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, 24 Oct 2014 17:28:55 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=4.0 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 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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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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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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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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My Last Free Mercedes-Benz http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/10/last-free-mercedes-benz/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/10/last-free-mercedes-benz/#comments Wed, 01 Oct 2014 14:10:01 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=922041 Everyone please welcome Steve Lynch, author of “Arrogance and Accords“, as our newest contributor! Yesterday I was working for the greatest automobile company in the world. Today I am working for the greatest automotive blog in the world. Yesterday I was working for the Germans. Today I am working for a 25-year-old Canadian kid who […]

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2015 ML350

Everyone please welcome Steve Lynch, author of “Arrogance and Accords“, as our newest contributor!

Yesterday I was working for the greatest automobile company in the world.

Today I am working for the greatest automotive blog in the world.

Yesterday I was working for the Germans.

Today I am working for a 25-year-old Canadian kid who loves rap music.

I am one lucky sumbitch.

I elected to take early retirement after 17 years at Mercedes-Benz Financial Services. The hardest part about leaving the OEM auto business is giving up the free company car. The 2015 ML350 you see above was my last ride and is currently for sale at Mercedes-Benz of Tucson (Low Miles! Illuminated Grill Star! Celebrity Owned!). God, it hurts…

An old retail automobile business adage says that the only things car salesmen need are the “3 Ds” – a desk, a drink and a demo. For me, that first demonstrator was a used 1981 Rosewood Brown Buick Regal that I drove while working at Spires-Douglas Buick in San Antonio.  I clearly remember driving  it off the lot after my first day on the job and thinking, “I like this business!” The days of salespeople getting free rides are long gone at most dealerships, no doubt a factor in attempting to draw new talent into the retail industry now.

The scores of Honda (all stick shifts by the way) and Mercedes-Benz vehicles parked in my garage over the years were nice but my favorite ride was a 2002 Jeep Grand Cherokee Limited High Output V8 I drove during the year I was sentenced to work on the Chrysler Financial side of our company. I was our auction rep in Arizona, selling repossessed Neons and off-lease Jeeps, and the GC could flat-out fly over the whoops on the rugged Apache Trail outside of Phoenix.

Jeep_Grand_Cherokee_WJ_34h courtesy wikipedia.org

Stories of wrecked demos are commonplace as there can be a certain “it’s not my car” mentality to driving one, as illustrated in this funny company car features page. In my own case, I tell people my last accident was in 1977 because I don’t count the night in Dallas in 1988 while coming home from Adair’s Saloon that I discovered that the counter rotation of the wheels on a 4-Wheel Steering Prelude negated my ability to execute a perfect bootlegger’s turn. I slid sideways hard into a curb and destroyed the suspension but somehow limped her home, dragging one tire all the way. Thank God it was during the corrupt days at American Honda: I traded a load of Accords to a dealer in return for him replacing the Prelude and making the wrecked one disappear.  I think that night was the end of my drinking and driving days and I have never put more than a scratch on a demo after that. Besides, get in an accident or get pinched for DUI in a OEM car and you could lose your job or, if you are lucky, keep your job but have to buy your own car.

I can take solace in the fact that I will driving the occasional press car for test drive purposes. You may wonder if I will be biased in favor of Honda and Mercedes-Benz. Of course I will. But I told Derek those are the last two brands I want to write about. I will pen a few stories about my days working for those corporations but I owe it to you to explore and write about all brands and all automotive companies. Besides, I already know how most of you feel about Mercedes-Benz vehicles…

I am thrilled to be reporting to you from the Tucson TTAC Tower and can promise you only one thing: the truth.

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Oh Yes, There’s A Mercedes-Benz C63 AMG Wagon http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/09/oh-yes-theres-mercedes-benz-c63-amg-wagon/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/09/oh-yes-theres-mercedes-benz-c63-amg-wagon/#comments Wed, 24 Sep 2014 14:53:53 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=917674 Ah, the joys of forbidden fruit. Shortly after the leaked photos of the new C63 AMG were revealed, the official pics and specs were released - along with a tasty two-box treat. The wagon bodystyle will, of course, not be offered in America. All-wheel drive doesn’t appear to be in the cards either, unlike recent […]

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Ah, the joys of forbidden fruit. Shortly after the leaked photos of the new C63 AMG were revealed, the official pics and specs were released - along with a tasty two-box treat.

The wagon bodystyle will, of course, not be offered in America. All-wheel drive doesn’t appear to be in the cards either, unlike recent AMG offerings. Unlike the BMW M3, the C63 will retain its V8 configuration, though no manual gearbox will be offered.

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Mercedes-Benz C63 Leaks http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/09/mercedes-benz-c63-leaks/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/09/mercedes-benz-c63-leaks/#comments Tue, 23 Sep 2014 19:14:54 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=917370   Mercedes-Benz’s next sports sedan will share an engine with the recently revealed AMG GT, as well as the car’s adaptive engine mounts. The next C63, shown here, will ape the GT’s two-tier power level. A 4.0L twin-turbo V8 with a 7-speed transmission will be offered with both 469 and 503 horsepower trims. Although AWD […]

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Mercedes-Benz’s next sports sedan will share an engine with the recently revealed AMG GT, as well as the car’s adaptive engine mounts.

