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. Sun, 30 Aug 2015 16:08:02 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=4.2.4 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 » Mercedes-Benz http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/wp-content/themes/ttac-theme/images/logo.gif http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com Utah Man Says State Insurer (the State) Shortchanged Him http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/08/utah-man-says-state-insurer-state-shortchanged/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/08/utah-man-says-state-insurer-state-shortchanged/#comments Thu, 27 Aug 2015 22:00:13 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1154305 Matt Gephardt and KUTV in Salt Lake City have a good story about a Utah man who was hit by a state vehicle and its insurance company — which is the state itself — shortchanged him on his 1985 Mercedes-Benz SL Convertible. The car was totaled, and the state offered to pay $8,000 for the […]

The post Utah Man Says State Insurer (the State) Shortchanged Him appeared first on The Truth About Cars.

]]>
1985 Mercedes Benz SL

Matt Gephardt and KUTV in Salt Lake City have a good story about a Utah man who was hit by a state vehicle and its insurance company — which is the state itself — shortchanged him on his 1985 Mercedes-Benz SL Convertible.

The car was totaled, and the state offered to pay $8,000 for the car. Tyler Winger, who said he restored the car with his grandfather, said the car was worth $12,000 to $13,000. (He’s not completely wrong.)

Winger said the state told him that they wouldn’t budge and that he couldn’t complain to the state’s insurance oversight board since that board doesn’t have oversight over the state’s self-insurance company.

According to the report, the state’s insurer told Winger his only recourse would be to sue the state, which could cost thousands more in legal fees.

Winger opted to go through his own insurer, which gave him $11,000 for the damage and allowed him to keep the title for the car — something the state insurer wouldn’t let him do. He said he and his grandfather plan to restore the car again.

(Photo courtesy Wikimedia Commons)

The post Utah Man Says State Insurer (the State) Shortchanged Him appeared first on The Truth About Cars.

]]>
http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/08/utah-man-says-state-insurer-state-shortchanged/feed/ 35
Just How Bad Are the Automakers Taking a Beating in the Stock Market? http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/08/just-bad-automakers-taking-beating-market/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/08/just-bad-automakers-taking-beating-market/#comments Mon, 24 Aug 2015 17:00:47 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1151441 Markets around the world are down, down, down, down and down. At the time of this writing, the Dow Jones Industrial Average is down roughly 650 points on Monday, which is more than 1,500 points off of where we were at the beginning of August. A lot of the run is fueled by fears that China […]

The post Just How Bad Are the Automakers Taking a Beating in the Stock Market? appeared first on The Truth About Cars.

]]>
Come on Carlos, let’s hit up the Limeys for some money. Picture courtesy of motortrend.com

Markets around the world are down, down, down, down and down.

At the time of this writing, the Dow Jones Industrial Average is down roughly 650 points on Monday, which is more than 1,500 points off of where we were at the beginning of August. A lot of the run is fueled by fears that China is tapering off its growth (or they’ve been making it up for a while) and that Europe is tinkering on the brink of sinking into another recession.

There are plenty of financial sectors that are taking a beating. Automotive companies are no different. Here’s a rundown of publicly traded automakers and how much they’ve lost from their July 31 close to mid-day trading today.

Unsurprisingly, the biggest droppers are those with more exposure to China (Especially Toyota, whose production has been hampered by a blast in Tianjinand Tesla, whose second stock offering could be diluting shares in addition to the larger, global shock.

Tata Motors (TTM) — 29.66-23.01, -22.4 percent
Tesla Motors (TSLA) — 266.15-219.46, -17.5 percent
Toyota Motor Corp (TM) — 133.71-110.87, -17 percent
BMW (BMW.DE) — 91.30-77.88, -13.5 percent
Daimler (DDAIF) — 89.19-77.59, -13 percent
Nissan Motor Company (NSANY) — 19.34-16.90, -12.6 percent
Honda Motor Company (HMC) — 33.96-29.70, -12.5 percent
Ford Motor Company (F) — 15.18-13.21, -12.9 percent
General Motors (GM) — 32.08-28.22, -12 percent
Fiat Chrysler Automobiles (FCAU) — 15.80-14.02, -11.2 percent
Volkswagen AG (VLKAY) — 40.35-36.56, -9.3 percent

Earlier this month, General Motors issued a statement before the massive stock sell off to ensure investors that it would endure a devalued Chinese currency. It’s “natural hedge,” or locally sourced suppliers, would help insulate it from massive market fluctuations, but not entirely. Last month, GM announced it would invest $5 billion in a joint venture with SAIC motors in China to locally build smaller cars.

On Monday, Daimler said it would press on further in China, despite worries that the market for luxury vehicles could be drying up, according to Automotive News.

Losing this much steam in China will undoubtedly have a ripple effect in the rest of the automotive world, that much is clear. The size of the wave has yet to be determined.

The post Just How Bad Are the Automakers Taking a Beating in the Stock Market? appeared first on The Truth About Cars.

]]>
http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/08/just-bad-automakers-taking-beating-market/feed/ 9
Mercedes-Benz Removes Two Doors from C-Class, Creates Real Coupe http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/08/mercedes-benz-removes-two-doors-from-c-class-creates-real-coupe/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/08/mercedes-benz-removes-two-doors-from-c-class-creates-real-coupe/#comments Sat, 15 Aug 2015 15:00:06 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1142849 Some may argue that Mercedes is responsible for the prevalence of four-door coupes on the market thanks to the popularity of the CLS. While the tri-star brand might be found guilty in the court of public opinion for slagging upon us such an abomination, it’s refreshing that the German brand still knows how to make a real, […]

The post Mercedes-Benz Removes Two Doors from C-Class, Creates Real Coupe appeared first on The Truth About Cars.

]]>
2017 Mercedes-Benz C-Class Coupe

Some may argue that Mercedes is responsible for the prevalence of four-door coupes on the market thanks to the popularity of the CLS. While the tri-star brand might be found guilty in the court of public opinion for slagging upon us such an abomination, it’s refreshing that the German brand still knows how to make a real, honest-to-goodness coupe — and this is the latest one: the Mercedes-Benz C-Class Coupe.

Up front, the C-Class Coupe looks almost the same as its four-doored sibling. The large disco ball grille is similar to that found on the CLA, while new headlights and remaining front body work is pulled almost directly from the C-Class sedan.

2017 Mercedes-Benz C-Class Coupe

As soon as you get to the roofline, everything changes. The silhouette — already swooping toward the rear on the sedan — shows a tightened rump and much more horizontal rear lamp wrap around sections. At the rear, the C-Class Coupe looks to have more in common with the Mercedes-AMG GT than the C-Class sedan. That’s sharp, Herr Geschäftsmann.

The new two door will go on sale in the spring of 2016 as a 2017 model, available in C 300 and C 300 4Matic guises. Expect the usual levels of AMG-ness to follow shortly thereafter.

2017 Mercedes-Benz C-Class Coupe 2017 Mercedes-Benz C-Class Coupe 2017 Mercedes-Benz C-Class Coupe 2017 Mercedes-Benz C-Class Coupe 2017 Mercedes-Benz C-Class Coupe 2017 Mercedes-Benz C-Class Coupe 2017 Mercedes-Benz C-Class Coupe 2017 Mercedes-Benz C-Class Coupe 2017 Mercedes-Benz C-Class Coupe 2017 Mercedes-Benz C-Class Coupe 2017 Mercedes-Benz C-Class Coupe 2017 Mercedes-Benz C-Class Coupe 2017 Mercedes-Benz C-Class Coupe 2017 Mercedes-Benz C-Class Coupe 2017 Mercedes-Benz C-Class Coupe 2017 Mercedes-Benz C-Class Coupe 2017 Mercedes-Benz C-Class Coupe 2017 Mercedes-Benz C-Class Coupe 2017 Mercedes-Benz C-Class Coupe 2017 Mercedes-Benz C-Class Coupe 2017 Mercedes-Benz C-Class Coupe 2017 Mercedes-Benz C-Class Coupe 2017 Mercedes-Benz C-Class Coupe 2017 Mercedes-Benz C-Class Coupe 2017 Mercedes-Benz C-Class Coupe 2017 Mercedes-Benz C-Class Coupe 2017 Mercedes-Benz C-Class Coupe 2017 Mercedes-Benz C-Class Coupe 2017 Mercedes-Benz C-Class Coupe 2017 Mercedes-Benz C-Class Coupe 2017 Mercedes-Benz C-Class Coupe 2017 Mercedes-Benz C-Class Coupe

The post Mercedes-Benz Removes Two Doors from C-Class, Creates Real Coupe appeared first on The Truth About Cars.

]]>
http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/08/mercedes-benz-removes-two-doors-from-c-class-creates-real-coupe/feed/ 49
2015 Mercedes S550 4Matic Review – The Luxury “Tweener” http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/08/2015-mercedes-s550-4matic-review-luxury-tweener/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/08/2015-mercedes-s550-4matic-review-luxury-tweener/#comments Mon, 10 Aug 2015 14:00:20 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1130945 Luxury shoppers have an interesting “problem.” If you want something spendier and more unique than a Lexus LS, but aren’t ready for a baby-Bentley or Roller, you have but one option: the Mercedes S-Class. Trouble is the last generation S-Class lagged behind more plebian options in both gadgets and luxury. That was a serious problem since the price […]

The post 2015 Mercedes S550 4Matic Review – The Luxury “Tweener” appeared first on The Truth About Cars.

]]>
IMG_0734

Luxury shoppers have an interesting “problem.” If you want something spendier and more unique than a Lexus LS, but aren’t ready for a baby-Bentley or Roller, you have but one option: the Mercedes S-Class. Trouble is the last generation S-Class lagged behind more plebian options in both gadgets and luxury. That was a serious problem since the price tag on the S spans from just under $100,000 to nearly a quarter of a million. Like the new C-Class, the redesigned S-Class is restoring my faith in the premiere German luxury brand.


Exterior
The S-Class has been the pinnacle of the Mercedes line since 1972. There have been long ones, short ones, coupés, sedans and limos. Regardless of the shape, the S-Class has long been the standard by which full-size luxury cars are judged. That was a little bit of a problem for the previous generation Merc which had a somewhat dowdy exterior with a plain profile, small grille and headlamps that looked like Shrinky Dinks that had spent too long in the oven.

The new S-Class receives Mercedes’ latest exterior design cues from the CLS and CLA with a bolder grille and angry headlamps blended with the quaintness of a tri-star hood ornament. As you’d expect from a car destined to chauffeur diplomats, royalty and heads of state, the side profile is upright and traditional, and the greenhouse bends slightly rearward to allow your royal personage a better view of your subjects.

IMG_0746

At rear, Mercedes blended the corporate style-book with classic S-Class cues we’ve seen since 1991, such as tail lamps that won’t wrap onto the trunk lid. This particular style choice has a notable downside: the trunk opening is smaller than many of the other luxury sedans.

Although the new S-Class may look like a re-skinned W220 S-Class, the W222 is an entirely new animal. The biggest change is a new body that is nearly half aluminum. Rather than going all-in on Alcoa like Jaguar and Audi, Mercedes took the more cautious approach by strategically using aluminum to adjust the car’s weight balance as well as shed a few pounds. The result is an S550 that tips the scales at 4,600 pounds and has a weight balance closer to 50/50 than ever before (a hair better than 52/48 we’re told.)

IMG_0789

Interior
Mercedes is a conservative company when it comes to interior style, so this generation doesn’t bring any massive design departures. Although restrained, everything is undeniably premium and this interior escapes the “upscale Buick” vibe the last generation gave off. Our tester has a nearly $6,000 optional leather package which undoubtedly helps. The option consists of premium two-tone hides and contrasting piping throughout the cabin, from the dashboard to the door panels. Even the portions of the door panels that are hidden when the doors close are perfectly stitched cow-hide. Laser cut metal speaker grilles are scattered throughout the cabin, a look that is also featured in the new C-class at more affordable prices.

