Archive for the 'Audi' Category

2012 European Automotive Recap

Monday, January 14th, 2013

The "all-new" MINI for 2014?

Well, it’s mid-January 2013, and partly because automakers have just announced 2012 whole year sales figures, and those at the bottom of the pile will no doubt be slashing prices to make up for a lackluster year of sales. That means it is a pretty good month to buy a car.

So how good/bad were those sales figures?

Let’s start with Lotus. Thanks to Dany Bahar, the company has set its sights on selling 4000-5000 cars annually by 2015. That is a drop in the bucket for a giant like German Volkswagen or even sports car maker Porsche, but Lotus has a long way to go, and will need to expand their sales five-fold over the 1043 cars sold in 2012. Incidentally, the company sold significantly more cars previously, 1457 in 2011, but the company had a delay on the Exige S production, forcing a huge drop. No doubt some Exige customers are a bit miffed about the extra wait, though they will rest easier knowing that it was reportedly a delay due to a quality overhaul.

Autocar is reporting that the generation-three MINI is about 12 months away, and that figure couldn’t come sooner. Apparently, the car will feature serious improvements from the ground up. As a driver of the 2009 MINI Cooper S, all I can say is that they ought to focus on the interior or I won’t be buying a second one. The third generation is the perfect opportunity to go through the cabin, and reduce the number of plastic pieces which cause the excessive rumbling and rattling and squeaking that my and many other MINIs suffer from. The solution is a combination of more leather, fewer hard plastic pieces, and fewer number of parts overall on the interior. The attached photo seems to indicate some serious design changes as well, but let’s hope we see less black plastic trim outside, rather than MORE, as the picture would indicate. Incidentally, MINI and BMW combined hope to sell near 1,000,000 per year by 2020. Currently MINI is selling about 300,000 cars per year, but they do hope to increase that figure by 50% in the not-so-distant future.

BMW Group as a whole did record business. 1,845,186 BMW, MINI and Rolls-Royce vehicles were delivered worldwide. This was an increase of 10.6% over the previous record year in 2011 (1,668,982). BMW brand sales rose 11.6% in 2012 to reach 1,540,085 vehicles, again, a record (2011 totals reached 1,380,384).

  • BMW Group member Rolls-Royce saw another record (the third straight year!). 3,575 cars were delivered to customers in 2012, the highest annual sales in the 108-year history of the marque and the third consecutive record year.
  • Expansion into new markets – Rolls-Royce motor cars are now sold in more than 40 countries worldwide.
  • United States overtakes China to regain number one regional position.

VW’s U.S. numbers were really quite good for 2012, 438,000 units, and worldwide deliveries in 2012 rose 11 percent to 9.07 million vehicles, the Wolfsburg, Germany-based company said in a statement today. With last year’s gains, the maker of VW, Audi and Porsche vehicles has increased annual deliveries 44 percent since 2009.

DECEMBER 2012 SALES

VW US SNAPSHOT –YTD–
Model Line Dec. ’12 Actual Dec. ’11 Actual Yr/Yr % change Dec. ’12 YTD Actual Dec. ’11 YTD Actual Yr/Yr % change
Golf 1,477 1,411 4.7% 20,677 17,839 15.9%
GTI 1,085 1,332 -18.5% 16,314 16,867 -3.3%
Golf R 292 N/A N/A 3,894 N/A N/A
Total Golf/GTI 2,854 2,743 4.0% 40,885 34,706 17.8%
Jetta 13,102 12,422 5.5% 146,478 150,515 -2.7%
SportWagen 2,559 2,000 28% 23,946 26,845 -10.8%
Total Jetta 15,661 14,422 8.6% 170,424 177,360 -3.9%
Beetle 2,666 1,530 74.2 28,654 5,626 409.3%
NBC 516 1 51,5000.0% 520 842 -38.2%
Total New Beetle 3,182 1,531 107.8% 29,174 6,468 351.1%
Eos 372 419 -11.2% 6,214 7,533 -17.5%
Passat 14,462 6,884 110.1% 117,023 22,779 413.7%
Passat Wagon N/A N/A N/A N/A 56 -100.0%
Total Passat 14,462 6,884 110.1% 117,023 22,835 412.5%
CC 2,196 2,450 -10.4% 21,646 29,502 -26.6%
Tiguan 3,310 2,403 37.7% 31,731 25,990 22.1%
Touareg 1,408 1,117 26.1% 10,553 7,535 40.1%
Routan 560 533 5.1% 10,483 12,473 -16.0%
Total Sales 44,005 32,502 35.4% 438,133 324,402 35.1%

Sister company Audi reached U.S. sales of 140,000 for 2012. Interestingly highline imports to the U.S. market accounted for approximately 1.4million cars out of 14.4 million sold overall. Worldwide, however, Audi did quite well with 1.455m units shifted in 2012.

