Do BMW and Mercedes Have Too Many Models?

Mike Duff, writing for Car and Driver Blog, reports that both BMW and Mercedes will bill culling their herd in the coming years and that those models to go will be mostly traditional coupes.

Dieter Zetsche, head of Mercedes-Benz Cars, stated “The specialty cars, these coupes and convertibles, were always niche cars,” to journalists at the Geneva auto show. “The expansion into China and other emerging markets [has given] huge opportunities for sedans, but they did not take up these specialty cars. Which makes the business case for these vehicles less easy.”

Zetsche made it clear Mercedes planned to continue offering at least a few coupes. Duff writes, “With both coupe and cabriolet versions of the C-class, E-class, and S-class currently being offered alongside the SLK and SL roadsters and the AMG GT coupe and convertible, there’s obvious potential to simplify the range.”

BMW’s Ian Robertson reported that the company had been struggling with their open sports cars, “The segment that is not really progressing is the roadster segment,” he said. “It never really recovered after 2008, and it never picked up in Asia. Therefore we’re working with Toyota on a platform to try to gain some economies of scale.”

What do you think? Is spoiling their customers with choice weakening sales? Or are luxury coupes no longer the in-thing?

Mercedes-Benz’s New All-Electric Heavy-Duty Truck

The German automaker just revealed a heavy electric truck, which features technology that could go into production by the beginning of the next decade.The Mercedes-Benz Urban eTruck is the first fully electric truck intended for heavy distribution operations, according to the automaker, and it’s capable of hauling 26 metric tons.

The truck is intended for short, local trips, as it only has a range of up to 124 miles. Three lithium-ion battery modules supply power to the truck and are housed in a crash-proof location inside the frame. Electric motors sit adjacent to the wheel hubs. Mercedes tested autonomous heavy-duty trucks on the roads of Europe this year.

Even before introducing the Urban eTruck, Daimler had already debuted other zero-emissions trucks. Daimler, which owns a nearly-90-percent stake in Mitsubishi‘s spin-off truck brand Fuso, has been testing the Fuso Canter E-Cell light distribution truck in consumer trials since 2014. Its hydrogen fuel cell trucks traveled over 31,000 miles in just one year of testing, despite the fact that the truck also offers a limited range. Mercedes says it gets over 62 miles of range.

Earlier this month, Tesla announced it wanted to move into the heavy-duty and commercial transportation space with an electric semi-truck. It says a heavy-duty truck will be ready to unveil next year.

The All-New Mercedes Benz C-Class 2015

Mercedes has changed their C-Class Sedan 2015. The photo we show is one we made from a build your own on their website. There seemed to be limited choices of colors – mostly silvers and grays. We chose brown. You get a few choices of interior colors and dash panel finishes.

When we were finished adding a bunch of extras, the price went from $38,400 to $66,665 for the C400 model. That included wheels, paint, lighting package, panorama roof, illuminated star, rear spoiler, interior package, air balance package, power rear-window sunshade, rear-side window sunshades, multimedia package, hands-free access package, head-up display, Garmin® map pilot, AIRMATIC package, PARKTRONIC with parking assist, blind spot assist (with rearview camera), cargo area tray, all-season floor mats, and the service and care mbrace® package. Not to mention there is a $925 transportation charge. You can use their builder to build your car and then order it at a nearby dealer or check local inventory. A special order may take 8 weeks to 3 months.

The C300 model has 241-hp 2.0-liter 4-cylinder turbo-4 while the C400 model has 329-hp biturbo V-6. 4MATIC® all-wheel drive comes with C400 while it is an option for the C300.

The changes made to C-Class from 2014 to 2015 include, smaller size with a more rounded body design, headlights, wheels, and taillights are all different as well. The interior materials are upgraded.

Mercedes Benz C-Class

New 2014 Mercedes-Benz S550

Jody and I were looking into the new 2014 Mercedes-Benz S550. Wow! What a car! This car claims to be ahead of the pack in technology.

This car has only LED’s for all lights, an aromatherapy system, full LCD instrument cluster, stereoscopic cameras in from of rearview mirror just to name a few.

