distaste for the Mercedes-Benz CLA and GLA is known among the B&B and the wider automotive world – but now, Mercedes has dropped a collective bomb on the psyche of enthusiasts everywhere.

A reflexive love of all things station wagon/shooting brake pervades the gearhead mentality. Will they accept a station wagon version of the Mercedes CLA? Mechanically, it’s identical to the standard car, and the sloping roofline might even make it less practical than the GLA in terms of cargo hauling ability. But it’s suitably obscure enough to send a tingle through the loins of the kind of enthusiast that professes their adoration for the wagon, but fails to buy them when they are released for sale on our shores.

 

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Capsule Review: 2015 Mercedes Benz GLA45 AMG http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/11/review-2015-mercedes-benz-gla45-amg/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/11/review-2015-mercedes-benz-gla45-amg/#comments Mon, 17 Nov 2014 14:00:41 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=945145 Per Mercedes-Benz’s own naming strategy, anything with a G is considered an SUV, even if the GLA45 AMG is classified as a car. That would make this GLA45 AMG a hatchback – a hot-hatch if you will. Since no one in United States buys hatchbacks, it’s being called an SUV anyways. I went along with […]

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Mercedes Benz GLA 45 AMG side

Per Mercedes-Benz’s own naming strategy, anything with a G is considered an SUV, even if the GLA45 AMG is classified as a car. That would make this GLA45 AMG a hatchback – a hot-hatch if you will. Since no one in United States buys hatchbacks, it’s being called an SUV anyways. I went along with this until I pulled up next to a cross-over SUV called Range Rover at a light and noticed that its door handle was above this cute-ute’s roofline. Truth is that it doesn’t matter what you call it because it’s a blast!

Mercedes Benz GLA 45 AMG engine

The 2.0-liter 355hp engine sounds mean at startup, letting everyone know that this isn’t a plain olde’ Benzito, but it doesn’t sound like a tuned child’s toy either (Fiat 500 Abarth, I’m looking at you).  Select sport mode, start driving and you really wouldn’t know what is under the hood. There is plenty of low-end power and the engine is not screaming in agony on its way to a relatively low 6250rpm redline. It doesn’t feel like any 2.0-liter or turbo motor I have ever experienced; smooth and linear power from idle to redline. Very impressive.

The gear changes from the 7-speed Dual Clutch Transmission are fast, accompanied by exotic car-like gurgling backfire noises that were clearly designed in the most sophisticated of anechoic chambers. These noises may not be to everyone’s liking but will let the slower drivers know that they have just been passed by something special. The transmission’s only issues were at very low speeds, where it sometimes couldn’t decide exactly which gear to chose or when to fully disengage the clutch.

Mercedes Benz GLA 45 AMG dash

The speed and power of this vehicle are really deceptive, especially on the highway where triple-digit speeds are achieved rather effortlessly. Surprisingly, even in sport mode, it doesn’t launch off the line with authority (I didn’t abuse the vehicle by holding both pedals in) but then really takes off once it built up some speed. Buff books say that a quarter mile run can completed in high 12-second range, which was exotic car territory just a few years ago, now accomplished in a four-banger hatchback with a transversely mounted engine.

Toss this SUV wagon hatchback vehicle into a highway on-ramp and it will stick surprisingly well, with minimum body roll. The steering is very quick and direct, and may just be one of the best of FWD/AWD-based cars. On public roads I obviously didn’t drive anywhere near its or my own limits, but even then the little Benz telegraphed its intended part of travel and tire adhesion very well, with safe and predictable intentions toward understeer. There is a downside to all that fancy handling, however. When the smooth pavement ends, the bumpy ride begins. It’s not as bad as some so-called sport sedans with stiff springs and no-profile tires, but it’s certainly worse than any MB I have ever been in – something like GM’s Magnetic Ride Control would make a huge improvement.

Mercedes Benz GLA 45 AMG interior details

The interior will be familiar to anyone who has recently sat in a new MB. The infotainment system is heavy in buttons but generally easy to use, similar to other German makers, with the use of large console mounted knob but with Ford-esque steering wheel buttons. The sports seats are supportive and comfortable, a combination that is not always exclusive. Other AMG cues are visible in big clear gauges, flattened steering wheel, shifter paddles, and a really nice carbonfiber trim.

Forward visibility is not great, with large A-pillars and low sitting position and/or high beltline. The mirrors are rather small, too. From the driver’s seat, the hood has a visible dome in it but I am not sure if it is there to reaffirm that this is a sports, in a WRX sort of way, car or a truck in a 4Runner sort of way. Things get worse looking back; small windows and huge C-pillar make reversing or parallel parking downright challenging. There are sensors and a back-up camera to help assist with this, but the overall process is more difficult than it should be.

Mercedes Benz GLA 45 AMG exterior details

To test this vehicle’s abilities to do SUV things I filled up the trunk with week’s worth of groceries, a booster seat and a toddler seat in the back seat, and then instructed everyone to take their seats, with my wife in the front. Shockingly, everyone was comfortable. The back seat is short on legroom but the kids didn’t care. The trunk is small but swallowed up the groceries and a diaper bag. It may not be a large vehicle, but it is functional in a typical hatchback fashion.

The base Mercedes-Benz GLA250 starts at $33,300. But this GLA45 AMG is anything but base and therefore it starts at $48,300. Add to that your choice of packages: Premium Package, Driver’s Assistance Package, Multimedia Package, and/or Aerodynamic Package, and the total price can easily surpass the $60,000 mark. That is a lot of coin for a car that Mercedes representatives themselves referred to as “a Subaru WRX for grownups”, which may just be the best way to classify this vehicle.

