Editor-in-Chief's Note: Once upon a time, the Lords of The Auto Business declared that if a little bit of incentives worked, then a lot of them would work even better. After 9/11, when GM came up with the "Let's Get America Rolling" campaign - a dramatic reduction of cost on almost every GM vehicle sold - it was deemed a welcome step at a time when the American economy needed a boost, and it worked like gangbusters. But that was a critical juncture in history in more ways than one, because GM marketers decided that instead of just a limited-time sales action, incentives would become an ongoing marketing tactic designed to grab market share, thus reducing any "specialness" associated with the seasonal use of incentives. It didn't work. GM's market share didn't improve and the cost of incentives went up. Since then, the industry has embraced the incentive game in fits and starts but inevitably, incentives became an ingrained cost of doing business, even for the vaunted German luxury-performance manufacturers. But now, the incentive game is reaching critical mass - again - and every manufacturer is spending money like drunken sailors trying to keep the sizzling industry sales pace going. Can it go on forever? No. Unfortunately nothing in this business lasts forever without deep repercussions. The manufacturers will blissfully go along insisting that they have everything under control, until they don't. And when the next economic downturn slams the auto industry - and for the most roller-coaster-like cyclical industry in America, believe me it's coming - the car companies will once again be reminded that their addiction to incentives will be a cost of doing business that will become that much harder to absorb. I've seen this movie many times before, and it never ends well. -PMD
VW. The German manufacturer is offering a "goodwill package" to its diesel owners here in the U.S., which consists of a $500 prepaid Visa gift card that can be used anywhere Visa is accepted, as well as a second prepaid card worth $500 that can only be redeemed at VW dealerships. Will that stem some of the gushing negativity that is threatening to swallow the brand whole? No. Will it help the plunging resale values of these diesel-powered VWs? No. But they are urgent to do something. Still, we're betting it does exactly zero in regaining VW buyers' trust. That ship has sailed. VW's entire M.O. is now suspect and it will be for many, many years to come. No amount of "gifting" is going to change that ugly fact. Let's face it, it's a giant strudel of Not Good for the powers that be at VW.
Audi has released the prices for its new Q7 3.0 TFSI quattro®. The Premium model is $54,800, the Premium Plus is $58,800 and the Prestige is $64,300 (excludes a destination charge of $950). What do the Audi PR minions have to say? "With striking design and lightweight construction, the all-new 2017 Audi Q7 sets a new standard in the luxury SUV segment." The second generation of the seven-passenger SUV also adds benchmark connectivity, infotainment systems and driver assistance technologies. The big news as far as we're concerned? The new Q7 weighs approximately 475 pounds less compared to the previous model.
Audi also announced prices for the 605HP S8 plus ($114,900, above) and 605HP RS 7 performance ($129,000, below) models.
(Land Rover images)
This is the new Range Rover Evoque convertible, which Land Rover PR minions suggest "combines the bold design and refinement of the Range Rover Evoque with a sophisticated folding roof to create a versatile, all-season convertible SUV." The fully-automated roof stows in 18 seconds, and can be raised in 21 seconds, at speeds up to 30mph. The 8.9-cu. ft. (251-liter) luggage space is - ahem - limited, to say the least. Providing additional driver protection, a roll-over protection system is hidden within the rear bodywork. In the event of a roll-over situation, the system is designed to deploy two aluminum bars within 90 milliseconds to create a potential protection space for occupants. The Range Rover Evoque Convertible "is underpinned by the all-terrain capability expected of all Land Rover vehicles and uses the same advanced technologies as the Range Rover Evoque five-door and coupe derivatives," the manufacturer insists. The new Range Rover Evoque Convertible will be produced at the Land Rover Halewood plant in the UK, alongside the five door and coupe body styles, and goes on sale from mid-2016 starting around $50,000. Land Rover strongly believes the Evoque Convertible is going to be a worthy new entry in the market. We believe it's an early contender for the "Answer to the Question that Absolutely No One is Asking." A giant "we'll see" to put it mildly.