Porsche had a stellar 2012. We’ve seen conflicting reports from Porsche, first saying they were hiring, then saying they were putting a halt, so it’s not quite clear what the internal dynamics of the company are at this time, but the 918 supercar remains on track and Porsche reports it added 30 percent staff in the last year (bringing the total to 17,000). Record worldwide sales of 141,075 were an 18.7% increase over the 2011 record year of 118,868 vehicles. No doubt, China is fueling a large percentage of these records as it sold a record 31,205. Somewhat surprisingly, the largest Porsche market remains the U.S. with 35,043 sales. Due to the new 911 seeing the showroom, 911 series model sales shot up 31.4% and the Boxster, which also received a refresh, saw sales up 29.1%. On the downside, the father of the 911, the Ferdinand Porsche died in 2012, and Dr. Wolfgang Porsche took over as Chairman of the Supervisory board.

Porsche Deliveries December Fiscal year
2012 2011 Variance (%) 2012 2011 Variance (%)
World 12,097 9,159 32.1 141,075 118,868 18.7
Europe 4,674 4,149 12.7 49,639 43,748 13.5
Germany 1,387 1,102 25.9 17,487 14,959 16.9
America 3,479 2,061 68.8 41,060 34,350 19.5
USA 2,952 1,834 61.0 35,043 29,023 20.7
Asia-Pacific 3,944 2,949 33.7 50,376 40,770 23.6
China 1,937 1,867 3.7 31,205 24,340 28.2

Bentley saw worldwide growth of 22% in 2012 to 8,510. 2011 saw 7,003 sales.

Bentley:

The Americas finished 2012 as Bentley’s largest global market, with 2,457 cars delivered to customers in the region, a 22% increase on 2011 (2,021 cars). China followed closely with 2,253 cars delivered, Bentley’s largest ever volume in the region and a 23% increase on 2011 (1,839 cars).

In Europe, deliveries grew by 12% with 1,333 cars delivered to customers (1,187 in 2011). The increasing popularity of the Bentley brand in growing markets like Russia, where deliveries were up 37%, contributed to the strong performance of the region. In the UK, 1,104 cars were delivered to customers, a 7% increase on the previous year (1,031 cars).

The Middle East region performed very well with deliveries up 44% to 815 cars (566 in 2011). Asia Pacific also increased its deliveries by 44% to 358 cars (249 in 2011). Finally Japan saw exceptional growth of 73% with 190 deliveries (110 in 2011).”

Following record sales in the previous year, Mercedes-Benz Cars has once again posted an annual record in 2012 as well as the highest December sales to date. Over the past twelve months, 1,423,835 customers chose a vehicle of the brands Mercedes-Benz, smart and Maybach. The previous year’s sales volumes were thus exceeded by 4.5% or 60,901 units. Also Mercedes-Benz achieved a new sales record in 2012. From January through December, a total of 1,320,097 vehicles of the core brand (Mercedes-Benz) were sold.

Overview of sales by Mercedes-Benz Cars

December 2012 Change in % as of December 2012 Change in %
Mercedes-Benz 125,234 +0.7 1,320,097 +4.7
smart 7,355 -4.0 103,738 +1.7
Mercedes-Benz Cars 132,589 +0.4 1,423,835 +4.5
Mercedes-Benz sales by market
Western Europe 47,195 -3.8 554,797 +0.6
- thereof Germany 22,691 -10.3 261,084 -0.4
NAFTA region 31,872 +10.1 311,547 +11.3
- thereof USA 28,145 +9.5 274,134 +11.8
Asia/Pacific region 33,805 -6.6 337,102 +5.1
- thereof Japan 5,234 +33.3 40,488 +24.9
- thereof China 18,910 -18.6 196,211 +1.5

In Europe, Renault had a tough year. It looked something like this:

Full year 2012 VOLUMES Var vs 2011

(in %)

MS %
RENAULT GROUP PC+LCV 551 334 -19,8% 24,2%
RENAULT GROUP PC 424 147 -22,1% 22,3%
RENAULT GROUP LCV 127 187 -10,8% 33,1%
RENAULT PC 343 355 -24,7% 18,1%
RENAULT LCV 123 455 -10,1% 32,1%
DACIA PC 80 792 -9,2% 4,3%
DACIA LCV 3 732 -29,6% 1,0%

Note, PC=Cars

LCV=Light Commercial Vehicles

Peugeot’s sales were down, as was their media web site. I did find out from Bloomberg that their sales were down 17% to 2.97 million car sales. Twelve-month sales slid 6.1 percent to 1.56 million vehicles at the Peugeot brand and 12 percent to 1.27 million autos at the Citroen marque.

Jaguar Land Rover saw a great year with sales up 30%. Jaguar Land Rover sales totaled 357,773 vehicles in 2012. It plans to add 800 jobs to support development of new models. The brands sold 71,940 vehicles in China last year, up 71 percent, surpassing sales in the U.K. at 68,333 and the U.S. at 55,675. Land Rover global deliveries rose 36 percent last year, while Jaguar sales increased 6 percent. In the U.S., Land Rover sales climbed 15 percent to 43,664 while Jaguar fell 2.2 percent to 12,011, the company said Jan. 3.