Mercedes Benz GLA 45 AMG front 34

Kamil Kaluski is the East Coast Editor for Hooniverse.com. His ramblings on Eastern European cars, $500 racers, and other miscellaneous automotive stuff can be found there. 

Mercedes-Benz USA, LLC provided the vehicle for this review.

Mercedes Benz GLA 45 AMG rear 34

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Mercedes-Benz Tops In J.D. Power Satisfaction Survey http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/11/mercedes-benz-tops-j-d-power-satisfaction-survey/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/11/mercedes-benz-tops-j-d-power-satisfaction-survey/#comments Fri, 14 Nov 2014 15:00:51 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=945105 Another day, another customer survey. This time, it’s J.D. Power with its annual Sales Satisfaction Index Study, with those surveyed placing Mercedes-Benz at the top of the podium. AutoGuide reports the German premium brand scored 726 out of 1,000 points as far as how pleasurable the car-buying experience turned out. Taking the gold among the […]

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2015 Mercedes-Benz C400 front

Another day, another customer survey. This time, it’s J.D. Power with its annual Sales Satisfaction Index Study, with those surveyed placing Mercedes-Benz at the top of the podium.

AutoGuide reports the German premium brand scored 726 out of 1,000 points as far as how pleasurable the car-buying experience turned out. Taking the gold among the mainstream brands, MINI scored 727 out of 1,000, marking the fifth straight year the BMW brand took the top spot on the podium.

Infiniti, Jaguar — last year’s top finisher — Lexus and Porsche round out the premium top five, while Buick, Chevrolet, GMC and Fiat did the same among mass-market brands.

As far as the overall car-buying experience is concerned, J.D. Power found an improvement of 12 points among mass-market brands, and a 16-point improvement among premium brands. The main factor for both sides was a knowledgeable sales representative who could understand a customer’s needs, especially with more “tech-heavy” offerings on the lot and in the showroom, per vice president of the automotive retail practice, Chris Sutton.

This year’s survey collected 29,805 responses from those who bought or leased a new vehicle between April and May of this year.

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Capsule Review: 2015 Mercedes-Benz C400 4Matic http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/11/capsule-review-2015-mercedes-benz-c400-4matic/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/11/capsule-review-2015-mercedes-benz-c400-4matic/#comments Wed, 12 Nov 2014 13:35:23 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=944313 We use a lot of terminology in our quest to classify automobiles which actively pursue thicker portions of your pocketbook. No matter how many E-Class Benzes ply their trade as German taxicabs, we still allow the S-Class’s high-class image to rub off on the CLA in order to call the entry-level Mercedes sedan an “entry-luxury” […]

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2015 Mercedes-Benz C400 frontWe use a lot of terminology in our quest to classify automobiles which actively pursue thicker portions of your pocketbook.

No matter how many E-Class Benzes ply their trade as German taxicabs, we still allow the S-Class’s high-class image to rub off on the CLA in order to call the entry-level Mercedes sedan an “entry-luxury” car. A 3-Series without leather, lacking a six-cylinder, can still be called a luxury sports sedan. Lexus’s CT200h uses a Prius powertrain, but hey, it’s a Lexus, so it must be “premium” right?

Upscale. High-end. Executive. Premium. Luxury. The words, commandeered by the manufacturers themselves, have lost so much of their meaning because we have lost our ability to place any faith in words which too often turn out to be nothing more than marketing catch-phrases.

But words don’t matter. Forget the words. Ignore the words. Discard the words. Do whatever you have to render the traditional classifying terms null and void.

Doing so will help you accept the truthful message that the new W205 2015 Mercedes-Benz C-Class, tested here in C400 4Matic form, is an honest-to-goodness, legitimate luxury car. Not because it wears a three-pointed star on its key fob, steering wheel, trunk lid, grille, and bonnet, but because it positions you in “the state of great comfort and extravagant living.”

It starts with bank vault-like door closures, but it’s the high-quality interior that truly positions the new C-Class as a cut above its traditional rivals. If not for its size, power output, and pricing scheme, the C-Class wouldn’t really come across as a 3-Series rival in 2015. All the common touchpoints and the places you’ll never touch will cause you to think the C-Class is too nice, too luxurious, to be lumped in with the ATS, IS, Q50, and even the A4.

2015 Mercedes-Benz C400 4MaticMore than the materials themselves, it’s the narrow tolerances, the snug fits, the silent operation of moving parts, the unusually tactile way in which vents open and move, the snickety-snicking of the volume control wheel, muted accent lighting, and the perfectly weighted forward and backward motion of the Agility Select rocker.

Piano black finishes across the central part of the cabin are a big mistake, but not a mistake an actual C-Class buyer must live with – there are choices. The perched central screen is a big no-no from a stylistic perspective, as well. Yet it looks better here than in the CLA250 4Matic we recently reviewed, in part because of its size; in part because of the spectacular cabin in which it resides. Tacked on the dash, the C-Class’s screen does keep your eyes closer to the road, but there are plenty of convoluted interior mechanics to distract and disturb a driver.