The next C63, shown here, will ape the GT’s two-tier power level. A 4.0L twin-turbo V8 with a 7-speed transmission will be offered with both 469 and 503 horsepower trims. Although AWD hasn’t been announced, AMG has been shifting to a lineup of vehicles driving all four wheels. This, combined with the major power advantage over the BMW M3, should give the new Benzo a decided qualitative and quantitative advantage over their arch-rivals.

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A 21st Century 240D http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/09/21st-century-240d/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/09/21st-century-240d/#comments Thu, 18 Sep 2014 20:16:45 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=914898 The Mercedes-Benz ML is the latest victim of powertrain downsizing, but this time, it’s the diesel version that’s getting its cylinder count trimmed. For 2015, the ML350, with its 3.0L V6 diesel, will be killed off, replaced by an ML250, using the 2.1L 4-cylinder diesel used in the GLK and E-Class diesel. While the old […]

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The Mercedes-Benz ML is the latest victim of powertrain downsizing, but this time, it’s the diesel version that’s getting its cylinder count trimmed.

For 2015, the ML350, with its 3.0L V6 diesel, will be killed off, replaced by an ML250, using the 2.1L 4-cylinder diesel used in the GLK and E-Class diesel. While the old V6 was good for 240 horsepower and 455 lb-ft of torque, the new 4-cylinder will put down 200 horsepower and 362 lb-ft. Fuel economy is said to improve with the new mill, but a big car and a small engine tends to sometimes hurt real world figures, as the smaller mill must work harder to motivate the same amount of mass. Official fuel economy and towing ratings will be released later.

While AutoGuide.com quotes an M-B product manager as saying that the change comes from consumer demand for increased fuel economy, you can bet that CAFE had a lot to do with this change. Mercedes-Benz sells plenty of gas-guzzling cars, SUVs and AMG models and has been fined over $260 million for not meeting CAFE standards. No surprise that M-B has been a vocal opponent of the regime, which it says favors large trucks and SUVs.

So what better way to juice their CAFE averages than by saddling a large SUV with a tiny diesel engine? It’s not like this is something unknown for Mercedes-Benz. How many gutless, MB-TEX equipped 240Ds did they foist upon the American public, painted in hideous hues and sold at prices far beyond what many Americans expected a Cadillac or Lincoln to sticker at. Decades later, you’ll still have to fork out a $50,725 base price for the privilege of driving an ML250 BlueTec.

We may not exactly be in the Second Malaise Era – not with the advances made in automotive safety, fuel economy and power outputs, that let us have a 22 mpg Hellcat – but this ML250 is mostly definitely a modern day Brougham. Or a 250TD, if you prefer.

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Mercedes Increases Production To Meet US CLA Demand http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/09/mercedes-increases-production-to-meet-us-cla-demand/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/09/mercedes-increases-production-to-meet-us-cla-demand/#comments Tue, 16 Sep 2014 12:00:20 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=913194 [AUTHOR'S NOTE: I erroneously reported production would be increased at MBUSI in Vance, Ala. alongside the Hungary facility. That's what I get for reading the dateline and interpreting things as such. My apologies. -- CA] With demand still strong and supply still tight months later, Mercedes-Benz is pumping up production capacity to bring more CLAs […]

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2014 Mercedes-Benz CLA 250

[AUTHOR'S NOTE: I erroneously reported production would be increased at MBUSI in Vance, Ala. alongside the Hungary facility. That's what I get for reading the dateline and interpreting things as such. My apologies. -- CA]

With demand still strong and supply still tight months later, Mercedes-Benz is pumping up production capacity to bring more CLAs to showrooms in the United States.

Automotive News reports 14,113 copies of the $30,825 entry-level premium sedan were sold in the United States during the last four months of 2013, with the most sold overall in October at 4,895 units. Additionally, 15,676 CLAs left the showroom floor from January through August of this year.

Thus, the facility in Kecskement, Hungary that produces the CLA added a third shift in May to help meet demand the world over, having made a total of 109,266 in 2013 alone. The plant will also host production of a CLA shooting brake, a vehicle Mercedes has “no current plans” to bring over to the U.S., according to a representative.

As for how many CLAs will be leaving Vance, Daimler AG CEO Dieter Zetsche didn’t specify, though he did expect “a positive reaction” to the boost in production.

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UAW Quietly Building Southern Strategy For Organizing Mercedes-Benz http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/09/uaw-quietly-building-southern-strategy-organizing-mbusi/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/09/uaw-quietly-building-southern-strategy-organizing-mbusi/#comments Mon, 15 Sep 2014 13:00:26 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=912746 Inside a small strip mall in Coaling, Ala., the UAW is quietly at work in its fight to organize the Mercedes-Benz facility in nearby Vance, using similar tactics as those employed in the ongoing battle for the Volkswagen plant in Chattanooga, Tenn. Detroit Free Press reports the union has been in its latest push for […]

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Inside a small strip mall in Coaling, Ala., the UAW is quietly at work in its fight to organize the Mercedes-Benz facility in nearby Vance, using similar tactics as those employed in the ongoing battle for the Volkswagen plant in Chattanooga, Tenn.