Conclusion:

2012 looked good for many automakers. The French clearly need a kick in the pants, but everyone else seems to being playing the game well. Barring any economic issues like the Euro or dollar collapsing, we may continue to see sales increased in 2013 as consumers get more comfortable with the climate.

Sources:

http://www.autocar.co.uk/car-news/industry/lotus-plans-five-fold-sales-increase

http://www.autocar.co.uk/car-news/new-cars/new-mini-set-2014-launch

http://www.autocar.co.uk/blogs/detroit-motor-show-2013/volkswagens-us-ambitions

Porsche

Bentley

BMW Group

Rolls-Royce

http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2013-01-09/peugeot-2012-vehicle-sales-drop-17-on-europen-car-market.html

http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2013-01-13/volkswagen-sees-tougher-competition-after-record-sales-in-2012.html

http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2013-01-13/jaguar-land-rover-says-its-global-sales-rose-30-in-2012.html

2011 Super Bowl Adverts: a look at the good and the bad

Monday, February 14th, 2011

This year’s automotive ads during the Superbowl were a bit of a mixed bag. BMW for example had an interesting ad promoting its diesel lineup, but that ad should have been done last year to compete with Audi’s “green police.” BMW did, however, make an interesting statement by reminding us that though German by design, the SUVs we buy from them are made in South Carolina. I’m not even going to bother discussing the pickup truck ads as they all blow much in the same way that the vehicles themselves blow. The Kia Optima ad was also bizarre and left me wishing I had that minute of my life back…it felt like 10.

For me, though, the biggest disappointment at all comes from VW. VW had teased us earlier in the week that they were going to be airing an ad promoting the new VW Beetle. When I heard this I made the decision to watch the whole damned Super Bowl, which bores me to tears, just to see the new VW Beetle. You can imagine my disappointment and anger then when the age, while well done, lacked any photography of the new Beetle. So I ask, why toss their money away? Why wouldn’t VW use the occasion to announced what is probably the most iconic car in America? The answer: it beats the hell out of this reviewer.

VW’s Superbowl ad for the new VW Beetle:

On the bright side, while silly, the Audi ad did get me to go to their web site and check out the full-length ad, so I guess that’s money well spent.

They actually had several, but the two I’ve chosen were pre-game, unless I am mistaken:

The second comes to us featuring the smooth saxy sounds of Kenny G, aka the Riot Suppressor:

But the big winner is a toss-up for me. Chrysler came up with a surprisingly good commercial – the best “buy America” auto ad I have ever seen. Meanwhile, VW’s new Passat commercial took a hilarious page out of Star Wars. See below.

Chrysler’s ad

The Force ad for the VW Passat:

And the “making of” the Passat ad:

Link of the Week: Smart(er) Cars

Monday, October 18th, 2010

Recently reviewing this link from Forbes:
http://www.forbes.com/2010/09/15/smartest-cars-technology-lifestyle-vehicles-smart-car.html
Beyond the KM reflects on the significant technological improvements on the last few years…
No doubt, the features that actively improve safety deserve great acclaim. In that vane, one has to appreciate the achievements of the active cruise control system now available in most high-end luxury sedans. The technology uses radar in the front of the vehicle to throttle and brake the vehicle if it senses that you are too far or too close to the vehicle in front of you.

For several years now Mercedes has also included technology that senses when you are falling asleep behind the wheel of your Benz. If it believe your eyelids are getting heavy, the system will jiggle you in your seat and wake you with loud chirps and indicate to you that you should pull over and catch some “Schlafen”.

A less obvious choice for this category uses a very old technology indeed. BMW and subsidiary company Rolls-Royce have now integrated thermal cameras into their vehicles which assist drivers in recognizing animals or people on the road in front of the vehicle in low-visibility conditions.

Advanced airbags. 25-year-old airbags just exploded in your face, potentially injuring you. Newer technology still protects you, but it does it better because it is sensitive to the severity of the crash, position of the occupant, baby seat-aware, and the size of the passenger as well. Porsche’s Cayenne has this feature. Automakers are also adding more airbags, some vehicles having 8 or more!

Blind-spot assistance is nearly commonplace today as well. Sensors in the car know when another vehicle is in your blind spot, and will notify you with signal in the cabin or on the side-view mirror.

Other smart, but less safety-conscious features include assisted parallel parking (in case your car is too big to easily fit into that spot!). This technology, which involves little or no input from the user to get your car, parked properly without scrapping the paint off your bumper. Available from many automakers now including BMW, Lexus, Ford, and the list goes on…

Self-closing or soft-closing doors and trunks/boots are now de rigueur in many German cars, including the Mercedes and Maybach lineup, the Rolls-Royce lineup, and BMW, just to name a few.

Rear parking cameras. They appear in just about any car these days, from the Toyota Prius to the Lamborghini Gallardo. Never again will you have to worry about backing over you small child. Similarly, it makes parallel parking much easier, especially in larger vehicles.