2015 Mercedes-Benz C400 4Matic rear closeBesides speech recognition, theoretically a wonderful solution but comically ineffective in this C400, many controls can be operated with conventional buttons mounted below the touch screen, or a touchpad, or Mercedes-Benz’s better-known control knob, which is partially hidden by the touchpad. Seat controls, in typical Mercedes-Benz fashion, are located up on the door. The cruise control stalk is hidden away behind the steering wheel, mounted too close to the power tilt and telescoping wand. Wiper options, which are surprisingly limited, are on the same stalk one uses to operate signals. Then on the other side of the wheel, the shifter is a column-mounted unit but not a straightforward column shifter in the manner of nearly all column mounted shifters in the history of column mounted shifters.

But the C-Class is a luxury car, both nominally and in reality, and thus a little complication goes a long way to convincing us that this isn’t an intuitive Hyundai Genesis. Goodness no, that would be a crying shame. No, go and accidentally swipe that touch pad when you meant to press it, fly past Pop2K and The Pulse and The Blend and Love and Elvis in your attempts to access SiriusXM’s 90s on 9. Because Steal My Sunshine.

2015 Mercedes-Benz C400 interiorThe C-Class is also a bigger car than it used to be: nearly four inches longer than the old car on a wheelbase that’s three inches longer than the W204 car. This provides slight numerical differences in interior space – 1.8 inches more legroom in the rear; 1.6% more cargo capacity – but the difference, in reality, is more stark. It’s ten inches shorter, bumper to bumper, than an Acura TLX and doesn’t feel nearly as spacious, but the C400’s rear seat is more usable than the rear seat in the slightly longer Lexus IS. Capacious? No, but usable. Particularly for front seat occupants actual comfort is downright, dare I say it, luxurious.

Although it’s a bigger car than the old C-Class, it’s also marginally lighter. This C400, lacking any extra performance options, feels decidedly compact to drive and park (not that you’d want to use Active Park Assist, which is prone to mistakes and is slower at parking than you are) and would feel rather tossable if not for the slow-to-react steering. Brake feel and performance is top-notch stuff for a non-performance-branded German sedan, perhaps even for an AMG car. Ride quality is properly firm and unflustered almost all the time but then, suddenly, bizarrely crashy when the coastal Atlantic pavement deteriorates and the low-profile rubber (225/45R18 front, 245/40R18 rear Continental ProContact GX SSR) pays its price. But aside from those rare moments which likely won’t even be encountered where road conditions aren’t dreadful, it’s a calm car. Better yet, the C400’s optional air suspension likely makes for both an improved ride and superior handling.

2015 Mercedes-Benz C400 4Matic BurmeisterThe new C may be a return to form for a brand that didn’t use to perpetually chase BMW-like sporting credentials. Yet while the C400 4Matic isn’t a sports sedan in the sense that Audi’s S4 or a BMW 335i Sport is a sports sedan, it’s a very athletic car with hugely impressive engine specs. The artificially aspirated V6 sends none of its vibrations into the cabin, but it can come across a bit gruff for, say, lovers of inline-sixes. This fresh-off-the-line car landed in my driveway early on its tenure with fewer than 1200 kilometres/800 miles on its odometer, but the 3.0L twin-turbo V6’s 329 horsepower (at 5250 rpm, and 354 lb-ft of torque at 1600 rpm) felt like ponies well versed in CrossFit, Pilates, hot yoga, and spinning. This is a fast car.

Switch the C400’s Agility selector into Sport+ and those horses behave more like a pack of large, untrained, on-leash puppies furiously pulling their way to the dog park. Eco, Comfort, and Sport are all better options unless you plan to aggressively drive down a great road.

With all of these modes used intermittently, in a mix of city and highway driving, the C400 4Matic Mercedes-Benz Canada loaned to us for a week in November returned 22.6 miles per gallon, a real achievement for a green engine with 329 horsepower, an often heavy right foot, and mandatory all-wheel-drive. It’s rated by the EPA at 21 mpg in the city, 29 on the highway.

2015 Mercedes-Benz C400 4Matic screenAnd again, though the C400 4Matic is poised and balanced through corners, though it accelerates like a supercar of 15 or 20 years ago, and though it brakes remarkably well, this isn’t necessarily the keen driver’s choice. Its 7-speed automatic transmission doesn’t shift swiftly enough and its intelligence is countered by a reluctance to play. It’s a lot like the guy who says he likes 90s music, but when Waterfalls comes on, he won’t turn up the C400’s optional Burmester sound system, a sound system which deserves to be jacked for all manner of music, whether it’s TLC or CCR.

It’s abundantly clear that Mercedes-Benz crafted a luxury car with athletic ability, rather than an All-American athlete with nice finishes in prominent places. (On that note, the C-Class uses its high-grade materials in all corners of the cabin. And it is thoroughly American by one standard: new Cs are built in Alabama with the ML and GL.) They won’t market it that way, of course, because even older buyers who remember Mercedes-Benz at its best feel the need to associate “sport” with the period of youth they’re trying so desperately to remember, assisted by ginkgo biloba, pickleball, and inappropriate use of leggings.

Regardless of which supplements its owner ingests, which sport they play, and how they dress, the new C-Class will nevertheless be a true luxury car, in an authentic use of the phrase. And with a base price of $49,515 in the United States, it better be.

