Not content to wait for spy photographers to snap the Cullinan prototype out in the wild, Rolls Royce decided to snap a few pictures itself and share it with the world. [Read more…]
Car production in the UK has had its fair share of changing fortunes over the years. The demise of British Leyland in the 1980s and ’90s was offset by investments in car plants by Japanese automakers Nissan (Sunderland, 1984), Honda (Swindon, 1985) and Toyota (Burnaston, 1989). Even with all surviving British brands currently in foreign ownership UK manufacturing has thrived, as for the past three years more cars were produced in the UK than in France. UK car production is expected to reach a record 1,95 million cars next year, beating the previous high from 1972.
Jaguar-Land Rover has overtaken Nissan to become the biggest producer of vehicles in the UK, after the new Indian owner Tata invested over £ 11 billion in UK manufacturing since 2009. In six years time, production the two luxury brands has more than tripled from 158.000 units when it was on the brink of bankruptcy to almost 490.000 units in 2015, 81,5% of which is exported. During that period, J-LR’s UK payroll has increased more than five-fold to 35.000 employees.
Earlier this week Aston Martin gave UK car manufacturing another boost, when it decided to invest £ 200 million in its second UK factory in Wales instead of opting for Eastern Europe, Alabama, USA or any of the 18 other places it had considered. This will create another 4.000 jobs in the UK and comes right at the time when the UK manufacturing industry may be threatened by the upcoming referendum in June on a British exit from the European Union. [Read more…]
Sales of Exotic cars have all but come to a halt in the last quarter of 2015. Sales were up 5% in the first half of the year, but then the fortunes changed: -13% in Q3 and a worrying -44% in Q4, leading to a full year total of 18,277 sales, down 16.6% on 2014. The pain in the last quarter is shared by all brands, but even for the full year there’s only one brand that shows volume growth, plus one limited edition sports car. Perhaps the slowdown is due to the fact that the two best selling brands in the exotic car segment are introducing their first SUV in 2016. [Read more…]
Sales in the Exotic segment fell by 13% in the third quarter of the year, on the surface a dramatic reversal of fortunes for a segment in which sales were up 5% in the first half of the year. However, upon clearer inspection this fall is driven mostly by a 17% drop in sales for the Maserati brand, whose models account for well over half of sales in the segment. [Read more…]
In our series of car cultures around the world/international street scenes we move from the car culture in Morocco to that of Monaco, the wealthy principality on the other side of the Mediterranean, the contrast couldn’t be bigger. Whereas the streets of Morocco are filled with cheap and practical transportation, sometimes decades old, living a tough but grateful life as daily workhorses, the cars in Monaco serve a much different purpose. The densely populated city-state which is enclosed by France and the Mediterranean Sea covers only 2 square kilometers (0.78 sq. Mi) and is built on a hillside. That means it doesn’t really make sense for its inhabitants to drive supercars, hypercars and top-of-the-line sports versions of regular cars, but that’s exactly what they’re doing.
Mercedes-Benz A-Class facelift
Mercedes-Benz revamped the A-Class, which features redesigned front and rear bumpers and is optionally available with LED High Performance headlamps. From the beginning of 2016 Apple CarPlay and MirrorLink will become available. The refreshed Mercedes-Benz A-Class comes with a range of no less than eight petrol engines, oddly with only two displacements: a 1.6-litre four-cylinder (A 160, A 180 , A 180 BlueEFFICIENCY Edition & A 200) and a 2.0-litre four-cylinder (A 220, A 250, A 250 Sport and A 45 AMG) engine. The A 160 with 102 hp is the new entry-level model. It consumes 5.1 l/100 km (CO2-emissions 119 g/km) when opting for the 7G-DCT dual-clutch transmission, the manual version is slightly less efficient. The diesel range consists of five engines with two displacements: the 1.5-litre Renault engine is offered in the A 160 d, A 180 d and A 180 d BlueEFFICIENCY Edition, while the 2.2-litre Mercedes engine powers the A 200 d and A 220 d. Fuel consumption of the A 180 d BlueEFFIENCY Edition has been reduced slightly to 3.5 l/100 km (CO2-emissions 89 g/km). The A 220 d now offers 177 hp (+ 7 hp). The A 250 Sport now has an additional 7 hp (218 hp) over the regular A 250. Mercedes-Benz was slightly jealous seeing the Audi RS3 dethroning the A 45 AMG (“The best or nothing”, right?), so it has improved the performance of high-performance even further. The four-cylinder engine develops 381 hp (+ 21 hp) and a maximum torque of 475 Nm. Thanks to faster gear ratios, aerodynamic fine-tuning and the Dynamic Select driving mode it launches the A 45 AMG from 0 to 100 km/h in 4.2 seconds, 0.4 seconds than its predecessor.
