Archive for the 'BMW' Category

IAA in Frankfurt…

Thursday, September 19th, 2013

Usually the IAA Frankfurt auto show shows off the latest and greatest technology, like the Porsche 918 Spyder and the new 911 Turbo S, but sometimes these very public events showcase the down side of the European auto industry.

Case in point is this gentleman from Italy whose BMW M6 turned out to be a lemon. Apparently, no one at BMW took ownership of the various chronic problems that this particular vehicle has, and as the European lemon laws are quite weak (think lemon-flavored water instead of lemonade!), the owner felt his only recourse was to stage a very public demonstration outside of the IAA grounds, where he and a friend took a sledgehammer and axe to the M6. Normally, I am loathe to to see a good sportscar go to waste, but apparently, this was anything but a good sportscar. It is a shame it came to this, however…

Protestaktion vor der IAA Frankfurt am 14.9.13 : BMW M6 wird demoliert! – YouTube.

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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.


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.


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.


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.




BMW Group


Upping the ante: Striking out in Sin City with the BMW 135i

Sunday, March 13th, 2011

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My mother suffers from what I call “look-aholism.” That is, she sees a car on the road, develops an attachment over time, until finally, something catastrophic happens with her current car and she is induced into buying a new one. So recently, I flew up to the Vegas and picked up a heavily optioned BMW 135. For about $50,000, you too can “steal” a fully optioned 135i coupé.

Normally, the drive back from Vegas is fraught with traffic and hung-over gamblers, but I opted for the safer route through Flagstaff. Golden Earring’s Radar Love blasting from my iPod, veins coursing with Red Bull, the late-night drive back from the City of Lost Wages over the Hoover Dam, down through the Arizona Mountains, and into the Valley of the Sun was an unforgettable experience. The 135i with 300-HP easily blew by every car on the highway, and made the trip on less than a tank of petrol. Some love the styling while others blast it for looking too “Bangled,” but know this: whether you are blasting by a Porsche or dicing corners faster than an Audi TT-S, for the smile on your face, no car pays off like the BMW 1er.

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:

June 2009 sales abysmal for Europe’s automakers

Tuesday, July 28th, 2009

Gathered, in part from LeftLane:

Volkswagen says its diesel TDI vehicles are selling well. An impressive 81 percent of Jetta SportWagens were equipped with the TDI, as were 40 percent of Jetta sedans and 29 percent of Touaregs last month. Volkswagen, sales were down 18 percent to 19,027.

Volvo saw a 0.6 percent increase in sales compared to June 2008, though the Swedish marque is still off 35.6 percent for the first six months of the year. The all-new XC60 sold 1,032 units.

Porsche had a disastrous June; just 902 of the automaker’s sports cars left dealer lots, a 66 percent decrease that brought the automaker’s year-to-date sales down 36 percent for the year.

BMW, down 20.1 percent to 16,744.

Maserati, down 47.9 percent to 111.

Mercedes-Benz, down 22.6 percent to 15,155.

Mini, down 21.2 percent to 4,105.

Saab, down 58.4 percent to 779.

European investment in green cars is all the rage!

Thursday, April 16th, 2009


Mercedes E-class BlueTec Hybrid

Mercedes E-class BlueTec Hybrid



Without a doubt, the EU has become the leader in improving the pollution problem for the automotive sector. Recently the U.S. put in a 27.3 mpg average fleet requirement for 2011. Please see: for the latest information and the impact analysis. But is the change enough to get us on the right track? How exactly do carmakers implement changes in their fleet to address the higher requirements?

The European Union defines specific emissions targets for the following 5 years as the following:


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!

A tough year for BMW

Tuesday, March 24th, 2009


We reported earlier in the year that Chris Bangle was leaving the auto industry. Regardless of what you thought of his designs, the “Bangle Butt” and flame surfacing being two, you have to admit his timing could not have been better. BMW has, after all seen some incredible growth in the last few years. Sales have been increasing with records being broken month after month.

2009 will prove a much different one for the company. Indeed, last Wednesday BMW announced that it expected sales to be off by as much as 20%! The result of the credit turmoil in the United States and Europe led the company to report a fourth quarter loss of of US$1.3 billion. Profit was nearly US$250 million on revenues of US$22.56 billion in the fourth quarter of the previous year.

