January 12th, 2012 at 12:06pm
Mercedes-Benz and BMW are engaged in a knock-down slug-fest to claim the No. 1 sales race for luxury cars in the American market, yet both companies claim they have no interest in the top sales slot. Rolls-Royce had its best sales year ever in 2011, selling more than 3,500 cars. Mopar announced the availability of a laundry list of accessories for the new 2013 Dodge Dart. All that and more, plus John answers your questions and responds to your comments in the “You Said It” segment.
This is Autoline Daily for January 12th. And now, the news.
HATFIELDS AND MCCOYS
Mercedes-Benz and BMW are engaged in a knock-down slug-fest to claim the No. 1 sales race for luxury cars in the American market. Both of them say they have no interest in the top sales slot, and they merely want to build good cars and satisfy their customers. Don’t you believe it! They crave the bragging rights. Earl Hesterberg, the CEO of Group 1, which is one of the largest dealer groups in the U.S., says this bothers him. He says the German luxury brands are putting more emphasis on quantity than quality, and that it reminds him of the sales wars between Chevy and Ford. He says that in December, the list of sales incentives from one of those brands was 29 pages long. He won’t say who that was. But in November, Mercedes sales shot up 40 percent, and nearly 30 percent in December. So the evidence suggests he was talking about Mercedes.
RESTRUCTURE OR DIE
General Motors is talking with German union IG Metall about restructuring Opel. According to Reuters, the company may shift Chevrolet production from South Korea to Europe in exchange for cost cuts at Opel. But this is going to be a political minefield for GM. But IG Metall says its current contract prevents job cuts and plant closures. Analysts say if GM doesn’t cut costs at Opel, Opel will be forced in to bankruptcy.
OPEL OF MARCHIONNE’S EYE
And yet, despite all the trouble at Opel, Fiat/Chrysler CEO, Sergio Marchionne says he is interested in acquiring it. According to the Detroit News, Marchionne says he needs to sell 6 million vehicles a year globally to be competitive and acquiring Opel would help him reach that goal. Marchionne unsuccessfully tried to buy Opel in 2009.
ROLLIN’, ROLLIN’, ROLLIN’
Rolls-Royce had its best sales year in the company’s 107 year history in 2011. The company sold just over 3,500 vehicles last year, a 31 percent increase compared to 2010. The company had strong sales in the U.S., Asia and the Middle East.
WORLD’S FASTEST MERCEDES-BENZ
Fast cars are always fun, and Autoblog found a video of what’s claimed to be the quickest Mercedes-Benz ever. This SLR was tweaked by specialty tuner Renntech. Its supercharged V-8 was juiced for another 160 horsepower. That’s a whole Ford Focus worth of extra giddy-up! The results are staggering. Zero to 60 takes just 2.2 seconds. The quarter mile is done and gone in less than 9.8 seconds at nearly 141 miles an hour. See? I told you it was fast.
DODGE DART HITS ACCESSORY BULL’S EYE
Small cars are never big money makers. The profit margins are thinner than the fabric used on their seats. But the folks at Chrysler have come up with a good way of cashing in on the new Dodge Dart. This C-segment sedan will be available with more than 150 Mopar accessories. Some of the things offered include the usual appearance items like grille inserts, spoilers and bigger wheels . . . the list goes on, but there are performance options as well, like bigger brakes. As you know, the Dart shares a lot of design cues with the Alfa Romeo Giulietta, on which it’s based. Look at the shape of the body-side aperture – probably the most expensive stamping on a vehicle. Even though the Alfa is a hatchback it’s almost identical to the Dart. Both cars have low front ends and similar-looking windshields, but we’re told the Dart is wide and longer than the Giulietta.
Coming up next, it’s time for You Said It!
Randyseck really liked what he saw of the Detroit show. “Glad to see the Big Three getting it right. Now I can buy American and be proud of it. Love the Code 130R, however seems to me that it’s built on the ATS platform? If given the money and choice to buy anything at the show, I’d drive out with that Lincoln, though ”
Randyseck, you got it right, the Chevy Code 130R is a rear wheel drive concept car built on the Cadillac ATS platform.
And while Randyseck would drive home in the new Lincoln, Kit Gerhart is not that impressed with the car. “The appearance of the MKZ sure wouldn’t get my $10K or whatever it is over the Fusion. I like the Fusion’s Aston-esque nose, but the MKZ is just plain strange.”
Kit, I confess I really like the car, but I think we have to wait until we see it driving down the road. Sometimes looking at a static car on a pedestal at an auto show doesn’t really convey what it looks like, as opposed to seeing it outside in natural light, driving down the road with other cars around it. My bet is you’ll think the MKZ in real life looks better than the pictures.
Pedro Fernandez isn’t buying into all the hoopla that the new Alfa Giulietta . . . I mean the Dodge Dart is getting. “That crap Dart from Sergio’s warped mind is gonna be such a mechanical nightmare that I would not want to be a Dodge technician in the next couple of years.
Listen up people, Pedro hath spoken.
Chuck Grenci says, “Well, I didn’t agreee with the NACTOY and now I don’t agree with the Designer Awards; guess I just have to agree to disagree.”
Chuck, half the fun of trying to determine the Car of the Year, or who has the best design is getting to argue about it with other people. The key is not to take it too seriously. We’ve actually had some people quit the NACOTY jury because they didn’t like who won.
Geoff in Jersey didn’t like the choices for the North American Truck of the Year Award. “You really think a Honda CR-V is a truck? Or the new Land Rover? I would like to know how you all judge a truck? Not one of “trucks” up for car of the year can carry 2x4s or take a load of dirt!”
Geoff, I suppose I could take the easy way out and mention that the American government classifies each of those vehicles as a truck. And each of those companies counts them as trucks. But essentially you’re right. They’re not what the public would call a truck, and we in the NACOTY jury have got to come up with a new classification system. Let the arguments begin!
Speaking of arguments, be sure to join us tonight for Autoline After Hours, where Peter De Lorenzo, myself and the irrepressible Jim Hall will be talking all about the hits and the misses at the Detroit Auto Show. Like I said before, half the fun about being in this business is getting to argue about all the cars. So join us tonight at 7:00 p.m. Eastern Time for the best insider discussion of what’s going on behind the scenes in the auto industry.
But that wraps up this show, thanks for watching, we’ll see you tomorrow.