Detroit Free Press reports the union has been in its latest push for Mercedes-Benz’s Alabama factory for the last two years, building enough support to establish a local, with the end game of organization in mind. The tactic is already in play in Chattanooga, where a local was put in place after the UAW lost a close election in February of this year, whose results were briefly contested before the National Labor Relations Board before the union withdrew the complaint.

However, while Volkswagen outright desires to have a works council in its sole U.S. facility, Mercedes and parent company Daimler AG aren’t too interested in buying what the UAW is selling. As recent as July 2014, the NLRB ruled against the automaker on accusations that it was prohibiting distribution of union materials in team center areas and the plant’s atrium during off-work hours. On the other hand, the ruling also verified that as far as organization is concerned, the two entities remain neutral.

Meanwhile, stronger resistance is building within the state, as interest groups prepare to fight back against the UAW’s Southern Strategy, which also includes the Nissan plants in Canton, Miss. and Smyrna, Tenn.

Further up the chain, Governor Robert Bentley proclaimed earlier this month that he doesn’t see a reason for workers in any company to sign on with the union, “as long as a company does what they should do with their workers” by treating them well.

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Daimler Boss Calls For Safety Standard Harmonization http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/09/daimler-boss-calls-safety-standard-harmonization/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/09/daimler-boss-calls-safety-standard-harmonization/#comments Wed, 10 Sep 2014 14:47:20 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=909738 Daimler head Dieter Zetsche called on regulators on both sides of the Atlantic to approve a US-EU free trade agreement, and along with it, called for a harmonization of vehicle safety standards. Speaking to the Detroit News, Zetsche said “Take the example of U.S. and European automotive safety regulations. Both are the strictest in the world. However, […]

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Daimler head Dieter Zetsche called on regulators on both sides of the Atlantic to approve a US-EU free trade agreement, and along with it, called for a harmonization of vehicle safety standards.

Speaking to the Detroit News, Zetsche said

“Take the example of U.S. and European automotive safety regulations. Both are the strictest in the world. However, the crash tests we carry out still vary. On top of that, different required equipment — think of taillights, turn signals, mirrors, etc. — makes the standardization of our cars, SUVs and trucks impossible,” Zetsche said. “Even small differences in safety regulations result in huge extra costs: We do research twice. We develop twice. We tool, procure and certify twice.”

 

The differing standards between the United States and virtually every other world market has long been a sore spot for foreign auto makers, who must deal with the cost issues outlined by Zetsche. Homologating vehicles for America’s FMVSS standards can be extremely expensive, and is often cited as a barrier that prevents America from getting many lower volume specialty vehicles that are sold in other locales. However, others argue that FMVSS contains more rigorous safety standards in certain areas.

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Brazilian Truth Commission May Sue Auto Makers For Crimes Against Humanity http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/09/brazilian-truth-commission-may-sue-companies-crimes-humanity/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/09/brazilian-truth-commission-may-sue-companies-crimes-humanity/#comments Wed, 10 Sep 2014 12:30:41 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=909674 João Paulo de Oliveira found it hard to find another job after he was fired by Rapistan, a Michigan-based conveyor belt maker, in 1980. He was detained or arrested another five times until the Brazilian military dictatorship, that had successfully realized a coup d’état in 1964, and returned power to civilians in 1985. Oliveira claims that […]

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João Paulo de Oliveira found it hard to find another job after he was fired by Rapistan, a Michigan-based conveyor belt maker, in 1980. He was detained or arrested another five times until the Brazilian military dictatorship, that had successfully realized a coup d’état in 1964, and returned power to civilians in 1985. Oliveira claims that no other company would hire him after he lost his job, and hge was constantly threatened by police. His crime? Being a union member at a time the military considered strikes as subversive communist movements.

Oliveira declares that he and many other union members suspected that private companies, including many auto makers collaborated with the state’s repressive forces. Apparently, his suspicions have been borne out.

Last Monday, September 8th, the Truth Commission, an organization installed by the federal government as an attempt to investigate human rights violations during those dark years, called the press to clarify and give their position on the rumors and news that have been circulating for days about companies collaborating with the State in its repression of labor movements.

According to the Commission, recently unearthed documents confirm that almost 70 Brazilian and multinational companies acted as “information sources” on union members and workers who were suspected of leading strike movements and of belonging to left-wing organizations. These documents contain name and addresses of the suspects as well as the names of companies that monitored their workers “in order to collaborate with the censorship and repression system during the last years of the civil-military dictatorship” in Brazil.

Sebastião Neto, executive secretary of the work group in charge of investigating collaboration between civilians, companies and military claims that, “Volkswagen, according to the documents, functioned as a sort of intelligence central of that group”. That group included other companies like Brazilian Petrobras, Engesa, Confab and multinationals like Ford and Ericson. They collaborated by keeping tabs on who showed up at union meetings, and exchanged information on worker movements and their plans for strikes and demands on working conditions.

