Monday, August 31, 2015

Automotive Reporter Biz News for Wk of 8-31-15

Just keep reminding yourself, it’s a Mercedes-Benz.
smart is debuting the latest variant in the series, the ForTwo Cabrio, next month at the International Motor Show in Frankfurt

The folks at MB crow the car is really three autos in one, transforming from an enclosed two-seater into a canvas-drapped sunroof, or full-open convertible.  smart says its cabrio is the only true cabriolet in its class. That’s because no one else makes these things. Thankfully.

The smart series is powered by a turbocharged 898-cc three-cylinder engine cranking out 89-hp and 100-lb/ft of torque. Rawr. The smart cabrio boasts a turning circle of just under 23-feet. Zero-to-sixty times have not been published, but the car’s top speed is posted at 96-mph.

Sidebar: How smart is it to name your car and not capitalize the name? Don’t these guys realize the spellcheck havoc they’re wreaking, especially when you need to start a sentence with “smart,” and force a lower-case first letter in the first word of a line? Second, where did this convention of eliminating the spaces between two words, two names, or any adjective-noun combination come from? How is it no one has said, “ENOUGH!” yet?
ForTwo, SmartCar, AppleCar. SmartPhone, MileagePlus.
Need I go on?

All those whiz-bang features in new cars may be for naught.
The 2016 class of automobiles feature unprecedented technology features. We now have cars that will park themselves and then come get you from their parking space. There are more pre-installed apps, and touch screen displays that rival some small laptops. Some automakers are even offering “ground school” classes to familiarize new car buyers with all of the features. I still have trouble setting the clock on my dashboard every time we switch between DST and standard time.

J.D.Power’s latest DrIVE report of driver experiences with in-vehicle tech reveals a surprising level of non-use of these newest features, with 20% of new car owners never using 16 of the 33 features measured. 43% of drivers never use the in-vehicle concierge, 38% ignore mobile routers, 35% don’t let the cars park themselves, and 32% don’t use the built-in apps…or don’t know where/what they are to get to them.

This might beg the question, if automakers are building technology no one uses, is the value of these cars over rated? The Power report also shows 14 tech features 20-percent of car owners do not want in their next car, including Apple CarPlay and Google Android Auto, in-vehicle concierge services, and in-vehicle voice texting.  Gen Y owners would just as soon use their own personal smart instrument of choice instead of an in-car app.

So what technologies do drivers want? Anything that enhances the driving experience and safety, like vehicle health diagnostics, blind-spot warning, and adaptive cruise control.
Car Wars: Summer Sales forecast results
Depending upon whom you ask, new car sales are anticipated to take a dip for August.
Some car makers are blaming it on Labor Day timing from last year—sales totals in August 2014 included Labor Day sales figures. This year, Labor Day tallies will be in September’s numbers.

Kelly Blue Book is predicting a 4% year-over-year decline to 1.52-million units sold, which yields a SAAR (seasonally adjusted annual rate) of 17.2-million sales.  Across the street at, numbers crunchers say August numbers will hit 1.53-million units, for a SAAR of 17.4-million sales. That would be a 2.8% drop from August 2014. Analysts at both counting houses are watchful for a softening of the new car sales market, which is joined at the hip to the financial markets.

Want to buy a new Ford GT?
Instead of shipping the rare 2017 Ford GT to dealerships to sell, Ford Motor Company is taking a more “exclusive” approach to marketing the $400,000 supercar. You’ll have to take a number.

Ford is requiring prospective buyers to file an application to purchase the GT, although one source says current owners will go to the front of the line. Anyone can apply to buy starting early next year, and Ford’s concierge services will “walk them through” the process. 

Why all the persnickitiness over the 2017 Ford GT? They’re only going to build 250 of them a year. AutoBlog notes for comparison, Ferrari only built 499 LaFerraris, and there were 918 Porsche 918 Spyders.

Review Preview
Watch this space later this week for my reflections on driving Ford’s 2016 Mustang fitted with a 2.3-L Ecoboost four, one of the most pleasantly-surprising configurations you could imagine. 

The car is not without its flaws, but they’re minor in comparison with performance and handling.  It doesn’t hurt that the ’16 ‘Stang is knee-weakeningly gorgeous.

Listen to the Automotive Reporter Radio Show every weekend on, or from our webpage. 

No comments: