No. 785,
February 25, 2015

About The Autoextremist@PeterMDeLorenzo Author, commentator, influencer. "The Consigliere." Editor-in-Chief of Autoextremist.com.

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On The Table


Monday
Jan052015

january 7, 2015

(GM/Buick images)
Editor-in-Chief's Note: Buick introduced the Avenir concept on the eve of the Detroit Auto Show suggesting that it's "a flagship sedan exploring progressive design with new levels of passenger well-being and technology integration." The Avenir – French for future – "is distinguished by its premium sports proportions and all-new interpretations of traditional Buick cues. It is the creation of a global team of Buick designers and sculptors who were inspired by historic Buick concepts, which pushed traditional boundaries, shaped future Buick models and influenced the entire auto industry," according to the manufacturer. It is also the most derivative and disappointing work to come out of GM Design in years. Ed Welburn, vice president of General Motors Global Design disagrees, of course, saying that the “Avenir embodies Buick design, which centers on effortless beauty and presence without pretense. It demonstrates the growing international reach of Buick and offers an exciting vision of where it can go.” Except we've seen it all before on any number of GM Design concepts for the Buick brand over the last decade. If this is what the influence of the Chinese market means to GM Design going forward we can all get used to the idea of living in a world of reduced expectations. I am completely underwhelmed. - PMD

Editor-in-Chief's Note: Mark LaNeve, a seasoned automotive pro who has served stints at Volvo (when they were owned by Ford), was CMO at GM (he ran Cadillac before that) and also CMO at Allstate Insurance, has been named vice president, U.S. Marketing, Sales and Service by CEO Mark Fields. LaNeve is one of the most savvy, well-respected and capable executives in this business and he will be a formidable force to be reckoned with, especially with Ford's outstanding dealer body ready to kick-ass for him. The appointment of LaNeve, who had been COO at Global Team Ford (Team Detroit) - Ford's advertising agency - for the last couple of years, is a real coup for Ford and may be the most crucial move of Fields' early tenure as CEO. - PMD

Editor-in-Chief's Note: So Cadillac finally gets around to cutting the sticker price of the completely overpriced CTS between $1,000 and $3,000. This just in, the over-aggressive pricing never should have happened in the first place. Cadillac marketers confused the glowing fan boy reviews of the CTS for automatic acceptance by consumers in the market and guess what? It wasn't there. Make no mistake, the CTS is an excellent machine, but pricing it on the nose with BMW was a fool's errand from the get-go. Besides not pricing the car right to begin with, I would have cut the price $3,000 - $5,000, because Cadillac marketers have to understand one key point here: Having great cars with great reviews is one thing, but if people aren't willing to pay real money for them then it doesn't matter. Cadillac has to grow its business and it will be a slow, one-customer-at-a-time slog until the brand has real cachet in the market. This won't take a few quarters, either. It's going to take five years minimum, and more like ten before Cadillac is worthy. - PMD

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BMW.
There is Big Trouble in MINI Land, apparently. Myriad problems are surfacing with the new 3-cylinder engine and MINI customers are up in arms. The MINI forums are rampant with complaints about the new 3-cylinder engine with everything from computer problems to outright engine failures being reported. We wonder how long BMW is going to be able to keep this quiet?

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Mercedes-Benz USA. The German manufacturer is moving its U.S. headquarters from New Jersey to Atlanta to cut costs and be closer to its factory in Tuscaloosa, Alabama. The company also wants to be closer to where its sales growth is coming from - the "smile" states in the southern part of the country. That all sounds completely rational, but we prefer to think that New Jersey Governor Chris Christie "hugging it out" in Jerry Jones' suite at the end of the Cowboys-Lions game last Sunday was the last straw.