European shoppers will likely be confused by this statement: Legroom is excellent but not epic in the S550. While the S-Class is ginormous by European standards, it is only 3.6-inches longer than a Ford Taurus and less than one inch longer than a Lincoln MKS. As a result, the 41.4 inches of front leg room is actually slightly lower than some large American sedans. Rear legroom is generous, but not much more than the large sedans by GM, Ford and Chrysler. The back seat is unquestionably comfortable, especially in our tester which came with the reclining rear seat option. However, folks taller than 6-foot-2 won’t be able to stretch completely out on the foot rest. (Your writer’s modest 6-foot frame fit like a glove.) Disappointed? Consider that the XJ, A8 and 7-Series are all available in two lengths and their long-wheelbase models are equivalent to the base S-Class in rear accommodation. Need more room? For a cool $189,350 you can get the S600 Maybach which stretches the S-Class by 8 inches, improving both leg and headroom in the process. Sadly, however, the champagne refrigerator and comfy rear thrones also eat into the trunk space, dropping the S500’s trunk down to a slim 12.3. Tell Jeeves to pack light.

IMG_0844

Mercedes-Maybach
Maybach was to be the German answer to the soaring popularity of Rolls Royce and Bentley. Unfortunately, Mercedes tried competing head-on with a previous generation S-Class stretched to an insane 244 inches that wore a price tag stretched even further to nearly $400,000. It’s no wonder the Maybach 57 and 62 failed to light the sales charts on fire. As of 2013, Maybach as a brand ceased to exist and a new strategy was born. Since the old Maybach was instantly recognizable as a stretched S-Class, they applied the Maybach label to the longest S available and thus the Mercedes-Maybach S600 was born. With a stretch of a more modest 8 inches (versus the three feet that was added to make the Maybach 62) and a similarly more modest price tag, think of the Mercedes-Maybach as a limo version of the S-Class. Oddly enough, the Maybach is not the most expensive S — that’s where the S65 AMG comes in starting at a cool $220,000.

IMG_0835

Infotainment & Gadgets
No luxury car would be complete without a bevy of gadgets and gizmos to entertain and protect (and brag about).

The first thing you notice when you get inside are the twin 12.3-inch LCDs spanning from the center of the car to the driver’s door. The right LCD runs the latest Mercedes COMAND infotainment software while the left handles the gauges and night vision display.

Although the software interface looks familiar, it has been significantly updated for the W222 with a faster processor and more features. The speed difference and smoothness of the graphic transitions is easily noticeable when you compare the S-Class to the E-Class sitting next to it on the dealer lot. Mercedes has improved the voice recognition system in this generation and voice commanding specific tracks on your USB/iDevice is easier and more reliable. Sadly, the online functionality is not as “fully baked” as iDrive or MMI at this point. There is Google Earth driven satellite imagery, but it’s not integrated into the default navigation screen. Likewise, the streaming radio and Yelp location finder apps could be better integrated. Also on the gripe list: there is no dedicated track forward/backward button which makes changing tracks more complicated than other vehicles.

IMG_0836

I am often disappointed by LCD instrument clusters. They offer so much theoretical potential, yet no manufacturer has fully exploited this yet. So far, Cadillac is the only brand whose LCD cluster allows limited customization from a selection of different gauge layouts, colors and themes. The Mercedes display, like essentially everyone else, shows you two views. One with and one without the night vision camera display.

On the gadget front, Mercedes has packed in everything but the kitchen sink. We have an optional split-view screen (right side LCD only) so the passenger can watch a movie while in motion, and a rear seat entertainment system for the rear passengers that can display an airline-esque slideshow of your location, the elevation profile of your journey and the weather at your destination. The front seats massage, the rear seats recline, the shades are all powered and even the rear folks get 3-position seat memory. Sound systems start at impressive and head to “do you really need that?” with a 24-speaker system pumping out 1,940 watts (because 2,000 was too opulent).

More radar sensors than Frankfurt Airport, a bevy of ultrasonic sensors, all around cameras, a separate stereo camera system for forward 3D imaging, and an infrared night vision camera all combine to give the S-Class a bionic view of the road. The radar sensors allow adaptive cruise control functionality, tell you about cross traffic and prepare safety systems for impact when the car behind you decides not to stop. The S-Class will parallel park itself, detect pedestrians and brake to keep from hitting them, and highlight deer and select other animals in the night vision system. Magic Body Control will scan the road ahead and program the suspension to handle a road imperfection before you encounter it. Sadly the snazzy multi-beam LED headlamps don’t make it to the USA because of some silly headlamp regulations on our shores, but the system that automatically injects air freshener into the HVAC system is America bound.

2014-S-CLASS-SEDAN-001-MCFO

Drivetrain
Instead of making the hybrid a range-topping model like you see with the Lexus LS 600hL, Mercedes continues to view the S550 plug-in hybrid as more of a volume option. For the same price, shoppers can choose a 449-horsepower, 4.7-liter twin-turbo V8, or a 436-horsepower hybrid system built around a 3.0-liter twin-turbo V6. (The turbo six makes 329 horsepower on its own.) The 449 ponies and 516 lb-ft of torque in the V8 model combined with Mercedes’ latest 7-speed automatic transmission and optional 4MATIC AWD allowed out tester to scoot to 60 in an impressive 4.6 seconds.

If you need to get to The Hamptons faster, the S600’s twin-turbo V12 spools up 523 horsepower and 612 lb-ft, but sadly can’t be had with AWD. The S63 AMG gets a 5.5-liter, twin-turbo V8 making 577 horsepower and 664 lb-ft and, thanks to standard AWD, will get the German tank to highway speed in under 4 seconds. The range topping S65 AMG makes the most oomph at 621 horsepower and 738 lb-ft of torque (88 more twists than a Dodge Hellcat) but because AWD is not offered, it’ll take slightly longer to run to 60 than the S63. Even if you can’t afford the top-end trims, all S class owners can bask in the opulence of a transmission that has two speeds in reverse. Why? Just because.

IMG_0857

Drive
I was a bit skeptical about the Magic Body Control system and, as it turns out, I was right to be. The system uses a stereo camera system to scan the road ahead, but aside from damping speed bumps to the point where it feels like running over a garden hose, I didn’t notice much difference in a dealer provided car. The system seemed to have little or no effect out on the rough highways or potholed streets in the Bay Area. Some of this has to do with the way the system detects the road (it is camera based), but most has to do with the standard air suspension already being very compliant.

Although the S550 has lost weight, it is still one of the heavier options in this segment. The contrast with the Jaguar XJ is sharp. At 3,854 lbs, the English entry is the lightest, beating even the aluminum A8 by 511 pounds. Jaguar ditched their four-corner air suspension in the latest XJ model (the rear has load leveling still) which, combined with the light curb weight, makes it by far the most athletic entry in this segment. However, the XJ isn’t just light for this segment, it’s also 147 pounds lighter than an E350. The S550 on the other hand offers a more traditional large luxury attitude. The air suspension creates a ride that’s like a pillow floating on a cloud.

IMG_0742

Funny thing about clouds: If you pay attention, you realise they’re moving pretty darn fast. Seemingly in defiance of physics, the S550 scoots to 60 mph as fast as a BMW M235i and, thanks to some serious rubber at all four corners, matches a run-of-the-mill 335i in the skidpad. Keep the pedal down too long and you’ll hit the 1/4 mile in 12.8 seconds while doing 110 mph. In silence. In a 17-foot long sedan. The cabin of the S550 is eerily quiet at all times.

The steering is isolated but surprisingly accurate, the body tips, dives and rolls with the best of the luxury set but never feels upset or uncomposed. Thanks to the all-wheel drive system and a near 50/50 weight balance, the S550 is extremely neutral and confident on practically every road surface. A statement like that wouldn’t be surprising when talking about a compact luxury coupé, but we’re talking about a nearly two and a half ton sedan.

IMG_0765

Pricing – Why is it a “tweener”?
I’ve touched on this already, but the most unique thing about the S-Class is the fact that it sits almost in a segment of its own. The 2015 S550 starts at $94,400, which is about $20,000 higher than a base 2015 BMW 7-Series, Lexus LS 460, Jaguar XJ or Audi A8. (For 2016, the 7-Series and A8 rise to just over $80,000 and we should expect a slight increase from Mercedes keeping the distance around 15-large.) A lightly configured S550 can easily sticker for $115,000 and our tester (which lacked a number of options) came in at a cool $137,500. Keeping in mind this is simply where the S550 starts. The sticker on our S-Class with the base engine was already higher than possible for most of the competition.

The next step up is the $141,450 S63, which is about as expensive as an A8 gets. Want a 12-cylinder engine? That’s at least $166,900, about a loaded Honda Accord more than an A8 W12. The Maybach stretch is $189,350, and if you want one of the most powerful 12-cylinder engines made, that’ll be $220,000. The only other vehicle with this kind of price range is the Porsche Panamera. The Porsche has a slightly more premium interior but it’s mission is quite different. The Panamera is more direct, more engaging, but less comfortable, less roomy and I’m told by the old guard in Atherton that it’s too flashy as well. Looking for something spendier? The S65 AMG ends around where Bentley starts.

IMG_0728

The new S-Class has restored my faith in the Mercedes brand. Is it the best value in the luxury car segment? No. But that’s an asset in this category. (If you don’t like that statement, then you’re not the S-Class demographic.) If you want a “value luxury sedan” this size, check out the $60,000 Kia K900.

The S550 4Matic is exactly what I want out of a big luxury sedan. I want it to be big and bold but avoid brash by a hair. I want it to be impossibly quiet, perfectly smooth, insanely powerful, able to stop on a dime (okay, so that part is a little lacking), handle like a sports coupé and get silent nods from the folks at the country club. You can get some of those things in the competition, but this big Merc succeeds at all of them in a way no other sedan does.

Mercedes provided the vehicle, insurance and one tank of gas for this review

0-30: 1.99 Seconds

0-60: 4.6 Seconds

1/4 Mile: 12.8 Seconds @ 110 MPH

Fuel Economy: 18.2 MPG over 782 Miles

IMG_0706 IMG_0708 IMG_0710 IMG_0711 IMG_0728 IMG_0730 IMG_0731 IMG_0733 IMG_0734 IMG_0738 IMG_0739 IMG_0740 IMG_0742 IMG_0745 IMG_0746 IMG_0748 IMG_0749 IMG_0750 IMG_0752 IMG_0758 IMG_0759 IMG_0760 IMG_0762 IMG_0764 IMG_0765 IMG_0768 IMG_0772 IMG_0774 IMG_0777 IMG_0778 IMG_0779 IMG_0782 IMG_0784 IMG_0786 IMG_0789 IMG_0791 IMG_0793 IMG_0795 IMG_0796 IMG_0832 IMG_0835 IMG_0836 IMG_0844 IMG_0846 IMG_0856 IMG_0857 IMG_0860 IMG_0862

The post 2015 Mercedes S550 4Matic Review – The Luxury “Tweener” appeared first on The Truth About Cars.

]]>
http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/08/2015-mercedes-s550-4matic-review-luxury-tweener/feed/ 41
NHTSA Investigating Harman Kardon for Hacking Vulnerabilities http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/08/nhtsa-investigating-harman-kardon-hacking-vulnerabilities/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/08/nhtsa-investigating-harman-kardon-hacking-vulnerabilities/#comments Mon, 03 Aug 2015 20:00:45 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1132601 Fresh from the recent Fiat Chrysler Automobiles infotainment-hacking flap, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration announced last week that it would look further into supplier Harman Kardon for possible vulnerabilities in other cars, the Associated Press reports (via Autoblog). Harman Kardon produces radios for automakers such as BMW, Subaru, Mercedes-Benz and Volvo, in addition to FCA. […]

The post NHTSA Investigating Harman Kardon for Hacking Vulnerabilities appeared first on The Truth About Cars.

]]>
Harman Kardon Speaker

Fresh from the recent Fiat Chrysler Automobiles infotainment-hacking flap, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration announced last week that it would look further into supplier Harman Kardon for possible vulnerabilities in other cars, the Associated Press reports (via Autoblog).

Harman Kardon produces radios for automakers such as BMW, Subaru, Mercedes-Benz and Volvo, in addition to FCA.

Last month, FCA recalled 1.4 million cars after a vulnerability in its system was detailed by Wired, which allowed hackers to control critical functions in a Jeep Cherokee, including throttle, brakes and steering.

The automaker said the recall would fix a loophole in the 8.4-inch Uconnect systems that permitted the intrusion by hackers.

Last week, Wired detailed another hack that could reportedly open doors on an OnStar-equipped car made by General Motors and start its engine. GM said it patched that vulnerability without recalling its cars.

The post NHTSA Investigating Harman Kardon for Hacking Vulnerabilities appeared first on The Truth About Cars.