For all of 2008 the automaker posted a net profit of 330 million euros ($465.2 million) compared with 3.1 billion ($4.37 billion) in 2007. Sales fell 5% to 53 billion euros ($74.72 billion).

That is disconcerting news to be sure, but what is the long-term outlook? Has BMW made solid strategic decisions impacting its future? The answer is a little complicated. In the first place, BMW has increased SUV production significantly in the last 5 years going from 1 model, the X5 to 3, adding the X3 and recently the X6. We know they may be developing a X1, too. Adding so many heavy cars to the lineup, once dominated by sports sedans, calls into question the BMW moniker: “The Ultimate Driving Machine”.

Slogans aside, is BMW merely profiting from a fad in the automotive sector. Are SUVs here to stay, especially if gas prices skyrocket again? It would seem that BMW needs to develop some competitive “green” strategies if they hope to continue on the SUV path. On the upside, they haven’t developed a mini-van as seen at Mercedes and now VW (thank god). The other recent development is that BMW’s subsidiary Rolls-Royce is developing a new smaller sedan. That car aims to move the lineup down into Bentley Continental territory. Such a move is long-overdue. BMW’s CEO Norbert Reithofer still argues that long-term, BMW is on track to improve its lineup and sales/profitability figures for 2012. Though the stock markets can change from day to day, long-term strategies are critical to the longevity of a company, so we can feel confident that BMW has a future. They have more liquidity that other European automakers and Bernstein Research argues that they have stable investment potential.

As a final note, BMW will have to figure out how to bring down the cost of their smaller cars. No doubt BMW will always try to position themselves as “high-end”, but the buying public’s support for “over-valued” cars may have waned. People in tough economic times want an affordable car with great performance. Why should BMW provide that? One way to do this will be to bring the 1-series, which is arguably far over-priced for its segment, more downstream. One way to do this is to offer the 1 as a 4-cylinder variant with or without turbocharging. LeftLane news suggests some other alternatives here.

Weekend entertainment: Hyperleggera

Friday, March 6th, 2009

Oh the life of a journalist… imagine taking a tour of a factory (in this case BMW) and finding a not so journalist-friendly staff. Specifically, this writer had to resort to crayon drawings when his camera was banned.

Ok, it’s a bit silly but an enjoyable read, it’s weekend entertainment after all!

Visit Hyperleggera: A Trip to BMW Werk Dingolfing

Paranoia und Verschwörung in Bayern



“Agnes, how do you do! I’ve heard you’ll drop in by our Münich head quar ters tomorrow.”

Even as heard through a cell phone’s tinny speaker, the voice of Man fred von Schaden­freude is impos ing. Agnes, head of BMW Hungary’s PR, is respon si ble for han dling the jour­nal ists from Hun gary. She is talk ing on her cell phone a few feet away from the jour nal ists, who—drunk on Rolls–Royce—do not pay any atten tion to her conversation.

“Look, Agnes, you’re a smart woman. Obvi ously, you will want to visit us tomor row as an employee, not as a guest.”

“Of course, Herr Ingenieur.”

“Oh please! Call me Manny.”

“All right…Manny.”

“See? Easy as pie! So go and take that lanky kid’s camera. Alex is a dullard, he does not have the sense to use our BR–2491 Excuse Gen er a tor with style, but you have no need for such prim i tive tools. I see you’re on good terms with the boy. You surely can figure out how to handle this.”

“Herr Ing…I mean, Manny, trust me I can handle him.”

“All right then. Soon there will be an open ing in upper man age ment here at com pany HQ. But I’ll tell you all about that tomor row! Do not let me down.”

The tele phone goes silent. Agnes rejoins the jour nal ists. Stand ing nearby, Alex is fid dling with the button on the BR–2491 Excuse Generator.

A Rolls-Royce: in Crayon

A Rolls-Royce: in Crayon

Check it out, Beyond the KM’s new Hydrogen Car List

Tuesday, February 24th, 2009


We will be keeping this list updated with the latest cars that run on Hydrogen fuel. Check back soon!

The world rejoices: Chris Bangle leaves BMW Group

Friday, February 20th, 2009
Chris Bangle for BMW Group head of design

Chris Bangle

Well, 2009 brings great changes. First Bush leaves office, then GM and Chrysler, on the verge of collapse, beg for money from the government, and finally the best news of all: Bangle is bye-bye!

