By on April 8, 2021

driving badlyDrivers of certain cars are prone to drive badly in foul weather. Over four million applicants for insurance are a pretty good indicator. Is it the type of car, or a more aggressive driver? You be the judge.

(Read More…)

By on March 23, 2021

Geely Auto Group has announced the formation of an electric technology firm and automotive brand called Zeekr Company Limited. With the Chinese group already holding numerous mobility-focused brands with a penchant for electrification, it’s a bit curious to see it launching another one. But Geely has indicated that Zeekr will be aimed at the premium EV market using a similar business model as Lynk & Co.

That likely means selling vehicles as a service, rather than a product owned by the driver — something we’ve been incredibly wary of since the industry starting mulling over things like subscription services and online sales. Owned jointly owned by Geely Automobile Holdings and Zhejiang Geely Holding Group, the plan is to start launching products in China before the end of 2021. It’s quite the swift turnaround, leading us to believe there will be some platform sharing with other Geely-owned automotive brands. New product is said to be introduced every twelve months over the next five years.  (Read More…)

By on December 29, 2020

While researching information for the recently featured Mazda Lantis, your author came across some other Nineties forbidden fruit from the good people at Mazda. Particularly interesting was the Xedos 6, which, like the similar-looking Millennia, was also a part of Mazda’s early Nineties luxury push.

(Read More…)

By on June 5, 2020

Bentley Motors plans to quash roughly a quarter of its workforce. Not long ago, following a profitable 2019, CEO Adrian Hallmark said that the brand was on track to have a stellar 2020.

Alas, it was not to be.

The coronavirus lockdowns left Bentley losing £88 million ($111 million USD) for each month of lost production and sales, throwing the whole year out of whack. Much like the mucus man writing the sentence you’re reading now, it would seem high-end British nameplates (despite Bentley ownership by Volkswagen Group) aren’t in the best health. Aston Martin recently announced the cutting of 500 positions, while McLaren had to axe 1,200 jobs in May.  (Read More…)

By on April 9, 2020

Mercedes-Benz got out in front of BMW while automotive sales languish in the gutter, though neither company finds itself resting comfortably upon a bed of roses. The global pandemic has made sure of that; no segment has gone unaffected by social distancing measures, but it may be the luxury divisions that have it the hardest moving forward.

Up until recently, premium nameplates had done rather well — scooping up an increasing share of the total auto market for years. While the Great Recession momentarily suppressed their ascension in 2008 and 2009, it was a temporary setback.

Luxury brands have had a good decade overall, with any rough years being offset by expansions in their lineup (chiefly crossover vehicles). Now they’re trying to move downmarket to capitalize on younger customers with a bit more pocket money. It might have been a good strategy, were it not for the coronavirus outbreak and subsequent economic downturn.  (Read More…)

By on January 10, 2020

Rich people are just like us: they put on their pants one leg at a time, they walk upright, and they enjoy winters at their villa in the south of France. Okay, maybe they aren’t exactly like us. My villa is in Spain.

One other thing they do? Buy cars, apparently. A quick perusal of 2019 total year sales numbers show that while mainstream makes like Ford and Chevy fell into the red compared to the same timeframe one year ago, there’s no shortage of growth at the big money brands.

(Read More…)

By on May 16, 2019

Bentley’s celebrating its centenary this month, but rather than launch some dingus special edition, the automaker issued a promise that the all-new Flying Spur will redefine contemporary craftsmanship and luxury when it finally debuts. It’s also offering a limited run of extravagant books illustrating the brand’s history.

While the cheapest of these printed works will set you back £3,000 ($3,837), there will be a “100 Carat Edition” that costs £200,000 ($255,811) per copy. Weighing more than 66 pounds, the book comes laden with 100 carats of diamonds. At over 3 feet wide, and housing gatefolds that can double those dimensions, Bentley proudly proclaims the 800-page monstrosity as the “heaviest book ever produced” for an automotive brand.  (Read More…)

By on January 16, 2019

As bargain luxury brands go, Genesis Motors is aiming high — seemingly fixated on taking down its German competitors at a fraction of the price. However, while Genesis is capable of rumbling with its rivals’ base models with total confidence, it doesn’t have the hardware necessary to bash in the heads of most models wearing AMG or M badges.

That could soon change.  (Read More…)

By on October 18, 2017

2020 Polestar 1 profile - Image: PolestarBy nature, we’re skeptics. It’s in the job description.

Thus, while it’s hard not to fall in love with the idea of Volvo’s new 2020 Polestar 1 offspring — I mean, just look at it — we also know how hard it is to kickstart a new luxury brand, regardless of whether Polestar wants to sit far outside the luxury mainstream or right at the heart of the matter. We can’t help but wonder whether the Polestar 1 is not representative of the ideal luxury brand launch.

As doubters, as pessimists, as cynics, as preternatural killjoys, as wary realists, we have questions about this new upstart premium automotive entity. Many questions. (Read More…)

By on October 3, 2017

Genesis Boutique Downtown Toronto Canada - Image: Hyundai CanadaHyundai’s Genesis Motors offshoot intends to finalize its transition into an entirely separate U.S. dealer network within the next three years.