We found an online review that tells about this new car. You can read the full review here.

~ Joe Victor

Joe asks Jody Victor®: Best Quality Cars III

Well, we’ve gone through quite a list, but coming up are some of my favorites. Here’s Jody Victor®  with the next installment of the best quality cars for 2012.

Jody Victor®: Hey Joe, some of these are my favorites too. Installment number 3 from an article by Cliffor Atiyeh of msn.com.

Top Premium Sport Car: Porsche 911

Somehow, Porsche ends up having fewer problems than Honda or Mercedes (we’ll chalk it up to lower production volume and fewer miles traveled). Whatever the reason, the 911 is a fantastic way to spend upwards of $80,000. It’s practical, conservative-looking, yet altogether badass when the time comes to push it on a favorite back road. Among sports cars, the 911 is an indisputable legend that’s been going strong for five decades.

Top Compact Crossover/SUV: Honda CR-V

In 1997, the CR-V was one of the few compact crossovers, and Honda got it right from the start. With its slim proportions, all-wheel drive and generous cargo room, the CR-V is about as utilitarian as anyone really needs. The 4-cylinder engines are snappy and good on fuel, and while the interiors need some improvement and the doors feel flimsy, there’s a lot of well-engineered car here.

Top Compact MPV: Kia Soul

While hip-hop hamsters drive it on TV, in real life the Kia Soul is driven by all sorts of people, much like how Scion has attracted buyers beyond its original “youth” demographic. The boxy Soul, with its pulsing speaker lights and oddball cloth textures, is fun to drive and invites stares. Generous cargo space, simple controls and Kia’s impressive powertrain warranty seal the deal.

Top Entry Premium Crossover/SUV: Infiniti EX

The EX crossover is essentially a G sedan with more headroom and a hatch. Therefore, it nearly matches the G’s aggressive attitude, with crisp handling and powerful acceleration that’s livelier than an Audi Q5. The interior is feeling a little old next to Infiniti’s other models, and the ride can be rough at times. But it’s nice to have a crossover exhibiting some old-fashioned soul.

Top Midsize Crossover/SUV: Buick Enclave

Among three-row SUVs, this Buick outsells them all. It’s a stylish, ultraquiet family hauler with all the trimmings — and unlike previous Buick SUVs, it’s not a carbon copy of a cheaper Chevrolet. For 2013, the Enclave gets a mild refresh with more soft-touch interior materials and other moderate improvements. If you can stand minivans, you won’t do much better for the price than this Buick.

Top Large Crossover/SUV: Ford Expedition

This is a weird choice, considering that the Expedition has been long forgotten in the Ford lineup in favor of smaller, more fuel-efficient SUVs. For its sheer towing capacity, living-room size and brute strength, it’s hard to argue with an Expedition or its luxury cousin, the Lincoln Navigator. We’d like to think that better, more modern V8-powered 3-row SUVs are available.

Thanks, Jody! More next time!

Joe Victor

Joe asks Jody Victor®: 10 Most Useless Car Technologies

Do you ever wonder, “What were they thinking!” when you use some of the gadgets in your car? I asked Jody Victor  to tell us about some of the more questionable ones. 

Jody Victor: These car technologies deserve to be called out for being underwhelming, frustrating, or just plain pointless. Here’s a list of ten from the Editors of Popular Mechanics and msn.com in two parts.

Paddle Shifters for Automatic Transmissions

In theory, the ability to manually shift an automatic with nice, prominent steering-wheel paddles makes some sense. Many of us don’t want the inconvenience of a manual transmission during the daily grind, but who doesn’t want to manually change gears once in a while? On some cars, like the AMG Mercedes with the seven-speed auto box, the paddles work fairly well. But we’ve often found that that the computer-controlled transmissions are far too reluctant to respond to driver inputs. As just one example, we’ve tried on multiple occasions to actuate the paddle shifters in the five-speed automatic in Acura’s nimble new TSX about eight times before one corresponding upshift occurs. Unless the paddle shifters are calibrated properly, they’re just another pointless feature.

