Entries in Mercedes-Benz (59)
Now that the long drawn out federal election is a done deal, we can move on to other "things" to captivate the mainstream media. Although it was informative to see how the election was covered, and the various opinions from a myriad of pundits, analysts, observers, pollsters, editorials.
From our perspective CBC did a phenomenal job in covering different perspectives of the election, and more important the opinions of CMS (Citizen Main Street).
Yes...CMS wanted change in Canada, and made sure that it would happen...it was a clear message on Monday night.
The other day we came cross a Rolls-Royce Wraith, the car captures your attention, and then the styling truly captures your imagination and the question "Who buys/leases such a car?". The metal on that car does not resonate with the Strada Crew.
Have you noticed the various online ads from MTU for the old 2 cycle Detroit Diesel? Should we conclude that there is still a good number of these old Detroits around, and with new liners, pistons, injectors, and rebuilt blowers they are still going and going.
As an aside The Colonel at one time sold trucks with 53-71-92 series engines...yes the 2 cycle Detroits will always have a special place in the memory bank for a ton of reasons.
This month our editorial direction focused on people, at Strada we firmly believe that people make the real difference.
Vintage cars, racing, and photos from the 1955 Targa Florio.
Q: Colonel Good Morning, you are looking invigorated this morning, how is the coffee.
A: Guys, good morning, the cappuccino is good, invigorated is complementary makes me feel a little younger.
Q: What is it with connecting dots.
A: Although the car business is about product, vehicles, and a bunch of other stuff, especially with the myriad of pundits that share their thoughts/opinions. Its also about connecting dots, especially if you have been in the business a few years/decades.
Q: Do you have some examples of connecting dots, and perhaps epiphanies too.
A: Decades ago on the 401 with a 5 cylinder diesel, I had an epiphany that diesel engines are good for trucks not cars. It endures to today, the VW thing flies under our radar.
A: You can connect a ton of dots, we are in the people business through cars. The dots still connect like decades ago, its all changed and nothing has changed. The change is that we focus on technology, instead of people. We should connect the same dots...resonating with 2015.
A: Its a sedan with a V8...that simple. Connect all the dots you want for decades, its still a sedan with a V8 with waftability. An SUV is a truck.
A: Its the family kicker, everyone goes through a stage in life where you need a family kicker, very useful, gets kicked around, and with AWD is even more versatile.
A: If you are a gear head performance is paramount, and you have your own preference for what performance is all about. Its enduring through the decades.
Q: How do you understand performance...
A: In my case its a V8, its Chevrolet...
Q: Sounds old school...
A: It is old school performance that connects a ton of dots, memories, emotions, experiences, learning curves, bruised knuckles, drag racing, Trans Am and Can Am racing, to name a few. As well as mechanical cars...
Q: How about trucks...
A: Working trucks are performance machines, you quickly connect performance dots between a working truck and old school performance. Its a fascinating intellectual exercise.
A: Has made obscene horsepower possible in cars from a performance perspective. Vehicles are dramatically safer with technology. From punch cards to hand held smart devices...its truly impressive.
Q: Technology has democratized horsepower...connect more dots please.
A: Back in the day it was a wild camshaft, ported heads, a monster carburetor. The catalytic converter in the early 1970's killed all of that, the fun was gone. Technology enabled horsepower again. Back in the day performance cars were in their own way "lethal weapons" when used foolishly, not the case today.
Q: Massive horsepower is safe today...
A: Precisely, back in the day it was safe with select individuals, not the masses. The reason that back in the day everyone stopped at 425 HP. Its the same dots reconnected with technology.
Q: Connect dots with Chevrolet...
A: I grew up with GM, at a time when GM ruled the automotive world in North America. Its been a lasting, enduring influence. Chevrolet is the small block which is still around today, it was easy to get small blocks, and increase the power. Think about it...hot rodding still exists.
Q: The 1979 Camaro connects a bunch of dots for you...
A: Absolutely, its a mechanical car, warmed over small block, carburetor, 4 speed, a clutch pedal, positraction, miserable brakes. Its my own barn find that I have owned since new. It connects a gazillion dots from another time, and to today. The rumble from the small block is as timely today as in 1979.
Q: Care to connect a few dots with Mercedes-Benz...
A: By the early 1980's GM had absolutely lost its way, a ride in a 450SEL (116) was a complete revelation as to what a proper sedan should be back then. Experiencing a 6.9 for a few days was a mind altering experience. The cars had archaic features compared to a Cadillac, but the performance was on another level.
We will continue...
We have shared our thoughts on Premium Economy for almost 2 years.
You could see the established players primarily MerBimAu start in what we call the premium economy segment; with new models that have impeccable branding at popular pricing.
Especially the premium economy CUV segment with a turbocharged 4 cylinder is a hotbed of activity from several manufacturers.
With a new model here, another there, the immediate surge in pent up demand. Its a case of lets wait and see how this new premium economy develops in the market. Agreed...we could have a lengthy discussion regarding the luxury aspect of premium economy (is it really luxury?), and what is a luxury car, SUV, or CUV.
Agreed too...we had our reservations...especially where is this going to go in Canada. How many sales will get cannibalised? How will it impact the established luxury models?
The "Premium Economy" space/segment works well in Canada, generating a viable alternative for customers, and incremental sales for the players in the space. Especially in the CUV segment, the rising tide even raises the current (old) Cadillac SRX as an example.
Are there manufacturers losing sales to premium economy...absolutely. The various players in premium economy are stealing sales.
Cannibalising sales from established incumbent models, is a minor factor, the rationale is the following: Sell an additional 10 in premium economy of which 2 are cannibalised, still ahead by 8.
The biggest player in the premium economy space in Canada? Mercedes-Benz
Agreed...we can have an interesting discussion about BMW, Audi, the rising premium economy tide, Acura, and Lexus. Infiniti playing catch up, while Cadillac and Lincoln except for the CUV's are almost out of the space. Lets not forget Porsche with the Macan, or a resurgence of the Evoque.
How does the premium economy segment impact the established luxury models of a brand? This is the thought vector that captured our attention from the outset. There is some cannibalising of the mid level sedan segment, think E Class, 5 Series, A5. While there is also a shift from sedans to utility vehicles. You could say that the tea leaves get blurry. Overall there is an upside in sales. Top line models are not affected.
The individual that seeks a top line luxury sedan or utility will not gravitate towards premium economy.
What is the impact of financial services?
The folks that gravitate towards premium economy are in a better equity position with their existing vehicle. Its easier to do a deal with improved continuity in the transaction be it a lease or a finance with a balloon payment at the end of the term.
From our perspective premium economy has struck a chord that resonates with potential customers in Canada. The brands in the segment are well entrenched, while being aspirational.
Are the new premium economy offerings all winners, not really, there remains incremental repetition which is confusing, some models are of questionable esthetics. Although most of the metal resonates with a cross section of customers that are new to the brand.
Its the Pebble Beach week end.
We hope that you are taking advantage of the Dog Days of Summer by being outdoors more often, and partaking in activities that require warm weather. Yes...mowing the lawn is such an activity as an example.
Or taking a hose and bucket to wash your car or cars...Zen of Washing.
Back in the early days of social media the thought vector was to move iron, influence folks by using social media as an additional lever in the marketing arsenal. Today its more likely that social media is used as an ego booster for the participants, lets boost the ego first, then lets see if some iron will move in one fashion or another.
You have to wonder........
Besides seeing stuff that is truly "head scratching"...you wonder again.
You know our thoughts on Premium Economy, if you ever wondered the thought process behind it...
We take into consideration what the investment is that we have to make, what's our gross sales potential, what's the net sales potential after cannibalization effects and what's the margin we make on the car," explained Ola Kaellenius, Mercedes board member for sales and marketing. "Then we run that through the machine, and if we get a net present value that meets our targets, we go for it."
"The trick is to use globally networked production plants employing standardized equipment and machines that build cars off scalable modular architectures," said Markus Schaefer, Mercedes production and supply chain head.
July Canadian Sales
A modest increase from the previous year, but still an increase continuing a hot streak so far this year. Will it continue to the end of the year? What do you think? Our thoughts...the second half of this year will present increasing challenges for several manufacturers.