Flexible fuel cars. This is current and future technology. Some supplier are developing systems to allow cars to run on any of 4 types of fuel, including biofuel, petrol, diesel, and natural gas. Hydrogen will eventually follow.

What’s next?

Inter-car communication. While this has already been attempted by several car makers, we can expect that the future of inter-car communication will include features such as accident avoidance and even vehicle pacing, which would reduce breaking/acceleration, and therefore increase fuel efficiency.

A couple of things, first, Mercedes has already announced they are testing an underbody airbag for their cars. The airbag would deploy in the event of an inevitable crash and by using massive friction, it would slow down the vehicle just a little bit extra – in a crash every millimeter counts!

Autonomous driving vehicles. Audi has been testing a version of the Audi TT, which actually has the ability to run on its own volition and even compete in hill climb racing events. What is next in this area? Well, for one, user acceptance must be achieved. No doubt many people will feel uncomfortable with a computer taking control of their vehicle. Google, too, has been testing a vehicle of this type, which uses a highly computerized Toyota Prius to navigate it around any city street.

VW/Audi “UPs” the electric ante — Q1 2010 Update

Friday, April 2nd, 2010

No doubt that Audi started the year off with a bang. Audi with VW, Mercedes, and BMW have all been pushing diesel-powered cars lately, and even Porsche has joined in the party. But the Audi A3 has been a “slow seller” for Audi in America. It sells massively in Europe where petrol prices are sky-high but Audi has likely been looking for new ways to move the car on this side of the pond. That said, the A3 diesel seems like a good option – it’s relatively spacious and gets real-world gas mileage every bit as good as a Prius.

Observers were no doubt surprised to see Audi spending serious buck at the Super Bowl to promote the clean diesel technology. Indeed, Audi’s humorous “green police” commercial was well composed and sent the message that diesel is the new hybrid. Indeed, it is still cheaper technology as well. (more…)

Think a recall is cheap? Think again.

Tuesday, February 16th, 2010
Toyota Prius one of many Toyota/Lexus models being recalled.

Toyota Prius one of many Toyota/Lexus models being recalled.

Companies hate recalls. Even recalls that go well, such as the Tylenol recall of the early 1980s, still cost money in inventory, distribution, PR, and of course legal costs. While the Tylenol recall was handled simply by letting consumers know that they should throw away their bottles of aspirin, Toyota’s recent recall of vehicles first in America, then in Europe, cannot simply be handled through a press release.

Instead, Toyota actually has a greater battle. First, engineers must diagnose the problem with their cars, first said to be poorly designed carpets, and now a problem with the electronic throttle control. The truth may be that the company does not fully understand the source of the problem as the LA Time’s recently wrote in interviewing California Congressman Henry Waxman.

Toyota has contended that a slight modification to the accelerator design, including adding a small metal plate to the mechanical sensor in the accelerator should fix the problem. The automaker advises consumers to get the problem fixed, to hold down the start-stop button for three seconds and/or shift the car into neutral. So critical and misunderstood, however, is the procedure to cut power to the car during operation that the company is considering redesigning the start-stop button. The LA Times, who has been covering the Toyota recall extensively (Toyota USA is based in Torrance, California), reports that the company may be changing the button to turn the car off with three-taps of the button in future models. Of course, you might argue, why bother with this potentially costly change, and the response would be to put yourself in the shoes of someone who is driving in a car that has accelerated out of control. Do you really want to wait three seconds to turn off the engine? Certainly not. (more…)

Video of the week: Audi R8: sports car for the snow

Thursday, January 21st, 2010

Ezra Dyer, a contributor to the NY Times, seems to found a solution for beating a snow storm with speed (and style). Enjoy!

LOTW: Audi Gets in the Fast Lane

Saturday, November 21st, 2009

A bit old, but at Beyond the KM, we like to look at the old news and see if the predictions have come true.

Audi R8 V10

Audi R8 V10

Time Magazine: Audi Gets in the Fast Lane

In the last article published by BTKM, we discussed the phenomenon that is the “halo effect” of the automotive sector. The premise is that by creating an “amazing” and “expensive” car, you attract buyers to the brand, who then buy more moderately priced cars (and in great quantities!).

By the way, from Audi:

Audi announces U.S. 2010 model-year prices for its Audi R8 sports cars, including the V10-powered R8 5.2 FSI quattro

- Base MSRP on the all-new Audi R8 V10 model starts at $146,000
- Strong interest in the Audi R8 5.2 FSI quattro drives early shipment to certified Audi R8 dealerships this week
- MSRP on the V8-powered Audi R8 4.2 FSI quattro models remain unchanged from 2009 model-year pricing

HERNDON, Va., Jul 23, 2009  -  Audi today announced that the U.S. manufacturer’s suggested retail price for the highly anticipated 2010 Audi R8 5.2 FSI quattro V10 sports car will start at $146,000, with shipments to authorized Audi R8 dealerships across the country beginning this week.