Perhaps the most damning document as it hurt people on a personal level, was one found in the public archive of the state of São Paulo, dated 1981. In it are the names and addresses of some 450 workers and union members and the names of at least 67 companies that gave the information.  Among the auto sector companies charged with giving names are Volkswagen, Mercedes Benz, Ford, Chrysler, Scania, Westinghouse, Rolls Royce, Toyota and Toshiba, among other Brazilian corporations.

Lawyer Rosa Cardoso, coordinator of the Commission affirms that, “what happened in Brazil were selective arrests based on information given by companies. Almost 40 percent of those who were dead and disappeared at the time were workers.” According to her, even though the companies were not directly involved in the disappearances, these companies may be accused of crimes against humanity. “Arbitrary and illegal arrests and in places where torture happened are also considered torture in international law”. Such was the case as these illegally detained workers didn’t even have arrest warrants expedited against them.

The lawyer affirms the Commission will present in its final report by December 16. It will include two chapters reporting the persecution of workers and the unions, and the relations between companies and the dictatorship. To help clarify this aspect, Cardoso promises a public hearing where representatives of the companies mentioned in the documents will be called upon to present their testimony.

Being accused as a sort of coordinator of the collaboration between military and companies, Volkswagen has declared that they will conduct their own investigation. According to them, Volkswagen is the only large-scale company in Brazil that, so far, has made a public commitment to “investigate any and all traces” of collaboration between its employees and the military regime. According to a release given to the press, Volkswagen claims they are, “internationally recognized as a company that treats seriously its corporate history”. In Brazil, Volkswagen claims, “the company will deal with this matter in the same way”.

Other companies so far have not commented or have downplayed their responsibility. According to this article, dated Friday, September 5, Mercedes Benz claims that the company “does not confirm” the alleged collaboration and is “non-partisan and zeals for the confidentiality of employees’ data”.  Ford has refused to comment. Toyota and Fiat, who now owns Chrysler through FCA, stated they have no registers of the “possible abuse” that occurred back in that time. Toyota, thorough its local Public Relations department wrote, “We would like to remind others that we are discussing something that happened over 30 years ago”.

Reviewing all the information available a cynic might think the Truth Commission is only interested in reparations. A more generous person might believe that people are interested in revisiting the past to point out mistakes and not repeat them in future. The truth probably lies somewhere in the middle and it seems evident that at the time there was a struggle in Brazil between those who wanted to keep the status quo and those who would subvert it. Workers and unions probably helped the re-democratization of the country along, while many in the military and civil society believed such actions were fundamental in thwarting a Communist takeover. Companies may have helped the military out of fear or ideology. It is terrible that people got killed or hurt. In the end, relations between civil society, labor movements and government will be better understood because of the efforts of the Commission and hopefully mistakes, on both parts, will be avoided going forward.

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Mercedes-Benz Reveals Their 911-Fighter http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/09/mercedes-benz-reveals-911-fighter/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/09/mercedes-benz-reveals-911-fighter/#comments Tue, 09 Sep 2014 19:17:16 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=909466   Mercedes-Benz launched the replacement for their SLS AMG sports car, dubbed the AMG GT. Out go the gullwing doors and naturally aspirated 6.2L V8, with a new turbocharged 4.0L V8 and a 7-speed DCT backing it up. The base GT (if you can call it that) puts down 456 hp and 443 lb-ft of torque […]

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Mercedes-AMG GT (C 190) 2014Mercedes-Benz launched the replacement for their SLS AMG sports car, dubbed the AMG GT. Out go the gullwing doors and naturally aspirated 6.2L V8, with a new turbocharged 4.0L V8 and a 7-speed DCT backing it up.

The base GT (if you can call it that) puts down 456 hp and 443 lb-ft of torque (good for a 3.9 second sprint to 60 mph and a 189 mph top speed) , with the top-spec GT-S making 503 hp and 479 lb-ft and shaving .2 seconds of the 60 mph dash and a top speed pf 193 mph.

The GT-S also adds a variable exhaust, electronic dampers and an electronic LSD (the base car gets a mechanical unit) and variable engine and transmission mounts that can stiffen or flex depending on driving conditions. The higher spec model also gets 15.2 inch brakes all around.

The base GT will start at around $130,000 USD in Europe, but pricing and content for North America have yet to be announced. Expect the new 4.0L V8 to show up in the new AMG C63 (and likely in both trims, with a higher power S model following as well). Hopefully some of the GT’s styling migrates to the rest of the range as well.

Mercedes-AMG GT (C 190) 2014 Mercedes-AMG GT (C 190) 2014 Mercedes-AMG GT (C 190) 2014 Mercedes-AMG GT (C 190) 2014 Mercedes-AMG GT (C 190) 2014 Mercedes-AMG GT (C 190) 2014 Mercedes-AMG GT (C 190) 2014 Mercedes-AMG GT (C 190) 2014 Mercedes-AMG GT (C 190) 2014 Mercedes-AMG GT (C 190) 2014 Mercedes-AMG GT (C 190) 2014 Mercedes-AMG GT (C 190) 2014 Mercedes-AMG GT (C 190) 2014 Mercedes-AMG GT (C 190) 2014 Mercedes-AMG GT (C 190) 2014 Mercedes-AMG GT

456 hp and 443 lb-ft of torque or 503 hp and 479 lb-ft 

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Daimler: Unionization Is For The Employees To Decide http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/09/daimler-unionization-employees-decide/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/09/daimler-unionization-employees-decide/#comments Mon, 08 Sep 2014 13:00:04 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=908697 Despite allegations to the contrary, Daimler AG chair Dieter “Dr. Z” Zetsche says his company remains neutral on the subject of unionization in regards to the Mercedes factory in Vance, Ala. According to The Detroit News, Zetsche says the decision to join the United Auto Workers would be left up to the employees at the […]

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Despite allegations to the contrary, Daimler AG chair Dieter “Dr. Z” Zetsche says his company remains neutral on the subject of unionization in regards to the Mercedes factory in Vance, Ala.