]]>
http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/08/nhtsa-investigating-harman-kardon-hacking-vulnerabilities/feed/ 2
Joint Daimler, Renault-Nissan Plant in Mexico Begins Construction http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/07/joint-daimler-renault-nissan-plant-mexico-beings-construction/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/07/joint-daimler-renault-nissan-plant-mexico-beings-construction/#comments Tue, 28 Jul 2015 19:00:47 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1126641 A manufacturing plant in Mexico jointly owned by Daimler and Renault-Nissan will begin construction imminently, according to Daimler. The facility, which will be located in Aguascalientes — about 150 northeast of Guadalajara and 300 miles northwest of Mexico City — will build “compact premium vehicles” for the automakers, which may include the Mercedes-Benz CLA/GLA and the […]

The post Joint Daimler, Renault-Nissan Plant in Mexico Begins Construction appeared first on The Truth About Cars.

]]>
Renault-Nissan CEO Carlos Ghosn (right) and Daimler CEO Dieter Z

A manufacturing plant in Mexico jointly owned by Daimler and Renault-Nissan will begin construction imminently, according to Daimler.

The facility, which will be located in Aguascalientes — about 150 northeast of Guadalajara and 300 miles northwest of Mexico City — will build “compact premium vehicles” for the automakers, which may include the Mercedes-Benz CLA/GLA and the upcoming Infiniti Q30/QX30 that share similar front-wheel drive architectures.

Nissan is expected to produce vehicles from the plant for 2017, and Mercedes vehicles will roll of the lines in 2018.

According to Daimler, the plant will have an initial capacity of 230,000 vehicles in the first year, with the ability to expand later. The plant would roughly rival the size of Mercedes’ Tuscaloosa, Alabama plant, which produced 185,000 cars in 2013, 245,000 cars in 2014 and is expected to make 300,000 cars this year.

The plant will be Mercedes’ first compact car-making plant in the NAFTA region, located near Nissan’s A2 plant, also in Aguascalientes.

The joint manufacturing facility is the latest development in an increasingly cozy relationship between Daimler and Renault-Nissan. In addition to the compact pact, the automakers will share a similar platform for the Renault Twingo and upcoming Smart cars.

The joint plant is owned equally by Daimler and Renault-Nissan.

The post Joint Daimler, Renault-Nissan Plant in Mexico Begins Construction appeared first on The Truth About Cars.

]]>
http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/07/joint-daimler-renault-nissan-plant-mexico-beings-construction/feed/ 24
The Small Luxury Convertible Is Probably Dead http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/07/the-small-luxury-convertible-is-probably-dead/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/07/the-small-luxury-convertible-is-probably-dead/#comments Thu, 23 Jul 2015 12:00:34 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1123801 I think the time has come to wave goodbye to one of the auto industry’s most fickle segments: the small luxury convertible. Once formerly strong and full of life, the segment now consists of a bunch of cars that leave people asking: Do they still make that? Allow me to explain what I mean. Back […]

The post The Small Luxury Convertible Is Probably Dead appeared first on The Truth About Cars.

]]>

I think the time has come to wave goodbye to one of the auto industry’s most fickle segments: the small luxury convertible. Once formerly strong and full of life, the segment now consists of a bunch of cars that leave people asking: Do they still make that?

Allow me to explain what I mean. Back in 1989, Mazda came out with the Miata and taught everyone that maybe the two-seater convertible wasn’t quite dead yet. So all the luxury automakers decided they wanted a piece of that sweet droptop action, and they all scrambled to the drawing board to make expensive Miatas with steering wheel volume control buttons.

They all came out right in a row. First there was the BMW Z3, which went on sale for the 1996 model year and starred in a James Bond movie soon after. I remember how cool this thing was, because I remember how much of a departure it was for BMW to build it in the first place. Here’s an automaker who has only offered sedans and one slow-selling large coupe for the last few decades, and now they’re coming out with a fun looking, two-seat convertible that’s kind of affordable? THIS IS SO COOL! Eight-year-old me had a model Z3 sitting on a shelf in my room.

Then there was the Porsche Boxster. Oh, the Boxster, an enormous sales success when it first came out; the car that made Porsche realize that maybe, just maybe, they can continue in the business of selling cars without going into the business of declaring bankruptcy. The first Boxster models came out in 1997, and the first few years were their best-selling of all-time.

Then there was Mercedes. The first-generation Mercedes SLK came out for the 1998 model year with a totally new idea: a retractable hardtop. A retractable hardtop on a small Mercedes convertible, while the brand’s flagship SL-Class still had to make do with a normal old folding cloth top and a removable hardtop that was about as easy to move as a Great Dane who’s asleep on the remote control.

Like the Z3, the SLK was also so damn cool when it came out. The retractable roof was in all the ads. It was the first time anyone had ever seen such a thing outside the Mitsubishi 3000GT, which sold approximately 11 total units. And most importantly, it was a strong competitor to the brand-new rivals from BMW and Porsche. Back then, this segment was heating up like the compact crossover segment is today.

And then, yet another challenger emerged: the Audi TT. Originally on sale for the 2000 model year, the front- or all-wheel drive TT caused quite a stir when it debuted by being the first Audi ever not to completely suck. And then the stage was set: Audi had the TT. Mercedes had the SLK. BMW had the Z3. Porsche had the Boxster. And then the redesigns came.

First the Z3 was redesigned in 2004 to become the far more aggressive, bolder, sharper looking Z4. Next, the SLK and Boxster were updated in 2005, both with more modern appearances. Clearly, the automakers thought this segment still had some legs. And finally, the Audi TT got a full redesign for the 2008 model year, bringing everyone back into close competition once again. And then…

Half-heartedly, most of these models have since been redesigned once again. The Z4 lost its flame surfacing and gained sort of a “me, too” appearance designed to offend precisely nobody, and inspire the same number. The SLK received another redesign, though nobody knows this outside of spouses of Mercedes dealers. The Boxster, admittedly, earned an excellent redesign — though its price point has taken it well beyond the level of the original 2-seat roadster. And Audi’s hemming and hawing about a potential TT redesign has been one of the most reluctant things I’ve seen from the auto industry in decades.

The reason for all this is that this segment has completely died out, and nobody wants these cars anymore. Back in the ‘90s, convertibles were all the rage, and people loved the idea of hopping in a BMW roadster and going for a spin. Now, sedans are back. We want functional. We want practical. And we don’t want to pay fifty grand for an SLK250 with something called the “Airscarf.”

For proof, some numbers. Back in 2005, with its last redesign, the SLK hit nearly 12,000 units in America. With its most recent redesign in 2012, it didn’t even manage to reach 5,000 sales. The Z4 did almost 20,000 U.S. units in 2003. Last year, just barely 2,000. And the poor Audi TT has dropped from more than 10,000 sales in its first year to just over 1,000 last year. Even the Boxster is down from well over 10,000 U.S. sales in the late 1990s to just over 4,500 after its most recent redesign.

And so, ladies and gentlemen, I’m currently predicting the death of the luxury roadster segment. When it happens officially, remember that you heard it here first. Even James Bond can’t save it now.

The post The Small Luxury Convertible Is Probably Dead appeared first on The Truth About Cars.

]]>
http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/07/the-small-luxury-convertible-is-probably-dead/feed/ 54
2015 Mercedes-Benz GLA250 4MATIC: Lookin’ for Love http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/07/2015-mercedes-benz-gla250-4matic-lookin-for-love/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/07/2015-mercedes-benz-gla250-4matic-lookin-for-love/#comments Thu, 16 Jul 2015 15:00:46 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1117377 The 2015 Mercedes-Benz GLA250 lives within the margins. The compact — which shares more in common with a hatchback than an SUV — has a life thanks to America’s all-things-crossover obsession. It dodges definition, shirks consistent fuel-economy ratings and even has me guessing on my own feelings toward it. For sure, I can’t find a […]

The post 2015 Mercedes-Benz GLA250 4MATIC: Lookin’ for Love appeared first on The Truth About Cars.

]]>
GLAProof-1-3

The 2015 Mercedes-Benz GLA250 lives within the margins.

The compact — which shares more in common with a hatchback than an SUV — has a life thanks to America’s all-things-crossover obsession. It dodges definition, shirks consistent fuel-economy ratings and even has me guessing on my own feelings toward it. For sure, I can’t find a single offensive thing about the GLA. Even more, I can’t find a single thing to love.


The Tester

2015 Mercedes-Benz GLA250

Engine: 2.0-liter inline, turbocharged 4-cylinder (208 horsepower @ 5,500 rpm; 258 pound-feet @ 1,250-4,000)

Transmission: 7-speed DCT transmission with paddle shifters

Fuel Economy (rating): 24 mpg city/32 mpg highway/27 mpg combined
Fuel Economy (observed): 25.3 mpg according to trip computer in 60/40-split city/highway driving.

Options: Cocoa brown exterior paint; Satin light brown poplar wood trim; Blind-spot assist; Bi-xenon headlamps; 19-inch wheels; Premium package (satellite radio, heated front seats, harman/kardon audio, dual-zone climate control); Multimedia package (navigation, 7-inch high-resolution display, DVD player, traffic information).

Base price: $33,300
Price as tested: $41,950


Exterior
From beak to butt, the GLA looks like adolescent hatchback growing into its tall frame.

That’s not an indictment on the GLA’s overall looks. The GLA’s stretched sheet metal from front to back look downright futuristic compared to the BMW X1 and Lexus NX. Maybe not as classically handsome as the Range Rover Evoque and a coin-flip compared to the Audi Q3, but there is nothing about the GLA that outwardly screams “half-baked.” It’s clear that German engineers set out to build a handsome crossover that happened to be a Mercedes, and not a Mercedes crossover that happened to be handsome. In my opinion, the GLA is too busy to look “classic” Mercedes.

2015MercedesBenzGLA250-2

Even the tail, which has the unenviable task of tying together the multiple body lines and profile curves, looks solidly modern and scrutinized. If I had to nitpick — and I think I have to — the bulbous tail lamps have a whisper of ugly.

2015MercedesBenzGLA250-1

Up front, however, the GLA’s nose and grille present a compelling argument. The car, which starts at just over $34,000, looks more expensive from the front. It’s a case of Mercedes putting a better foot forward for entry buyers. I prefer the GLA’s nose over, say, the boxy approach of the GLK, but the GLA’s face is much less polarizing.

The thick C-pillar visually lengthens the GLA’s abrupt end and gives the car a longer approach than its 179-inch measurement would indicate. From all approaches, the GLA looks bigger outside than it actually is, and that’s not a bad thing.

Shod with our optional 19-inch wheels the GLA sits tall and muscular without being gaudy. If the Subaru Forester had a Y chromosome, it’d look like a Mercedes-Benz GLA.

2015MercedesBenzGLA250-3

Interior
If intention was everything, the GLA’s interior would shine as a paragon for what luxury crossovers should be. Unfortunately, execution factors into the final result so we have to look at these things as they are — not as they could be.

2015MercedesBenzGLA250-4

First, the familiar: the Mercedes-Benz three-spoke wheel in the GLA is an exceptional touch. The wheel feels solid and confident, and its steering wheel controls and paddle shifters are among the best in the business right now.

Additionally, Mercedes-Benz’s COMAND system (its infotainment interface) is clear and fabulously unfussy. Pairing a smartphone or dictating an address is a breeze, and the 7-inch high-resolution display is seamlessly integrated into the GLA (albeit for $2,480 extra) without looking like a 80-inch HDTV in a trailer home.

The GLA even looks the part too. The ballyhooed cross-hair air vents are impressive, and even the beige faux-leather seats would have me second-guessing shelling out $1,700 for the privilege of more hides between the doors.

But it doesn’t take long for impressions to settle into reality.

The three-spoke wheel hides the stalk and makes setting cruise control nearly impossible. The controls for the COMAND system are awkwardly placed somewhere between my elbow and my wrist, and the dash sounds unsettlingly too hollow.

2015MercedesBenzGLA250-5

Even the comfortable-looking MB-Tex seats started to flatten the longer I was in the car and after 2 hours in a hot car driving through the city, I found myself itching to get out.

If I can use a small example: the GLA’s electric-adjustable seat controls are in the doors, like every other new Mercedes-Benz. Unlike some of them, the GLA doesn’t have electrically adjustable headrests, but there’s still a piece of fixed-molded plastic where that slider would go. In short, the GLA has all the look inside that a Mercedes should have, but it’s just not as special.