Yes, by now it’s not breaking news but BMW Group’s controversial design chief, Chris Bangle, has announced that he is leaving the company to pursue other interests. Thankfully, those interests are not in the auto industry!

There are countless opinions on this design style at BMW. The BMW 7-series of 2002 was perhaps one of the most controversial automotive redesigns ever, especial compared to Porsche’ much more conservative “evolution not revolution” design concepts. Most of the design results were panned widely but when we look at current model Japanese, European, and even American cars we can point to certain designs that were probably based on the “Bangle Butt” and the “flame” surfacing seem in the 2002 BMW 7-series. As of this writing, 15,000 or so people had petitioned to have Bangles 7-series design scrapped.

The New York Times’ Phil Patton caught up with Bangle at the TED conference, and got a few questions answered. 

“It has nothing to do with how the company works inside or with me,” [Bangle] said, adding that he is not going to another car company. “It was a moment I have been planning for a long time.”

Apparently Bangle is starting his own design firm, and is leaving the auto industry behind altogether. Maybe his next project will be flame-surfaced toasters…

Replacing Bangle is BMW brand’s design chief Adrian van Hooydonk, who had previously reported to Bangle. He will be tasked with designing cars which are both forward-looking, respectful of the past, and pleasing to BMW loyalists. Bangle seemed to achieve only the former.


BMW 5-series GT concept

BMW 5-series GT concept

A profile picture of Mr. van Hooydonk:

BMW's new Design Chief, Adrian van Hooydonk

BMW's new Design Chief, Adrian van Hooydonk


Porsche’s latest creation…

Tuesday, February 10th, 2009


Germany’s car companies seem to be in love with themselves these days. Travelers rejoice: no longer is it a “day out” to go and tour a manufacturing line, after all that would require some extensive travel (Porsche produces some cars in Finland, and BMW produces some in America and South Africa). Instead both BMW and Porsche have built self-serving shrines to themselves in the form of public museums. And these aren’t just any museums. They feature the cutting edge in modern-day architecture.

Porsche has just opened their facility in Zuffenhausen, have a look…

Did you love BMW iDrive?

Sunday, February 8th, 2009

If you “loved” BMW’s iDrive system, now 7 year old, then you are going to continue the “love-fest” with BMW’s latest implementation of bizarro technology courtesy of Microsoft’s “Surface” computer. BMW wants to up the ante using this intriguing table-technology to better sell customized cars to its upscale clientele. Find out how here:


For more on surface, see this video:

Economic failures = new car models for European automakers. Month in review.

Tuesday, January 13th, 2009

Audi R8

The economy is hurting and more and more carmakers are suffering. Not all are doing poorly, though. Audi, as an example reported record sales for 2008, with over 1,000,000 vehicles sold. Lamborghini, owned by the VW/Audi Group, also posted record sales for 2008. Both companies produce sports cars that retail at over US$100,000.

Let us examine the developments of the last month by automaker:

Porsche. There is no substitute for a strong economy. A poor economy negatively impacted sales at the sports car maker, and even a significantly revised 911 model did not save it from a virtual sales slump. Porsche is tighter with numbers than most companies, but while sales were slowing, the company hopes that new models in 2009 will help it combat slumping sales. A four-door car, the Panamera should hit showroom floors in the first half of 2009, while you can expect to drive a 2009 Boxster/Cayman with revised powertrain as soon as March.

In financial news the company announced the first week of January that they had bought an additional 8.16 per cent stake in VW worth 6.1bn Euro/US$8.2bn. Porsche now owns 50.76 per cent of VW Group but may gain further stake in VW, rising to 75 per cent in coming months (if all goes as planned).  In November, news came out that Germany’s upper house of parliament passed new laws regarding ownership of VW, despite European Commission rulings that such laws were illegal.

In November, the high profit-maker in the world gobbled up a stake, which sent hedge funds scrambled to recover from trading, which briefly left VW as the most valuable company in the world. Porsche’s finance team effectively practiced something called “cornering”. Let us not forget that Porsche is better as an investor than as a carmaker – though they are a damned good carmaker. In 2007, the company made 3.6 billion Euros on investments, and only a paltry 1 billion Euros on cars. At a 12 per cent profit margin, the decision to invest in VW stands financial positioning, and partly seeking a partner with whom to share technology development costs.

