It’s Friday once again, which means it’s time for another round of my Five For Friday: Five Thoughts about the Auto Industry for August 17, 2012. The Jaguar F-Type, BMW's sales shenanigans, a lighter Range Rover, Hyundai and Kia look for more luxury buyers, and Lincoln's lack of a halo car - let’s look at my take on the most noteworthy and interesting automotive stories from the past week.
The Jaguar F-Type will get its public debut in just a few short weeks at the Paris Motor Show and fans of the brand are chomping at the bit to catch a glimpse of the new entry-level sporty convertible that should slot in directly underneath the current Jaguar XK. The F-Type's styling - what little has been seen of it - so far seems to bear a strong family resemblance to its larger sibling, and the drop top will come with three different engine options. Base F-Type models will feature a 340 horsepower, supercharged 3.0-liter V-6 (with the option to boost output to 380 horses), while the top-tier edition of the car will be outfitted with a supercharged 5.0-liter V-8 that will most likely produce just under the 510 ponies that the same unit generates under the hood of the XK. An eight-speed automatic transmission will be standard, and pricing is said to be targeted at stealing away Porsche 911 customers.
02. BMW Really, Really Wants To Beat Mercedes-Benz
It's no secret that BMW is gunning to be the biggest luxury automaker in the United States, which is a title currently held by rival Mercedes-Benz. This burning desire may have caused the company to fudge its July sales figures in order to push past Mercedes and take the mid-summer lead. The Wall Street Journal is reporting that BMW's corporate headquarters offered dealers an up-to $7,000 bonus - per vehicle - if they reported a car sold on July 31, which was just prior to the publication of industry sales figures.
This has lead to a scenario where hundreds of BMW 3 Series and BMW 7 Series automobiles are sitting on lots, still for sale, despite having been already reported as having found new homes. BMW has labeled these cars 'demos,' and has in the past offered 'demo discounts' on the 3 Series as a similar tactic for gaming monthly sales reports. BMW beat Mercedes-Benz by just under 2,000 units for July
03. A Lighter Land Rover Range Rover for 2013
Details concerning the 2013 Land Rover Range Rover have been released, and the most interesting aspect of the redesigned luxury suv is the fact that it has gone on a rather extreme diet. The 2013 Range Rover will weigh in at roughly 700 lbs less than the outgoing model, which is an enormous difference - especially in a segment of the market not typically concerned with heft. An all-aluminum body coupled with extensive use of that same metal in the vehicle's suspension system has contributed the most to the Range Rover's weight loss, which was done primarily to improve the handling and fuel mileage of the full-size sport-utility vehicle.
04. Hyundai and Kia To Take High End Plunge
Not content with the attention drawn by the Equus and the Genesis sedan, Hyundai and its captive Kia brand are planning an even more concentrated push into the premium segment of the automotive market. The Automotive News has published a story detailing how Hyundai will be bringing a rear-wheel drive, entry-level luxury sedan to North America by 2015, with the Genesis sedan to be revamped by 2014. Kia has elected to import the K9 flagship sedan (under the less dog-like Quoris moniker), which will mark its first attempt to attract American luxury buyers, as well as introduce the Kia Cadenza, a premium sedan that will target Buick and Lincoln shoppers.
05. Lincoln Takes Its Eyes Off Of The Prize
Lowered expectations? Lincoln is apparently backing away from the idea of competing with top drawer luxury brands at the highest levels of the market - a.k.a. flagship sedans and halo cars - and is instead looking to focus on volume models such as the Lincoln MKZ sedan and the Lincoln MKX crossover. The Automotive News adds that the high development costs of these types of slow-selling, range-topping vehicles is what keeps Lincoln from pursuing them. No word on how the lack of a prestigious model could negatively impact Lincoln's image, which has been significantly battered by badge-engineering and the lack of an identity distinct from corporate parent Ford over the past decade.