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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Mercedes Unveils New Nomenclature Scheme, Maybach Addition http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/11/mercedes-unveils-new-nomenclature-scheme-maybach-addition/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/11/mercedes-unveils-new-nomenclature-scheme-maybach-addition/#comments Wed, 12 Nov 2014 12:00:45 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=944465 Mercedes-Benz is shaking things up as far as its long-standing nomenclature system is concerned, as well as introducing a new name to the portfolio: Mercedes-Maybach. The first Mercedes-Maybach, the Mercedes-Maybach S600, will make its way down the ramp during next week’s 2014 Los Angeles Auto Show. On the boot lid, the new sub-brand will follow […]

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Mercedes-Maybach 01

Mercedes-Benz is shaking things up as far as its long-standing nomenclature system is concerned, as well as introducing a new name to the portfolio: Mercedes-Maybach.

The first Mercedes-Maybach, the Mercedes-Maybach S600, will make its way down the ramp during next week’s 2014 Los Angeles Auto Show. On the boot lid, the new sub-brand will follow Mercedes-AMG’s display pattern: Maybach on the left, Mercedes star in the center, model designation on the right. The ultra upscale sedan is expected to set the pace for Mercedes-Maybach as a sub-brand “that sets a benchmark for exclusivity and meets even the most discerning of requirements in terms of its appointments.”

Mercedes-Maybach 02

As for the parent brand overall, with 30 vehicles set to be in showrooms by 2020 — including 11 all-new models — Mercedes decided it was time to do some housekeeping, with most of the attention going toward its SUV range. Thus, the following:

  • GLA: GL A-Class
  • GLC: GL C-Class; was the GLK
  • GLE: GL E-Class; was the M-Class, or ML
  • GLE Coupe: GL E-Class Coupe
  • GLS: GL S-Class; was the GL
  • G: No change due to lineage

The L serves as a linking letter between the main class and the five core classes, the latter remaining unchanged. Roadsters will be redesignated as SL beginning in 2016, following the same pattern as established with the G-Class. Engine designations also receive a reboot, and will be displayed in lower-case on the boot lid. Mercedes’ AWD system, 4MATIC, remains unchanged.

New nomenclature Mercedes-Benz model series

New nomenclature Mercedes-Benz drive systems

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Piston Slap: Get Ready to Lose Much More! http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/11/piston-slap-get-ready-to-lose-much-more-c-class/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/11/piston-slap-get-ready-to-lose-much-more-c-class/#comments Mon, 10 Nov 2014 14:33:04 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=943113   TTAC Commentator LordMurdoc writes: Sajeev, I’m finally ready to lose my BORING 2002 Geo Prizm. Checking eBay for older Lexus LS or a Mercedes C-class(about 2004-2006) . If I went with the Merc with the gasoline V6, what type of Gremlins might I expect to attack me when my wallet is most vulnerable? The […]

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Know what that triangle is for? (photo courtesy: www.drive.net)

TTAC Commentator LordMurdoc writes:

Sajeev,

I’m finally ready to lose my BORING 2002 Geo Prizm.

Checking eBay for older Lexus LS or a Mercedes C-class(about 2004-2006) . If I went with the Merc with the gasoline V6, what type of Gremlins might I expect to attack me when my wallet is most vulnerable? The Prizm is turning my brain to mush and my right foot is in despair!

Thanks for your excellent advice.

Sajeev answers:

That’s a good question, insofar that I’m answering the question I heard you to ask…not your actual question.

“Why yes, the 2003+ Lincoln Town Car with an SCT tune, a cop car air box/rear sway bar, late model Mustang GT mufflers and a quicker axle ratio is PERFECT for you!  Considering otherwise is foolish, and thank goodness you are no such fool.”

But somewhat more seriously, these questions are fun: the OP knows he’s about to do something stupid.

Like buying a neglected Lexus LS with an explodey timing belt. Or the litany of little things to drive you nuts on most W203 C-class Benzes. Or big things, like certain V6s with balance shaft issues. But, on the plus side, the C240 looks more robust, perhaps even having less body mounted electric gizmos to fail as it’s a lower level model. Maybe even with super durable MB-Tex coverings!

I’d go with the C240, for the stout motor.  The rest of it? Off to you, Best and Brightest.

 

Send your queries to sajeev@thetruthaboutcars.com. Spare no details and ask for a speedy resolution if you’re in a hurry…but be realistic, and use your make/model specific forums instead of TTAC for more timely advice.

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Report: Mercedes-Benz Biggest Manipulator Of Euro Fuel-Efficiency Test Results http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/11/report-mercedes-benz-biggest-manipulator-euro-fuel-efficiency-test-results/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/11/report-mercedes-benz-biggest-manipulator-euro-fuel-efficiency-test-results/#comments Fri, 07 Nov 2014 14:00:27 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=942473 The oft-maligned European fuel-efficiency testing cycle have produced a few manipulators, per green lobby group Transport & Environment, with Mercedes-Benz as the biggest offender. According to Automotive News Europe, T&E proclaimed the automaker’s lineup would cost an owner an additional €5,600 ($6,931 USD) in fuel over the lifetime of a vehicle. The figure comes from […]

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2014 Mercedes-Benz CLA 250

The oft-maligned European fuel-efficiency testing cycle have produced a few manipulators, per green lobby group Transport & Environment, with Mercedes-Benz as the biggest offender.

According to Automotive News Europe, T&E proclaimed the automaker’s lineup would cost an owner an additional €5,600 ($6,931 USD) in fuel over the lifetime of a vehicle. The figure comes from its 2014 Mind the Gap report, which forecasts drivers will spend 1.5 times more on fuel by 2020 than they do currently:

If your new Mercedes car swallows 40 percent more fuel than the brochure promised, it’s not your heavy-footed driving. Rather it’s because Mercedes are the current leaders at manipulating the way vehicles are tested, producing official fuel economy figures in the labs that cannot be replicated in the real world.

