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Mercedes Dropping Out of Detroit Auto Show in 2019

Auto shows face increasing challenges as automakers look at alternatives.

by on Feb.12, 2018

Daimler CEO Dieter Zetsche and Arnold Schwarzenegger celebrated the debut of the 2019 G-Wagen at this year's Detroit Auto Show..

(This story has been updated.)

Officials with the North American International Auto Show have confirmed that Mercedes-Benz won’t be on hand when the even returns in January 2019, the latest on a growing list of manufacturers who have decided to pull out of the Detroit show.

The news comes as more and more automakers rethink their commitment to both media previews and public says at events like the NAIAS. As TheDetroitBureau.com recently reported, industry planners are looking at alternatives that can more directly target potential buyers while also holding down costs. At shows like the NAIAS it can cost as much as $5 million to stage a 20-minute media preview – even more if the event involves the creation of a one-of-a-kind concept vehicle.

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“At this time Mercedes-Benz AG will not be exhibiting at the upcoming 2019 North American International Auto Show,” said the German marque in a statement. “Our time in Detroit over the years has been very beneficial for our brand, especially coming off of the world debut of the iconic G-Class. Discussions are underway for future show participation.”

(more…)

Automakers Exploring Alternatives to Conventional Car-Buying Process

Ford paints one option with Canvas subscription service.

by on Feb.09, 2018

Ford's Canvas subscription service delivers a Mustang to a customer in California.

More than 17 million Americans drove off dealer lots with new vehicles last year, and the vast majority of them purchased their new cars, trucks and crossovers the same way motorists have for the past century.

There are alternatives, like leasing, but automakers are exploring even more radical options, some borrowed from the emerging world of online retailing. Ford, for one, said this week it is looking for ways to grow the subscription service, Canvas, that it launched a year ago. That subscription-based service might best be described as a hybrid blend of car buying and car rental, letting a motorist get a vehicle for as long as they want but then return it with just seven days’ notice.

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“As car ownership evolves, we see Canvas as part of our suite of products that address changing customer needs in mobility,” said Ford Credit Executive Vice President of Marketing David McClelland. “Canvas is building subscription products that are relevant to consumers today, and it’s building technology for the future, including billing and fleet management, with a nimble approach to product development.”

(more…)

Diesel Crisis May Have Been Just What VW Needed, Suggests US CEO

"The race is on," says Woebcken.

by on Feb.09, 2018

VW's U.S. chief Hinrich Woebcken told the Economic Club of Chicago that the company needed to "Americanize" to be successful.

What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger, or so goes the old saw. And it just might apply to Volkswagen’s diesel emissions scandal, suggested the automaker’s North American chief executive, despite costing the automaker about $30 billion in penalties.

During a series of appearances at the Chicago Auto Show, Hinrich Woebcken noted that after taking an initial, sharp hit to its sales after admitting it rigged more than 500,000 diesel vehicles sold in the U.S., VW’s sales rebounded in 2017, climbing 5% even as the overall American car market fell nearly 2%.

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“Maybe the diesel crisis helped convince (our) company to Americanize,” said Woebcken, during a speech to the Chicago Economic Club. Long known to American car buyers as “a sports car brand … a niche company,” VW recognized that, if it was going to recover, it had to “move into the heart of the American market.” (more…)

Mopar Gets Mitts on Ram 1500 in Chicago

FCA's aftermarket arm brings style, functionality to Ram trucks.

by on Feb.09, 2018

The outdoor-sport-themed 2019 Ram 1500 highlights the 200-plus Mopar parts and accessories available for the all-new truck.

Fiat Chrysler Automobile N.V.’s Ram and Mopar brands combined at the Chicago Auto Show to display an outdoor-sport-themed 2019 Ram 1500 that was modified with a selection of the more than 200 Mopar parts and accessories.

The show truck highlighted the menu of Mopar products available for the new Ram 1500. The fit, finish and function of all Mopar parts and accessories were developed in concert with Ram engineers and designers to harmonize with the all-new Ram.

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“At the Chicago Auto Show, Mopar is showcasing the art of the possible when it comes to accessorizing the all-new Ram 1500,” said Pietro Gorlier, Head of Parts and Service (Mopar), FCA. “With more than 200 parts and accessories, available at launch, Mopar delivers the largest array of factory-backed, authentic products to personalize the new Ram 1500 and make it truly one of a kind.” (more…)

Subaru Wants Sales to Do More Than Set Records

Brand donating $250 for every car sold.

by on Feb.09, 2018

Subaru's Tom Doll outlines the company's new charitable efforts at the MAMA annual breakfast during the Chicago Auto Show.

Subaru has ambitious plans to sell more vehicles and the effort is based on a deft marketing campaign built around the word love and an emphasis on charitable giving.

