TTAC News Round-up: Millennials Love Ford, Silverado Sprouts Cameras, and Chrysler Finds a Stash
Millennials are buying Ford SUVs like it’s going out of style, no doubt dismaying the friends who like to lecture people about their lifestyle on Facebook.
That, Chevrolet offers a voyeur package for its full-side pickup, Fiat Chrysler Automobiles grabs a stack of cash with both hands, Mercedes-Benz gives its midsize SUV the AMG treatment, and two more automakers eye the Formula E grid … after the break!
Conformity never felt so good
It’s like the 1990s never ended.
Ford Motor Company’s SUVs posted their best calendar year start and their best February in the automaker’s sales history, and it’s mostly thanks to car-hungry Millennials and a growing crop of female buyers.
A total of 115,228 Ford SUVs flew off dealer lots in the first two months of 2016, with the Explorer taking the popularity prize. Not only is the Explorer the best-selling midsize SUV in the U.S., it ranks number one among Millennial (25-34) buyers and women.
Ford says this is all the result of Millennials slowly becoming their parents:
“It’s an example of need-based growth,” said Erich Merkle, Ford U.S. sales analyst. “Millennials have begun forming families and those families are growing – in terms of the number of children as well as the size of those children. Explorer provides the space those families need today and tomorrow, while maintaining the image they want to project.”
Ford would be wise to name its future SUV models the “Community Association” and “401(k).”
Chevrolet readies the world for its close-up
Maneuvering a trailer is never fun, so Chevrolet is making it easy for Silverado owners.
A trailering camera system is being offered as an accessory for current-generation Silverado pickups (2014-2016), employing up to four cameras to ensure you don’t take out that mailbox.
Two cameras integrated into the side mirrors will join the pickup’s backup camera and an optional high-mount unit, all accessible through the vehicle’s radio screen. The camera package is meant to compliment Chevrolet’s factory-installed fifth-wheel prep package.
The nice thing about the system is that it is available as a retrofit, so owners of older current-generation Silverados don’t miss out on the new goodies.
FCA sweetens the pot
Fiat Chrysler Automobiles has finally unlocked cash from its American subsidiary, FCA US LLC — a long-held financial dream for the indebted automaker.
FCA has been aggressively pushing for a financial restructuring, but has been held back by debt covenants that are now being amended, Reuters reports:
“The amendments represent the final step toward allowing the free flow of capital among members of the FCA Group, as previously announced, and enabling access to the second 2.5 billion euros ($2.8 billion) tranche of Fiat Chrysler Automobiles’ 5 billion euros syndicated revolving credit facility,” the company said in a press release.
It also said that FCA US LLC made a $2 billion prepayment applied to the term loans, leaving an aggregate principal balance of the term loans of about $2.8 billion.
The newfound cash will be put towards a product revamp at FCA’s Jeep, Alfa Romeo and Maserati brands.
More like “OMG,” amirite?
Mercedes-Benz has given its midsize GLC an AMG makeover.
The hot-rodded SUV will carry the moniker AMG GLC43 when it debuts at the New York International Auto Show next week as a 2017 model.
Beneath its hood, the AMG GLC43 packs a 3.0-litre biturbo V6 that makes 362 horsepower and 384 pounds-feet of torque, connected to rear-biased AMG Performance 4matic all-wheel drive and a nine-speed automatic transmission with shortened shift times.
The Germans are very enthused about it all.
“The new SUV from Affalterbach marks the pinnacle of the GLC product range and in the AMG portfolio it closes the gap between the GLA and GLE,” says Tobias Moers, CEO at Mercedes-AMG GmbH.
Introducing an AMG-tuned version of the GLC fits with Mercedes-Benz’s plan to offer as many high-performance models as it can, something rival BMW is not happy about.
Nissan and BMW excited about doing E
People in the know are saying BMW and Nissan have been sniffing around the Formula E grid, signalling their intentions to join the third season of the electric single-seater championship, according to Autosport:
Nissan, which culled its LMP1 programme late last year, would be FE’s first Japanese manufacturer.
It confirmed to Autosport it was conducting a “fact-finding” mission into the series as part of an evaluation of its long-term motorsport strategy …
BMW has been involved in the series since its inception, and has been open about using its supply of i3 and i8 machines as course cars as a way of keeping close tabs on the category.
Having an entry in Formula E racing is good PR as automakers try to outdo each other with plug-in hybrid and EV technology. However, cost remains a serious concern for those thinking about joining.
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