Mercedes product strategy and planning chief Johannes Reifenrath says his employer is aware of the deviation, adding that the driver plays a massive role in how a vehicle’s fuel economy fares in the real world. Reifenrath reminded T&E and other critics that the testing procedures “are not determined by the automakers… the EU Commission defines the rules we have to play by.”

T&E’s report states the gap between the lab and the real world had grown across all brands between 2001 and 2013, leaping from 8 percent to 31 percent for private owners. The group is calling for reforms in fuel-efficiency testing, with a focus on more real-world results.

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Mercedes-Benz Metris Is North America’s V-Class http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/11/mercedes-benz-metris-north-americas-v-class/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/11/mercedes-benz-metris-north-americas-v-class/#comments Tue, 04 Nov 2014 19:06:45 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=940569   Mercedes-Benz is introducing a version of its V-Class van to the North American market, and is using the SEMA show to preview the new vehicles. While powertrains have not been announced, the van, dubbed the Metris, will be 202-inches long, and come in both passenger and cargo vans. Automotive News is reporting that As […]

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12240510624_7266826a00

 

Mercedes-Benz is introducing a version of its V-Class van to the North American market, and is using the SEMA show to preview the new vehicles.

While powertrains have not been announced, the van, dubbed the Metris, will be 202-inches long, and come in both passenger and cargo vans. Automotive News is reporting that

As with the larger Sprinter van, the Metris will be made in Europe and shipped to the Daimler Vans plant in Ladson, S.C., for final assembly…Cargo versions will come from Vitoria, with the drivetrain, fuel tank and battery removed to avoid a 25 percent tariff known as the “chicken tax.” Those components will be reinstalled at the Ladson plant. It’s the same process cargo versions of the Sprinter undergo. Passenger vans are not subject to the chicken tax.

TTAC first reported on the possible importation of the V-Class roughly a year ago.

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Mercedes Vision G-Code Study Shows Off Possible Future For SUV/CUV Lineup http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/11/mercedes-vision-g-code-study-shows-possible-future-suvcuv-lineup/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/11/mercedes-vision-g-code-study-shows-possible-future-suvcuv-lineup/#comments Tue, 04 Nov 2014 12:00:38 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=940225 Earlier this week, Mercedes-Benz opened its Product Engineering Centre in Beijing. To celebrate the occasion, the luxury brand unveiled a new design study: the Vision G-Code sporty utility coupe. The 2+2-passenger study took its inspiration from the rising affluence and “digital affinity” of Asia’s youth culture, who are gravitating toward SUVs and crossovers over all […]

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Grand Opening Mercedes-Benz Research & Development China, Beijing2014 Eröffnung von Mercedes-Benz Research & Development China, Peking 2014

Earlier this week, Mercedes-Benz opened its Product Engineering Centre in Beijing. To celebrate the occasion, the luxury brand unveiled a new design study: the Vision G-Code sporty utility coupe.

The 2+2-passenger study took its inspiration from the rising affluence and “digital affinity” of Asia’s youth culture, who are gravitating toward SUVs and crossovers over all other vehicle configurations. Thus, aside from its muscular coupe profile — measuring 13 feet long and 4.9 feet tall — and 21-inch wheels riding a 6.2-foot wide track, the G-Code offers a few technological wonders that may someday appear in Mercedes’ portfolio of SUVs and crossovers.

The first is the paint itself. The silver paint is a “multi-voltaic” coating that pulls energy from the sun and/or wind to help aid in the methane/hydrogen synthesis process; the G-Code is also an FCV. The driver can use their smartphone to start the vehicle, then place it in the docking station to access the study’s connected-vehicle system.

Moving both pairs of wheels, a turbocharged hydrogen mil delivers power to the front, while an electric motor selectively moves the rear wheels via a dual multi-disc clutch. Power regeneration is carried out via the aforementioned coating, plug-in technology, and a suspension system that transmits energy into a compact current generator.

The grill adds still more flash to the G-Code by indicating the state its HYBRID system is in, from blue light moving toward the star in eDrive, to vivid red and reverse movement in sport.

Finally, the driver and their passengers can enjoy niceties, such as: GPS, 3D cameras, leather-upholstered seats with 3D body scanning for improved comfort, a pair of stand-up scooters in the back for additional mobility, and photosynthetic air conditioning for cleaner cabin air.

Grand Opening Mercedes-Benz Research & Development China, Beijing2014Eröffnung von Mercedes-Benz Research & Development China, Peking 2014 Grand Opening Mercedes-Benz Research & Development China, Beijing2014Eröffnung von Mercedes-Benz Research & Development China, Peking 2014 Grand Opening Mercedes-Benz Research & Development China, Beijing2014Eröffnung von Mercedes-Benz Research & Development China, Peking 2014 Grand Opening Mercedes-Benz Research & Development China, Beijing2014Eröffnung von Mercedes-Benz Research & Development China, Peking 2014 Grand Opening Mercedes-Benz Research & Development China, Beijing2014Eröffnung von Mercedes-Benz Research & Development China, Peking 2014

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The Streets Of R-Ado http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/10/streets-r-ado/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/10/streets-r-ado/#comments Wed, 29 Oct 2014 18:00:19 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=936762 I felt like a spy within my own company. It was a hot summer day in 2003 and I was at the DaimlerChrysler proving grounds in Laredo, Texas to attend a focus group on the upcoming 2006 Mercedes-Benz R-Class minivan/crossover/sport touring wagon. My dozen or so fellow attendees were all wealthy owners of high-end Mercedes-Benz cars. I was here because the […]