Interlocked Seatbelts and Starter

This one’s a bit of a throwback, but it might be the most famous market failure here. Interlocked seatbelts and starters, which would prevent drivers from starting the car unless they were wearing their seatbelts, became law in 1973. But Minnesotans, for just one example, laughed it out of their market. No matter how well they were tuned, the carbureted cars of the period required owner finesse to start at minus 30 F. Why buckle up before you determine your car will start? So many Minnesotans would just buckle the belts in the fall and sit on them through the winter. Congress soon quickly rescinded this misguided rule.

Automatically Steering Headlights

For our money, we’ll take good headlights with broad beam spread and light output that covers the road evenly over these systems, which were designed to help drivers see around corners by turning the beams when the car’s steering wheel reached a preset angle. This feature is normally found only on luxury cars; we’ve tried them all and were never impressed.

Automatic Moisture-Sensing Wipers

This feature is just like the automatic spelling-correction that interferes when you type on a word processor or a smartphone: You spend more time defeating the system when it screws up than you’d spend using the system manually. We feel an easy-to-reach switch for wipers remains the best way to clear an intermittently misting windshield. Automatic rain-detecting wipers fall under the category of trying to read Mother Nature’s mind — hundreds of meteorologists say it can’t be done. The reason automatically adjusting wipers were invented in the first place is because customers complained of poorly designed and placed wiper switches. Carmakers should have adopted a slightly simpler solution: easier-to-reach switches.

Map Lights

What’s a map? Oh right, that stack of papers we used to carry around. The Mercury Capri of 1971 arrived standard with an articulating small spotlight (made by Hella for rally drivers) that would fold down from behind the rearview mirror and aim directly at the driver’s or passenger’s laps, illuminating a map without blinding the driver. It migrated to some Mustangs, but similar effective lighting wasn’t available in the U.S. until the early 1990s, though without the precise intensity of the Capri’s unit. By the late 1990s, map lights were finally common — just in time for the slow obsolescence of paper maps.

Thanks, Jody! More next time.

Joe Victor

Joe asks Jody Victor®: 12 Best in Class Car Values, 2012

There were some great vehicles in that last batch. So here we go again. Jody Victor will tell us the rest from an article by Jessica Anderson of Kiplinger and msn.com.

Jody Victor: As we saw in the first part, there were some great vehicles. Now, I’ll finish with the rest – equally great vehicles.

CARS $50,000 AND OVER: MERCEDES-BENZ E-CLASS BLUETEC

Sticker price: $52,565 (Luxury)
Invoice price: $48,947
TrueCar national average price: $48,997
3-year resale value: 56%, 5-year: 37%
City mpg: 21, Hwy: 32

Best in Class for the second year in a row, the E-Class diesel sedan proves it can go the distance on value. The BlueTec’s fuel economy — 32 miles per gallon on the highway — beats all except hybrid competitors in its class, and it sports higher resale values for 2012. Safety gets a boost with a standard driver’s knee airbag, Attention Assist drowsiness monitor and collision warning system.

SPORTS CARS: CHEVROLET CAMARO

Sticker price: $32,750 (1SS)
Invoice price: $31,476
TrueCar national average price: $32,546
3-year resale value: 59%, 5-year: 41%
City mpg: 16, Hwy: 24

Kiplinger’s Best New Car pick when it was reintroduced in 2010, Chevy’s Camaro SS sticks to its hot-rod roots. The brawny 6.2-liter V8 delivers 426 horses and is cloaked in a muscular exterior with styling cues from the pony car’s past. Plus, at just over $32,000, it won’t break the bank.

SMALL CROSSOVERS: SUBARU FORESTER

Sticker price: $30,670 (2.5XT Touring)
Invoice price: $28,767
TrueCar national average price: $29,259
3-year resale value: 60%, 5-year: 46%
City mpg: 19, Hwy: 24

Named Best in Class two years running, this baby ute also has sky-high resale values and picks up Best Resale plaudits. Subaru’s standard Symmetrical All-Wheel Drive sends power to the wheels with the best grip so you always stick to the road securely.

