October 15th, 2012 at 11:45am
BMW must be worried about its market share; lessees can now skip payments on certain models. Could Volkswagen be cooking up a new brand to satisfy low-cost hunger pangs? The 2013 Ford Explorer Sport is aimed squarely at the luxury market. All that and more, plus an inside look at the engineering of the just-unveiled Jaguar F-TYPE.
Hello to all of you in automotive land and welcome to a brand new week of Autoline Daily. I’m John McElroy and here’s what’s happening out there.
#1 IN OUR HEARTS
Luxury car makers will always tell you that they’re not really interested in being number one in sales. No, they tell you, we just want to be number one in the hearts of our customers. But BMW is clearly worried that Mercedes is outselling it in the U.S. market. It just introduced an incentive program that lets current owners skip three lease payments if they buy a new or certified used car. This does not apply to M or 3 Series coupes and convertibles. Though BMW has cut incentives this year, it’s still spending 37 percent more per vehicle than the industry average. Mercedes has boosted its incentive spending to 44 percent above industry average. So despite what they say about being number one in the hearts of their customers, this is an all-out sales war.
VW ENTERS LOW-COST MARKET
Low-cost cars are becoming something of a rage right now. Renault has its budget brand called Dacia, while Nissan is relaunching the Datsun name for low-cost cars in emerging markets. The idea is to offer super-affordable cars in countries like India, Russia and Brazil without tarnishing the parent brands. Now VW wants to join the low-cost club. Reuters reports Volkswagen may introduce a new brand by 2015, with cars priced between 5,000 and 10,000 Euros. The lineup could include a small sedan, a station wagon and even a van. It’s all part of VW’s plan to fill empty spaces in its lineup and become the world’s biggest automaker by 2018. Imagine that, the company with the most brands is launching another one! As the people’s car, I always thought Volkswagen was a low-cost brand.
News from the natural-gas front! Chrysler is making CNG-powered RAM trucks available to retail customers; up to now they were only offered to fleet buyers. The company joins Honda as the only automaker retailing natural-gas-powered vehicles in the United States. Base price for the RAM 2500 HD is $47,500, including destination charges. The truck can run on both CNG and gasoline. Range is about 255 miles on natural gas. An eight-gallon gasoline reserve tank extends that distance to 367 miles. Fiat is a leader in CNG technology and really wants to use that advantage. To that point, Sergio Marchionne says they will lose $14,000 on every electric Fiat 500 they sell.
FORD TARGETS LUXURY MARKET (subscription required)
The new 2013 Ford Explorer Sport is aimed directly at luxury buyers. It features a 365 horsepower turbocharged EcoBoost V-6, which is 75 more horsepower than the base version. It has 20-inch wheels and an interior that took inspiration from fashion designers such as Prada. Ever since the new unit-body Explorer was introduced, 51 percent of buyers represent conquest sales, with about 12 percent of those trading in high-end models. Prices of the Sport model start at $41,000.
CHRYSLER DRESSED UP AT SEMA
Chrysler is set to be one of the largest exhibitors at this year’s SEMA show. It will have 24 Mopar-modified vehicles in a 15,000-square-foot exhibit. Brands from Chrysler, Jeep, Dodge, Ram, SRT and Fiat will be dressed up in over 500 Mopar performance parts and accessories.
Coming up next, a look at some of the engineering that went into the new F-TYPE Jaguar.
Two weeks ago, we showed you a walkaround of the new Jaguar F-TYPE with Wayne Burgess, the head of Jaguar’s production design studio. Now we’re about to dive into the engineering that went into the car. Take a look.
(Our look at the engineering of the Jaguar F-TYPE is only available in the video version of today’s program.)
I for one cannot wait to drive that car.
Don’t forget to tune in to Autoline After Hours this Thursday night. Ford is going to drop off the new Focus ST for me and the Autoextremist to go over. Should be a fun night.
And that wraps up today’s show. Thanks for watching, we’ll see you tomorrow.