According to The Detroit News, Zetsche says the decision to join the United Auto Workers would be left up to the employees at the plant, adding that, “As long as a company does what they should do with their workers: treat them respectfully and treat them correctly, they are never going to unionize.” He also noted the plant’s employees have opted not to unionize over the past two decades.

At the state level, Alabama governor Robert Bentley claimed that if the UAW did win the Mercedes facility, he would have trouble recruiting more foreign companies to his state, especially those who call Japan and South Korea home.

Meanwhile, the UAW is still pursing its Southern strategy, having already established a new local near the Volkswagen AG factory in Chattanooga, Tenn. in August with the aim of attracting its workers to voluntarily unionize. Union president Dennis Williams said the UAW would “respond to concerns raised by pro-union workers” at the Mercedes plant, as well.

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Mercedes-Benz G65 AMG Arriving In 2016 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/09/mercedes-benz-g65-amg-arriving-in-2016/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/09/mercedes-benz-g65-amg-arriving-in-2016/#comments Mon, 01 Sep 2014 23:52:25 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=904617 After years of Stateside consumers being denied the most vulgar AMG offering, Mercedes-Benz will introduce the G65 AMG, a twin-turbo V12 G-Wagen, to North America, starting in the 2016 model year. Automotive News reports that the G65 will have an MSRP of roughly $250,000. The G65 is powered by a 604 horsepower V12 with a top speed […]

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After years of Stateside consumers being denied the most vulgar AMG offering, Mercedes-Benz will introduce the G65 AMG, a twin-turbo V12 G-Wagen, to North America, starting in the 2016 model year.

Automotive News reports that the G65 will have an MSRP of roughly $250,000. The G65 is powered by a 604 horsepower V12 with a top speed limited to 143 mph. Look for the G65 to appear on a Kardashian-centric reality TV show shortly after launch.

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Junkyard Find: 1971 Mercedes-Benz 250C http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/08/junkyard-find-1971-mercedes-benz-250c/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/08/junkyard-find-1971-mercedes-benz-250c/#comments Thu, 28 Aug 2014 13:00:16 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=901313 Mercedes-Benz W114s lasted forever and held their value pretty well, which means that plenty of them still show up in self-service yards nearly 15 years into the 21st century (though most of the time I skip photographing the sedans). So far in this series, we’ve seen this ’73 280CE, this ’73 220, this ’73 280CE, […]

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09 - 1971 Mercedes-Benz 250C Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinMercedes-Benz W114s lasted forever and held their value pretty well, which means that plenty of them still show up in self-service yards nearly 15 years into the 21st century (though most of the time I skip photographing the sedans). So far in this series, we’ve seen this ’73 280CE, this ’73 220, this ’73 280CE, and this ’74 280C, and now I’ve found this coupe in Denver.
12 - 1971 Mercedes-Benz 250C Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinThe sun has not been kind to this car’s vinyl roof.
04 - 1971 Mercedes-Benz 250C Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinThe interior has been picked over deeply, to the extent that this may have been a parts car that was scrapped after all the useful stuff was gone.
06 - 1971 Mercedes-Benz 250C Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinNo shortage of these engines in wrecking yards, so it’s unlikely that this one will be rescued from The Crusher’s jaws.
01 - 1971 Mercedes-Benz 250C Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinFor some reason, 95% of 1960s and 1970s Mercedes-Benz cars in self-service wrecking yards have the model-number emblems removed. Are they worth big money, or just favored garage decorations?

01 - 1971 Mercedes-Benz 250C Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 02 - 1971 Mercedes-Benz 250C Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 03 - 1971 Mercedes-Benz 250C Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 04 - 1971 Mercedes-Benz 250C Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 05 - 1971 Mercedes-Benz 250C Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 06 - 1971 Mercedes-Benz 250C Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 07 - 1971 Mercedes-Benz 250C Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 08 - 1971 Mercedes-Benz 250C Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 09 - 1971 Mercedes-Benz 250C Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 10 - 1971 Mercedes-Benz 250C Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 11 - 1971 Mercedes-Benz 250C Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 12 - 1971 Mercedes-Benz 250C Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 13 - 1971 Mercedes-Benz 250C Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 14 - 1971 Mercedes-Benz 250C Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin

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Capsule Review: 2014 Mercedes-Benz CLA250 4Matic http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/08/capsule-review-2014-mercedes-benz-cla250-4matic/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/08/capsule-review-2014-mercedes-benz-cla250-4matic/#comments Wed, 27 Aug 2014 13:30:17 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=901154 If it looks like a Benz and goes like a Benz, it’s probably a Benz. And if it’s missing some of the trademark Benz-like qualities you noticed in your friend’s well-off uncle’s W124 300E in the late 80s, it’s still a Benz. So much a Benz, in fact, that numerous neighbours refused to believe that […]

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2014 Mercedes-Benz CLA250 4MaticIf it looks like a Benz and goes like a Benz, it’s probably a Benz.

And if it’s missing some of the trademark Benz-like qualities you noticed in your friend’s well-off uncle’s W124 300E in the late 80s, it’s still a Benz.

So much a Benz, in fact, that numerous neighbours refused to believe that the bright red CLA250 4Matic that visited us in mid-August was Mercedes-Benz’s entry-level car. None of those neighbours visited the inside of the car.

When told that it’s a lesser car than the CLS or E or S or even C, those neighbours warm to a notion created over time, both by marketing and in their own aspirational minds, which says they could have all that inherent Mercedes-Benz goodness with an affordable price tag.

It sounds so easy: big brand, little car, the loss of some frivolous luxuries, the removal of a few horsepower, and a deep discount.

It’s not so easy.

2014 Mercedes-Benz CLA250 4Matic red frontMany a luxury item has been removed, and I’m alright with that, but then again, many such features have been added back into this particular Mercedes-Benz Canada car, which would cost slightly more than $40,000 in the U.S. if it could be equipped identically.

But with the loss of luxury features like massaging seats and air suspension from high-end models, and even with the re-insertion of premium features like navigation and Bi-Xenons and a big glass roof, the attractive CLA250 interior is let down by a large amount of cheap plastic through the centre console and a screen that’s unconvincingly tacked on.

The best aspect of the CLA’s interior is the look of it, from the vents to the seatbacks to the simple but elegant layout of the controls. As much as the centre-mounted screen isn’t attractively placed, it is functional, requiring very little removal of the driver’s eyes from the road. I’ll always prefer a control knob mounted between the front seats, as in the CLA, compared with a long reach forward to touch a screen.

2014 Mercedes-Benz CLA250 4MaticThere’s even room in the rear of the CLA. It’s not abundant, but we crammed three adult males back there for a short back road jaunt. Something about the shape of the seats also makes the installation of a rear-facing car seat surprisingly easy, too, so long as you remember to watch your head (and the baby’s) when loading through the narrow rear door aperture.

With five adult males aboard and with the heavier all-wheel-drive configuration, the CLA250’s 258 lb-ft of torque still comes on strong. Soon enough. Whether you blame the 7-speed dual-clutch transmission or the turbo’s lag or Mercedes-Benz’s traditional lack of immediate throttle response, there’s a distinct pause at first. It’s easy enough to become accustomed to the engine, as it seems to punch above its weight once up to speed.

The DCT, however, is easily confused in Sport mode and overly interested in fuel economy when left in Eco, racing through the gears like it’s, well, a race. “What’s wrong with the car?”, my brother asked from the back seat when we accelerated away from an intersection in Sport and the CLA groaned under the weight of first gear as though I was unwilling to perform an upshift in Manual mode. He also chuckled when the CLA shot up to seventh under light acceleration in ECO, almost in an immature panic, although the rate with which the DCT can snap off shifts is oddly impressive.

2014 Mercedes-Benz CLA250 4Matic interiorOdd is also how you’d describe the CLA’s mixed bag of suspension movements. The CLA has the ability to eliminate road imperfections, but it struggles to maintain composure when the surface is full of small elevation changes. At the same time, there’s a sense of initial agility, but it’s followed by a surprisingly early onset of understeer when you’re encouraging the CLA to impress your teenage nephews, and the CLA then becomes too uncommunicative.

It’s difficult to say when they’re not driven back-to-back – my time with the CLA250 4Matic came nine months after a week I spent with the front-wheel-drive CLA – but the AWD CLA250 seems to ride better, handle worse, and draw more attention to the DCT’s deficiencies. We also saw no fuel economy penalties with the all-wheel-drive, a 29.4 mpg car in our mostly urban driving, compared with the 28.7 mpg we saw on similar drive routes when the temperature was admittedly cooler last November.

The CLA250 is therefore a relatively quick and efficient car with a premium badge and decent interior space. Although I’m personally not convinced that the stylistic themes work on a product with the CLA’s dimensional limitations, it’s an obviously design-oriented car. Thus, for those who love the car’s appearance and the fact that it screams, “I’m expensive!”, the appeal of a CLA is not difficult to comprehend.

2014 Mercedes-Benz CLA250 4Matic screenCLA pricing begins at $30,825 including destination; 4Matic adds $2000. Is Audi’s A3 the CLA’s key rival? Or is the un-optioned $41,325 C300 4Matic, a dramatically improved car for the 2015 model year, a competitor for properly-equipped entry-level Benzes, CLAs with 18-inch wheels, heated seats, a rear view camera, and dual zone automatic climate control?