Audi said the MSRP for the 2010 Audi R8 4.2 FSI quattro will start at $114,200, unchanged from the base prices for 2009 models:

2010 R8 5.2 FSI® quattro® (V10) pricing (excluding $1,200 destination charge, taxes, title, options and dealer charges):

R8 5.2 FSI quattro coupe (manual)      $146,000
R8 5.2 FSI quattro coupe (R tronic)      $155,100

2010 R8 4.2 FSI® quattro® (V8) pricing (excluding $1,200 destination charge, taxes, title, options and dealer charges):
R8 4.2 FSI quattro coupe (manual)      $114,200
R8 4.2 FSI quattro coupe (R tronic)      $123,300

Designing a car to be priced higher than its German rivals was an exercise in brand positioning, says De Nysschen. “We think we found a sweet spot in the market.” Bentley–which, like Audi, is part of the Volkswagen Group–successfully exploited a similar luxury-market niche when it positioned itself between supercostly Rolls-Royce and the sedans and coupes of BMW and Mercedes.

Source:

Time (linked above)

Audi of America

Bugatti sightings… why are we so interested?

Sunday, November 15th, 2009
Bugatti Veyron 16.4 in all its glory!

Bugatti Veyron 16.4 in all its glory!

If there was ever a doubt in the halo effect that accompanies a super car launch… if you ever thought Porsche’s Carrera GT, Lamborghini Reventón, Aston Martin’s One-77, VW’s Phaeton, Mercedes SLR, Acura’s NSX, Nissan’s GT-R, and Audi’s R8 were a waste of space and a money losing venture, you were wrong. VW Group’s crowning achievement is undoubtedly the venerable Bugatti Veyron 16.4.

Acquired in 1998 from Italian entrepreneur Romano Artioli, VW immediately set to work building a successor to the EB110. It was considered by many to be the most sophisticated car of its kind at the time, a trait that followed in VW’s iteration called the Veyron 16.4. Even at its introduction and production start in 2005, VW never intended the Veyron to surpass 300 units. Indeed, the company has said that after 300 are produced, the car will be discontinued. Interestingly, this has not resulted in a static design and the company has continued to pump out alterations including “special editions” and a Gran Sport, replete with a removable roof.

It has been said by many that the Bugatti is the ultimate supercar, not just of today, but also of all time. Those who make that argument point to the jaw-dropping 0-60 mph times under 2.5 seconds and a top speed in excess of 400 KM/hour (250+ mph). Others marvel at the 16-cylinder, 4-turbocharger engine or the 10 radiators onboard. Still others marvel that at full speed, the car runs out of full in 12 minutes and the tires burn to a crisp at 15 minutes. All of that in a rather un-dramatic, but stunning fashion.

It is the combination of those factors, the styling, and the EURO1,000,000+ price tag that make the Bugatti the ultimate halo product for VW Group. What is the halo effect, and why is it so important that VW stands to lose millions of euros for each Veyron produced? Halo products in general are the über-expensive, lower volume, highly publicized products that companies produce to create buzz for the company and the other products sold by that company. Even a low volume company like Porsche can benefit from a halo product because these products do so much to bring status and media coverage. A company that produces a rather low quality product can be perceived as one that more generally produces very high-end products. The company may actually lose money selling the halo product, but these halo products are often considered a marketing cost anyway. Ideally, a company would save massive amounts of money on advertising by introducing a product that is constantly covered by the media.

So it is with the Bugatti Veyron. Associating Bugatti with VW Group and providing otherwise sound business strategy has meant that VW has pushed past Toyota (IN A WEAK MARKET!) to become the number one producer of automobiles in not just Europe, but the entire world with 4.4 million units for the year according to IHS Global Insight.

http://www.autoobserver.com/2009/11/vw-pushes-past-toyota-as-global-production-leader.html

For an example of the aforementioned press coverage, see the following irrelevant, but positive pieces of new coverage:

Early Fall auto news round-up

Saturday, November 7th, 2009

scirocco_cup_cng

Volkswagen

VW in an effort to promote the tons of eco-friendlier cars launched at IAA in Frankfurt in September has decided to pursue eco-sales with a new eco-friendly racing series. The company is starting a single-make racing series where all of the cars run on bio-produced compressed natural gas. The model used in the series is the new Scirocco and should reduce racetrack CO2 output by 80 per cent over today’s racing fuels. The 2.0-liter 4-cylinder cars will have 220 horsepower on tap. Not bad for an alt fuel car!

Source: http://www.wired.com/autopia/2009/10/volkswagen-cng/

On other green fronts, VW Group is working with Stanford University in California in a US$5.75 million project to make VW the largest carmaker with R&D in Silicon Valley. Already the two companies have produced autonomous (read self-driving) versions of the VW Passat and now the Audi TT-S. The Audi TT-S will attempt to drive itself up the 14,110-foot Pike’s Peak next year, according Wired.

vail_01

Source: http://www.wired.com/autopia/2009/10/vw-vail/

Audi’s Johan de Nysschen, critical of the Chevy Volt, took an interview with Time recently to express his views on the state of the luxury auto industry. He stated that Audi’s goal is to be the “top” German luxury manufacturer, but not necessarily in terms of sales. He also reiterated the push for more fuel-efficient vehicles leading to Zero emissions cars in the not so distant future.

