Seems silly now, how obvious it was all along: what ails GM is how it markets and prices its products. At least that is what they’d have you – and us – believe. At the opening breakfast of the 2005 NY Auto Show, Gary Cowger, GM president of North America, spoke about hard times, value, and ’64 Buick LeSabres. It may well be the last Buick he talks about for awhile.
Reports persist that GM may have to eliminate another brand – and that the likely victim would be Buick, or Pontiac. In the meantime, however, Cowger laid out a marketing plan that focuses on value, and that value will include the lowering of sticker prices. As part of their “value” focus, GM will move toward making OnStar a standard feature on all vehicles, and stability control standard on all vehicles by 2010. Car buyers can also expect many more new products from GM in the next two years; Cowger claimed that GM is on track to debut 17 new products in 2006 and 2007.
Mercedes-Benz announced pricing for the new M-Class SUV. Starting sticker price for the ML350 is $39,700; the ML500 will start at $48,500. The M-Class is built in Alabama.
This may well be the year of the Hyundai. Not content to rest on the laurels of a top Consumer Reports quality pick for the 2004 Hyundai Sonata, or the successful debut of the redesigned 2006 Sonata during January’s 2005 North American International Auto Show, Hyundai launched two new models here in New York and initial reaction was positive.
The new 2006 Hyundai Azera luxury sedan is so much better than the outgoing XG that it’s not really fair to connect the two, and the entry-level 2006 Hyundai Accent looks like a well-designed, durable car – from the show floor. To top that, the Accent comes standard with side curtain air bags.
Hyundai also announced plans to offer XM satellite radio in every single car – as standard. This type of aggressive vehicle planning has paid dividends; for the last six years, Hyundai is the fastest growing auto brand, with 364-percent growth. Part of that success is attributed to the Hyundai Tucson, which is, according to officials, selling at a 4,000 vehicle per month clip.
New models coming soon from Hyundai include a minivan based on the Kia Sedona, another new model for the Accent lineup, a new Elantra, and a new Santa Fe SUV.
Today at the 2005 New York International Auto Show, Scion introduced the world to a new concept -– the t2B -- and while it’s a “pure concept” with no plans for actual production, there’s no telling what those kids are going to do over at the CALTY design studios in southern California where the concept was developed. They might just build the thing.
If they do, one of the existing Scions is sure to go –- probably the xA –- though expanding the model line seems like a good idea given the success of the new Scion tC. With only a year under its belt, the Scion tC already accounts for 20 percent of total Scion sales.
Of course, the tC would sell no matter what name you put on the back, and with Scion showrooms at Toyota dealerships growing to 856 out of 1200, the ‘mo just seems to be getting better every day.
Scion also announced the debut of Scion tC Series Release 1.0, a limited-edition custom job that includes special paint and interior appointments.
Storm clouds may well be lifting from Mitsubishi, as Rich Gilligan, president of Mitsubishi North America, reported that February sales were up 27 percent. With the 2006 Mitsubishi Eclipse set to arrive at dealerships this year along with the Mitsubishi Raider pick-up truck, Mitsubishi is poised to make some headway. Shown here is the latest evolution of the popular Evolution, the last performance upgrade before the Evo is completely redesigned.
On the day when Porsche debuted its first ever Cayenne SUV, many an auto writer may have written –- and surely thought –- that Porsche and its carefully crafted performance aura was going to the dogs. Turns out they were right.
Except these dogs are real dogs, the barking and biting kind. A nationwide program in conjunction with the Humane Society of America, “Cayennes for Canines” includes adoption days sponsored by local Porsche dealers and the donation of a certified pre-owned Cayenne to participating shelters. The program is active in 10 major US cities. Porsche also assists in the cost of spaying, neutering and providing vaccinations for rescue dogs. For more information, contact your local Porsche dealer.
Porsche officials also hinted at the upcoming Cayman sports car that will be based upon the Boxster, saying that it will be a beautiful, fixed-roof, 295 horsepower vehicle –- the only mid-engined vehicle in its class.