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Bentley Looking To Lure Maybach's Customers

On: Tue, Jan 24, 2012 at 1:53PM | By: Chris Weiss

Bentley  Looking To Lure Maybach's Customers test 2

Last year, a year in which Daimler said that it would be discontinuing the Maybach brand, the ultra-premium brand barely broke 200 sales. Lest you think that economic conditions had something to do with it, Rolls Royce set a yearly sales record with 3,538 models, a 31 percent increase over 2010 sales. Bentley had an equally successful year, experiencing a 37 percent sales increase to 7,003 sales overall. Though Maybach may not have many customers to offer, Rolls Royce and Bentley are hopeful that former Maybach customers will move over to their respective offerings.

In November of last year, Mercedes announced that it would wind Maybach down by 2013. Not surprisingly, that has motivated one of Maybach's main competitors to hit the mailbox and telephones in order to drum up business.

Though Maybach's paltry customer totals don't make for a huge business opportunity, they definitely give Rolls and Bentley an opportunity to advance their footprints. Bentley has been particularly proactive in reaching out to Maybach's customer list. According to Reuters, the Crewe crew has begun contacting Maybach owners to set up VIP tours of Bentley's headquarters.

Hyundai Tops J.D. Power's Customer Loyalty List

On: Tue, Jan 24, 2012 at 12:11PM | By: Chris Weiss

Hyundai Tops J.D. Power's Customer Loyalty List test 2

Hyundai executives recently said that the automaker is in the midst of an image turnaround from "value brand" to "valuable brand." Its customers are increasingly willing to pay closer to sticker price for Hyundai vehicles, a fact that indicates that customers want Hyundai cars not just a good deal.

If you're still having trouble shaking the old school-Hyundai image of cheap, unreliable junk, you might think that a lot of those customers come to regret their decisions. Not so, according to a new study by J.D. Power and Associates that puts Hyundai at the very top of the list.

Eco-Mustang? Ford To Introduce Ecoboost Mustang Option

On: Tue, Jan 24, 2012 at 9:52AM | By: Chris Weiss

Eco-Mustang? Ford To Introduce Ecoboost Mustang Option test 2

Muscle cars, like supercars, are one of the few automotive categories that remain exempt from environmental friendliness. These cars have a tradition that is based around big, punishing V-6 and V-8 engines. They're large and heavy and don't really think about anything but drag races, smoking tires and bragging rights. They sure as hell don't think about Mother Earth. More forward-thinking individuals might conclude the muscle cars are everything that's wrong with the history of American automotive design all tucked into a nutshell, but these cars have a fervent following and remain important for automakers' sales and images.

While fuel economy and eco-design may not be primary considerations in the build of cars like the Chevy Camaro or Ford Mustang, they're slowly slipping their way into the minds of designers and executives. Boasts like "300 HP" are now being qualified with "...and 30 MPG". Soon, increased fuel economy and decreased CO2 emissions may become central elements of muscle car design rather than asterisks and afterthoughts. And it looks like Ford will lead the way.

Lexus Teases First Super Bowl Commercial Ever

On: Mon, Jan 23, 2012 at 4:42PM | By: Chris Weiss

Lexus Teases First Super Bowl Commercial Ever test 2

Losing your 11-year title sure has a way of firing you up. After slipping from its stronghold as the number 1 luxury retailer in the US--all the way down to number 3--Lexus is more determined than ever to have a big year. The automaker is planning on growing its US sales by at least 20 percent. It is also kicking off early 2012 with its first-ever Super Bowl commercial.

New products really aren't much good if no one knows they exist. And why not reach out to the country's largest television audience and let them know what's going on at your brand. That appears to be what Lexus will do when it launches its first Super Bowl commercial during Super Bowl XLVI on February 5.


What Lurks Beneath, Corolla Destroys Strip [Video]

On: Mon, Jan 23, 2012 at 2:11PM | By: Chris Salamone

Corolla Sleeper test 2

Pop quiz, what is the single most unlikely car to make an athletic showing on your local drag strip? Aside from a Smart, the third generation Toyota Corolla is probably the next worst option. But not in Australia, the land of recent Frankenstein-like mechanical recreations, this particular Corolla laid waste to the expectations of challengers and onlookers.

Such is the Tao of a true sleeper.

From the outside, the vehicle looks like an off white, straight from the dealership, people hauler which offers no indication of the devious threat lurking within. Upon further inspection, however, viewers might pick up subtle cues of hidden glory – small slicks appear menacingly cute on the vehicle’s rear wheels and few could miss the open hostility of a whining turbo.

To see the Corolla’s full aspect, one must venture further, beneath the confines of the vehicle’s outer shell.

Pininfarina Teases Cambiano Concept

On: Mon, Jan 23, 2012 at 12:20PM | By: Chris Weiss

Pininfarina Teases Cambiano Concept test 2

I've seen enough sexy-headlight-teasers-turned-horrible-cars to maintain a healthy skepticism about how the car behind an attractive teaser angle will look in full, uncovered form. The latest example was the Detroit-debuted Toyota NS4, which looked great from headlight-only view, promised to provide a look at the latest, sportiest design language at Toyota, but looked pretty awkward when fully revealed.