Still, everyone is watching the dollars and cents these days. Even Porsche has announced that is it pulling out of the American LeMans series for 2009 – in part. It is pulling the P2 team, but not pulling support for the 911 GT3 RSRs in the GT2 category.

Mercedes-Benz. Mercedes has finally announced the much-anticipated E-class for 2009. The new car replaces the round headlights with more rectangular ones, perhaps in the style of the C-class or a Lexus.


Psychosis hits Chrysler…”Mayday, mayday! We’re going down!”

Monday, December 22nd, 2008

According to an article on LeftLane News, Chrysler execs are so delusional these days that they think their prime competitors are Mercedes and BMW. WHAT?????????????

Former Toyota executive Jim Press, and current Chrysler Co-President thinks that the company will build itself a few cars that will beat Cadillac at its own game and attempt to take on BMW and Mercedes for sales. RIIIIIGHT! Where’s this plan coming from?

Who’s next? Ferrari? Is Chrysler the next Lamborghini? The next Porsche? If this is the way management at Chrysler plans to act? What’s next for them, making cars that run on petrol? Oh…wait!? Where’s the originality at Chrysler? Better question, where is the R&D??? Perhaps a bailout should be tied to a commitment to change. Now THERE is a novel idea!

Co-President Press claims to want to rebuild Chrysler as a smaller, nimbler company. But he certainly has to see that this means smaller cars, and alternative energy resources. Perhaps imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, but how will they accomplish all of this? You’d love to see the plan, huh?


Weird BMW drama: thank the Quandt family…

Tuesday, November 11th, 2008

Susanne Klatten owns 12.5% of BMW, is the 68th richest woman in the world, and the richest woman in Germany. So why is she headline news this week? Apparently Ms. Klatten, pictured above, has learned a difficult personal and business lesson: don’t become a victim of blackmail.

The whole incident does bring up a good point, which is how does a wealthy auto executive stay clear of drama and sketchy affairs? No doubt she’s hired a crisis management consultant. She is probably in the right to be coming out and exposing the embarrassing affair. It does make one wonder just how many executives in her position stand to lose or may make decisions based on blackmailer by elicit lovers or poor business partnerships.

All the worse is that a regularly private person is now put on public scrutiny.


LOTW: Want a new career? Think racing is for you?

Sunday, August 17th, 2008


If you head down to your local Department of Economic Security, High School, or even Barnes & Noble bookseller, you will find a great many references to career descriptions ranging from fire fighter to nurse practitioner. But for a lucky few people in the world, with incredible drive and passion, there exists no article in those books. I’m talking about the career of race car driver. 

One might imagine the life of a racing driver to be one of great excitement, riches, and even sex appeal. But that is not the case for everyone who enters the field of auto racing.

Enter James Hunt. (more…)

Long-Awaited BMW M3 Convertible Announced!

Friday, April 25th, 2008

While we normally don’t report on new product announcement, the BMW M3 Convertible stands to be the best car BMW has released in the last few years. It’s a powerful combination of powertrain and luxury sportscar handling. It’s also one of the more restrained car designs from BMW in the last 5 years, which we warmly welcome. Hopefully BMW will let BeyondtheKM drive one soon so we can give you the full scoop!


A BMW that runs on pollution

Thursday, April 24th, 2008

No, it’s not April 1st. BMW’s engineers have done something seen only in Back to the Future: using pollution to fuel a car. Looking nothing like a modified DeLorean, the modified BMW 7 series has the ability to consume pollutants that typically occur in in their Hydrogen 7 model. The Hydrogen 7 model normal creates little pollution because the main resultant is water.

BMW’s Canine Repellent Alloy Protection

Tuesday, April 1st, 2008

The latest innovation to stop foul play on the street

BMW has announced the first details of the new Canine Repellent Alloy Protection system. Designed to stop dogs fouling against the sparkling alloys of new BMW cars, the innovative Canine Repellent Alloy Protection system (C.R.A.P.) is the latest offering in the BMW EfficientDynamics programme.

BMW Z4 with Canine Repellent Alloy Protection