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First Drive: 2018 Lexus LS 500h

Bold new exterior matches top performing powertrain.

by on Sep.26, 2017

The 2018 Lexus LS 500 features bold new exterior styling, which has been the focus of the company's higher ups.

Throughout the years, Lexus has built a reputation for reliability that has always inspired confidence if not loyalty among the increasingly fickle, affluent buyers, who use their car both for transportation and to make a statement about their status and accomplishments.

With the new latest versions of the LS, the LS 500 and LS 500h, Lexus is also serving notice that it prepared not only to move away from the boring styling that has characterized the brand’s vehicles in the recent years but also plans to give customers a genuine choice of powertrain technology by offering a hybrid right alongside gasoline version.

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Moreover, the 2018 LS 500h and heir to LS 600, which was one of the more compelling Lexus vehicles to debut in recent years, isn’t some afterthought but a well-planned and -equipped vehicle featuring a refined powertrain with a range of 600 miles, which is more than enough for most any weekend trip. (more…)

Lexus LS: Struggling for Relevance in a Rapidly Changing Market

Retaining an “upstart” mindset critical in an increasingly uncertain industry.

by on Sep.22, 2017

The 2018 Lexus LS 500 features bold new exterior styling, which has been the focus of the company's higher ups.

From automotive upstart to part of the industry’s elite — there’ve been a lot of changes since Lexus made its debut nearly three decades ago. Now, there are new players trying to shake up the established order and its Toyota’s luxury brand that’s on the defensive.

Nothing symbolizes the challenges the Japanese marque faces like the 2018 LS, the fifth-generation remake of its flagship sedan. Since Lexus made its debut in 1989, the LS has symbolized everything the brand stands for: affordable, elegant, high-tech – and green, the full-size sedan becoming the first in its segment offered with a hybrid drivetrain option.

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But at a time when SUVs, rather than sedans, have come to dominate the sales charts, is the LS still relevant? And is Lexus, more broadly, keeping pace with the changes reshaping the auto industry, including the race to electrify that has seen major manufacturers like BMW and Mercedes-Benz announce plans to offer battery-based options for every single product they build? (more…)

Struggling in America, China Carries Cadillac into the Future

Demand in booming Asian market tops U.S.

by on Feb.03, 2017

The Cadillac CT6 making its debut in China.

It has been an icon for more than a century, its very name symbolic of luxury, but these days, Cadillac is fast becoming more Chinese than American.

With a flood of new products backed up by a $1.2 billion assembly plant that opened in Shanghai last year, Caddy’s Chinese sales handily exceed those of the maker’s home market. And, with plans to triple its dealer count in the booming Asian nation – while it hopes to eliminate 40% of its U.S. showrooms – the gap seems likely to continue expanding.

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Cadillac isn’t walking away from the American market. It has grand plans in the works, but the results have been far from convincing since the General Motors brand moved its headquarters from Detroit to New York two years ago. In China, however, “our growth is explosive and sustained,” says Johan de Nysschen, the former Audi of America CEO who has been in charge of GM’s lavish turnaround plan.


Bentley Unveils Fastest Bentley Ever

New Continental Supersports hits 209 mph.

by on Jan.08, 2017

The new Bentley Continental Supersports is now the fastest Bentley ever, topping out at 209 mph.

Bentley’s Continental is nearing the end of its current production run so apparently the folks over in Crewe, England, decided to send it out with a bang: the new Continental Supersports is the fastest Bentley ever.

Powered by a 6.0-liter 12-cylinder with twin turbochargers putting out 700 horsepower, the four seater hits a top speed of 209 mph, according to the maker. It handles the sprint from 0-to-60 mph in just 3.4 seconds.

Global Auto News!

“Only Bentley could create a car which blends immense performance and unrivaled luxury in this way,” Bentley CEO Wolfgang Durheimer said in a statement. (more…)

Mercedes Takes Wraps off New E-Class Coupe

Maker shows off new two-door.

by on Dec.13, 2016

Mercedes-Benz new 2018 E-Class Coupe joins the rest of the E-Class family for next year.

A day before Mercedes-Benz was set to debut its new E-Class Coupe – and a day after a brochure about the new two-door was leaked – the German automaker is taking the new model out from hiding.

Much like has already been chronicled, the new E-Class Coupe isn’t a dramatic departure from its C- and S-Class coupe cousins with very similar styling language. It’s also clear it is a sibling to the already introduced E-Class sedan and wagon.

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“With its clear, aesthetic lines, our new E-Class Coupe appeals equally to the heart and mind. It combines contemporary luxury, agile sportiness and high-tech engineering into an automotive personality with spirit, offering exclusive, refined driving pleasure,” said Thomas Weber, member of the Board of Management of Daimler AG and responsible for Group Research and Mercedes-Benz Cars Development, in a statement. (more…)

Daimler Building Engine Plant in Poland

Company continues to expand global footprint.

by on Oct.14, 2016

Daimler is building a plant in Poland that will produce four-cylinder engines starting in 2019.