During the past decade, as Subaru has become the seventh best-selling brand in the U.S., the Japanese automaker has given away more than $115 million dollars to community-oriented, not-for-profit CoSubaru’s generosity.

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Tom Doll, Subaru president and chief operating officer, told the annual MAMA or Midwest Automotive Media Association’s annual breakfast at the Chicago Auto Show, that Subaru, which now celebrating 50 years of selling vehicles in the U.S. plans to continue its charitable giving. The formula includes donating $250 for every vehicle sold in the U.S.  (more…)

Fiat Hopes to Turbocharge Sales with Updated 500 Line

Italian brand promises to offer America’s “most affordable” turbo model.

by on Feb.09, 2018

Starting with 2019 models, all Fiat 500s will get turbocharged engines as standard equipment, as FCA hopes to boost sales.

Fiat is turbocharging its little 500 coupe and convertible models for 2019 and, in the process, hoping to give the entire brand a big boost.

For the coming model year, all Fiat 500s will be powered by turbocharged engines, starting with the base car that will now feature a 1.4-liter Multi-Air inline-four making 135 horsepower and 150 pound-feet of torque.

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Set to roll into U.S. showrooms early in the second-quarter, Fiat has yet to announce pricing, but “We believe the new Fiat 500 will be the most affordable turbocharged model in America,” said brand boss Matt McAlear, during a preview of the updated minicar at the Chicago Auto Show. (more…)

Toyota Offers Toughened Up TRD Pro Series Trucks for 2019

Tundra, Tacoma and 4Runner get new TRD packages.

by on Feb.08, 2018

Toyota's 4Runner TRD shows off its new logoed skid plate at the Chicago Auto Show.

With many truck makers arguing about which one has the toughest this or most rugged that, Toyota’s offers up its new TRD Pro Series line-up to remind folks that there are more than just two or three tough options.

For 2019, the company’s Tundra and Tacoma pickups as well as its 4Runner sport-ute get the updated TRD treatment, which mean a nice surprise for many buyers. According to Jack Hollis, group vice president and general manager of the Toyota Division at Toyota Motor North America, plenty of folks have decided that Toyota’s vehicles are plenty tough.

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He noted that more than 40% of Tundra and 4Runner buyers upgrade to the TRD Pro Series package and that number soars to 56% for Tacoma. (more…)

Ford Offers Up New Diesel Engine in Transit Connect

New engine will find its way across the company's product portfolio.

by on Feb.08, 2018

The new 2019 Ford Transit Connect Wagon gets an optional 1.5-liter diesel engine.

German automakers were lambasted by the editorial writers at the influential news magazine Der Spiegel for their extensive efforts to defend the diesel engine as the be all and all of a new powertrain line-up provides greater customer choice with a class exclusive diesel engine.

The editorial said that the German automakers including the Volkswagen Group, BMW and Daimler AG, had sacrificed their credibility of the diesel engines that have not lived up to their billing.

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Nevertheless, the Ford Motor Co. is moving forward with plans to bring a new small diesel engine to the United States in its next generation Transit Connect Wagon. (more…)

Ford Updates Transit Connect Min, er, Small Van

Maker looking to draw Baby Boomers with active lives with updated model.

by on Feb.08, 2018

Chicago native Jim Belushi, left, and Ford Vice President Mark LaNeve debut the Ford Transit Connect in Chicago as The Blues Brothers.

Though it claims to still be out of the minivan market, Ford’s new Transit Connect Wagon sure hopes that entrepreneurs with families will take a shine to its new offering.

The company unveiled the new small van – they don’t call it a minivan – at the Chicago Auto Show today after giving the media an early look last week. Ford executives said the new wagon is aimed at Baby Boomers with active lifestyles, who also may have a small business.

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If anyone needed any convincing it’s the Baby Boomer generation they want, one need only look at Ford Vice president, U.S. Marketing, Sales and Service Mark LaNeve and film and television star and Chicago native Jim Belushi playing the parts of The Blues Brothers at the intro of the squarish small van in the Windy City today. (more…)

Lexus Sets a New Direction With Chicago Introductions

Brand explores its performance heritage while adding to its green legacy.

by on Feb.08, 2018

The 2018 Lexus RX 450hL debuts at the Chicago Auto Show, including the pricing of the new ute.

Lexus took the wraps off its limited editions RC F and GS F for 2018 during a preview leading in the annual Chicago Auto Show.

Cooper Ericksen, Lexus vice president of marketing, said production of the RC F, which will go on sale in March, will be limited to 500 units, including a limited run of 240 that are destined for the United States.

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The RC F will come with a unique 5-liter V8 engine, a mat pain finish in grey, special Brembo brakes and carbon fiber accents such as the rear spoiler, according to Ericksen. Lexus also plans to offer the GS F to consumers, starting this spring, he said. (more…)