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2006 R500 Courtesy cimg.carsforsale.com

I felt like a spy within my own company. It was a hot summer day in 2003 and I was at the DaimlerChrysler proving grounds in Laredo, Texas to attend a focus group on the upcoming 2006 Mercedes-Benz R-Class minivan/crossover/sport touring wagon. My dozen or so fellow attendees were all wealthy owners of high-end Mercedes-Benz cars. I was here because the Mercedes-Benz USA focus group invite filter did not recognize my net worth nor the fact that I worked for Mercedes-Benz Financial Services. And I was not about to tell anyone that…

The Laredo facility included an assortment of handling, hill-climb and torture tracks, all on the infield of an imposing high-banked 5-mile circle track. The first impression of the scene was intoxicating to a car nut: Hey, there’s a Dodge Magnum, looks just like the spy photos! There goes the next generation S-Class! We were shown the upcoming GL-Class and the next-generation M-Class SUVs. Those vehicles, as well as the future S-class circling the track, were lightly masked but easily recognizable while the “sport touring wagon” was heavily, almost comically, disguised.  It looked like a giant black shoe box with a sloping hood.

My group of five folks and an engineer jumped into the future R-Class. The interior was well-crafted and amazingly roomy: I could stretch my legs out in the third row. Our moderator led us through the various obstacle courses around the grounds, switching drivers along the way. Finally we headed for the 5-mile circle. It was “Clockwise Day” which seemed strange to someone used to driving counterclockwise on oval tracks.  Our leader cranked it up to an indicated 150 mph and took one hand off the wheel to demonstrate the wagon’s stability. We were duly impressed.

We then each proceeded to take two laps each behind the wheel and several of us hit the magic 150 mph barrier. We were quietly cruising with six people aboard and blasting past Plymouth Neons on the inside lane doing endurance testing.  The original R500 with the 302 hp V-8 had a governed top speed of 135 mph. The Benz engineers would not answer questions about this drivetrain. In retrospect, I think it must have been the 503 hp V-8 from the planned R63 AMG under the hood.

We always said the R-Class would make a great hearse...

We always said that the R-Class would make a great hearse…

Years later I think: Were we really doing 150 mph with six passengers in a prototype with a drag coefficient of Melissa McCarthy?  Was the speedometer clocked? Or is driving on a banked, circular track as safe and easy as driving in a straight line? Regardless, I highly doubt there are many car companies who would allow a bunch of yahoos to drive their mock-up models at high speeds on their secret proving grounds. That day in Laredo was one of the highlights of my time in the car business.

Two years later when I first saw a production R-Class, I was shocked: it looked awful, a combo of awkward lines. I thought about Laredo. Were they hiding the R’s styling from us because previous groups had given it a thumbs down? Or was Germany so proud of the edgy styling that they did not want it leaked?  By disguising its looks, letting us behind the scenes to drive flat-out at their proving grounds, and not talking price or specs, were they guaranteeing that we each would  vote an enthusiastic “yes” when asked if we would consider buying one, which we did?

I was pleased to see one suggestion from our focus group about the poor location of the third-row shoulder belt hanger had been addressed.

 

It appears the Daimler is now selling their Laredo test track. Note the 2-mile oval track within the 5-mile highbank circle.

Daimler is now selling their Laredo test track. Note the 2-mile oval track inside the 5-mile circle track

The R-Class was released in the summer of 2005 to the sounds of crickets on the showroom floors. Press reactions were mixed, (“It’s big and it’s ugly, but inside it you can live like a king,” said the Sunday Times.) Within 30 days of the launch, Benz had to add dealer incentives to counter consumer resistance to the base MSRP of $48,000 for the R350 and $55,500 for the R500. A constellation of factors led to the R-class being a rare failure for Daimler: high pricing, murky marketing and product positioning, mediocre gas mileage, the recession and most of all due to its undeniable ugliness.

Sales of the R-Class in the US peaked at 18,168 units in 2006, far short of the corporate objective of 50,000 sales per year. Less than 3,000 were sold each year between 2009 and 2011 before the car was discontinued in North America in 2012. The R-Class continues to be assembled in Mercedes’ Alabama factory for sale in overseas markets. (US dealers toured the plant recently and upon seeing the R line, several joked, “Oh noooo, it’s back!”)

I had an R-Class company car in 2009 and it rode as well as I remembered, every bit an S-Class on the highway. Even better was the fact it was the CDI diesel variant with its gobs of torque and great gas mileage, a truly underappreciated engine.

I still think the R stands for Repulsive but if I could find one of those eighty 2007 R63 AMGs brought into this country…

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Mercedes-Benz’s S-Class Is Selling Like It’s 2007 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/10/mercedes-benzs-s-class-selling-like-2007/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/10/mercedes-benzs-s-class-selling-like-2007/#comments Thu, 23 Oct 2014 12:16:10 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=934466 Mercedes-Benz USA has already sold more copies of the all-conquering S-Class in 2014 than in the full calendar years of 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, and 2013. By the end of October, Mercedes-Benz USA’s S-Class sales total will be in excess of 2008’s total, as well. Not since 2007 have S-Class sales been this strong. Mercedes-Benz […]

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2014 Mercedes-Benz S-ClassMercedes-Benz USA has already sold more copies of the all-conquering S-Class in 2014 than in the full calendar years of 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, and 2013. By the end of October, Mercedes-Benz USA’s S-Class sales total will be in excess of 2008’s total, as well.