(Spring for the leather seats and you get a MB-Tex-stitched dash upper, which could kill two birds with one stone.)

The rear seats are comfortable for adults on short to moderate trips. My 6-foot-2-inch frame could fold into the back behind the driver, but not with someone my size driving up front.

Infotainment
As a $2,480 option on a $33,300 car, Mercedes-Benz’s COMAND system is no minor detail. The big, bright 7-inch high-resolution display rises prominently from the middle of the dash and is distinctly an added extra — there’s no hiding that the GLA was built first without it.

However, the COMAND system is thoughtfully integrated and wasn’t much of a distraction for me. I’m incredibly familiar with the layout and controls, so it’s hard for me to comment on the system’s learning curve. However, I can report that after teaching passengers how the small-ish knob placed near the cup holders could slide AND rotate, very few people had trouble learning the system.

The good: The radio controls mimic a tuner, and the system is detailed without needing too much attention.

The bad: Adding a phone, then adding that same phone as a Bluetooth streaming device is a head scratcher.

The ugly: The control knob is far-too small for my big mitts.

In the new C-Class, the COMAND system is nearly impossible to beat. In the GLA, it’s very good.

2015MercedesBenzGLA250-7

Drivetrain

The GLA250 sports a 2.0-liter turbo four that makes an entirely approachable 208 hp. According to the manufacturer, the GLA250 runs up to 60 mph in around 7 seconds, which may not be blinding, but may not be the engine’s fault. The 7-speed DCT transmission does its very best to keep the GLA in low-rev, fuel-saving territory on the tach and it’s apparent. More than a few times, I guessed I was in third gear by the other side of the intersection, and the GLA’s long legs are built for wringing every last mile from its 15-gallon tank.

Unfortunately, it’s a losing attempt.

Despite my best efforts on long highway jaunts, I couldn’t approach 30 mpg consistently, and the GLA may be thirstier than its 27 mpg combined rating would indicate.

In combined driving, over nearly 200 miles, I managed only just over 25 mpg without over-taxing the GLA or touching the paddle shifters.

The GLA is offered in front- or all-wheel drive, which Mercedes calls 4MATIC, configurations. Our tester was the latter, but without much snow or mountain driving to be found over the past week, it’s hard to report whether the all-wheel drive is necessary. We’ll blame El Nino. Or something.

2015MercedesBenzGLA250-8

Drive
Despite being one of the least expensive cars that Mercedes-Benz offers, the GLA is surprisingly confident and nimble on the road. Its grippy, direct steering was surprising for a car that weighs nearly 3,500 pounds and forces all its energy through the front wheels under normal circumstances. I could coax the GLA250 into a push, but not without plenty of drama from the wheels first. (And that’s the way it should be.)

The GLA is easy to park and remarkably maneuverable around an Ikea parking lot (if you’re wondering what I did with it instead of driving into the Rockies.)

There are some niggles, however. The GLA is far from quiet inside. A considerable amount of road noise comes through into the cabin and it feels like Mercedes just skipped some of the sound deadening material in the final checklist.

Also, Mercedes’ collision prevention assist system isn’t any more advanced than anyone else’s, which means that it’s entirely too intrusive. In stop-and-go traffic, the system tripped a few times and warned of a low-speed collision that wasn’t going to happen anyway.

And if I could coax the transmission into shorter shifts at the risk of less impressive fuel economy (on paper), I would. Mash your right foot, count to three and then the GLA clambers forward. There’s too much time between action and reaction for a car that costs more than $40,000.

But there’s nothing wholly unsatisfactory about the GLA. It looks impressive and delivers a product that’s nearly better than anyone else’s. It’s better looking than the NX, more modern than the X1 with more interior potential than the MKC at a price that’s on target for what I’d expect from the three-star folks.

It’s just, coming from the company that recently made an extremely good C-Class car, the only thing I could define about the GLA was my extremely high expectations before I drove it. And maybe that’s just not fair.

The post 2015 Mercedes-Benz GLA250 4MATIC: Lookin’ for Love appeared first on The Truth About Cars.

]]>
http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/07/2015-mercedes-benz-gla250-4matic-lookin-for-love/feed/ 47
New Mercedes-Benz E-Class Will Play Loud Noise Before Crash to Save Eardrums http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/07/new-mercedes-e-class-will-play-loud-noise-crash-save-eardrums/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/07/new-mercedes-e-class-will-play-loud-noise-crash-save-eardrums/#comments Mon, 13 Jul 2015 21:00:39 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1114905 The new Mercedes-Benz E-Class can basically drive itself. But if you prefer to pilot the car yourself, and you happen to get into a crash, the 2017 E-Class will pump static into the cabin to save your ears. As Wired reports, the new E-Class will be equipped with what Mercedes-Benz is calling “PRE-SAFE Sound” to play […]

The post New Mercedes-Benz E-Class Will Play Loud Noise Before Crash to Save Eardrums appeared first on The Truth About Cars.

]]>
E Class

The new Mercedes-Benz E-Class can basically drive itself. But if you prefer to pilot the car yourself, and you happen to get into a crash, the 2017 E-Class will pump static into the cabin to save your ears.

As Wired reports, the new E-Class will be equipped with what Mercedes-Benz is calling “PRE-SAFE Sound” to play a 85-db noise to coax the ear into protecting itself.

According to the automaker, the system works by triggering the stapedius reflex, which is the constriction of muscles around the eardrums, and is a natural reaction to loud noise. By playing the sound before the collision, Mercedes-Benz says, the E-Class could potentially lessen hearing damage.

The sound safety system is part of a slew of technology Mercedes-Benz is stuffing into the E-Class. Also included is the similarly named “PRE-SAFE impulse side” collision system that “nudges” driver and passenger toward the center of the car during a side collision with airbags that inflate upon impact.

Mercedes-Benz said the side-collision system is an option for the E-Class. It’s unclear if the noise safety system is standard.

The automaker also said the E-Class owners would be able to park the new E-Class while outside the car by using an app, but the system won’t be available in the United States when the fifth-generation car launches.

The automated parking system works somewhat like the Batmobile. We live in exciting times.

The post New Mercedes-Benz E-Class Will Play Loud Noise Before Crash to Save Eardrums appeared first on The Truth About Cars.

]]>
http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/07/new-mercedes-e-class-will-play-loud-noise-crash-save-eardrums/feed/ 41
RUMOR: Aston Martin Tipped For Deal With Mercedes-Powered Red Bull Racing http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/07/rumor-aston-martin-tipped-for-deal-with-mercedes-powered-red-bull-racing/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/07/rumor-aston-martin-tipped-for-deal-with-mercedes-powered-red-bull-racing/#comments Sun, 05 Jul 2015 17:40:52 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1108025 The latest rumor to involve Formula 1 also involves a former Nissan executive and one of Britain’s most recognized marques. A report from Autocar sees former world champion team Red Bull ditching their troublesome Renault power units and switching to Mercedes motivation with an Aston Martin logo painted on the air box of the single […]

The post RUMOR: Aston Martin Tipped For Deal With Mercedes-Powered Red Bull Racing appeared first on The Truth About Cars.

]]>
Aston Martin Logo

The latest rumor to involve Formula 1 also involves a former Nissan executive and one of Britain’s most recognized marques.

A report from Autocar sees former world champion team Red Bull ditching their troublesome Renault power units and switching to Mercedes motivation with an Aston Martin logo painted on the air box of the single seater.

And there might be some truth to it.

It’s no secret that multiple world champion team Red Bull Racing is less than pleased with its Renault power units as it struggles at the middle of the pack. It’s also no secret that Mercedes would like to bolster the number of teams to which it supplies engines in an effort to amortize the cost of development. A deal between Red Bull Racing and Mercedes F1 may be in the works that suits the needs of both parties and it could come by way of Aston Martin and its CEO Andy Palmer.

With Mercedes holding 5-percent ownership in the British luxury marque and more cooperation planned in the future, the German automaker does not see Aston Martin as a direct road car competitor, thus opening the door for the deal.

Andy Palmer, before his current position at Aston Martin, was the head of product for Nissan and played a major part in Red Bull Racing’s deal with Infiniti. The rumored deal between Red Bull Racing and Aston Martin would be very similar to the Infiniti deal, where Aston Martin branding is visible on Red Bull Racing’s Formula 1 cars and the British manufacturer would provide technical expertise to the team.

When asked by Autocar, a spokesman for Aston Martin declined to comment on the rumor. However, when Autocar posed the question to Mercedes F1 team principal Toto Wolff at this weekend’s British Grand Prix, the door was left open a sliver.

“We must be open-minded. Our number one objective is to win the world championship. At the moment I would say I cannot see a situation of us supplying an engine to our number one enemy – but maybe we need to recalibrate who our number one enemy is tomorrow and next year.”

The deal likely won’t happen next year, though, as Red Bull Racing and Renault are bound to contract until the end of 2016. After that, it’s anyone’s guess where the Milton Keynes-based team will source its power, said Red Bull principal Christian Horner:

“Last week it was Ferrari, this week it’s Aston Martin, next week it will probably be Honda or Lamborghini. We have a contract and commitment with Infiniti, a very good relationship with Infiniti, and anything beyond the end of 2016 is purely speculative.”

Aston Martin last contested Formula 1 in 1959 and 1960.

The post RUMOR: Aston Martin Tipped For Deal With Mercedes-Powered Red Bull Racing appeared first on The Truth About Cars.

]]>
http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/07/rumor-aston-martin-tipped-for-deal-with-mercedes-powered-red-bull-racing/feed/ 3
Bark’s Bites: The (Imaginary) National Automakers Association Draft, Part One http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/06/barks-bites-imaginary-national-automakers-association-draft-part-one/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/06/barks-bites-imaginary-national-automakers-association-draft-part-one/#comments Fri, 26 Jun 2015 12:00:42 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1100193 Warning: What you are about to read is NOT REAL. It is the product of the warped mind of your friendly neighborhood editorialist, Bark M., who wonders: What if automakers had to “draft” new products, just like the NBA does?  Talking Head #1: Greetings, and welcome to Detroit, the host city for the 2015 National Automakers […]

The post Bark’s Bites: The (Imaginary) National Automakers Association Draft, Part One appeared first on The Truth About Cars.

]]>
Obama+Announces+New+Automobile+Fuel+Efficiency+h36L8Fl4eLpx

Warning: What you are about to read is NOT REAL. It is the product of the warped mind of your friendly neighborhood editorialist, Bark M., who wonders: What if automakers had to “draft” new products, just like the NBA does? 

Talking Head #1: Greetings, and welcome to Detroit, the host city for the 2015 National Automakers Association Draft! Tonight, we’ll see the future of automakers unfold, as they get the chance to select a new model for their existing lineup.

Talking Head #2: That’s right, and the excitement has been building ever since the end of last model year. Some big questions will be answered this evening: What will Subaru do with their pick? Will Ford finally have a full-sized sedan worth talking about? And will FCA’s Sergio Marchionne finally find a trade partner for their spot in the draft?

TH1: Word has it that Sergio has been burning up the phone lines trying to find somebody to help him move out of the first round, but my sources say that he hasn’t had any takers so far. As you know, though, there’s invariably a surprise or two on NAA Draft Night!

TH2: That there is! As always, the automakers will be drafting in reverse order of current U.S. market share. That means that first up on the clock is a fan favorite, Mazda.

TH1: Well, Mazda has a good, quality lineup, full of young star players, but for some reason they’ve had a hard time breaking through in America. Will this be the pick that finally gets them over the hump and positions them as a real player in the U.S. market?

TH2: We’re about to find out, as it looks like we are getting this 2015 NAA Draft underway! Here comes the commissioner to the podium with the card. Let’s listen.

Commissioner: With the first pick in the 2015 NAA draft, Mazda selects… a New CX-9, from Hiroshima, Japan!

TH1: Well, we can’t be too surprised with this one, can we?

TH2: No, not at all. The CX-9 has been getting long in the tooth and Mazda needed something new and fresh to be competitive in this segment. The Mazda fans have got to be happy with this selection.

TH1: Indeed, they are. While some fans here were hoping for a new Mazda 2 to be brought to the U.S., it’s hard to ignore that Mazda is missing out on a key segment with the current CX-9. Great pick.