Mercedes-Benz C-Class Coupé
The Exotics segment grew by 5% compared to the first half of 2014, roughly in line with the whole industry. The problem with the headline figure is that it encompasses the whole of the Maserati brand, none of which are arguably exotic, but end up here because Maserati is the largest brand that does not break out their sales in the US.
So, excluding Maserati, the largest Exotic brand remains Bentley with over 1,200 sales in H1 2015 – even the 8% fall year-on-year was not bad for what is arguably a rather aged line-up by now. Still, it is reasonable to expect the sales figure to shoot up like crazy in a year or so when the Beluga… sorry, Bentayga goes on sale. For now, though, the brand was almost caught in sales terms by Ferrari, which is on course to go even better than its 2014 record of over 2,000 units sold in one year. The prancing horse is certainly doing better in the US than its main rival Lamborghini, who recorded less than half as many sales and lies in 5th despite a healthy 11% growth following the introduction of the Huracan. [Read more…]
The European limousine segment continues its strong growth curve which is fueled by model changes of a few major players in the segment. The newly one-year old Mercedes-Benz S-Class accounts for 85% of the growth of the segment all by itself, and almost all of the growth when combined with the segment’s number two, the Audi A8.
As a result, the S-Class commands a whopping 42% share of the segment, two-and-a-half times as much as its nearest competitor. The rest of the ranking is completely stable in the third quarter, with the recently refreshed Audi A8 in second place and the Porsche Panamera completing the podium, as it did last year. Until the introduction of the Mercedes-Benz S500 plug-in hybrid, Porsche will be the only brand in this segment to offer a plug-in hybrid model.
The BMW 7-series is stuck in fourth place, where it’s likely to finish the year. That would make 2014 the first year ever that the 7-series is not in the top-3 of the limousine segment. The big Beemer is likely to shoot back up to the top of the ranking in 2016 when the new generation hits the market. [Read more…]
If you thought the first quarter of 2014 was an impressive one for the limousine segment, the second quarter improves even further on that performance, with over 11.500 cars sold in those three months. Almost 5.000 of those, or 43%, are the recently renewed Mercedes-Benz S-Class, the supreme leader of the segment since forever. Well, with the exception of 2009 and 2012 that is, because the BMW 7-series took the crown in those years.
Even with this impressive performance, the S-Class isn’t anywhere near the levels the W220-generation managed around the new millennium, when that model topped 30.000 annual units three years in a row. Of course, the competition has grown significantly since, not only from new entrants in this segment, like the Porsche Panamera, but also from Luxury SUV’s, a segment that was virtually non-existent 15 years ago. [Read more…]
Car sales in the limousine segment in Europe are up a whopping 44% in the first quarter of 2014 after a 19% decline for the full year 2013. And although 7 out of 13 nameplates in the segment show an increase of sales, the Mercedes-Benz S-Class takes almost 85% of the segment growth just by itself, thanks to the new generation introduced last year.
The S-Class is the clear leader of the segment, selling more than double of the second placed Audi A8. The A8 has leapfrogged both the Porsche Panamera and the BMW 7-series as it was only in fourth position by the end of 2013. The update of the A8 has helped the model to a 21% increase of sales.
The Plug-in hybrid version of the Panamera is likely to have helped the Porsche increase its sales by 27% compared to the same period last year, helping it stay on the segment podium as 7-series sales are down 17%. [Read more…]