The process of building an undetermined number of distinct Genesis outlets has not yet begun, but it’s clear the brand is well aware of the limitations with which it’s currently operating.

“The reality is, many, many luxury customers tell us they love our products, they’re amazing, but I’m not going into a Hyundai store to buy it,” U.S. Genesis boss Erwin Raphael tells Automotive News.

No kidding. (Read More…)

By on September 27, 2017

Jaguar F-Pace 2.0TD - Image: JaguarJaguar’s U.S. outlets are benefiting not just from last year’s introduction of a new XE entry-level sedan and the brand’s top-selling F-Pace SUV but also the broad availability of diesel powerplants.

In the shadows of Volkswagen’s diesel emissions scandal that broke in late 2015, Jaguar began offering diesel engines in the United States for the first time in 2016. Through the first eight months of 2017, 13 percent of the vehicles sold by the Jaguar brand in America were powered by the company’s 2.0-liter turbodiesel.

It’s not surprising then that Jaguar told TTAC’s own Adam Tonge at the North American unveiling of the new E-Pace crossover that diesel will continue to be a focus for Jaguar Land Rover in the United States. The company sees a niche for diesel vehicles in the premium space, particularly now with the complete absence of Mercedes-Benz, Audi, and Porsche in the sphere.

And yet you won’t really be hearing about Jaguar’s diesel offerings. (Read More…)

By on September 26, 2017

Kia Stinger Genesis G70 - Images: Genesis, Kia“It’s all about how you bring across to the customer that they don’t feel they are driving or seeing the same car.” — Manfred Fitzgerald, Genesis Motors Senior Vice President

The 2018 Kia Stinger and 2018 Genesis G70 are platform partners, two new sporty and luxurious four-doors from the Hyundai Kia Automotive Group.

The timing of their release is synchronized. They utilize the same engine portfolio. They’ll compete in a similar price bracket. But there are differences. For starters, the styling is markedly different, the kind of difference one expects to find when one car, the Kia, is a hatchback and the other is a sedan. The Kia Stinger works harder to get noticed; the Genesis G70 is more subdued.

But while Hyundai’s Genesis spinoff will need to further differentiate the G70 from a marketing standpoint in order to provide a true luxury brand glow, it’s already been made clear by Albert Biermann, the former BMW chassis guru who’s now head of vehicle testing for Hyundai and Kia, that the cars are very similar. In terms of driving experience, “It’s not so easy maybe as with the styling, but I think we can find good tuning and calibration that set them a little bit apart,” Biermann said earlier this year.

A little bit.

Yet in a conversation with Manfred Fitzgerald, the senior vice president at the Genesis brand, Wards Auto received a strikingly different answer. Asked how the Genesis G70 differs from the Kia Stinger, Fitzgerald says, “You tell me. I don’t look at the Stinger. We’re focusing on something totally different.”

Your teenager calls this #shade. (Read More…)

By on August 18, 2017

Karen Radley Acura screenshot - Image: Karen Radley Acura websiteIt made perfect sense. In 2009, when Hyundai wanted customers to view its new Genesis luxury sedan as a premium bit of kit, Hyundai did not compare the Genesis to the Sonata. In an early marketing campaign, Hyundai’s voiceover said the Genesis is “as spacious as a Mercedes-Benz S-Class, yet priced like a C-Class.”

When the time came to market the Genesis R-Spec, Hyundai reached way upmarket to compare 0-60 mph times with the Porsche Panamera. Hyundai wasn’t under the mistaken impression that the Genesis would steal thousands of sales from $100,000 Benzes and Porsches. But Hyundai was crafting an image. Hyundai didn’t require you to believe that the Genesis was a viable S-Class alternative — the company just wanted you to understand that this is premium-oriented S-Class-sized sedan at a C-Class-like price.

Long before the Hyundai Genesis tried to cultivate a premium persona, Acura was failing to keep up with Lexus in the quest to be viewed as a true luxury rival for the German establishment. It’s still a problem. So Acura dealers are now just trying to make sure you understand that the Acura TLX is better than the Audi A4 Lexus ES Infiniti Q50 2018 Honda Accord. (Read More…)

By on July 17, 2017

2017 BMW X1 white off road - Image: BMWDepending where you live, it’s possible the shift away from luxury cars to luxury SUVs is dramatically more apparent than America’s nationwide figures suggest.

In 48 of 50 states, luxury utility vehicles outsell luxury cars. In seven states, premium brand utility vehicles form more than 65 percent of the premium market.

But according to Edmunds, the two states in which luxury cars still outperform luxury utility vehicles account for 31 percent of America’s luxury SUV market. (Read More…)

By on December 20, 2016

2016 BMW X1 and 340i - Image: BMW USA

BMW continues to spend industry-leading levels of money to lure luxury car buyers in the United States. Yet November was the twelfth consecutive month in which sales at the BMW Group declined, year-over-year, in the U.S..

Through the first 11 months of 2016, sales at BMW are down 10 percent compared with the same period in 2015; Mini volume is off 11 percent.

According to TrueCar, however, no automaker is spending more in incentives, on a per vehicle basis, than BMW of North America. November 2016 incentives at the BMW Group jumped 25 percent compared with November 2015 yet sales fell 16 percent.

How much cash on the hood do American luxury car buyers want? (Read More…)

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