Porsche on its first try after countless years gets the overall win which had become an Audi stronghold for the past several years. As you know Porsche and Audi are part of the same Teutonic conglomerate. You have to wonder how much "sharing" there was/is between Porsche and Audi to achieve racing cost savings.
Yes...we are Corvette fans and they won the GTE Pro class...a huge accomplishment considering they raced only 1 car the pressure must have been monumental.
Have you noticed the propensity of white Sprinter vans in front of their showrooms some with monthly payments plastered on the sides. If a prospect needs a work van the fact that a Sprinter is displayed in front of a Benz dealer will it improve the decision process? What do you think? Perhaps they are considering Freightliner medium duty trucks in the near future.
We had an opportunity to go on a road trip to Montreal with a 2015 Chevrolet Suburban LTZ, which is a supreme higway cruiser. As well as discovering interesting historical churches, and experiencing first hand covering appreciable kilometers with the adaptive cruise control.
Our habitual old race cars from the Indy Brickyard Invitational 2015
Does climate change mean that we alternate from air conditioning, to heat, on a regular basis in the house? What do you think?
In case you missed it, we have done some vehicle reviews take a look...here. Really...how could you miss it.
You know that we don't follow, we lead, and we are not in the eyeball business either. Late last year we shared our thoughts on Premium Economy which was a continuation of The Merbimau Advantage. As you start hearing increased comments from a variety of individuals remember that you heard it here first.
In the world of business there is an ongoing constant, the population of Assholes does not diminish (perhaps its increasing). At times you have to wonder if the population would diminish, would we be in a better world. Agreed...its optimistic to say the least.
Canadian Sales for May:
Last year May was a record month, imagine trying to beat May 2014 this year. Its a done deal May 2015 is 1% ahead of 2014. As you can imagine with an increase of only 1% the month was a game of push and shove. With manufacturer bonuses based on sales objectives (usually surpassing them). There is a rumour that some manufacturers were calling dealers on an hourly basis on the last day.
Is there the possibility that some vehicles were called sold, and are still waiting for an owner? What do you think?
Still a huge accomplishment for the month...yes those guys again MerbimAu were way ahead of the game last month...
You will increasingly start reading and hearing about infotainment overload in vehicles. Where some or a lot of the technology in the centre of the dash (yes the screen) is not being used by customers. Do we still need a CD player in vehicles? Do we need voice recognition? Do we need a myriad of touch functionalities on the screen? What do you think?
Our usual old race cars impressive and extensive photo gallery of the Spa Classic 2015.
What is a "Benniss" its the Mercedes-Benz / Nissan pick up.
When you reflect on the possibility of this pick up being sold in North America it will make a ton of sense.
Think of this M-B is relocating its head office to Atlanta, and Nissan is in Franklin, TN both locations are auspicious to pick ups.
Nissan has the Titan and has been an outlier in the pick up business for some time now.
Now think of the Mercedes-Benz senior executive commuting from Buckhead to head office in the "L350 Benniss" it needs an L as a model designator....L=Lastwagen=truck in German.
For cost saving purposes it will be built on a modified Sprinter platform...not really. Perhaps a modified Nissan Titan platform with distinctive Mercedes styling cues.
To compete with the Ford Ecoboost it will have a twin turbo V6 from AMG specifically engineered for truck duty to generate massive torque from the get go. The transmission will not be double clutch, paddle shift, but a good ole torque converter, and a valve body tuned by AMG for optimum shifts.
The transfer case will be from Unimog with a simple F (forward) and R (reverse) to faciliate snow plowing applications. For the Benniss the transfer case will have an overdrive, direct, and low range an industry first to offer OD gears, as well as accommodating 2 PTO openings.
The brakes are from Brembo with ceramic discs and 2 yellow calipers per wheel on the front, to provide awesome braking power.
The trailer towing version will have a light duty Mercedes diesel engine sourced from Freightliner, coupled to an Allison automatic, a 10,000 lbs rear axle with dual rear wheels (a duelie). Ideal to move the polo ponies in a fifth wheel trailer from one field to another.
Needless to mention...the full AMG version is just around the corner.