TH2: All right, that was a solid, if not necessary climactic beginning to our evening. Next up is one of the more glamorous names in our industry: Mercedes-Benz. What have you been hearing about Mercedes?

TH1: It’s hard to know exactly which direction Mercedes might go in here. Their fans are still a little confused about the recent shakeup of their lineup – there are a lot of familiar faces with new names. Plus, they’ve had a few recent refreshes of their biggest sellers – the C Class is selling better than ever, and they’ve already signed a new E-Class for 2016.

TH2: We’ll know soon enough – here’s the commish!

Commissioner: With the second pick in the 2015 NAA draft, Mercedes-Benz selects…the W246 B Class, from Stuttgart, Germany!

TH1: I think it’s safe to say that we’ve had our first surprise of the evening!

TH2: No question. The B Class has been a solid performer in both the EU and in Japan since it launched back in 2011, but I’ve gotta say, I’m surprised that they’re trying it in America. However, with the growth that MINI is seeing in America this year, perhaps Mercedes thinks there’s an opportunity for a luxury entry into the subcompact market.

TH1: It’s all part of the excitement that we’ve come to expect from the NAA Draft! Next on the clock with the third pick is another German automaker, BMW.

TH2: BMW has sort of lost their…

TH1: Whoa, whoa, whoa, I have to blow the whistle on you there, partner. I’m sure you weren’t about to say that they’ve “lost their way,” like every other talking head hack, were you?

TH1: Um, no. Not at all. I was about to say that they’ve lost their…okay, fine. You got me.

TH2: Considering that BMW is up about 7 percent in sales year over year, I think they’re doing just fine. But there is one segment where they’ve lost some market share, and that’s the small luxury SUV segment.

TH1: Let’s see if they address that tonight. Over to you, Commissioner!

Commissioner: With the third pick in the 2015 NAA draft, BMW selects…a new X3, from Spartanburg, South Carolina!

TH1: That’s the obvious choice here, isn’t it?

TH2: Certainly is. The X4…well, I mean, what the heck is the X4, anyway? It’s not selling in any great numbers, and the X3 has been down big time as of late. A new model seems to be just what Herr Doctor ordered.

TH1: Subaru is next up on the clock, partner. There’s been a lot of discussion lately about Subaru’s recent success in the American market, but how will that impact their draft pick tonight?

TH2: That’s a great question. They’re missing a lot of the key segments for American market success in their lineup – mid-sized SUV, subcompact – and the Impreza is sold in numbers that don’t impress anybody. But can they take on more capacity right now?

TH1: Let’s see what they decide to do. Here’s the commissioner with the pick.

Commissioner: Ladies and Gentlemen, we have a trade. Subaru has traded their pick to Toyota, along with all remaining BRZs on dealer lots, for cash considerations and a car to be named later. With the fourth pick in the 2015 NAA draft, Toyota selects…an Avalon replacement, from Georgetown, Kentucky!

TH2: Not a huge surprise here, is it?

TH1: No, not particularly. I think Subaru did the right thing – they’re already at maximum capacity at most of their plants, and adding more models would just make it even worse. Also, killing the BRZ makes a ton of sense. They barely sell, and they are occupying floorplan space that could be used for other, more profitable models.

TH2: And Toyota needed a new full-sized sedan. The whole segment is dying quickly, yes, but maybe Toyota sees that as an opportunity to seize some market share from their aging competitors. Perhaps they can use the platform to update the Lexus ES, too.

TH1: This evening is moving along quickly, as we move to the fifth pick, which belongs to Volkswagen Auto Group. VW and Audi have a few holes to fill in their American lineup, to say the least.

TH2: Truer words were never spoken, my friend. The Jetta, the Passat, the A4…all of them are aging and relatively unpopular in their segments. The lights are flickering a bit at VW stores. Can tonight’s pick help keep them on?

TH1: The pick is in, so let’s turn things over to the commissioner.

Commissioner: With the fifth pick in the NAA draft, Volkswagen Auto Group selects…a Jetta with actual content, from Wolfsburg, Germany!

TH2: I think they didn’t really have much of a choice here. The Jetta is losing market share faster than any other compact car – they had to get competitive.

TH1: I don’t know…the Passat isn’t doing any better, and that’s a bigger segment, overall.

TH2: Yes, but the Jetta name still means something in America. The Jetta is the top-selling VW model of all time. I think VW knows that they’re climbing an uphill battle in the mid-sized segment with the Passat – maybe they figure it’s better to fight a battle that they actually have a shot at winning. And they’ve proven that they can make an excellent small car with the Golf and its performance derivatives.

TH1: Good point. VW fans have to be pleased with this pick.

TH2: Well, we’ve got Hyundai/Kia up next. Is there a faster rising team in the league than these guys?

TH1: I don’t think so, my friend. While the current Sonata hasn’t been everything that they hoped it would be, they’ve got some real hits on their hands with their crossover lineup. And the new Sedona is doing quite well, too. But that doesn’t mean that there aren’t trouble spots.

TH2: You’re absolutely right. The Rio is falling well behind the competition in the Subcompact category, and even the Soul isn’t selling like it once was. What inside scoop do you have about H&K’s next move?

TH1: I don’t think there’s any question that they’d like to have a real, legitimate sporting car in their lineup. But can they justify it?

TH2: Well, the pick is in, so let’s go to the commissioner.

Commissioner: With the sixth pick in the NAA draft, Hyundai/Kia selects…an all-new, 5.0 liter Hyundai Genesis Coupe, from Seoul, South Korea!

TH1&2 (simultaneously): WHOOOOOOA!

TH1: That’s a big swing.

TH2: Is it ever! The Genesis Coupe has been tired for a while. Not only are they revamping it, they’re shoving in the big V8 from the sedan. Do you like it?

TH1: I love it! They’ve already got, in my opinion, the best RWD sedan for the money on the market. Now, they’re taking aim at the Mustang and Camaro. It’s bold, it’s brash – great pick!

TH2: Don’t go anywhere, folks! When we come back from commercial (tomorrow –Bark), we’ll find out what the big boys from Nissan, Honda, Toyota, FCA, Ford, and GM have in store for us.

All right, have at it, B&B – what would you have “drafted” for these manufacturers?

The post Bark’s Bites: The (Imaginary) National Automakers Association Draft, Part One appeared first on The Truth About Cars.

]]>
http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/06/barks-bites-imaginary-national-automakers-association-draft-part-one/feed/ 15
Renault-Nissan’s Carlos Ghosn Banks $16M In 2014 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/06/renault-nissans-carlos-ghosn-banks-16m-in-2014/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/06/renault-nissans-carlos-ghosn-banks-16m-in-2014/#comments Tue, 23 Jun 2015 16:00:52 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1097801 Renault-Nissan CEO Carlos Ghosn did well for himself in 2014, banking around $16 million in compensation compared to the salaries of other automotive CEOs. Breaking down the numbers, Nissan paid Ghosn ¥1.035 billion ($8.39 million USD) during 2014, Reuters says, up 4 percent from what he made in 2013. On the Renault side, Ghosn took […]

The post Renault-Nissan’s Carlos Ghosn Banks $16M In 2014 appeared first on The Truth About Cars.

]]>
Carlos Ghosn

Renault-Nissan CEO Carlos Ghosn did well for himself in 2014, banking around $16 million in compensation compared to the salaries of other automotive CEOs.

Breaking down the numbers, Nissan paid Ghosn ¥1.035 billion ($8.39 million USD) during 2014, Reuters says, up 4 percent from what he made in 2013. On the Renault side, Ghosn took home €7.2 million ($8.17 million), bringing total compensation to $16.56 million.

Ghosn’s combined paycheck is in line with compensation paid to two of the Detroit Three’s CEOs, where both Ford CEO Mark Fields and General Motors CEO Mary Barra made $16.8 million and $16.2 million respectively at the end of their first year helming their companies. Meanwhile, FCA CEO Sergio Marchionne’s compensation paints a complex portrait, with figures ranging between $8 million and $72 million depending on the source.

Among the rest of the ToHoSan Zaibatsu, Toyota’s Akio Toyoda made ¥229 million ($1.84 million) in 2014, while Honda’s Takanobu Ito brought home ¥150 million ($1.21 million).

In Germany, the Teutonic Trinity’s CEOs took home €6.57 million ($7.35 million – Audi’s Rupert Stadler), €7.25 million ($8.11 million – BMW’s Norbert Reithofer) and €9.35 ($10.5 million – Mercedes’ Dieter Zetsche).

Finally, under the remaining stripes of the Tricolore Français, PSA Peugeot Citroën CEO Carlos Tavares received €2.75 million ($3.07 million).

(Photo credit: Nissan)

The post Renault-Nissan’s Carlos Ghosn Banks $16M In 2014 appeared first on The Truth About Cars.

]]>
http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/06/renault-nissans-carlos-ghosn-banks-16m-in-2014/feed/ 3
Volvo Markets Simplified Identity Against Teutonic Complexities http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/06/volvo-markets-simplified-identity-against-teutonic-complexities/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/06/volvo-markets-simplified-identity-against-teutonic-complexities/#comments Fri, 12 Jun 2015 19:00:26 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1091833 Whereas the Teutonic Trinity of Audi, BMW and Mercedes go for complexity in their offerings, Volvo aims to attract luxury consumers through simplicity. At the 2015 Automotive News Europe Congress in Birmingham, England, Volvo CEO Hakan Samuelsson pointed out the number of buttons the XC90 had compared to two new models from two of the […]

The post Volvo Markets Simplified Identity Against Teutonic Complexities appeared first on The Truth About Cars.

]]>
163787_Volvo_XC90_at_the_Swedish_Royal_Wedding

Whereas the Teutonic Trinity of Audi, BMW and Mercedes go for complexity in their offerings, Volvo aims to attract luxury consumers through simplicity.

At the 2015 Automotive News Europe Congress in Birmingham, England, Volvo CEO Hakan Samuelsson pointed out the number of buttons the XC90 had compared to two new models from two of the trinity as far as handling the main controls go, Automotive News Europe notes. While the Germans opted for 55 and 37 buttons respectively, Samuelsson stated Volvo only needed eight to get the point across.

Samuelsson’s point behind the button count was to declare his company would not match feature for feature against the Teutonic Trinity, proclaiming “no one wants to buy a copy. They buy the original.” The proclamation was followed by a presentation of an app which would grant one-time access to a given Volvo model to those delivering groceries, dry cleaning, and other items, followed by a text alerting the owner the delivery occurred.

Both examples are meant to demonstrate Volvo’s reinvention following its purchase from Ford by Geely in 2010. Then, the automaker had little product, and relied upon Ford’s platforms and engine offerings to see everything through.

Samuelsson said his company would pursue consumers more concerned about their families and the environment as part of its new strategy, than those looking to destroy ‘Ring times. Said pursuit is expected to be aggressive, as Volvo aims to increase global sales from a targeted 500,000 in 2015, to 800,000 by 2020 via a product offensive which will see all platforms and engines as being 100 percent Volvo starting this summer.

[Photo credit: Volvo]

The post Volvo Markets Simplified Identity Against Teutonic Complexities appeared first on The Truth About Cars.

]]>
http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/06/volvo-markets-simplified-identity-against-teutonic-complexities/feed/ 57
A Different Perspective On The DaimlerChrysler Merger http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/06/different-perspective-daimlerchrysler-merger/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/06/different-perspective-daimlerchrysler-merger/#comments Tue, 09 Jun 2015 21:00:42 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=994922 My 25-plus years as a Big Time Auto Industry Executive afforded me many memorable moments. It would be difficult to single out one example, but I may be the only person on earth who has shaken hands with both Soichiro Honda and Derek Kreindler. As for the low point of my career, there is no contest: the morning of May […]

The post A Different Perspective On The DaimlerChrysler Merger appeared first on The Truth About Cars.

]]>
DC Hoods Courtesy cnbc.com

My 25-plus years as a Big Time Auto Industry Executive afforded me many memorable moments. It would be difficult to single out one example, but I may be the only person on earth who has shaken hands with both Soichiro Honda and Derek Kreindler.

As for the low point of my career, there is no contest: the morning of May 7, 1998, four months after I joined Mercedes-Benz Credit Corporation. That was the day it was announced Daimler-Benz had merged with the Chrysler Corporation.

I’ll never forget watching the news that morning, as Daimler CEO Jurgen Schrempp and Chrysler CEO Bob Eaton were all smiles during their press conference, deeming the alliance a “marriage from Heaven.” I was slack-jawed. I was dumbfounded. I was the RCA Victor dog with my head cocked quizzically at the television set.