Regardless, Mercedes-Benz has carved out a space for the CLA in America. U.S. sales have slowed noticeably since the car’s arrival late last year, but that’s due in large part to the CLA’s global successes. Yet with 2378 July sales (its best month since January), the CLA accounted for 13% of Mercedes-Benz’s passenger car sales last month. It’s not a rare car. On the other hand, it’s no C-Class, which even in this transition year has averaged 5500 monthly sales.

Yes, more consumers prefer the more costly C-Class, even the old, outgoing C-Class. And though the CLA is appealing in theory, it’s not hard to see why the C-Class is more appealing in practice.

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Mercedes Bringing AMG To The Masses http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/08/mercedes-bringing-amg-masses/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/08/mercedes-bringing-amg-masses/#comments Mon, 25 Aug 2014 18:09:54 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=899306 Just as BMW launched their “M Sport” line of mass-produced vehicles bearing the M Badge (think 335i M Sport and the Euro-spec M550d diesel performance sedan), Mercedes-Benz is about to get in on the action with AMG-badged versions of more pedestrian models. According to Automotive News, a C450 AMG will debut as a more performance oriented […]

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Just as BMW launched their “M Sport” line of mass-produced vehicles bearing the M Badge (think 335i M Sport and the Euro-spec M550d diesel performance sedan), Mercedes-Benz is about to get in on the action with AMG-badged versions of more pedestrian models.

According to Automotive News, a C450 AMG will debut as a more performance oriented C-Class above the C400 and below the more hardcore C63 AMG. Less hardcore AMG versions of the CLA, E-Class and GLK are also expected to follow. In addition to more hardcore performance improvements, true AMG models will get more radical visual enhancements like fender flares and a wider track.

The move comes in response to Audi moving their “S” models to a more mainstream position, and positioning their RS lineup as the ultimate performance models, as well as the aforementioned move with BMW’s M cars. Cadillac is also following suit, creating a “V-Sport” line below their more extreme “V” models.

Of course, the proliferation of AMG models through the Mercedes range has led to AMG vehicles becoming less about outright performance, and more about becoming the most expensive example of a particular Mercedes model. Buyers of the ML63 AMG SUV for example, may opt for it because of the status it conveys, rather than its performance capabilities. The new AMG-lite range should capitalize on that desire, but likely won’t move the needle for buyers who must have the most expensive M-B, or nothing else.

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Pullman Muzik http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/08/pullman-muzik/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/08/pullman-muzik/#comments Mon, 04 Aug 2014 14:56:49 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=881202 Those of you among the B&B that listen to rap – so, myself and the assorted friends of mine who read the site – better get used to a new name in luxury automobiles: Pullman. These patent renderings show what the new million-dollar Mercedes Pullman will look like. I can’t decide whether it’s more or less […]

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Those of you among the B&B that listen to rap – so, myself and the assorted friends of mine who read the site – better get used to a new name in luxury automobiles: Pullman.

These patent renderings show what the new million-dollar Mercedes Pullman will look like. I can’t decide whether it’s more or less ostentatious than the outgoing Maybach 62, which looked like a Korean OEM’s idea of a European luxury car. This, on the other hand, looks like that same vision but interperted through the eyes of a Middle Eastern monarch. And the fact that it’s 21 feet long and covered in armor plating does little to disuade that notion.

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Utilities, Automakers Collaborate On Smart PHEV Charging Platform http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/08/utilities-automakers-collaborate-smart-phev-charging-platform/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/08/utilities-automakers-collaborate-smart-phev-charging-platform/#comments Fri, 01 Aug 2014 11:00:05 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=877810 A combination of one research institute, eight automakers and 15 utilities are working together to create a smart grid charging platform for PHEVs. Autoblog Green reports General Motors, BMW, Honda, Fiat Chrysler Automobiles, Ford, Mercedes-Benz, Mitsubishi and Toyota, as well as utilities like Con Edison, Manitoba Hydro and the TVA, are working with the Electric […]

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2015 Chevrolet Spark EV

A combination of one research institute, eight automakers and 15 utilities are working together to create a smart grid charging platform for PHEVs.

Autoblog Green reports General Motors, BMW, Honda, Fiat Chrysler Automobiles, Ford, Mercedes-Benz, Mitsubishi and Toyota, as well as utilities like Con Edison, Manitoba Hydro and the TVA, are working with the Electric Power Research Institute to develop a demand charging platform where the PHEV and the utility exchange information that would reduce the former’s charging during peak hours, then boost it back up during off-peak.

In turn, such a system would allow for increased service reliability for all customers “by helping to mitigate the impact of strain on the grid during peak periods and could contribute to curbing greenhouse gas emissions.” Further, utilities would better be able to manage usage without needing to upgrade their infrastructure, with the savings passed on to their customer base.

As for when this project would get off the ground, no timeline was given as of this time.

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Generation Why: A Sub-$30k Car “Wouldn’t Be A Lexus” http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/07/generation-sub-30k-car-wouldnt-lexus/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/07/generation-sub-30k-car-wouldnt-lexus/#comments Thu, 31 Jul 2014 14:45:08 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=877265 Mercedes and Audi all have a sub-$30,000 entry in their American model ranges. BMW’s cheapest model is just a few hundred dollars above that price point. Infiniti will likely have their own model in that space. So why not Lexus? Speaking to Automotive News, Lexus boss Mark Templin said “We could go down and build a […]

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1024px-LEXUS_CT200h_Japan_2011_front

Mercedes and Audi all have a sub-$30,000 entry in their American model ranges. BMW’s cheapest model is just a few hundred dollars above that price point. Infiniti will likely have their own model in that space. So why not Lexus?