MIDSIZE AND LARGE CROSSOVERS: LEXUS RX 450H

Sticker price: $46,110
Invoice price: $42,039
TrueCar national average price: $44,965
3-year resale value: 60%, 5-year: 44%
City mpg: 32, Hwy: 28

A perennial Kiplinger’s favorite, the Lexus RX features top-notch safety in addition to luxury, and the hybrid RX 450h takes the cake for Most Fuel-Efficient. A ten-airbag tally includes knee airbags for front passengers and rear-seat side airbags, and an optional pre-collision system ($1,500) will tighten seat belts and make extra braking power available if it senses an accident is imminent.

TRUCK-BASED SUVS: CHEVROLET SUBURBAN

Sticker price: $46,625 (1500 LT)
Invoice price: $43,428
TrueCar national average price: $43,703
3-year resale value: 49%, 5-year: 34%
City mpg: 15, Hwy: 21

The ultimate family hauler, the Suburban seats nine and has a whopping 90 cubic feet of cargo space behind the second row and 46 cubic feet behind the third row. The 5.3-liter V8 puts out plenty of power, and the Suburban tows up to 5,000 pounds with ease. But (aside from SUV hybrids) fuel economy is better than any V8 in its segment.

MINIVANS: HONDA ODYSSEY

Sticker price: $29,035 (LX)
Invoice price: $26,390
TrueCar national average price: $27,498
3-year resale value: 55%, 5-year: 41%
City mpg: 18, Hwy: 27

Redesigned for 2011, when it swept Kiplinger’s minivan awards, Honda’s Odyssey still edges out the competition. Its bold exterior sets it apart from its peers, and improved driving dynamics and a more functional interior clinch its first-place status. For 2012, it picks up Most Fuel-Efficient plaudits, too.

Thanks, Jody! We’ll be sure to check them out!

Joe Victor

Joe asks Jody Victor®: 12 Best in Class Car Values For 2012 II

All except one of these Best in Class winners are also Insurance Institute for Highway Safety Top Safety Picks (no sports cars made that list this year). Here’s Jody Victor  to give us the second intallment.

Jody Victor: Hey, Joe, here’s the next four vehicles from and article by Jessica Anderson Of Kiplinger, from msn.com.

CARS $40,000-$50,000: BMW 5 SERIES

Sticker price: $47,575 (528i)
Invoice price: $43,840
TrueCar national average price: $44,838
3-year resale value: 54%, 5-year: 37%
City mpg: 23, Hwy: 34

Direct injection and turbocharging make the 528i one of the most fuel-efficient vehicles in its class. An eight-speed automatic transmission also lends a hand, as does start/stop technology, which shuts the engine off when you’re stopped and automatically restarts it when you press the accelerator.

CARS $50,000 AND OVER: MERCEDES-BENZ E-CLASS BLUETEC

Sticker price: $52,565 (Luxury)
Invoice price: $48,947
TrueCar national average price: $48,997
3-year resale value: 56%, 5-year: 37%
City mpg: 21, Hwy: 32

Best in Class for the second year in a row, the E-Class diesel sedan proves it can go the distance on value. The BlueTec’s fuel economy — 32 miles per gallon on the highway — beats all except hybrid competitors in its class, and it sports higher resale values for 2012. Safety gets a boost with a standard driver’s knee airbag, Attention Assist drowsiness monitor and collision warning system.

SPORTS CARS: CHEVROLET CAMARO

Sticker price: $32,750 (1SS)
Invoice price: $31,476
TrueCar national average price: $32,546
3-year resale value: 59%, 5-year: 41%
City mpg: 16, Hwy: 24

Kiplinger’s Best New Car pick when it was reintroduced in 2010, Chevy’s Camaro SS sticks to its hot-rod roots. The brawny 6.2-liter V8 delivers 426 horses and is cloaked in a muscular exterior with styling cues from the pony car’s past. Plus, at just over $32,000, it won’t break the bank.