I, also, was not alone. There were reports of Mercedes-Benz USA executives crying in the halls that morning. How could we do this? Didn’t we learn anything from our previous tie-up with Studebaker?

Much would be written in the following years about the culture clash between the two companies and how it contributed to their demerger in 2007. The press gleefully wrote about how the “lean and mean Chrysler” was at odds with the “slow-moving, bureaucratic Benz.” When it came to the resultant hookup between Mercedes-Benz Credit Corporation and Chrysler Financial, those roles were reversed.

While it would be several years before Schrempp would admit the alliance was not a merger but in reality a takeover of Chrysler by Daimler, Chrysler Financial (CF) was in charge of Mercedes-Benz Credit Corporation (MBCC) from day one on the U.S. financial side. On the surface this made sense as CF serviced ten times the number of dealers and employed around eleven times the number of people than did MBCC.

The two banks became DaimlerChrysler Services North America and we would move our U.S headquarters from Atlanta to CF’s home, the decrepit former American Motors building in Detroit, while construction started on a permanent facility. Thus, the only American employees to truly merge and work side by side in America were us financial folks. The respective auto sales and distribution arms in Montvale, NJ and Detroit probably never even spoke.

I was hired by a year-old division of MBCC called debis Affinity, named after the worldwide financial arm of Mercedes-Benz, Daimler-Benz InterServices AG or debis. Located in the MBCC customer service and remarketing facility in Fort Worth, TX, our mission was to provide retail loans and leases to customers of non-Mercedes dealers as well as floor plan and capital loans to the retailers themselves.

DC merger signing courtesy AP

“Jurgen, did I tell you about the millions you are about to lose on off-lease Grand Cherokees?”

Starting with a clean sheet of paper, we developed a corporate culture of transparency and employee empowerment. An example of this culture occurred each morning at 9 a.m. when we would turn off the phones and gather together in a “huddle” to review the previous day’s business news and talk strategy. These lighthearted meetings would be led each morning by a different team member. We were completely transparent with our monthly profit numbers. If they were published on a day that an entry level employee led the huddle, he or she would present the numbers to the group.

Chrysler folks thought our culture and huddle were hokey, but it worked: we built a loyal, tight-knit group of employees. I worked in field sales at American Honda during the go-go ’80s and ’90s; working at debis was more fun.

Thanks to our excellent service levels and a field sales staff heavy with former retail car people, we grew quickly, signing up retailers representing all franchises. We were especially welcomed by Chrysler dealers who were not shy to express their disgust with CF’s inconsistent credit buying practices, their jumping in and out of leasing, and their overall poor dealer support.

Our philosophies could not have been more different from those at CF. At MBCC and debis we considered the dealers to be our partners; CF loathed their dealer body. To be fair, at any one time probably 15 percent of Chrysler dealers were on the verge of going out of business, while another 15 percent were dedicated to stealing as much money as possible from CF and from Chrysler. Dealers falsifying customer information on credit applications to gain loan or lease approvals occurred far more often with Chrysler than Mercedes-Benz retailers.

2000DaewooLeganza courtesy chicagoautoshow.com

Leganza! Mercedes-Benz Credit’s debis Division provided financing for U. S. Daweoo customers.

The majority of CF employees we met were motivated and as passionate about the Chrysler brand as we were about Mercedes-Benz. The problem was their layers of bureaucracy prevented any task from being accomplished on a timely basis. In contrast, we were lean enough to operate on dealer and customer time – in other words, “right now.”

A perfect example was CF’s remarketing processes for capturing and disposing of off-lease vehicles. MBCC was recognized as having the best practices in the industry – dealer and customer friendly – while maximizing returns at auction. MBCC had one centralized office for remarketing; CF passed off the responsibility to its dozens of regional sales offices. We quickly learned despite all their people assigned to CF remarketing, many were not contacting clients to arrange their vehicles return, thus, customers were happily driving for free for months after their leases were due, assuring the vehicles would be returned at far below residual value. The concept of pitching off-lease clients to buy another Chrysler product was not on their radar at all.

It was quickly decided that the MBCC remarketing department would take over CF remarketing. Our first step was to find these thousands units missing in the CF bureaucracy. Time was ticking as CF was facing two hundred thousand Grand Cherokees coming off leases with payments as low as $199/month that were about to hit the auctions. The potential residual losses were staggering. The losses would end up averaging over $2,500 per unit. We always wondered if Daimler was informed of the situation during merger negotiations.

Infiniti dumped Nissan Motor Acceptance for debis to provide leases for their customers.

Infiniti dumped Nissan Acceptance for debis to provide leases for their customers.

In 1999, debis shocked the industry when we were chosen by Japanese luxury automaker Infiniti to provide factory subvented leases for their customers in their Western and Central Regions. Infiniti’s captive finance arm, Nissan Motor Acceptance Corporation, was out of money and the bank’s dealer satisfaction rankings were even lower than those of Chrysler Financial. Infiniti also admitted that they did not have the channels to dispose of off-lease vehicles.

On the surface this may appear to be Mercedes-Benz helping a competitor’s sales but it is actually just the opposite. The customer had already chosen an Infiniti by the time we were involved. We would profit on the leases as opposed to Nissan capturing that money. We’d also have control of that customer at lease end, with the hopes that their great experience with us might lead them to buy a Mercedes-Benz product next time. At one point, debis was also the leading lessor of Lexus RX300s in several markets on the East Coast.

Four outlying automakers also chose debis to serve as their captive lender, all drawn in by the prestige of being associated with the three-pointed star:

Daewoo: The Korean automaker may have built crappy cars, but their retail paper performed great. The Daewoo people also were by far the easiest to work with among all of our OEM relationships.

Lamborghini: We had the pleasure of working with one of the great automotive crooks of our era, North American Lamborghini distributor Vic Keuylian, who went from hanging with Hollywood celebrities to losing the distributorship to a guilty plea for wire fraud for selling $12M worth of Lamborghinis and stiffing Volkswagen Credit on them. I recall we did some Lambo leases for actor Nicolas Cage.

Grand+Opening+Lamborghini+Calabasas+Arrivals+4LgOcYOPgsEl Courtesy zimbio.com

debis client and former Lamborghini distributor Vic Keuylian with actress Kristen Bell.

Panoz: I am not sure if we actually ever financed a single one of their sports cars but we did get to visit their Georgia headquarters and drive some of their vehicles at Road Atlanta – so the relationship was worth it.

Lotus: I do not think we ended up doing much business with this brand either, but they were also located in Atlanta so we could justify our boondoggles to Panoz by visiting them.

In three years, debis had become wildly successful. Besides the OEM accounts, we had signed up 1,600 dealers and were close to overtaking Chase in several markets as the top non-captive automotive lender.

In early 2000, our managing director was tapped to develop DaimlerChrysler’s online auto financing site. He was replaced by a Chrysler “lifer” who was openly disdainful of debis. His actions verified what was long rumored to be true: CF senior managers only communicated to employees one band level below them and all other workers were not to approach them. I was marketing manager at the time and don’t recall ever having a conversation with the man. Our independence and our unique culture began to slip away.

DC Benz sign Courtesy 2.bp.blogspot.com

Soon after, rumors began to swirl that debis was going to be disbanded. When the COO of DaimlerChrysler Financial, a long-time CF man, assured us this was not the case, we figured we we were toast. We were correct: Chrysler bombed debis at dawn on December 7 – Pearl Harbor Day – in 2000. The reason given for our closing was due to the competitive nature of the non-captive lending business as well as duplication of efforts with Chrysler dealers. In my opinion, the truth was that Chrysler Financial hated our guts due to their brand partner being taken over by Daimler, they were tired of hearing from Chrysler dealers about our superlative service levels, and they simply could not understand the empowering (and profitable) debis culture. The news of our shutting down made the front page of Automotive News.

debis folks were devastated – but there was a bright side: to the company’s credit, all 64 debis employees were offered positions within the company, the majority on the Chrysler side, a few on the Mercedes-Benz side.

In 2007, the crazies at Cerberus bought Chrysler from us (during a recession!). We had paid $35 billion for Chrysler and sold them for $8 billion. I likened the loss to the two-year residual value of a Chrysler Pacifica minivan. MBCC was quickly reborn as Mercedes-Benz Financial Services (MBFS). The Chrysler financing arm also became part of Cerberus and would eventually be bought by Canada’s TD Bank in 2011.

MBFS Logo Courtesy linkedin

In the end, the damage done was the value of the millions of wasted man hours learning Chrysler’s systems and processes we could have dedicated to improving our products and services for Mercedes-Benz customers and dealers. The amount of money spent to build new Detroit and Fort Worth facilities for the merger and a second set for the demerger was staggering.

To be fair, a lot of good did come out of the merger on the financial services side. Thanks to Chrysler’s powerful human resources department, our benefits were far better than before the alliance. MBFS also became a much more diversified workplace thanks to Chrysler’s influence. Some of the talented leaders of the current MBFS came from Chrysler, most being managers who were considered “rebels” on the domestic side. The MBFS headquarters remained in Detroit where we were able to draw from the city’s deep, laid-off automotive talent pool for years to come.

The debate will rage on as to whether Daimler-Benz nearly killed the Chrysler Corporation, but in one small corner of their financial services division it was Chrysler who dealt the deathblow to a vibrant and vital Mercedes-Benz operation.

Chronicling this story has made me decide to amend my opening statement: the day in May 2007 when the DaimlerChrysler demerger became official, and I was safely on the Mercedes-Benz Financial Services side, was the single best moment of my automotive career.

The post A Different Perspective On The DaimlerChrysler Merger appeared first on The Truth About Cars.

]]>
http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/06/different-perspective-daimlerchrysler-merger/feed/ 52
Mercedes-Benz’s AMG GT Downmarket Foray Is Already Paying Off http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/05/mercedes-benzs-amg-gt-downmarket-foray-already-paying-off/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/05/mercedes-benzs-amg-gt-downmarket-foray-already-paying-off/#comments Mon, 18 May 2015 15:00:28 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1069250 Mercedes-Benz keeps moving their high-end sports cars down market just as the company keeps making their high-end sports cars more attractive. The SLR McLaren was absurd in more ways than one, and it took a couple of vehicular lifetimes for Mercedes-Benz to rid themselves of all the copies they built. The SLS AMG, on the […]

The post Mercedes-Benz’s AMG GT Downmarket Foray Is Already Paying Off appeared first on The Truth About Cars.

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

Mercedes-Benz keeps moving their high-end sports cars down market just as the company keeps making their high-end sports cars more attractive. The SLR McLaren was absurd in more ways than one, and it took a couple of vehicular lifetimes for Mercedes-Benz to rid themselves of all the copies they built.

The SLS AMG, on the other hand, was a bold yet tasteful maneuver into a more reasonable supercar sector, where prices are closer to $200K than $400K, and if by reasonable we mean the domain of Ferraris with eight, rather than twelve, cylinders.

The new AMG GT, on the other hand, has an advertised base price of $129,900, just ten grand more than the new S-Class Coupe and some $21,000 below the price of a Porsche 911 Turbo. Two different AMG variants of Mercedes-Benz’s own SL-Class have significantly more costly points of entry.

Not surprisingly, then, Mercedes-Benz sold more copies of the AMG GT in its first month on sale in the United States than the SLS AMG ever managed at any point in its tenure.

Mercedes-Benz USA reported the company’s first 205 AMG GT sales in April 2015, a figure only vaguely approached by the SLS AMG in its first month on sale. Initial demand for this kind of car is a significant factor to consider. The fact Mercedes-Benz sold more than 200 AMG GTs in April doesn’t mean that, like the Porsche 911 with its immense staying power, the AMG GT can continue to attract a couple hundred well-off new owners per month. The SLS AMG, for instance, even in its second-best month of March 2012, was down 27% compared with its first month of availability, May 2010.

Mercedes-AMG GT (C 190) 2014

Since that month five years ago, Mercedes-Benz USA has sold 2,724 SLS AMGs, far more than the number of overpriced SLR McLarens (713) sold between 2004 and 2010.

As for other high-end sporting cars, Audi sold 69 R8s in April, a 14% year-over-year drop. BMW i8 volume, which peaked in its second full month of October 2014 at 204 units, stood at 138 units in April 2015. Dodge sold 56 Vipers, a 42% decline compared with April 2014. Nissan GT-R sales rose 32% to 162 units.