Speaking to Automotive News, Lexus boss Mark Templin said

“We could go down and build a car under $30,000, but it would be decontented, and you’d be cutting corners. It wouldn’t be a Lexus…To be honest with you, you can’t build a Lexus with the quality, the durability, the reliability, the craftsmanship, the content that we put in a Lexus and sell it profitably under $30,000. You just can’t do it.”

Templin’s comments are about as clear a swipe at the Audi A3 and Mercedes-Benz CLA as one can get. While CLA sales have been big for Benz (as much as 11 percent of the brand’s total, by AN‘s count), reviews have been mixed.

Mercedes-Benz, like other European luxury brands, face an additional dilemma beyond the usual matters of scale, volume and profitability requirements associated with those issues. In many mature markets, their buyers are getting older, while a new generation of buyers is both moving away from cars, and arguably less able to afford a new luxury car. Products like the CLA and A3 offer an affordable entry-point into the brand, while also appealing to the aesthetic, environmental and economic tastes of the Millennial generation. Lexus doesn’t necessarily have this problem in the same way that the Germans do, but they also don’t have much of a presence in Europe either.

What Lexus is doing, as AN pointed out, is attempting to stake out the “high ground” by keeping the price floor above $30,000 (the entry-level CT hybrid starts at about $32,000), which will ostensibly further entrench their “luxury” position. But Lexus, for all its success, has never achieved true global success as a luxury brand, which is something that only the Germans have managed to earn. And as we all know, it’s easier to reach downmarket than try and move up. The A-Class was a hit for Mercedes, but Volkswagen didn’t fare well with the Phaeton. And Audi is just finally turning the corner after a decades long climb to Tier 1.

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Versatile 2015 Mercedes Vito Van Puts Power To Front, Rear Or All http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/07/versatile-2015-mercedes-vito-van-puts-power-to-front-rear-or-all/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/07/versatile-2015-mercedes-vito-van-puts-power-to-front-rear-or-all/#comments Wed, 30 Jul 2014 13:00:28 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=876185 If you run a very large flower shop somewhere in Europe, and are in need of a van that could be configured to your needs — including where the power from the engine will go — Mercedes has a van just for you. Jalopnik subsidiary Truck Yeah! reports the 2015 Vito — part of Mercedes’ […]

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Der neue Vito / The New Vito

If you run a very large flower shop somewhere in Europe, and are in need of a van that could be configured to your needs — including where the power from the engine will go — Mercedes has a van just for you.

Jalopnik subsidiary Truck Yeah! reports the 2015 Vito — part of Mercedes’ V-Class — can be had with RWD and AWD — like the V-Class — as well as optional FWD. The previous Vito had FWD for only the EV variant, while the new one puts diesel power to the front of the line alongside the rest of the family.

Autoblog adds said power comes turbocharged through four-pots ranging from 1.6 liters to 2.1 liters, with anywhere from 136 to 190 horsepower pushed to wherever it’s meant to go through either a six-speed manual or seven-speed automatic.

Der neue Vito / The New Vito Der neue Vito / The New Vito Der neue Vito / The New Vito Der neue Vito / The New Vito

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NLRB: Mercedes Violated Labor Act In Alabama Facility http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/07/nlrb-mercedes-violated-labor-act-in-alabama-facility/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/07/nlrb-mercedes-violated-labor-act-in-alabama-facility/#comments Wed, 30 Jul 2014 12:00:53 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=876081 The National Labor Relations Board ruled this week that the U.S. branch of Mercedes-Benz violated the right to organize among its employees at the automaker’s Vance, Ala. plant by prohibiting the distribution of union literature in common areas outside working hours. Automotive News reports Judge Keltner Locke found for the plaintiffs on one complaint out […]

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MBUSI Mercedes-Benz Alabama

The National Labor Relations Board ruled this week that the U.S. branch of Mercedes-Benz violated the right to organize among its employees at the automaker’s Vance, Ala. plant by prohibiting the distribution of union literature in common areas outside working hours.

Automotive News reports Judge Keltner Locke found for the plaintiffs on one complaint out of a number of complaints made against MBUSI regarding its violation of the National Labor Relations Act. In his decision, Judge Locke determined the areas where the subsidiary considered off-limits to dissemination were mixed-use areas — and thus, areas where material could be distributed freely — and that by “maintaining a solicitation and distribution rule which employees reasonably could understand to prohibit all solicitation in work areas,” MBUSI was in violation of the act.

Though no penalties were levied in the decision, the ruling ordered MBUSI to amend its rule so that off-the-clock employees may solicit other such employees. Mercedes stated that while they were pleased with most of Judge Locke’s ruling, citing his affirmation of its neutrality with regard to its employees, they disagreed with some aspects and were “evaluating next steps.”

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