SMALL CROSSOVERS: SUBARU FORESTER

Sticker price: $30,670 (2.5XT Touring)
Invoice price: $28,767
TrueCar national average price: $29,259
3-year resale value: 60%, 5-year: 46%
City mpg: 19, Hwy: 24

Named Best in Class two years running, this baby ute also has sky-high resale values and picks up Best Resale plaudits. Subaru’s standard Symmetrical All-Wheel Drive sends power to the wheels with the best grip so you always stick to the road securely.

Thanks, Jody! Last four in the series, next time.

Joe Victor

Joe asks Jody Victor®: The 600-Horsepower Club

If you thought 500 ponies crammed into an engine was boast-worthy wait until you see what these vehicles can do. I asked Jody Victor®  to tell us about these super-fast cars from an article by James Tate of MSN Autos/msn.com.

Jody Victor®: Apparently it was not hard to come up with these 10 examples of cars with 600 or more horsepower. Here it is, an impressive list of 10, in two parts.

10. Ferrari 599 GTB Fiorano, 612 horsepower – With Ferrari’s last hypercar, the Enzo, slowly fading from memory, the 599 GTB now holds the crown of top Ferrari. This front-engine grand-touring sports car boasts a 6-liter 612-horsepower V12 engine under its long hood. It also holds the crown for one of the world’s fastest zero-to-60-mph times, at just 3.2 seconds. For those with an even greater lust for performance, and even deeper pockets, the 599 GTO variant claims a whopping 661 horsepower and the title of Ferrari’s fastest production offering — even faster than the aforementioned Enzo.

 

9. Porsche 911 GT2 RS, 620 horsepower – Porsche reserves its “RS” designation for only the best of its breed. In the case of the already frightening GT2 variant of the 911, the RS trim borders on insanity. Although based on the previous 997 generation, rather than the all-new 991, the GT2 RS is the fastest production Porsche. With 620 horsepower coming from a twin-turbocharged 3.6-liter engine mounted in the trunk and powering only the rear wheels, calling the GT2 RS a handful to control should be an understatement. Still, for drivers versed in the art of 911 driving, the GT2 RS produces a thrill that few cars can match.

 

8. Bentley Continental Supersports, 621 horsepower – The first of two English cars on this list, the Bentley Continental Supersports differs from most of this pack because of its emphasis on luxury and comfort, rather than on outright, face-melting performance. This sumptuous Bentley packs six liters spread across 12 cylinders, although laid out in a W configuration instead of the more typical V. The turbocharged behemoth produces a dizzying 621 horsepower and launches the big coupe to 60 mph in less than four seconds — seriously fast for a 5,000-pound hunk of metal. Most examples of this $250,000 car end up in the hands of celebrities looking to flaunt some automotive bling.

 

7. Mercedes-Benz S65 AMG, 621 horsepower – While the Mercedes-Benz S65 isn’t the most powerful vehicle here, it is arguably one of the most astounding. The reason? It’s a 4-door luxury sedan capable of transporting five adults in comfort, technology and style. Like the Bentley, this big Benz gets its monumental power from a 6-liter 12-cylinder engine sporting a pair of turbochargers. As opposed to the Bentley’s unorthodox W-cylinder layout, the engine in the S65 is a traditional V12 good for 621 horsepower and a stupefying 738 lb-ft of torque. A sleeker 2-door cousin, the CL65 AMG, packs the same monstrous mill under the hood.

 

6. Chevrolet Corvette ZR1, 638 horsepower – The Corvette ZR1 is the most potent mass-produced American sports car and lays claim to one of the quickest times around Germany’s famed Nürburgring track. Its supercharged 6.2-liter V8 engine churns out an easy 638 horsepower, making it the fastest production vehicle to wear a Chevrolet bow tie. Yet it remains surprisingly docile when driven gently. It continues to suffer against equally priced imports in terms of refinement, but the reverse can also be said of its performance — practically no other vehicle in the ZR1’s price range can touch its track-readiness. The Nissan GT-R is one of its few direct competitors.

Thanks, Jody! More 600 horsepower vehicles next time!

Joe Victor