Mercedes-Benz’s own SL-Class was down 24% to 434. Figures for the S-Class Coupe are rolled into the overall S-Class’s total, sedan included, of 2,021 April sales. Its CL-Class predecessor averaged 57 monthly sales in the U.S. between 2010 and 2014, but CL volume has declined every year since 2008.

004-2014-porsche-911-turbo

Porsche’s wide-ranging 911 lineup was down 7% to 897 units in the best-ever month for the Porsche brand in America.

With the AMG GT and the aforementioned i8, Mercedes-Benz and BMW certainly have the vehicles with which the fight can be taken to the Porsche 911 in a new, exciting format. Challenging the iconic Porsche on volume terms, however, outside the venue of a car magazine comparison test, is a different can of worms. With an exhaustive array of body styles and engines and extremes and its legendary status, the 911 is king, no matter how far Mercedes-Benz moves its supercar downmarket.

Timothy Cain is the founder of GoodCarBadCar.net, which obsesses over the free and frequent publication of U.S. and Canadian auto sales figures. Follow on Twitter @goodcarbadcar and on Facebook.

The post Mercedes-Benz’s AMG GT Downmarket Foray Is Already Paying Off appeared first on The Truth About Cars.

]]>
http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/05/mercedes-benzs-amg-gt-downmarket-foray-already-paying-off/feed/ 5
Audi A7 vs. Mercedes-Benz CLS-Class – Which One Wins The U.S. Sales Race? http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/05/audi-a7-vs-mercedes-benz-cls-class-one-wins-u-s-sales-race/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/05/audi-a7-vs-mercedes-benz-cls-class-one-wins-u-s-sales-race/#comments Fri, 15 May 2015 14:00:10 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1068130 With a broader product portfolio and extra decades of established premium status in the United States, Mercedes-Benz USA sells a lot more vehicles than Audi USA. Through the first four months of 2015, Mercedes-Benz sales were up 9% to 107,344, excluding Sprinter. Audi, globally favored, was up 12% to 56,925. But again, the comparisons are […]

The post Audi A7 vs. Mercedes-Benz CLS-Class – Which One Wins The U.S. Sales Race? appeared first on The Truth About Cars.

]]>
2012 Mercedes-Benz CLS63 AMG

With a broader product portfolio and extra decades of established premium status in the United States, Mercedes-Benz USA sells a lot more vehicles than Audi USA. Through the first four months of 2015, Mercedes-Benz sales were up 9% to 107,344, excluding Sprinter. Audi, globally favored, was up 12% to 56,925.

But again, the comparisons are difficult to make because the lineups simply don’t, well, line up. We’ve discussed the CLA and A3 before, but even there, Audi is offering different bodystyles under one banner, which Mercedes-Benz does not. The S-Class has a significantly higher base price than the A8. The E-Class is available as a sedan, wagon, coupe, and convertible – the A6 is sedan only. The GL is significantly pricier than the Q7; the Q7 offers more seats than the ML. The C-Class is new; we might as well wait for a new A4 to draw realistic comparisons. The SLK is a hardtop convertible; the TT is either coupe or convertible.

You get the idea. Only in a handful of zones do the two brands offer truly direct rivals. GLA vs. Q3, GLK vs. Q5, and the matter at hand, Mercedes-Benz CLS vs. Audi A7.

The CLS is a swoopier E-Class, in a sense, just as the A7 is the more style-centric A6. The CLS starts at $65,990, offerings more performance at $73,200, and is just plain crazy as a $106,550 CLS 63 AMG S 4Matic. The Audi A7 starts at $68,300, rises to $82,900 as an S7, and begins its RS7 scheme at $108,900. Similar.

2015 Audi S7

They are two German mid-rung offshoots with six, eight, or overwhelming eight-cylinder power. There’s very little to separate the two.

Yet the Audi A7 consistently outsells the Mercedes-Benz CLS.

The margins are slim, but sufficient so as to be noticeable.

Audi USA sold 6,270 A7s in 2011, the A7’s first (abbreviated) year of sales. Mercedes-Benz USA, having already sold 44,389 CLS sedans in the six years before the A7’s launch, achieved a 165% year-over-year sales increase in 2011, but fell 605 sales shy of the Audi despite having an extra three months in which to sell.

The A7 outsold the CLS by 533 units in the Audi’s first full year of 2012. A7 sales then slipped 1% to 8,483 in 2013, still enough to outsell the CLS (down 0.4%) by 451 units in 2013.

Last year, A7 sales dropped 4% to 8,133 units, but the CLS’s 13% decline made an 1,152-unit victory possible for the Audi.

And through the first four months of 2015, the A7 is ahead by a scant 34 units with 1,835 year-to-date sales.

What makes the A7 so capable of staying ahead of the Benz? Both cars have had recent supply constraints that caused U.S. volume to drag: CLS sales were down 61% through the fourth-quarter of 2014; A7 sales are down 36% over the last six months. But even in those strange circumstances, the A7 stays just ahead. The Audi has outsold the Benz in 31 of the 49 months in which the Audi has been available.

Audi A7 hatchback

Could it be the tailgate?

Sure, the A7 and CLS line up head-to-head in so many ways. But Audi builds the A7 as a hatchback.

Moreover, Audi builds a diesel version of that hatchback.

Yes, America, the diesel hatchback outsells the sedan that they call a coupe. In a manner of speaking.

Audi A7 hatchback 2

Of course the diesel isn’t all that common. Only 13% of the A7s, S7s, and RS7s currently listed by Cars.com’s inventory are fitted with the V6 diesel. But that, in concert with the fact that the A7 offers 60% more cargo capacity, may be all that’s needed.

After all, the A7 is only just barely pipping the CLS on the TTAC sales-o-meter.

Where’s the CLS350d Shooting Brake when you need it?

Timothy Cain is the founder of GoodCarBadCar.net, which obsesses over the free and frequent publication of U.S. and Canadian auto sales figures. Follow on Twitter @goodcarbadcar and on Facebook.

The post Audi A7 vs. Mercedes-Benz CLS-Class – Which One Wins The U.S. Sales Race? appeared first on The Truth About Cars.

]]>
http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/05/audi-a7-vs-mercedes-benz-cls-class-one-wins-u-s-sales-race/feed/ 65
While You Were Sleeping: Mercedes-Benz A-Class Coupe, Monteverdi Sierra and More Takata Recalls http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/05/while-you-were-sleeping-mercedes-benz-a-class-coupe-monteverdi-sierra-and-more-takata-recalls/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/05/while-you-were-sleeping-mercedes-benz-a-class-coupe-monteverdi-sierra-and-more-takata-recalls/#comments Fri, 15 May 2015 11:07:27 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1068850 What will the next Mercedes-Benz A-Class look like? Theophilus Chin gives his take on a coupe version with the render above. Mercedes-Benz A-Class coupé (Theophilus Chin) Based on a report from Autocar in late April, Theo gives his own take on a TT fighter from Stuttgart. Random Car Review: The Monteverdi Sierra – Putting A […]

The post While You Were Sleeping: Mercedes-Benz A-Class Coupe, Monteverdi Sierra and More Takata Recalls appeared first on The Truth About Cars.

]]>
Mercedes-Benz A-Class Render

What will the next Mercedes-Benz A-Class look like? Theophilus Chin gives his take on a coupe version with the render above.

The post While You Were Sleeping: Mercedes-Benz A-Class Coupe, Monteverdi Sierra and More Takata Recalls appeared first on The Truth About Cars.

]]>
http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/05/while-you-were-sleeping-mercedes-benz-a-class-coupe-monteverdi-sierra-and-more-takata-recalls/feed/ 11
2016 Mercedes-Benz G-Class – New Engine Candy, Same Old Boxy Wrapper http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/05/2016-mercedes-benz-g-class-new-engine-candy-old-boxy-wrapper/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/05/2016-mercedes-benz-g-class-new-engine-candy-old-boxy-wrapper/#comments Mon, 04 May 2015 18:10:38 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1061002 As Mercedes-Benz rolls out its all-new 4.0-liter V8, engineers in Stuttgart have decided the bi-turbo mill will fit right at home in the aging Gelandewagen, a luxo-utility military-born vehicle that hasn’t seen a major update in 25 years. The immediately recognizable box-on-wheels is due for a complete overhaul for 2017. In the meantime, Mercedes-Benz needs to keep their […]

The post 2016 Mercedes-Benz G-Class – New Engine Candy, Same Old Boxy Wrapper appeared first on The Truth About Cars.

]]>
Mercedes-Benz G-Class (BR 463) 2015

As Mercedes-Benz rolls out its all-new 4.0-liter V8, engineers in Stuttgart have decided the bi-turbo mill will fit right at home in the aging Gelandewagen, a luxo-utility military-born vehicle that hasn’t seen a major update in 25 years.

The immediately recognizable box-on-wheels is due for a complete overhaul for 2017. In the meantime, Mercedes-Benz needs to keep their top-line SUV fresh to captivate the attention of celebrities and athletes and their conspicuous consumption. That’s not to say the updates are insignificant, however.

The new 4.0-liter bi-turbo V8 in the G550 is a variation of that found in the Mercedes-AMG GT and C63. In the G-Class, the V8 is good for 416 hp and 450 lb-ft of torque sent to all four wheels, compared to its 5.5L V8 predecessor with 382 hp and 391 lb-ft of twist.

Other G-Class models see bumps in power as well, including the 571 hp V8 powered G63 and 612 hp V12 motivated G65 – the latter coming to the U.S. for the first time. All V8 powered models are said to improve fuel economy thanks to a new start/stop system.

One model many would love to come to North America – the diesel V6 powered G350d – will continue to be forbidden fruit for those of us in the colonies.

The post 2016 Mercedes-Benz G-Class – New Engine Candy, Same Old Boxy Wrapper appeared first on The Truth About Cars.

]]>
http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/05/2016-mercedes-benz-g-class-new-engine-candy-old-boxy-wrapper/feed/ 42
Mercedes Slapped With $56M Fine in China for “Price Fixing” http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/04/mercedes-slapped-56m-fine-china-price-fixing/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/04/mercedes-slapped-56m-fine-china-price-fixing/#comments Thu, 23 Apr 2015 13:00:38 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1052089 The Chinese province of Jiangsu has levied a 350 million yuan ($56 million USD) fine against Mercedes-Benz in continued efforts to break perceived monopolies in car and part sales. It’s the largest fine given to an automaker to date. The latest fine aimed at a foreign automaker comes after similar actions against a “Chinese venture of […]

The post Mercedes Slapped With $56M Fine in China for “Price Fixing” appeared first on The Truth About Cars.

]]>
Mercedes-Maybach-S600-Pullman

The Chinese province of Jiangsu has levied a 350 million yuan ($56 million USD) fine against Mercedes-Benz in continued efforts to break perceived monopolies in car and part sales. It’s the largest fine given to an automaker to date.

The latest fine aimed at a foreign automaker comes after similar actions against a “Chinese venture of Volkswagen and a sales unit of Fiat Chrysler Automobiles’ Chrysler division” amounted to a combined $46 million, says the report from Automotive News. The specifics of the Mercedes fine point at the automaker forcing dealers to set minimum prices for cars and spare parts. The pricing regulator in Jiangsu province also fined Mercedes dealers to the tune of 7.7 million yuan ($1.25 million USD).

Mercedes-Benz China said they accept the decision taken by the provincial pricing regulator and has “taken all appropriate steps” to comply with the law in the future.

The post Mercedes Slapped With $56M Fine in China for “Price Fixing” appeared first on The Truth About Cars.

]]>
http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/04/mercedes-slapped-56m-fine-china-price-fixing/feed/ 9
The Mercedes-Benz GLA’s Arrival Isn’t Slowing Down The Mercedes-Benz CLA: U.S. 2015 Q1 Sales http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/04/mercedes-benz-glas-arrival-isnt-slowing-mercedes-benz-cla-u-s-2015-q1-sales/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/04/mercedes-benz-glas-arrival-isnt-slowing-mercedes-benz-cla-u-s-2015-q1-sales/#comments Fri, 17 Apr 2015 12:36:53 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1046474 As Mercedes-Benz USA levels off with slightly less than 2000 GLA SUV/crossover/hatchback/whatever-it-is sales per month, U.S. sales of the GLA’s sedan donor vehicle, the CLA, haven’t slowed at all. In other words, the GLA’s presence in Mercedes-Benz showrooms is not a deterrent to the CLA. Yes, America, buyers continue to flock to the sedan even though […]

The post The Mercedes-Benz GLA’s Arrival Isn’t Slowing Down The Mercedes-Benz CLA: U.S. 2015 Q1 Sales appeared first on The Truth About Cars.