Source: http://www.time.com/time/business/article/0,8599,1933906,00.html

Bugatti

Bugatti has unleashed a new concept car the 4-seat, 4-door (can you believe it???) Galibier 16C. Autocar magazine claims the production will start in 2013 at £900,000. We will believe it when we see it! Interestingly, the car’s engine will be the same as in the Veyron but will only sport 800BHP. Apparently, 200 get lost when adding 2 doors.

http://www.autocar.co.uk/News/NewsArticle.aspx?AR=244753

Caterham

Rarely does Caterham make the news, except when they unleash new, wildly fun lightweight roadster, but unfortunately, Caterham’s found Graham Nearn died in late October. Nearn has been selling the then-titled Lotus 7 since its introduction in 1959, and then when the car was discontinued in 1973, Nearn bought the rights and has been producing the car ever since and in more exciting, evolving versions. You can even buy a kit and put a Caterham 7 together yourself. If you are not familiar with this brand, you should be!

Top Gear featured it in a segment awhile back:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cOxHV6QfJkg

Source: http://www.autocar.co.uk/News/NewsArticle.aspx?AR=244398

Ferrari

Beyond the KM has previously marveled at the sales resiliency of the Ferrari nameplate. But even THIS economy has the prancing stallion kow-towing to the bear market of Wall Street.

Its third quarter results for 2009 showed revenues of 396 million euros (£359m) – down from 450m euros (£408m) in the same period last year. It sold 1454 cars, down 4.3 per cent year on year.

However, Ferrari announced that it has grown its market share in every market it monitors, against a drop in supercar sales of around 40 per cent.

(more…)

Is NOW the time to buy a new car?

Thursday, March 26th, 2009

As a car buyer, you have to be a little bit giddy to be ready to buy at the present time. Almost every manufacturer’s numbers are abysmal, and credit is too tight. People are losing their homes as value drop, which means no home equity car financing. Everyone is miserable except the guy who has cash-in-hand at the dealership. You walk through a car dealer’s door right now with a brief case of one-hundred dollar bills, and the General Manager himself will become your new best friend.

And that’s part of the reason why now is a great time to buy a new car. But guess what. There are now two more reasons. First government intervention, and secondly, OEM subsidies.

After its initial demise last month, the U.S. Congress is back with a revised bill that some would call the “cash for clunkers” legislation. LeftLane News points out:

The Consumer Assistance to Recycle and Save bill, or CARS Act, the revised plan would offer up to $5,000 in rebates to owners willing to trade-in their old rides for a new set of wheels. To qualify, the ‘clunker’ must be at least eight-years old, the new vehicle must have a price tag under $35,000 and have better fuel economy numbers than the vehicle being traded in. According to Sutton, the new bill would cover about 60 percent of the vehicles on the road.

The CARS Act is also forward-thinking, with a $7,500 voucher set to take effect in 2010. That larger credit would be applicable to plug-in hybrid vehicles with a fuel economy rating of 100 mpg or better.

One of the biggest criticisms of the last ‘Cash for Clunkers’ bill was that it favored the purchase of import vehicles. However, the new version of the bill alleviates that concern by offering an additional $1,000 rebate on vehicles assembled in the United States.

What is curious about this bill is the cap at $35,000. Only a couple of European manufacturers even sell a car in the US that would qualify. All employ Americans and all have American investors. So what’s the beef? It makes wonder just how many cars have better numbers than 8 years ago – such a calculation is critical for those that wish to buy the same car model! And who makes a 100mpg car anyway??

The second part of this story deals with an article from Edmund’s Michelle Krebs. Krebs points out that compared with buying a 1-year-old car, some new cars are actually cheaper!

Krebs gives several examples including the Audi A4, and the BMW 1, 3, 5, 6, M5, and M6 series. In the case of the 6-series convertible, a buyer would save $6,175 buying a new example over a one year old example! The Japanese are also examples of carmakers whose cars are more heavily discounted now than a year’s worth of depreciation would otherwise discount them.

Now is definitely a good time to shop!

January sales figures… as slow as our post…

Wednesday, February 25th, 2009

Yes, it is the end of February, so it is a bit late for all of this, but Beyond the KM will start trying to post sales figures. The move seems timely since every car sale seems to count a lot more than ever. In fact, we just got an advert from one of the 25 largest US Porsche dealers advertising a “first-time ever” special sale program:

 

Even Porsche of North Scottsdale is promoting "Big Sales"

Even Porsche of North Scottsdale is promoting "Big Sales"

 

 

BTKM is also working to compile European auto numbers by company over time. We have been actively cataloging sales figures for the last few months courtesy of Newspress.

