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Bentley Breaks Global Sales Record in 2013

Luxury maker debuting Continental GT V8 S in Detroit.

by on Jan.09, 2014

Bentley is showing the Continental GT V8 S in North America for the first time in Detroit.

Bentley is riding a wave of powerful new models and good news into the North American International Auto Show in Detroit. The premier luxury maker is showing its Continental GT V8 S in North America for the first time at the show.

It is teamed with the Flying Spur, the maker’s fastest sedan, and the Mulsanne, Bentley’s top-of-the-line marque, at this year’s event.

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Aside from displaying a new entry, the company is talking up its 2013 sales, which hit a new record: 10,120. The 19% increase superseded the previous high of 8,510 in 2012. (more…)

Mercedes Aims to Redefine Luxury

Maker combines technology, comfort at unprecedented level.

by on Jul.25, 2013

Mercedes faced a significant challenge with the redesign of the S-Class: the maker's flagship sedan.

How do you enhance an icon? That’s the challenge Mercedes-Benz faced when the German maker set out to redesign its flagship S-Class sedan – a vehicle likely to spur big changes across the premium-luxury market.

While there are faster cars, more expensive cars and more exclusive cars, the S-Class has long been the benchmark in the premium luxury segment. And that’s a position Mercedes intends to maintain with a new 2014 model that not only introduces a raft of safety technologies that come a step short of autonomous driving, but also by adding such over-the-top features as an automated perfume dispenser and a hot stone-style massaging seat.

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“The definition of luxury is changing, but we intend to be at the forefront of that,” said Steve Cannon, CEO of Mercedes-Benz USA, during a break from driving the new S550 model through the lake country north of Toronto. (more…)

Hitting the “Reset Button” in the Luxury Market

A 40 mpg Mercedes sedan.

by on Dec.15, 2009

Many luxury buyers are moving down-market, says a senior Mercedes-Benz official, opting for the smaller E-Class instead of the top-line S-Class.

Many luxury buyers are moving down-market, says a senior Mercedes-Benz official, opting for the smaller E-Class instead of the top-line S-Class.

As bad as 2009 has been for the overall U.S. car market, it’s been especially tough for high-line manufacturers, like Mercedes-Benz.

Where past recessions have left luxury brands largely unscathed, most premium brands have suffered hefty double-digit downturns, this year.  And though 2010 looks likely to be a bit better, the luxury market may have gone through some significant and potentially permanent changes, Mercedes officials suggest.

“If anything, 2009 was a reset year,” said Steve Cannon, the German maker’s U.S. marketing chief, during a visit to Detroit.

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For one thing, it’s forced manufacturers like Mercedes to rethink the way they pitch potential buyers.  Over the last several decades, the luxury segment has increasingly turned to incentives and, in particular, subsidized leasing, to attract buyers who really didn’t belong in the luxury segment, said Cannon, who admits the cost has been “too high.”

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First Look: 2011 Cadillac CTS Coupe

Sportier new model for expanding Caddy line-up.

by on Nov.23, 2009

The sportiest member of the entry-luxury line-up, the 2011 Cadillac CTS Coupe, will make its debut at the Los Angeles Auto Show, next week.

The sportiest member of the entry-luxury line-up, the 2011 CTS Coupe, will make its debut at the Los Angeles Auto Show, next week.

You’ll have to wait until next week, and catch a flight to the West Coast, if you want to see the new 2011 Cadillac CTS Coupe in all its sheet metal glory, but here’s a good first look at the sporty 2-door that will join Caddy’s expanding entry-luxury line-up next year.

The fourth version of the CTS line will make its debut during the Los Angeles Auto Show press preview, next week.

The original CTS, which ushered in the General Motors division’s so-called Art & Science design theme, was completely revised two years ago.  Now, Caddy is taking a cue from its import competition and aggressively expanding the list of CTS variants.  First came the high-performance CTSv, then a wagon – which is expected to give the brand more traction abroad – and now the 2-door, which initially debuted as a well-received concept vehicle.

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“CTS Coupe is the new focal point of Cadillac, expressing both our design and technical capabilities,” said Caddy General Manager Bryan Nesbitt. “It is intended to appeal to a new generation of car enthusiasts.”

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Q&A: New Cadillac General Manager Bryan Nesbitt

Back to the Drawing Board?

by on Aug.13, 2009

Cadillac has a new boss, but the luxury division made an unexpected move when it named Bryan Nesbitt, GM's well-regarded director of North American Design to become its new general manager.

Cadillac has a new boss, but the luxury division made an unexpected move when it tapped Bryan Nesbitt, GM's well-regarded director of North American Design to become its new general manager.

Within automotive circles, you’ll often hear a debate over the role of “car guys” and “bean counters,” those who come from the product and engineering side and those with financial backgrounds.  But the chimneys get narrower when you start talking about those who specialize in engineering, design, marketing or sales.  And, with rare exception, those from one discipline don’t cross into another.

There are a few rare exceptions, like General Motors Vice Chairman Bob Lutz, who was trained as a marketer, but spent the last eight years as GM’s “car czar,” before taking on his latest assignment as the automaker’s marketing chief.  While that news made headlines, a similar transition slipped by almost entirely under the radar.  Designer Bryan Nesbitt was named the new general manager of GM’s flagship Cadillac division.

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The effervescent Nesbitt began making a name for himself at Chrysler, where he was credited with the design of the standout PT Cruiser.  He was later wooed to GM, where he has been on the design fast track, taking on assignments in Europe, where he spent six years as design director, before a 2007 appointment as head of North American design.  In his new role, Nesbitt will bring to market several of the products developed by his former design team, including the critical ATS entry-luxury model, and the premium luxury XTS4 sedan.

TheDetroitBureau’s Paul A. Eisenstein spoke with Nesbitt about his new job, those new products and the challenges facing Cadillac in a world full of tough luxury competition.

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