]]>
Mercedes-Benz CLA250As Mercedes-Benz USA levels off with slightly less than 2000 GLA SUV/crossover/hatchback/whatever-it-is sales per month, U.S. sales of the GLA’s sedan donor vehicle, the CLA, haven’t slowed at all.

In other words, the GLA’s presence in Mercedes-Benz showrooms is not a deterrent to the CLA.

Yes, America, buyers continue to flock to the sedan even though there’s a crossover version of that sedan available. Believe it.

Granted, the CLA isn’t selling like it did during its launch period. Anticipated and hyped, the CLA generated 8518 U.S. sales in its first full two months, October and November 2013.

But over the last five months, a period in which the GLA became readily available, CLA sales increased 13%, year-over-year.

March volume jumped 81% after a 16% gain through the first two months of 2015. In the eight months immediately preceding the GLA’s launch, Mercedes-Benz USA was selling fewer than 2000 CLAs per month, although the belief was that dealers could have sold more if they had greater inventory of the Hungary-built sedan.

Mercedes-Benz USA salesMercedes-Benz needed to supply more CLAs to North America, and they have, but one might have expected that the increase in CLA inventory would be timed with decreased CLA demand as the GLA launch period began. Instead, Mercedes-Benz has proved capable of selling more than 2800 CLAs per month alongside the GLA, 45% more monthly sales than they were doing in pre-GLA 2014.

The impact on the brand? Excluding Sprinter, 18% of the Mercedes-Benzes sold in the U.S. in the first-quarter of 2015 were entry-level CLAs and GLAs – 11% for the CLA alone – up from 8% in the first-quarter of 2014, before the GLA. Non-CLA/GLA Benz sales are down 3% in the early stages of 2015.

With the entry-level pairing intact, Mercedes-Benz’s U.S. volume was up 9% in March; 8% in the first-quarter.

Mercedes-Benz GLA 45 AMG (X 156) 2013Even so, only twice in the last six months has Mercedes-Benz topped the premium leaderboard. BMW, the brand which outperformed Mercedes-Benz USA in December, February, and March, adopted a markedly different entry-level strategy compared with Mercedes-Benz and Audi, with their front and all-wheel-drive sedans. The 2-Series is a performance coupe with nothing more than low-volume potential: March was the best 1-Series/2-Series sales month since August 2010, but with only 1249 units, it wasn’t a common car.

No, BMW’s true entry-level car is the 320i, simply a lesser version of the nation’s top-selling premium brand car. BMW doesn’t release specific monthly figures for engine variants, but if we use Cars.com’s inventory results as a guide, BMW likely sold around 4600 copies of the 320i in 2015’s first-quarter.

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

The post The Mercedes-Benz GLA’s Arrival Isn’t Slowing Down The Mercedes-Benz CLA: U.S. 2015 Q1 Sales appeared first on The Truth About Cars.

]]>
http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/04/mercedes-benz-glas-arrival-isnt-slowing-mercedes-benz-cla-u-s-2015-q1-sales/feed/ 11
Nissan NP300 Will Span Renault, Mercedes Variants, Argentinian Plant http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/04/nissan-np300-will-span-renault-mercedes-variants-argentinian-plant/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/04/nissan-np300-will-span-renault-mercedes-variants-argentinian-plant/#comments Wed, 08 Apr 2015 14:22:18 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1039921 Nissan’s new Navara pickup will spawn variants for both Renault and Mercedes-Benz, with the three trucks likely to be built at a new plant in Argentina. The new trucks are said to be based on the all-new D23 trucks, which will form the basis for the new global Navara pickup. While the D23 will also […]

The post Nissan NP300 Will Span Renault, Mercedes Variants, Argentinian Plant appeared first on The Truth About Cars.

]]>
navara_rear

Nissan’s new Navara pickup will spawn variants for both Renault and Mercedes-Benz, with the three trucks likely to be built at a new plant in Argentina.

The new trucks are said to be based on the all-new D23 trucks, which will form the basis for the new global Navara pickup. While the D23 will also play a part in the development of our next-generation Frontier, the architecture will require substantial re-working to be compliant with our FMVSS regulations. As it stands now, the D23 would not come close to passing U.S. crash tests, making it unlikely that we’ll see the M-B pickups on our shores.

The post Nissan NP300 Will Span Renault, Mercedes Variants, Argentinian Plant appeared first on The Truth About Cars.

]]>
http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/04/nissan-np300-will-span-renault-mercedes-variants-argentinian-plant/feed/ 18
Quote Of The Day: Mercedes-Benz NEEDS MOAR MODELS!!!111 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/04/quote-day-mercedes-benz-needs-moar-models111/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/04/quote-day-mercedes-benz-needs-moar-models111/#comments Thu, 02 Apr 2015 13:54:02 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1037513 In the never ending quest for volume uber alles, Mercedes-Benz has announced that “four new vehicles without a predecessor model will be launched”. The need for scale in the auto industry has never been more acute, and increasing volume is one way to help take advantage of this strategy – especially in a higher margin segment like […]

The post Quote Of The Day: Mercedes-Benz NEEDS MOAR MODELS!!!111 appeared first on The Truth About Cars.

]]>
2015 Mercedes-Benz C-Class

In the never ending quest for volume uber alles, Mercedes-Benz has announced that “four new vehicles without a predecessor model will be launched”.

The need for scale in the auto industry has never been more acute, and increasing volume is one way to help take advantage of this strategy – especially in a higher margin segment like luxury vehicles. But at some point, Mercedes is going to run into what I call “the Coach effect”, named after the handbag company which ended up degrading its brand via a mass downward expansion into outlet stores and lower prices. The current lineup of Mercedes (and BMW and Audi) is jam packed with endless derivatives of the same four platforms. On paper, this is a sound strategy for maximizing economies of scale. But in practice, it creates an alphabet soup of indistinguishable variants while also decreasing the barrier to entry for new buyers – arguably the selling point for luxury vehicles.

Or maybe I’m wrong. You tell me.

The post Quote Of The Day: Mercedes-Benz NEEDS MOAR MODELS!!!111 appeared first on The Truth About Cars.

]]>
http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/04/quote-day-mercedes-benz-needs-moar-models111/feed/ 67
The Best (Volume) Or Nothing http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/03/best-volume-nothing/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/03/best-volume-nothing/#comments Fri, 27 Mar 2015 14:50:39 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1030497 A few days shy of April 1st, Mercedes-Benz has announced that they will build a luxury pickup truck for world markets. While M-B clearly has their eye on the VW Amarok, not to mention the countless markets where a pickup truck is a logical next step up from one of their vans, the whole thing […]

The post The Best (Volume) Or Nothing appeared first on The Truth About Cars.

]]>
mbtruck

A few days shy of April 1st, Mercedes-Benz has announced that they will build a luxury pickup truck for world markets.

While M-B clearly has their eye on the VW Amarok, not to mention the countless markets where a pickup truck is a logical next step up from one of their vans, the whole thing has the undeniable stench of “fuck it, we’re all out of ideas”.

The German luxury brands have been on an insatiable quest for volume over the past few years, and it’s led them down a strange path; front drive minivans, coupe-like SUVs, compact cars.

There is no bigger advocate in the automotive media for products that have a solid business case, but at a certain point, you have to wonder where the erosion of brand equity begins. In the world of quarterly results and responsibility to shareholders, these new products are a good idea. But when your barista is leasing a CLA at $299 per month, the very notion of luxury and exclusivity is gone.

Personally, I think the end game is going to be the inevitable rationalization of their model lineups, with unnecessary variants getting the ax. But go ahead, tell me why I’m wrong.

The post The Best (Volume) Or Nothing appeared first on The Truth About Cars.

]]>
http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/03/best-volume-nothing/feed/ 79
New York 2015: Mercedes-Benz ML Renamed “GLE” http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/03/new-york-2015-mercedes-benz-ml-renamed-gle/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/03/new-york-2015-mercedes-benz-ml-renamed-gle/#comments Thu, 26 Mar 2015 20:28:13 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1029929   As part of its efforts to re-brand crossovers, the Mercedes-Benz ML is now the “GLE”, the X5 to the GLE Coupe’s X6. Along with a diesel 4-cylinder and a gasoline V6 (with or without turbos), there is an AMG version, the GLE63 AMG and an “S” version. The diesel, dubbed the GLE300d makes 2.1-liter, four-cylinder […]

The post New York 2015: Mercedes-Benz ML Renamed “GLE” appeared first on The Truth About Cars.

]]>
2016mercedes-amg-gle63-s-004-1

 

As part of its efforts to re-brand crossovers, the Mercedes-Benz ML is now the “GLE”, the X5 to the GLE Coupe’s X6.

Along with a diesel 4-cylinder and a gasoline V6 (with or without turbos), there is an AMG version, the GLE63 AMG and an “S” version. The diesel, dubbed the GLE300d makes 2.1-liter, four-cylinder diesel making 201 hp and 369 pound-feet of torque, while the atmospheric V6 3.5-liter V6 makies 302 hp and 273 lb-ft. The turbo V6 makes 329 hp and 354 lb-ft. The AMG versions use the familiar twin-turbo V8 will make 550 or 577 hp depending on grade. A plug-in hybrid version will also be available. Full details will be announced at next week’s New York Auto Show.

2016mercedes-amg-gle63-s-006-1 2016mercedes-amg-gle63-s-005-1 2016mercedes-amg-gle63-s-004-1 2016mercedes-amg-gle63-s-002-1 2016mercedes-amg-gle63-s-001-1 2016mercedes-amg-gle63-s-011-1 2016mercedes-amg-gle63-s-010-1 2016mercedes-amg-gle63-s-008-1 2016mercedes-amg-gle63-s-007-1

 

 

The post New York 2015: Mercedes-Benz ML Renamed “GLE” appeared first on The Truth About Cars.

]]>
http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/03/new-york-2015-mercedes-benz-ml-renamed-gle/feed/ 15
Study: Mercedes Holds Highest Average Labor Costs Among US Manufacturers http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/03/study-mercedes-holds-highest-average-labor-costs-among-us-manufacturers/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/03/study-mercedes-holds-highest-average-labor-costs-among-us-manufacturers/#comments Wed, 25 Mar 2015 10:00:48 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1028817 Who among all automakers has the highest labor costs in the United States? A study points to Mercedes-Benz. According to Reuters, a study of 2014 labor costs by the Center for Automotive Research found that the automaker’s sole U.S. plant in Vance, Ala. averages $65/hour, while Volkswagen and BMW held the lowest averages overall and […]

The post Study: Mercedes Holds Highest Average Labor Costs Among US Manufacturers appeared first on The Truth About Cars.

]]>
2015-mercedes-benz-c63-amg-11

Who among all automakers has the highest labor costs in the United States? A study points to Mercedes-Benz.

According to Reuters, a study of 2014 labor costs by the Center for Automotive Research found that the automaker’s sole U.S. plant in Vance, Ala. averages $65/hour, while Volkswagen and BMW held the lowest averages overall and among the transplants, coming out to $38 and $39 per hour, respectively.

As mentioned previously, General Motors and Ford have the highest costs among the Detroit Three, averaging $58 and $57 per hour compared to FCA US’ $48. The three automakers are also the only ones whose employees are represented by the United Auto Workers, whose 2007 contract created the two-tier wage system meant to help the trio remain competitive against the transplants, as well as to stay afloat during the darkest days of the Great Recession.

Other automakers with business in the U.S. include Honda ($49/hr.), Toyota ($48/hr.), Nissan ($42/hr.), and Hyundai/Kia ($41/hr.).

The averages in the study were based on pay for both direct-hire and temporary employees working full-time. The research group also found that Japanese transplants had the highest percentages of temporary employees, helping to cut down on labor costs.

The post Study: Mercedes Holds Highest Average Labor Costs Among US Manufacturers appeared first on The Truth About Cars.

]]>
http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/03/study-mercedes-holds-highest-average-labor-costs-among-us-manufacturers/feed/ 11