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 June 14, 2013. A more expensive Cadillac CTS for 2014, the BMW i3's waiting list, EV road tax issues, Audi's parking app, and the impending death of Dodge - let’s look at my take on the most noteworthy and interesting automotive stories from the past week.
01. Cadillac Further Separates New CTS From Old With Pricing
The 2014 Cadillac CTS is being kicked up-market in more ways than one. Larger than the model that preceded it, the new Cadillac CTS is now a legitimate mid-size luxury contender - and with that comes the need for a concomitant price tag. The redesigned CTS sedan will start at an MSRP of $45,100, which is an increase of just over $6,000 when compared to the year before. Not only does the 2014 Cadillac CTS's higher price serve as a new profit generator for the premium brand, but it also helps to further differentiate the car from the entry-level Cadillac ATS, giving both vehicles over $10,000 of breathing room between their respective base models. Even with its inflated window sticker the CTS remains a bit of a bargain when compared to similar offerings from Mercedes-Benz and BMW.
02. BMW i3 Enjoying Significant Market Momentum
Could it be that the true future of electric automobiles lies down the premium path? The recent success of the Tesla Model S, despite its above-average cost, would seem to suggest that wealthy car buyers are willing to fork out extra cash for a battery-powered ride. A recent announcement from BMW concerning the response to its upcoming BMW i3 electric car further reinforces this hypothesis. The Automotive News is reporting that the brand has 100,000 individuals waiting in line to take part in its BMW i3 test program. The BMW i3 is a compact electric vehicle that will become available by the end of 2013, and although the vehicle isn't exactly luxurious, it does bear a Roundel on the front end and comes with a 3 Series sedan-like price. BMW would not reveal how many actual deposits it has from dedicated buyers interested in cementing their claim on the car.
03. Will New Taxes Cramp Cost Savings Of Electric Vehicles?
The wealthy may be more likely to purchase electric vehicles, but will they continue to do so if the eco prestige that comes with these models is balanced out by a new tax strategy on the part of governments seeking to recoup the lost revenue associated with them? Bloomberg has published a story detailing how U.S. states are increasingly frustrated with the end-run that electric cars make around gasoline taxes, a portion of which are used to support roadway infrastructure. Since EV's use the same roads as gas and diesel automobiles - and with some sates reporting as much as a seven percent drop in gas tax revenue over the course of the past two years - a legislative situation is developing that could pit those who would encourage electric car use via tax rebates versus those who would seek to reclaim lost tax money via fresh tariffs on the battery-powered automobiles blamed for the decline of these funds.
04. Audi To Offer Real-Time Parking Space Assistance App
Finding an empty parking spot can seem like a hopeless task in the downtown cores of many major cities, but Audi has just announced a digital partnership that will soon alleviate the stress levels of it owners who need to find somewhere to stow their luxury rides for a couple of hours. An app called ParkMe will be bundled with the Audi Connect system of the vast majority of new Audio automobiles. This app is linked to a database of thousands of parking lots around the world, and it keeps track of which ones offer vacant slots as well as pricing, opening hours, and whether you can charge your electric car at a particular location. ParkMe, which is also available for smart phones, can even provide turn-by-turn directions to an Audi's navigation system so that drivers can reach their desired lot as quickly as possible.
05. Is Dodge On The Way Out?
It's not the first time that speculation concerning Dodge's within the Chrysler/Fiat family has been discussed in the media, but a recent Ward's Auto article has thrown additional fuel on the fire with its claim that Dodge will be losing several current models in the near future. Front and center is the unloved Dodge Avenger mid-size sedan, which according to Ward's will not be replaced when the current version is put out to pasture in 2014. This jives with other rumors that the Dodge Durango is set to morph into a seven-passenger SUV for the Jeep portfolio, as well as the potential paring of either the Dodge Grand Caravan or the Chrysler Town & Country minivan from the product portfolio in order to reduce redundancy. With the recent departure of the RAM pickup lineup into its own brand, as well as the loss of the Viper to SRT, Dodge can no longer claim the same type of strong self image that it projected a mere five years ago, a fact that potentially primes it to join Pontiac, Plymouth, and Oldsmobile in the history books.