(Mercedes-Benz images)
This is the new Mercedes-Benz
F 015 Luxury in Motion (catchy name, that), a vision for autonomous driving that made its debut at the Consumer Electronics Show. The F 015 "provides a concrete example of the visionary ideas the company is developing with regard to autonomous driving of the future," according to the company. With this self-driving luxury sedan Mercedes-Benz, "illustrates how the car is growing beyond its role as a mere means of transport and will ultimately become a private retreating space. This new way of traveling gives passengers the freedom to use their valuable time on the road in manifold ways." "Anyone who focuses solely on the technology has not yet grasped how autonomous driving will change our society. The car is growing beyond its role as a mere means of transport and will ultimately become a mobile living space," explains Dr. Dieter Zetsche, Chairman of the Board of Management of Daimler AG and Head of Mercedes-Benz Cars. We're all pleased and proud, really.


(Lexus)
Lexus will unveil the GS F performance sedan Detroit Auto Show on Tuesday,  Jan. 13 at 8:40 a.m. EST in the Lexus display at Cobo Center in Detroit. The GS F will be the latest vehicle to join Lexus’ high-performance “F” line that already includes the RC F coupe. Although the GS 350 F SPORT shares the same platform as the new GS F, "they should not be confused," according to Lexus. (We will, of course, do it anyway.) The GS F has the naturally-aspirated 5.0-liter V8 that produces 467 hp (473 PS ) at 7,100 rpm and peak torque of 389 lb.-ft. (527 Nm) at 4,800-5,600 rpm. This engine is mated to a eight-speed automatic gearbox with manual-shifting capabilities.

(Photo by Isaac Brekken for GM/Chevrolet)
GM teased the front end of the 2016 Chevrolet Volt on Sunday at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas. The next-generation extended range electric vehicle will be revealed on January 12 at the Detroit Auto Show.

(GM/Buick images)
Editor-in-Chief's Note: Buick has introduced the 2016 Cascada, what they're calling "a dynamic, stylish convertible that uses innovative powertrain and chassis technologies to complement the driving experience." The 2+2, front-wheel-drive convertible allegedly has room for four adults, but really? Unlikely. Buick says that Cascada's "expressive driving experience" (whatever that means) is due to a rigid body structure, a sophisticated HiPer Strut front suspension and responsive Watts Z-link suspension in the rear. The Cascada is powered by a 1.6-liter, direct-injected, turbocharged 4-cylinder with variable valve timing that delivers 200 horsepower (149 kW) and an estimated 206 lb-ft (280 Nm). There's also an overboost feature that briefly pushes torque to an estimated 221 lb-ft (300 Nm). It goes on sale a year from now in early 2016, but Buick just had to show it at the Detroit Auto Show because they have nothing else to talk about, other than their "brilliant" tier 2 advertising masquerading as a national campaign. This is what Duncan Aldred, vice president of Buick has to say: “The new, 2016 Buick Cascada is a beautiful, engaging convertible that represents the very best of the brand’s global development practices. It’s a car that will delight customers with its fun spirit and help drive the momentum that’s fueling Buick’s success.” This is what we say: The 2016 Buick Cascada is a cynical interpretation of a mo-faux "luxury" convertible with "sporty" overtones designed for poseurs and others who don't know the difference. So, this is what it has come down to for Buick, apparently. If you squint real hard and suspend rational thought you're gonna buy into their notion of an "expressive driving experience" and your life will be enriched for it. We think most consumers will give the Cascada a cursory glance and move on, however. - PMD

The "+2" of the party was left back at the winery, apparently.

Editor-in-Chief's Note: The AE Quote of the Week goes to Holman W. Jenkins Jr. from The Wall Street Journal who, in his column entitled "Google and the Self-Driving Delusion," had this to say in reference to how Google is going to hit a growth impasse and has to get realistic about its corporate future: "An obvious place to start cutting might be Google's driverless car efforts. But this would be to misunderstand the point of an elaborate charade. Google's driverless car has become a branding exercise, a ticket to free media, a way to market Google software to auto consumers for onboard infotainment systems. Never mind the false expectations it raises in the driving public. Never mind the pressure it puts on real auto makers to pay lip service to autonomous driving they won't be able to deliver."

Editor-in-Chief's Note: Props to Cadillac for placing its fabulous Ciel concept roadster in the upcoming "Entourage" movie. It looks perfectly in context too. Watch the trailer here. - PMD (12/26)