 

The ugly
The following manufacturers have reported January 2009 sales figures posted on Leftlane News:

(Note that these seem to be U.S. sales only…December 2008 and overall 2008  sales can be found here.

Audi, down 26.4 percent to 4,722
Mercedes-Benz, down 42.9 percent to 10,433
Saab, down 46.1 percent to 955
Smart, up 177.1 percent to 1,776
Volkswagen, down 11.6 percent to 12,744
Volvo, down 63.8 percent to 2,910

Porsche produces a diesel? Really?

Monday, November 24th, 2008

Porsche’s communications department has release information indicating that the company will in fact sell a diesel-powered version of the Cayenne SUV.

The benefit to Porsche? The obvious benefit is that consumer demand has finally forced even the sportiest of automakers to consider satisfying consumer demand for large vehicles that get 30 miles per gallon or more. As fuel prices increase over time, demand for vehicles that hit the wallet less, will increase. It’s simple economics.

Another benefit to Porsche is that a 30mpg car reduces the company’s overall emissions output. For the Cayenne, Porsche will source VW/Audi’s 3.0 litre TDI engine. This engine apparently produces 240bhp while creating 244g/km of carbon dioxide. Still not super environmental, but it’s a fair start for a sports car maker.

What’s not clear yet is if the car is coming to the USA. Imagine that with the US as the largest buyer of Porsche’s the company is considering this as an option, but American acceptance of diesel-powered cars has never been too great. Rest assured petrol prices will increase again in the not-so-distant future, at which time the case will be re-made for the fuel efficiency that diesel offers.

If it does come to the USA, imagine a price around $50,000. That is a $6K+ premium over the petrol Cayenne. At present, the UK edition will start at £40,250 and will be out in February 2009, just in time to get your wife a nice Valentine’s Day gift!

Lamborghini struggling?

Monday, November 10th, 2008

 

Well, the world’s largest Lamborghini dealership has closed this year as well as the largest Chevy dealer.

Orange County Lamborghini apparently closed its doors, though the site remains: LAMBORGHINI ORANGE COUNTY

According to Leftlane New the company’s management struggled, despite the dealership being quite successful with some exclusive clientele for which most luxury goods makers would kill. It’s unclear which part of the family business is failing, however, as Vik is the property owner, but the dealership owners are actually Nora, Sossi, and Astrid, his sisters. One possibility is that cash flow is weak following the 2007 purchase of an Audi-VW dealership in Santa Ana. Either way, the business lesson to be learned is that cash flow is not safe in the down economy.

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How a reverse VW-Porsche takeover might work

Thursday, November 6th, 2008

Unless you have been living in a cave the last two years, you know that Porsche’s strong financial position has allowed them to make a gradual play for VW’s shares. In fact it is just the latest in what has been a long-time partnership between the two + Audi. You may recall that many years ago Audi+Porsche dealerships often shared the same building.

But what we really didn’t know until recently was how Porsche might use VW in their product portfolio. Remember that the VW Touareg , Audi Q7, and Porsche Cayenne share the same platform. The benefit being significantly cheaper development costs. Bear in mind that Porsche has had a benefit in this partnership of releasing their Cayenne before VW and Audi have released their products. Ironically, it is the smashing success of the Cayenne product line that has given Porsche the ability to launch a takeover of VW.

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Busy Times at Porsche, VW Gets Gobbled Up

Tuesday, May 6th, 2008

Pac-Man

It’s been absolutely a hectic time in Germany these days. Recent weeks have seen a remarkable number of events coming out of the Stuttgart, with Porsche announcing an increased stake in Volkswagen. Currently Porsche owns around 31 percent of VW, but will move to bring their control to over 50% by year’s end. Strategically, Porsche stands to benefit from increased sharing with VW/Audi’s research and development departments. Additionally, they will be able to secure long-term projects with suppliers. Recently, the Porsche Cayenne has shared a platform with the VW Toureg and Audi Q-series vehicles. VW in turn has managed to clear a path to integration between it’s stakes in Scania and MAN.

Former CEO of Porsche NA

Porsche North America’s Peter Schwarzenbauer has announced that he is leaving to pursue an executive opportunity with Audi of America/Canada. Schwarzenbauer is known for having pushed Porsche NA into an enviable position as the worlds top sportscar maker. He noted some time ago that Porsche NA would never offer incentives (source: http://wardsauto.com/ar/stupid_incentives_porsche/). Key will be to see if Porsche is able to maintain that stance in a severe market downturn such as that currently unfolding in the North American market. 2008 may prove especially tough for the 911 first because of the recession and second because there is a new model due out for 2009.

