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 July 27, 2012. Matte black Veloster Turbo care, renting a BMW M5, GM's new product blitz, BMW's direct Internet sales plan, and limited prospects for SRT Viper dealers - let’s look at my take on the most noteworthy and interesting automotive stories from the past week.
A matte black finish - also known as flat black - certainly adds a degree of mystique and style to any car. Buyers of the Hyundai Veloster Turbo, however, are finding out that the owning a vehicle sprayed with matte black paint entails a fairly long list of detailing do's and don’t's that outstrip any other hue. Yahoo is reporting that each flat black Veloster Turbo comes with an 11-page care manual that describes all of the steps that owners must take in order to keep its finish looking pristine. This includes avoiding traditional wax and spray cleaners, polishes, any kind of towel (paper, cloth or otherwise), as well as commercial car wash facilities. The manual also reminds drivers that road tar and bugs need to be removed immediately using a unique solvent and a special applicator, and that hand washing is the only way to keep the car clean. The price for ignoring this advice? A total re-spray - you can't touch-up damaged flat black paint.
02. Rent A BMW M5 From Your Local Dealership
Last Friday I mentioned GM's foray into by-the-hour car rentals through the RelayRides service. This week it's BMW's turn to introduce a new vehicle rental system, with a pilot program that will allow New York City residents to hire out brand new BMW 328i's. Called BMW on Demand, and already in place overseas, the effort will eventually expand to include even high dollar models like the BMW M3 and the BMW M5. Cars can be rented out by the hour, by the day, or by the weekend, and insurance coverage is included with each vehicle. An article published by Car and Driver expects the BMW on Demand to eventually expand to other major U.S. cities.
03. GM Poised To Roll-Out Long List Of Redesigned Vehicles
Between now and the end of next year, the Automotive News is reporting that well more than half of the cars and trucks offered by General Motors will have been redesigned. Leading this plunge into new platform territory are the GMC Sierra and Chevrolet Silverado full-size pickups, models that have lagged behind somewhat when compared to the accelerated refresh schedules of competitors from Ford and Dodge. Hot on their heels will be the sport-utility vehicles that share their full-frame platforms, such as the Chevrolet Tahoe and the Cadillac Escalade (which is being given an extension on its current truck-based design philosophy due to strong sales). Cadillac's upcoming ATS and XTS models (compact and full-size sedans, respectively) will also help fill showrooms for the domestic automaker's luxury marque.
04. BMW To Sell Cars Directly Over The Internet
BMW's new i lineup of electric and hybrid vehicles is already unique, but the sales strategy that will be used to move them out onto the streets is also one-of-a-kind. Bloomberg has published a story that details how the BMW i3 and the BMW i8 will be sold directly over the Internet to customers without using dealerships as intermediaries. This type of online sales initiative is unique in the industry, with all other car companies content to allow dealers to run their own Internet efforts. Traditional showrooms will still exist for the automobiles - as will test drives - which begs the question of just how many individuals will take advantage of the online option. After all, what kind of buyer would shell out six figures for a high end electric supercar that they’ve never even seen or touched, let alone driven.
05. Want A New SRT Viper? Be Prepared To Scour The Earth
It won't be possible to just walk into any Dodge or Chrysler dealership this fall and place an order for the 2013 SRT Viper. SRT chief Ralph Gilles has revealed that only about 20 percent of existing franchises will be able to meet stringent requirements associated with selling the halo sports car. Gilles explained that in order to provide the highest possible ownership experience dealerships offering the Viper will be required to provide facilities, service, and expertise concomitant with the expectations of owners. Historically, the low-volume Viper has barely been able to crack the 2,000 units sold mark in any given model year, which means that specialization has long been the name of the game for dealerships that embrace the performance icon.