Not since 2007 have S-Class sales been this strong. Mercedes-Benz sold 30,886 S-Class sedans in the United States in 2006 and 26,081 in 2007 after averaging little more than 20,000 annual U.S. sales between 2002 and 2005.

(Mercedes-Benz’s decision to throw the CL-Class coupe nameplate under the S-Class’s banner doesn’t mean much in this historical context, as the CL-Class has always operated in a narrow niche in the market. It accounted for 4% of all S/CL sales in 2006 and 3% last year. The coupe only accounts for 2% of the currently inventoried S-Classes.)

While this category has traditionally belonged to the S-Class, so much so that any new entry is considered as much an S-Class fighter as it is a flagship luxury sedan in its own right, there have been times in the recent past when alternatives have led the way. Going back as far as 2002, both the BMW 7-Series and even better-selling (and more affordable) Lexus LS outsold the S-Class. (They both did so again in 2005.) In fact, the LS outsold the S-Class in 2003, 2004, 2005, 2007, 2008, and 2009.

The S-Class has beaten off all challenges from top-level, premium brand sedans in each of the last four years, however, and through the first three-quarters of 2014 it has sold more than twice as often as any direct rival.

S-Class sales have risen 122% to 16,915 units so far this year. BMW 7-Series sales are down 27% to 6264 units, the Lexus LS is down 22% to 5904, the Audi A8 is down 12% to 4060, and the Jaguar XJ is down 15% to 3468.

It’s estimated that Tesla has sold around 12,000 copies of the Model S in the United States during the first three-quarters of 2014. BMW’s 6-Series range, now available as a four-door, is 371 sales ahead of the 7-Series. The Audi A7 and Mercedes-Benz CLS sit in between the E-Class/5-Series/A6 and S-Class/7-Series/A8 lineups. Their sales are up 6% to 6386 and up 4% to 6149, respectively.

In other words, the S-Class doesn’t simply outsell its rivals, it roundly trounces them.

It helps to be the newest, it helps to be the progenitor, and it helps to offer a broader lineup of available sedans. S-Class volume has now increased in twelve consecutive months.

Through three-quarters, BMW USA has outsold Mercedes-Benz USA (excluding Sprinter) by 3380 units. Yet while BMW generates 2.6% of its volume with the 7-Series (Lexus is at 2.7% with the LS; Audi ‘s at 3.1% with A8; JLR’s at 6.9% with Jaguar XJ), Mercedes-Benz produces 7.3% of its volume with the S-Class.

That figure has grown from 3.5% last year, but it’s down from 10.3% in 2007, the last time S-Class sales were this high, before the brand produced 12.9% of its volume with vehicles like the CLA and GLA, as Mercedes-Benz did in September.

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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Nissan, Tesla Sold Most California ZEV Credits In 2013 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/10/nissan-tesla-sold-california-zev-credits-2013/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/10/nissan-tesla-sold-california-zev-credits-2013/#comments Thu, 23 Oct 2014 12:00:13 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=935346 In one corner of the California ZEV credit octagon, the Tesla and its air of luxury. On the other side, the Nissan and its down-to-earth vibe. Who won this year? Nissan. AutoblogGreen reports the Japanese automaker sold more ZEV credits than the Californians, though not by much: 663.6 to 650.195. Fiat Chrysler Automobiles pulled up […]

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2013-nissan-leaf-7-1

In one corner of the California ZEV credit octagon, the Tesla and its air of luxury. On the other side, the Nissan and its down-to-earth vibe.

Who won this year? Nissan.

AutoblogGreen reports the Japanese automaker sold more ZEV credits than the Californians, though not by much: 663.6 to 650.195. Fiat Chrysler Automobiles pulled up at a distant third with 235.2 sold, thanks to the existence of the Fiat 500e.

As for who bought them — purchase price per credit is permanently shrouded in secrecy — Mercedes likely took Nissan’s credits for the former’s less green offerings, Honda following behind with 542.5 purchased. FCA, again, placed third with 237.8, cancelling out what the 500e gained.

Finally, California residents brought home 3.5 million vehicles during the period ending last month, with 38,000 EVs, 30,000 PHEVs and 570,000 hybrids roaming the streets and highways.

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Mercedes Turns Former Naval Base Into Autonomous Testing Ground http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/10/mercedes-turns-former-naval-base-autonomous-testing-ground/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/10/mercedes-turns-former-naval-base-autonomous-testing-ground/#comments Mon, 20 Oct 2014 13:00:56 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=933802 With the highway mostly conquered, autonomous vehicles now must navigate the cities through which they would otherwise pass by, a challenge unto itself with few proving grounds available for research. Mercedes-Benz, however, happened upon a solution not too far from its R&D base in Sunnyvale, Calif. Automotive News reports the automaker is testing its autonomous […]

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Mercedes-Benz-S-500-Intelligent-Drive-000

With the highway mostly conquered, autonomous vehicles now must navigate the cities through which they would otherwise pass by, a challenge unto itself with few proving grounds available for research.

Mercedes-Benz, however, happened upon a solution not too far from its R&D base in Sunnyvale, Calif.

Automotive News reports the automaker is testing its autonomous vehicles at the Concord Naval Weapons Station, a military base decommissioned in 2005 that may be redeveloped in the future.