Lamborghini wanted us all to know that its Huracán LP 610-4 has a number of new updates, like cylinder deactivation in its naturally-aspirated V10, a tweak to the electronically controlled AWD system for a more neutral feel, interior enhancements, a personalization program, a new optional stereo system (does anyone who owns one actually listen to the radio? Why?), an optional sport exhaust system, new LED lighting in the engine compartment, cruise control and a 12V lighter and cupholders can now be ordered, and a travel pack provides additional storage nets front and rear. None of that really matters to us all that much, except for maybe the performance tweaks, but it was a good excuse to put Huracán pictures up on the website.
Jeff Kuhlman. Editor-In-Chief's Note: Bentley Motors has today announced that Jeff Kuhlman will become Chief Communications Officer (aka the Chief PR Minion) of Bentley Motors Inc., the regional office for Bentley Motors in the Americas, effective on November 11th. He succeeds Graeme Russell, who was recently appointed Head of Brand Communications for Bentley’s global organization. Kuhlman will lead all of the company’s product, corporate and lifestyle media communications in the United States, Canada and Central and South America. With stints at GM, Audi and Nissan on his resume, this is a excellent gig for the savvy industry veteran. And as WordGirl says, "We'll be expecting an endless stream of Bentleys to drive starting any day now." As if. -PMD
Editor-In-Chief's Note: Wait just a damn minute, didn't we just have something about the new Cadillac XT5 a while ago? You know, the SRX replacement that kicks off an entire new wave of crossovers coming from Cadillac? The "first-ever" (oh, how we loathe that expression) XT5 that premieres this month at the Dubai and Los Angeles auto shows and begins production in the U.S. and China in spring 2016? Yes, that XT5. Here are the high hard ones about it: Cadillac PR minions say that its "lightweight construction elevates efficiency and driving performance." The all-new design and structure increases interior space without adding bulk. It has a new
3.6-liter V6 engine with 310HP and 270 lb-ft of torque, advanced all-wheel drive and new tech features including a rear camera mirror, Apple Carplay, Android auto compatibility and a new CUE system (because they could revise it for the nest five years and they probably still won't get it right). This is the only thing that actually intrigues us about the XT5: It is 278 pounds (126 kg) lighter than the current SRX, 100 pounds (45 kg) lighter than the Audi Q5 – the Cadillac is seven inches longer too - and it is more than 650 pounds (295 kg) lighter than the new Mercedes-Benz GLE-Class. And Cadillac insists that it achieves this with no compromise to body rigidity and crash performance. That is noteworthy. We won't show you the XT5 again until June when it actually starts trickling into dealerships for reals. -PMD
(John Thawley ~ Motorsports Photography @ www.johnthawley.com ~ 248.227.0110)
Editor-In-Chief's Note: George Barris, the undisputed "King of the Kustomizers" and a true original, passed away Wednesday night of a brain tumor. He was 89. The following statement was released by his son, Brett, on his Facebook page: "Sorry to have to post that my father, legendary kustom car king George Barris, has moved to the bigger garage in the sky. He passed on peacefully in his sleep at 2:45 am. He was surrounded by his family in the comfort of his home. He lived his life the way he wanted till the end. He would want everyone to celebrate the passion he had for life and for what he created for all to enjoy. Thank you all for the posts and calls, your love is deeply appreciated. Peace." A creative visionary and a legend in the most authentic sense of the word, Barris dominated the L.A.-based custom car culture scene for the better part of two decades. Though he was responsible for some of the most celebrated and recognizable "TV" cars like the first Batmobile, his impact as one of the founding fathers of the California custom car culture and the chief influencer of the essence of that automotive art form will live on. -PMD
Check out The Autoextremist on AutoextremistTV below...we're already on Episode 5! -WG