Prevailing wisdom aside, there's a substantive difference between a teaser from a mainstream automaker and a teaser from an Italian design house. Given the track record of the latter, a sexy headlight teaser should indeed equate to a thing of beauty. So I'm officially excited to see what the Pininfarina Cambiano is all about.

Kia Recalls 145,000 Cars

On: Mon, Jan 23, 2012 at 11:01AM | By: Lou Ruggieri

Kia Optima test 2

This week, Kia has issued a recall on 2006-2008 Optima models as well as 2007-2008 Rondo models totaling a whopping 145,755 when they were all said and done. All of these cars share the same potential defect -- a clock spring contact assembly used for the driver's air bag that may ultimately cause the air bag not to deploy in the event of a crash.  

Kia has since figured out how to fix the problem and has stated that they will, of course, fix the cars in question free of charge. Kia has also said that they will begin contacting customers in March, but owners may reach out to them beforehand with any questions.  

Read on for the full report from Safercar.gov ...

AMG To Get Its Own Sports Car

On: Fri, Jan 20, 2012 at 4:35PM | By: Chris Weiss

AMG To Get Its Own Sports Car test 2

As the high-performance, in-house tuner for Mercedes-Benz, AMG is already known for its high-end sports cars flagshipped by the SLS AMG. Apparently, Mercedes feels that AMG has done pretty well for itself in branding--well enough to leave the coop and fly on its own. Rumors point to the introduction of an AMG-branded sports car within the next few years.

Motor Trend reports that a sports car currently being called the SLV will debut at an auto show later this year. Unlike on the SLS AMG and other existing AMG-tuned vehicles, the AMG badge will make a move to the left, replacing the "Mercedes-Benz" in the "make" column.

Land Rover DC100 Sport Goes Red

On: Fri, Jan 20, 2012 at 2:54PM | By: Chris Weiss

Land Rover DC100 Sport Goes Red test 2

Land Rover and Jaguar skipped this year's Detroit Auto Show in favor of India's New Delhi Auto Expo in order to showcase their concepts and models in the market. Land Rover unveiled newly-colored DC100 and DC100 Sport concepts at the show.

The DC100's design stays the same as it was in Frankfurt and LA, but the model gains a new look with Firenze Red exterior. Inside, the models get white leather with plenty of Firenze Red accents that make for a smooth, seamless transition from the exterior. The hard-top DC100 gets a white roof, and the concepts are also upgraded with off-road-optimized 20-inch alloy wheels shod in Cooper all-terrain tires.

The Defender Concept 100 has served as a first look at a Defender replacement that Land Rover hopes to get to market by the middle of the decade. Not only will the model return to the United States, where it's been missing for nearly 20 years, but Land Rover is also building it with a global focus and wants it to be rough and rugged enough for all areas of the globe.

L.L. Bean Bootmobile, Where Rubber Meets Road

On: Fri, Jan 20, 2012 at 12:18PM | By: Chris Salamone

L.L. Bean Bootmobile test 2

As L.L. Bean’s Bootmobile rolled out of the company’s Brunswick factory Tuesday, CEO Chris McCormick asked a jubilant audience of employees, “Isn’t it cool?” To which they responded, "It’s wicked cool.” But the enthusiasm didn’t stop there. Maine Hunting Shoes could be heard from the pitter pattering of feet on almost everyone in attendance.  

From a big picture perspective the Bean Bootmobile is particularly awesome when compared to Oscar Mayer’s aging and vaguely inappropriate Wienermobile. While the Wienermobile conjures images of anything BUT hotdog consumption, the Bootmobile stands as a testament to L.L. Bean’s build quality and iconic heritage. Nothing says ‘buy this boot’ like a 13-foot tall, 21-foot long Maine Hunting Shoe strapped onto the remains of another enduring symbol of quality, the Ford F-250 Super Duty.

Something tells us a Subaru Forester Bootmobile wouldn’t receive the same street cred. Well, at least outside of Maine.

Lexus Plans New Models To Fend Off Surging Europeans And Retake U.S. Sales Crown

On: Fri, Jan 20, 2012 at 10:09AM | By: Chris Weiss

Lexus Plans New Models To Fend Off Surging Europeans And Retake U.S. Sales  test 2

After more than a decade of being the US luxury leader, Lexus fell from its throne and watched both BMW and Mercedes Benz surpass it in 2011 sales. Lexus's year was complicated by production issues that arose in the wake of the natural disasters that hit Japan last March.

Lexus has no intentions of ceding its throne for long. It's also not about to sit back, make excuses about the natural disasters and expect a natural rebound. It plans to actively revitalize its US presence with the launch of a variety of new models.

Overall, Lexus has nine new or updated models to introduce this year and is also mulling moving into some new segments. The company hopes that the new models will help it to produce a 21 percent sales bounce, putting it back in the running for the US luxury market's top spot.