Some dealers, however, have indicated incentives. Porsche of North Scottsdale in Scottsdale, AZ had offered the Cayman at a near $3,000 discount during April.  This come as something of a surprise as Porsche had announced in March that sales were strong:

“In the first six months of the current financial year 2007/08 (August 1, 2007 to January 31, 2008), a pretax Group profit of 1.658 billion Euros was achieved. The prior year result on a comparable basis was 1.341 billion Euros. This includes the proportional VW result for the fourth quarter of 2006 of about 272 million Euros and it is adjusted for the one-off effect of the revaluation of VW stake that resulted in an appreciation of 521 million Euros. Calculated on a comparable basis the Group result after taxes increased from 0.897 billion Euros in the previous period to 1.295 billion Euros in the reporting period.

Operating result before taxes grew in line with the increase in the turnover and sales figures. Turnover grew by 14 percent to 3.49 (prior year: 3.07) billion Euros and sales reached 46,736 vehicles versus 39,265 units in the comparable period for the prior year. The expansion of the dealer network, in particular into the new markets, and also the increased attractiveness of Porsche’s product range contributed to these successes. The new top models of the successful 911 sports car series introduced during the reporting period, the 911 Turbo Cabriolet and the 911 GT2 were received with great enthusiasm by customers. And the Cayenne series was successfully expanded with the especially sporty Cayenne GTS which Porsche showed at the 2007 International Automobile Exhibition in Frankfurt.

However, the reporting period was once again affected by special factors, first and foremost the contribution to the result provided by hedging transactions in connection with the acquisition of VW shares. This rose from 791 million Euros to 850 million Euros. In line with the 22.5 percent holding in VW’s equity, the VW result attributable to Porsche reached 484 million Euros versus the prior year figure of 275 million Euros. The prior year figure was revised and increased by the proportional VW result for the fourth quarter of 2006 so as to ensure comparability.”

Porsche found out at the beginning of April that demand was indeed, falling. Porsche stock stumbled, and the company released this information:

“Porsche’s stock fell by as much as 5 percent in German trading after the company reported its U.S. sales dropped 24 percent in March, Bloomberg News reported Wednesday. The value of Porsche’s stock is down 17 percent for the year so far.

Porsche’s sales decline showed luxury buyers are now being affected by the economic slump and are bargain hunting, according to Edmunds.com’s analysis of March and first-quarter sales.

Sales of Porsche’s expensive 911 models plummeted by 76 percent in March and were sliced in half for the quarter compared with the same period a year ago. Similarly, sales of its less-expensive Boxster and Cayman sports cars were halved as well.

Sales of the reduced-price Cayenne GTS kept Porsche afloat. The German sports-car maker introduced an upgraded version of the standard Cayenne SUV but at a lesser price in February, which proved to be a smart move as Cayenne sales were the only Porsche models to see an increase. Also up were sales of certified pre-owned Porsches.

Worldwide, Porsche’s sports car sales are down as well.

Porsche had expected slower U.S. sales and announced in January plans to pare back inventories.”

Despite the dislike of the Cayenne by many enthusiasts, the SUV does seem to be keeping Porsche in the black. That car alone is probably most responsible for the takeover of VW Group, and bringing Porsche into the mainstream of the automotive industry.

Sources: IHT article
Porsche

Competitive advantage: “No-Worry Maintenance” programs

Sunday, April 27th, 2008

For most of the decade now BMW has enjoyed a distinct competitive advantage – at least in the American market. They have offered a four-year, 50,000 mile maintenance-cost-free program called “BMW Ultimate Service”. The service includes free replacement of:

  • Brake Pads
  • Brake Rotors
  • Wiper Blades
  • Scheduled Maintenance (as outlined in the owner’s manual)
  • Oil Changes/topping up of fluids
  • Roadside Maintenance

It’s worth noting that BMW parts are generally well-made, and will not typically require new pads and rotors in this 50,000 miles. Still, it’s nice to know you’re covered. It’s also worth noting what the program does NOT include: tyres and alignment for starters. 

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VW Coming to America – No, Really, It’s True!!!

Wednesday, March 26th, 2008

VW Logo

Volkswagen of America, Inc. announced last year that it has changed its name to Volkswagen Group of America, Inc. The change will be fully effective January 1, 2008.

VW Scirocco

The new name better reflects the fact that the Volkswagen Group of America includes five distinct brands: Audi, Bentley, Bugatti, Lamborghini, and Volkswagen, as well as the related financial services functions of Audi Financial Services, Bentley Financial Services and Volkswagen Credit.
“Our company, like the entire Volkswagen Group, has grown dramatically since our formation in the United States in 1955. Our new corporate name allows our individual brands to flourish, while recognizing that we have a common support structure that gives us great strength as we face our competitors,” said Stefan Jacoby, President and Chief Executive Officer. “The new name Volkswagen Group of America reflects the much wider array of goods and services we now offer, and prepares us for even more activities in the future.”

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Audi Super Bowl Ad Redux

Tuesday, February 5th, 2008

Enjoy!

Weekend Entertainment: Audi’s Answer to the BMW “Driver” Series

Saturday, November 3rd, 2007

Enjoy!

Clever Audi Commercial

Friday, September 21st, 2007

For your weekend enjoyment: