Report: Ford to reveal Vignale sub-brand with special Mondeo in Frankfurt

Filed under: Sedan, Europe, Ford, UK, Design/Style, Luxury

Ford Mondeo will be the first Ford to receive upscale Vignale treatment.

Ford says that 10-15 percent of its customers in Europe want their cars to be set apart from regular Fords – even those wearing the top Titanium X trim – and the Blue Oval will answer them with the Vignale sub-brand. The new brand proposes a more upscale look and a much-improved dealership experience, Autocar reports. The Vignale Mondeo will debut at the Frankfurt Motor Show to kick off the new endeavor.

The first Ford to receive the Vignale treatment will be the 2015 Mondeo, a Euro-only model, followed by the new S-Max and Edge. The Vignale Mondeo is set apart visually from other Mondeos by a chrome grille and chrome door handles and mirror caps. Mondeo badging will be deleted – only Vignale badging will make an appearance.

The interior will get a more upscale flavor, as well, with quilted leather seats and door trim and leather covering the instrument panel, center console and steering wheel. A Vignale-badged storage drawer will be installed in the trunk, and in-car Wi-Fi is available.

Roelant de Waard, Ford of Europe’s sales boss, says the Vignale sub-brand is aimed at customers who don’t have a lot of free time, are “independent thinkers” and want to feel special, Autocar reports, so visual treatments aren’t the only features Vignale cars will get. Owners also will have a Ford dealer contact assigned to them and receive exclusive services, such as free car washes at the dealership for the life of the car.

There’s no word if Vignale Fords will come to the US, but our guess is that they won’t – at least not right away.

Ford to reveal Vignale sub-brand with special Mondeo in Frankfurt originally appeared on Autoblog on Tue, 03 Sep 2013 15:30:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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Report: Ford to reveal Vignale sub-brand with special Mondeo in Frankfurt

Filed under: Sedan, Europe, Ford, UK, Design/Style, Luxury

Ford Mondeo will be the first Ford to receive upscale Vignale treatment.

Ford says that 10-15 percent of its customers in Europe want their cars to be set apart from regular Fords – even those wearing the top Titanium X trim – and the Blue Oval will answer them with the Vignale sub-brand. The new brand proposes a more upscale look and a much-improved dealership experience, Autocar reports. The Vignale Mondeo will debut at the Frankfurt Motor Show to kick off the new endeavor.

The first Ford to receive the Vignale treatment will be the 2015 Mondeo, a Euro-only model, followed by the new S-Max and Edge. The Vignale Mondeo is set apart visually from other Mondeos by a chrome grille and chrome door handles and mirror caps. Mondeo badging will be deleted – only Vignale badging will make an appearance.

The interior will get a more upscale flavor, as well, with quilted leather seats and door trim and leather covering the instrument panel, center console and steering wheel. A Vignale-badged storage drawer will be installed in the trunk, and in-car Wi-Fi is available.

Roelant de Waard, Ford of Europe’s sales boss, says the Vignale sub-brand is aimed at customers who don’t have a lot of free time, are “independent thinkers” and want to feel special, Autocar reports, so visual treatments aren’t the only features Vignale cars will get. Owners also will have a Ford dealer contact assigned to them and receive exclusive services, such as free car washes at the dealership for the life of the car.

There’s no word if Vignale Fords will come to the US, but our guess is that they won’t – at least not right away.

Ford to reveal Vignale sub-brand with special Mondeo in Frankfurt originally appeared on Autoblog on Tue, 03 Sep 2013 15:30:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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Official: Volvo Concept Coupe is brand’s ‘next-generation P1800’ [w/video]

Filed under: Concept Cars, Coupe, Hybrid, Volvo, Design/Style

Volvo Concept Coupe

Volvo is calling the Concept Coupe its “next-generation P1800.”

The teasing can now officially come to an end – Volvo has released all the images, videos and details on its new Concept Coupe, and we’re intrigued. The Swedish automaker is calling the concept its “next-generation P1800,” and those are some pretty big shoes to fill. Fortunately, it’s not all talk; there are clear links to Volvo’s much-loved coupe in the concept’s shape, though we certainly wouldn’t call it ‘retro.’

Up front, T-shaped running lights bracket what the brand calls a “floating grille” with a “distinctive iron mark.” The side profile is dominated by a distinct bow that can be seen, in a slightly more mellow form, on current Volvo vehicles, and the broad-shouldered rear end is bracketed by slender C-shaped taillight clusters.

The interior, too, is unique. A handcrafted crystal gearshift lever is a highlight, as is a large touchscreen laid out in portrait (as opposed to landscape). Volvo has removed as many physical buttons as possible, which certainly creates a smooth and attractive cabin, but we’re curious to see how it all works in ergonomic terms.

The first machine that will take styling cues from the Concept Coupe will be the 2014 XC90 crossover.

“The new Volvo Concept Coupe reveals how we could shape our cars from now on. Free from the superficial surface excitement of other car brands, we add emotional value to the Volvo brand with the calm, confident beauty that is the hallmark of Scandinavian design,” says Volvo Senior Vice President of Design Thomas Ingenlath. Not exactly fightin’ words, but close.

Somewhat eyebrow-raisingly, Volvo says the first machine that will take styling cues from the Concept Coupe will be the next XC90 crossover, which is slated to hit the market in 2014. While the upright stance of a ‘ute doesn’t seem compatible with the sleek, low-slung lines of a coupe, the automaker assures in the press release below that, while “the all-new XC90 is an entirely different type of car, you will recognize the connection instantly when it is revealed next year.”

Making such design stretchability possible is Volvo’s new Scalable Product Architecture. Specific elements that include a “generous” dash-to-axle ratio and a hip point that is “low enough to create a low profile on a sleek sedan without compromising headroom” are cited as defining factors of the new architecture.

Volvo promises 400 hp and 443 lb-ft from the turbo- and supercharged plug-in hybrid.

A four-cylinder gasoline engine makes up half the plug-in hybrid powertrain, and Volvo promises power levels on par with current V8 engines through the use of both a turbocharger and a supercharger. Combined output from the 2.0-liter engine that powers the front wheels and the electric motor connected to the rear wheels is around 400 horsepower and 443 pound-feet of torque.

Scroll down for a video showing off the Volvo Concept Coupe, along with a press release that explains the design in much deeper terms.

Continue reading Volvo Concept Coupe is brand’s ‘next-generation P1800’ [w/video]

Volvo Concept Coupe is brand’s ‘next-generation P1800’ [w/video] originally appeared on Autoblog on Wed, 28 Aug 2013 21:35:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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ETC: Aston Martin DBC Concept would be a gorgeous new direction for the brand

Filed under: Coupe, Performance, Aston Martin, Design/Style

Aston Martin DBC Concept by Samir Sadikhov

The world may never see a mid-engine Aston Martin. Never, ever. Why? Because grand touring, which is and has always been what Aston Martin is about, goes about as well with a mid-engined layout as whiskey goes with wasabi. Why do you think Ferrari and Bentley, also notable GT manufacturers, keep their big, comfortable and fast vehicles with the engine in front?

That said, if Aston were to suddenly decide that it wanted a piece of the Ferrari 458 Italia or McLaren MP4-12C, we sincerely hope the resulting car would look at least half as good as this concept car, designed by Samir Sadikhov. It’s called the DBC, and it is an absolute stunner, perfectly integrating Aston Martin’s traditional design cues – look at this profile shot of the DBC alongside the DBR1 – and current styling trends with a mid-engined layout that is a dramatic departure from the long hood and short deck of the current cars.

Sadikhov isn’t some new kid on the block, though. The Azerbaijani captured second place in the Ferrari World Design Contest with his Xerzri Concept. As for the DBC, according to his website, one of his goals was to create a car with parts that “could be easily carried over into a production car.” We like the sound of that. Aston Martin, we’ll take ours with the V12 Vantage S engine mounted amidships, a six-speed manual, and British Racing Green paint. Make it so. Head over to Sadikhov’s site for a full look at the DBC Concept.

Aston Martin DBC Concept would be a gorgeous new direction for the brand originally appeared on Autoblog on Tue, 27 Aug 2013 19:30:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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Report: Scion exec admits brand has too many dealerships, may contract network

Filed under: Car Buying, Scion

2013 Scion FR-S - front three-quarter, red

Despite being conceived by corporate giant Toyota, Scion painstakingly built its reputation on being something of an offbeat, youth-minded brand, working hard to establish individualist, almost hipster-like credentials. So it comes as something of a surprise to hear WardsAuto report that Scion has a whopping 1,000 dealers across America – just 200 fewer than Toyota itself. This, despite a much smaller product portfolio and a sliver of the sales volume.

All those factors may explain why Bill Fay, US group vice president for Toyota, is admitting to the industry publication that its dealer network “might actually go down a little bit.” As it stands, the volume end of the equation is probably an even bigger incentive – Scion’s sales are way down from the salad days of the mid-2000s, when the brand had fewer models but sold more of them. With the (then) white-hot xB and tC models, Scion shifted 173,034 units in 2006, while Ward’s notes the marque’s 2013 sales are only at 41,261 units through July. In the story, AutoPacific analyst Dave Sullivan observes that other low-volume brands have far fewer dealer points, noting that Mini has just 115 dealer points and Infiniti has 200. By Sullivan’s estimate, he would expect to see 350-500 Scion stores based on its sales figures.

Dealer question aside, the bigger issue is where the brand goes from here, and Fay admits Toyota is studying a number of different strategies, including possibly going “small-premium.” Nothing is finalized, though according to Ward’s, Fay discounts the idea that the FR-S – the brand’s sales bright spot – will drive the brand to consider a more driver-oriented lineup.

Scion exec admits brand has too many dealerships, may contract network originally appeared on Autoblog on Thu, 08 Aug 2013 19:01:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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Report: Ralph Gilles responds to Dodge rumors, says brand is ‘here to stay’

Filed under: Dodge

This is why we love Ralph Gilles. While in Italy hanging out with a group of Viper Club members in Europe, the SRT boss took the time to respond to a question directed at him on Instagram in regards to the future of Dodge.

Recent reports have painted a bleak picture for Dodge, but Gilles defended Chrysler’s full-line brand by stating that the rumors are, “all rumors, Dodge is here to stay! It may get more focused going forward but not killed!” The idea of a “more focused” Dodge brand could lend some credibility to reports that the Grand Caravan and Durango are on their way out, which would leave Dodge solely as a car, or car-based, automaker.

Ralph Gilles responds to Dodge rumors, says brand is ‘here to stay’ originally appeared on Autoblog on Fri, 12 Jul 2013 13:59:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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Video: 2014 Acura MDX ad campaign the most expensive in brand’s history

Filed under: Marketing/Advertising, Crossover, Acura, Luxury

2014 Acura MDX ad screencap - astronaut in space

Realizing that it must spend more marketing dollars to compete with the more established luxury automakers, Acura is preparing to launch its most expensive ad campaign ever for its redesigned 2014 MDX. At $78 million, according to Advertising Age, the new “Made for Mankind” campaign that kicks off next month is exactly double what Acura spent on the 2013 RDX launch last year. It’s also the brand’s first cooperation with its new agency, Boston- and Los-Angeles-based Mullen Advertising. Thanks to its bigger budget, we’ll be seeing ads for the MDX pop up just about everywhere from television commercials, cinemas and billboards to videos focused on computers and mobile devices.

The first such video is entitled “Human Race,” and it enunciates Acura’s recent tagline highlight, the synergy between man and machine. More interestingly, the 2014 MDX, which went on sale this month, doesn’t make an appearance in the 60-second spot until close to the end. This video is posted below as well as a press release from Acura along with images of various ads we should start soon.

Continue reading 2014 Acura MDX ad campaign the most expensive in brand’s history

2014 Acura MDX ad campaign the most expensive in brand’s history originally appeared on Autoblog on Mon, 24 Jun 2013 16:59:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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Report: Audi overtakes BMW as adulterers’ favorite car brand

Filed under: Etc., Audi, BMW, Luxury

As Audi hopes to surpass BMW as the top-selling luxury automaker, sometimes it has to look at the small victories, too. For instance, IllicitEncounters.com – a UK dating site for married folks (also known as adultery) – is reporting that a recent poll shows that more people willing to cheat on their spouses drive an Audi. Last year, this same poll showed that BMW was the car-of-choice for adulterers.

With Audi on top (pun intended) and BMW bumped to number two, Mercedes-Benz, Volvo and Volkswagen round out the top five car brands owned by unfaithful wives and husbands. Check out the poll over at IllicitEncounters.com, but be sure to clear your browser history afterward. You know, just to make sure your spouse doesn’t get the wrong idea about the websites you visit.

Audi overtakes BMW as adulterers’ favorite car brand originally appeared on Autoblog on Fri, 14 Jun 2013 08:45:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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R.L. Polk: Toyota top brand considered among African-Americans

Filed under: Chevrolet, Ford, Honda, Nissan, Toyota

rl polk percentage of african american auto sales by brandAfrican-Americans purchased 641,090 new vehicles in 2010, accounting for 7.4 percent of all new vehicle sales. That’s a significant portion of overall sales, and a population segment that Toyota appears to be winning over.

R.L. Polk released a study showing that Toyota accounted for 15 percent of all new car sales to African-American car buyers last year. Ford came in second at 11.7 percent, followed by Chevrolet, Honda and Nissan. The top five automakers accounted for nearly 60 percent off all new vehicle sales to African-Americans.

The U.S. Census Bureau predicts that the African-American population will grow by 25 percent by the year 2030. In 2010 alone, auto sales among African Americans rose by 11.5 percent versus 2009. That’s 68.6 percent faster than the non-ethnic market increase of 6.8 percent, meaning that automakers would do well to reach out to this burgeoning customer segment.

“With the U.S. population growing faster in the African-American segment than others, there’s a significant opportunity for automotive manufacturers and dealers to begin to align marketing initiatives toward this specific audience,” said Marc Bland, product strategist at Polk. “Those companies that are ahead of the curve, like Toyota, are already reaping the rewards.”

While it appears that Toyota has already gotten the message that African-Americans represent a fast-growing market segment, others are beginning to get the picture. Buick sales, for example, are up 72 percent, while Hyundai and Kia area second and third at 53 percent and 34.2 percent, respectively.

On the other end of the spectrum, R.L. Polk says that Acura, Land Rover, Mercedes and BMW are not making inroads with African-American buyers. Hit the jump to read over the R.L. Polk press release.

[Source: R.L. Polk]

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R.L. Polk: Toyota top brand considered among African-Americans originally appeared on Autoblog on Sun, 01 May 2011 14:22:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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Lexus boss Templin says brand to lose luxury sales crown over Japan quake

Filed under: Japan, Lexus, Luxury

mark templin lexus vp Lexus has been the king of luxury car sales in the U.S. for over a decade, but Toyota’s high-end brand will likely lose its crown in 2011, due at least in part to the March 11 earthquake in Japan.

Certainly, Lexus was already facing a great deal of pressure from rivals like BMW and Buick, but Automotive News reports that Toyota VP and Lexus Group Manager Mark Templin says dealers are down to a 30-day supply of most models, and that vehicle shortages will be felt as early as this week. The problem is that some key components from Japan come from plants that are still shut down as a result of the March 11 earthquake and tsunami. The Lexus CT 200h is reportedly close to sold out due to the issues.

Further complicating matters is the fact that Lexus ramped up the leasing business three years ago, and those customers will soon be bringing back their luxury rides in large numbers. That’s good news for dealers looking for products to sell, but it’s bad for customers who may not have the ability to purchase a new Lexus model.

The automaker is looking to ease this issue by offering six-month lease extensions. At the same time, Templin knows many customers will simply purchase their lease vehicle outright, and he’s asking dealers not to gouge those customers. The fear is that a shortage of models will result in more demand than supply, which could then jack up the price of Lexus models to unreasonable levels.

Since the automaker appears to be out of the running for the 2011 luxury sales crown, it seems natural that Lexus will come back with a vengeance in 2012. But Templin says the automaker may never again grab the sales crown, since luxury car makers are aiming down-market to improve corporate fuel economy averages. Templin opines that it won’t be long before a luxury car maker hits 500,000 sales in a year.

[Source: Automotive News – sub. req.]

Lexus boss Templin says brand to lose luxury sales crown over Japan quake originally appeared on Autoblog on Tue, 26 Apr 2011 16:20:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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