Daimler AG has announced plans to spend $560 million to build a new engine plant in Jawor, Poland.

“The capacity expansion in Poland reflects the increasingly international character of our powertrain production compound. This will lead to increased flexibility and efficiency within our worldwide production network of Mercedes-Benz Cars,” said Markus Schaefer of Mercedes-Benz Cars, Production and Supply Chain Management, who made the announcement at a press conference in Warsaw.

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Schaefer added the new plant, which is 45 miles west of Wroclaw, was part of the company’s strategy for growth and will be ready by 2019. The plant will employ about 500 employees when it opens. Construction is set to begin next year. (more…)

Buick Launching All-New Avenir Sub-Brand

Patterned on company’s “Denali” label, it arrives in 2018.

by on Sep.30, 2016

Coming in 2018, Buick hopes Avenir will bring the same returns that Denali does for GMC.

Buick, an automaker long associated with smooth, “boulevard” driving is about to launch a new sub-brand dubbed “Avenir.”

The name means “future,” in French, and is meant to cover the most exclusive of Buick’s future models. Avenir first appeared on a wildly popular Buick concept vehicle that made its debut at the 2015 North American International Auto Show in Detroit.

Branding News!

“Through the first half of 2016, Buick has been the industry’s fastest-growing major international brand, and Avenir is key to future growth and delivering on the high expectations of new customers coming to our showrooms,” said Duncan Aldred, vice president of global Buick sales, service and marketing. “Avenir will be Buick’s signature.” (more…)

Cadillac Offering Low-Volume Dealers Buyouts

De Nysschen denies division trying to delete dealers.

by on Sep.23, 2016

Cadillac President Johan de Nysschen has warned it will take time to rebuild the brand's momentum.

Weeks after telling its 925 dealers in the U.S. that they will need to spend big as part of Project Pinnacle, the luxury brand’s quest to once again be a top competitor in the segment, Cadillac is offering some of its dealers a get out of jail free card.

Actually, according to Automotive News, General Motors’ luxury brand is offering 400 dealers as much as $180,000 to close up their stores by the end of next year if they are unwilling or unable to expend the capital needed to upgrade their retail locations.

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The dealers in question are the brands 400 “smallest” dealers in the U.S., the paper reported. Cadillac President Johan de Nysschen quickly tried to allay fears that the brand is trying to thin out the herd and that the program is being offered as an alternative for dealers who don’t have the resources to make the commitment. (more…)

No Car is an Island: Testing Out the 2017 Cadillac XT5

Our reviewer heads to misty Fogo Island to check out the new SUV.

by on Aug.02, 2016

The 2017 Cadillac XT5 is the replacement for the SRX. As a luxury utility vehicle, it checks all the boxes.

Fogo Island is an idyllic place, perched about as far to the Northeast as you can go in North America. Study the history of Fogo Island, Newfoundland, and you learn what grit and tenacity are all about.  Drive around the island, and you’ll see decades old waterfront buildings that used to process what was the Island’s economic mainstay, cod.

The history and economy of Fogo Island bear a resemblance to the story of one of America’s once storied automakers – Cadillac. Cadillac was formed from the remnants of the original Henry Ford Co. A new company called the Cadillac Automobile Co. was established in August 1902, named after French explorer Antoine de La Mothe Cadillac, who founded Detroit in 1701.

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Cadillac was purchased by General Motors in 1909 and became its prestige division. Some of its classic models today fetch hefty sums at collector auctions worldwide. However, as the years have passed, Cadillac lost the ability to compete on the high end of the luxury car scale. (more…)

Bentley Adding More Models; Likely to Go Electric

"Five models in five years" could equal double the sales.

by on May.04, 2016

With its new SUV, the Bentayga, ready for dealer showrooms, Bentley revealed some of its future product plans, including its EV options.

With the new Bentayga SUV ready to hit showrooms, British maker Bentley is starting to plan its next product offensive, and that not only will bring updates of existing models like the Mulsanne and Continental GT, but as many as two new ultra-premium luxury models.

Facing ever-stricter global emissions and mileage standards – as well as pressure to add new zero-emissions models  – Bentley is also giving serious thought to adding a fully electric drivetrain package. That would be on top of the plug-in hybrid version of the Bentayga set to launch late in 2017 or early 2018, has learned.

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It wasn’t all that long ago that Bentley was the proverbial one-trick pony. But it has scored huge sales growth in recent years with the addition of the Continental line-up. And with plans to have “five model (lines) in five years,” said Michael Winkler, CEO of Bentley’s U.S. sales arm, the British marque expects to do substantially better. (more…)