Until then, Concord will be used as a “starter city” for autonomous city driving and navigation research and development. The strategy allows Mercedes “to run simulation tests with self-driving vehicles in a secure way, including specific hazardous situations,” per the brand’s head of autonomous driving, Axel Gern.

As for why Concord and similar spaces, such as the NASA facility Google uses to test its commuter pod, are in play over actual cities, Gartner analyst Thilo Koslowski says “existing proving grounds are not challenging enough,” while real-life testing is “too challenging at this point.” Further, both spaces are owned by the federal government, bestowing researchers the opportunity to test their theories without the California legislature dictating otherwise.

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Automakers, Utilities Collaborate On Plug-In Cloud Charging Technology http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/10/automakers-utilities-collaborate-plug-cloud-charging-technology/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/10/automakers-utilities-collaborate-plug-cloud-charging-technology/#comments Fri, 17 Oct 2014 14:00:49 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=932394 A group of eight automakers are collaborating with 15 utility companies in the United States to give PHEVs and EVs the ability to communicate with the latter party and the grid through cloud computing. Edmunds reports the group of eight — BMW, Ford, General Motors, Fiat Chrysler Automobiles, Honda, Mercedes-Benz, Toyota and Mitsubishi — along […]

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Ford Focus EV Cloud Charging

A group of eight automakers are collaborating with 15 utility companies in the United States to give PHEVs and EVs the ability to communicate with the latter party and the grid through cloud computing.

Edmunds reports the group of eight — BMW, Ford, General Motors, Fiat Chrysler Automobiles, Honda, Mercedes-Benz, Toyota and Mitsubishi — along with the 15 companies, Sumitomo Electric Industries and the Electric Power Research Institute, are developing a platform that would use the cloud to better manage energy usage and grid efficiency “while still meeting the needs” of PHEV and EV owners. The platform is called the Open Vehicle-Grid Integration Platform.

OVGI would operate as follows: an owner would plug their car in as usual, then set a time for when the vehicle would be back on the road. The utility company could then send a message to the car to stop charging during peak power use, or, if doing so would hinder the vehicle’s ability to get back on the road, allow the vehicle to continue charging until it was ready to go.

In turn, the companies could offer their customers incentives to offer their plug-ins to the grid through lower rates on electricity usage. Customers can opt-out, charge elsewhere, or have the vehicle ignore the request.

The first OVGI test is occurring this week at Sacramento Municipal Utility District’s Customer Service Center, where the tech will be demonstrated before federal, state, automotive and utility representatives and officials.

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The Narcissism Of Small Differences, Part 2 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/10/narcissism-small-differences-part-2/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/10/narcissism-small-differences-part-2/#comments Thu, 09 Oct 2014 15:42:42 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=928161 Following our discussion on the difference between a CUV, a wagon and a hatchback, (and the ever blurring line between them), we got a note from AutoGuide.com‘s Mike Schlee, via our Facebook page. According to Schlee, even the GLA lineup is split amongst the designations. Schlee, who was at the GLA launch, claims that The […]

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2015-Mercedes-Benz-GLA-45-AMG-Review-main_rdax_646x396

Following our discussion on the difference between a CUV, a wagon and a hatchback, (and the ever blurring line between them), we got a note from AutoGuide.com‘s Mike Schlee, via our Facebook page. According to Schlee, even the GLA lineup is split amongst the designations.

Schlee, who was at the GLA launch, claims that

The GLA 45 AMG is actually classified as a car (hatchback) due to it’s lowered height and lower sitting bumpers. Mercedes was not allowed to classify it official as a ‘truck’ in the USA.

But the taller GLA 250 is classified as a ‘truck’ and is allowed to have crossover things like rear and side tinted windows.

So, there you have it. I never knew that the ubiquitous “privacy glass” was a”truck” only item, but that can easily be solved with a $200 trip to the tint shop.

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UAW Establishes New Local Near US Daimler Plant http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/10/uaw-establishes-new-local-near-us-daimler-plant/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/10/uaw-establishes-new-local-near-us-daimler-plant/#comments Mon, 06 Oct 2014 14:00:06 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=926489 Just as in Chattanooga, Tenn., the United Auto Workers has established a local in Tuscaloosa, Ala. for those working on the floor of the Daimler AG-owned MBUSI plant in nearby Vance. Reuters reports Local 112, like Local 42 with Volkswagen AG, will work to prove to Daimler that its U.S.-based employees support the UAW, with […]

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UAW Local 112 Signing

Just as in Chattanooga, Tenn., the United Auto Workers has established a local in Tuscaloosa, Ala. for those working on the floor of the Daimler AG-owned MBUSI plant in nearby Vance.

Reuters reports Local 112, like Local 42 with Volkswagen AG, will work to prove to Daimler that its U.S.-based employees support the UAW, with the aim of being recognized by the automaker, followed by the union’s ultimate goal of organization. The local will also have support from German union IG Metall and Daimler’s own works council, the Daimler World Employee Committee.

While VW claims neutrality — yet unofficially welcomes the union’s efforts to organize — Daimler holds firm on its neutral stance, proclaiming “that the culture… established is [the] best path forward for a successful future.”

As for how many workers have joined the new local, UAW Secretary-Treasurer Gary Casteel says the local has more than half of the members of the Volkswagen local. UAW opponent and MBUSI employee Sonny Hawthorne — who was barred from attending the official press conference, yet invited to speak outside to the press — says the union has the support of 25 percent to 30 percent of the floor.

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