Saturday 27 February 2010

Top 10 most popular cars bought by over the 65's (U.S)

With most customers favouring smaller cars, there is still one demographic that Detroit has a solid hold on… Retirees. Buyers over 65 are the last hope for the good American car. In some dealerships, anything upto 85% of all Buick buyers are 55 and older.

The over-65’s look at brands like Buick, Lincoln and Cadillac as status symbols. Those brands have what advertisers call the “Mind Share” in that demographic. Retirees remember a time when the only people driving those cars were celebrities and other high profile members of society; now they want in to that high-profile group of Cadillac drivers. Plus, older folks like familiarity, they know these brands, they’ve heard them their whole life.

Studies in the U.S have shown that the next generation of OAP’s prefer sporty, performance type vehicles as opposed to the large cloud cars on this list. As for now, here are the 10 best sellers with the old folks:

(The models are ranked based on the percentage of buyers age 65 or older, using market research data from J.D. Power and Associates. All the cars on this list get less than 20 mpg in town driving and less than 30 mpg extra urban driving.)

10. Ford Taurus – The Taurus is one Ford’s best selling models, in fact it was the best selling car in the 90s. Ford went through some weird phase where all the cars had names starting with ‘F’. They got rid of the Taurus title and called it the “Five Hundred”. Either way, the Taurus is back now and old people still love it. Upto 35% of all buyers are 65 years old or older.

9. Lincoln MKZ – Compared to the rest of the cars on this list, the Lincoln MKZ is a lightweight. It’s marketed to a fairly younger consumer, but just like the Taurus, 35% of it’s buyers are 65 or older.

8. Cadillac STS – The STS is probably the “sportiest” car on this list, although like the rest of the cars, it has a roomy interior and the blind spot/back up cameras that older people like. Retirees love the Cadillac brand, they remember it as being the ultimate car brand. 39% of all Cadillac STS buyers are over 65.

7. Toyota Avalon – The only foreign car on the top ten list is Toyota’s flagship sedan. That’s because Toyota specifically designed the Avalon to compete in this particular market of over-65’s. Because of all the press, 39% of all Avalon sales went to retirees.

6. Mercury Sable – The Sable is the Ford Taurus’ upmarket cousin, and just like it’s always been, it’s essentially just a Taurus with a Mercury badge. Old people love it though, nearly half of all Sables sold (48.5%) have gone to people over 65.

5. Buick LaCrosse – The top five on this list is where the real favourites lie; there is a substantial jump in the percentage of over 65 buyers as we go from #6 to #5 on the list: Only 48.5% of all Sables want to old folks, meanwhile, almost 64% of all Buick LaCrosse sales were to people over 65.

It has old folk favorites like OnStar, electric seats with memory and remote audio controls on the steering wheel. We’re in the over-50% zone now, so it’s a safe bet to avoid all Buick LaCrosses you see.

4. Buick Lucerne – The Lucerne is the beefier version of the Buick LaCrosse, plus is has parking sensors and reversing cameras. It also has ‘Lane Departure Warning System’ that alerts the driver if the car starts to move out of its lan. Still, with a full 67% of all Lucerne’s out there belonging to over 65’s, I’ll still steer clear of them, with or without lane departure warning system.

3. Mercury Grand Marquis – The Mercury Grand Marquis costs a little more than half the price of the Lincoln Town Car and the two cars are virtually identical. If you exclude cops and other fleet drivers, a full 69% of all Grand Marquis drivers are over 65.

2. Cadillac DTS – The DTS is slightly larger and less sporty than the STS. It’s actually a direct competitor to the Lincoln Town car, so it appeals to retirees for all the same reasons. Brand recognition, quality image, and lots of technology like lane-departure warning system and blind-spot systems that many of the other top ten have make 72% of OAP’s buy one.

1. Lincoln Town Car – More than 75% of all Town Cars out there are driven by someone over 65, so keep an eye out. The Town Car is probably one of the spacious sedans for less than $47k. It has more interior space than many large executive cars.

The car is just the typical old man car: huge interior, rear-wheel drive, mirror like ride, plush seats and a powerful V8 petrol engine.

Tuesday 23 February 2010

Tesla Roadster now available in RHD (UK)

Tesla’s all-electric Roadster is now available in right-hand drive. The Tesla Roadster right-hand drive features a few improvements over previous left-hand models including a new sound system and new noise-reduction materials.

Cristiano Carlutti, Tesla's Vice President for European sales and operations, said there had been strong interest from UK customers for a right-hand drive model.

"The right-hand-drive model is our response to growing demand from high-performance car buyers in the UK who are also interested in their impact on the environment,” he said.

"Tesla is dramatically expanding its retail footprint in Europe, we look forward to building our community of owners and fans throughout the continent."

The model is available now from Tesla’s Knightsbridge showroom in London and is priced from £86,950. Tesla's all-electric Model S saloon will be available in 2012.

Lottery winners must have car manufactures (UK)

According to the latest research, a new BMW is the second most popular purchase for lottery winners, with Range Rover coming in at number six. The most popular brand that millionaires head for is Mercedes-Benz, with the C-Class topping the choice table for lottery winners. Vauxhall – in at number four in the list – might rate as more of a surprise entry in the chart, though.

A new car is also one of the first things that a lottery millionaire buys, with 36% of jackpot winners heading to a car showroom before buying a new house or even splashing some cash on the high street.

In fact, 13% of jackpot winners have bought at least 10 cars since their win, while the average number of cars bought per winning household is 5.17.

Meantime, here are the top 10 brands for lottery winners:

1. Mercedes-Benz
2. BMW
3. Mini
4. Vauxhall
5. Land Rover
6. Range Rover
7. Ford
8. Porsche
9. Audi
10. Jaguar

BMW says lottery winners can contact their VIP sales service in London's Park Lane if they require a more discreet service. Equally, celebrities regularly walk in to their local dealership and receive the same service as a less high-profile customer. However, with either of these routes to a new car, haggling for a discount might be difficult if the salesman knows how much cash the customer has to spend.

Millionaire footballers can subscribe to services such as Platinum Players where 'trustworthy dealers' are listed.

Our own top 10 if we won the lottery:

For performance – Audi R8 or Porsche 911 Turbo or Nissan GT-R

For sitting in the back – Rolls-Royce Phantom or RR Ghost or Bentley Mulsanne or Hyundai Equus 5.0 V8

For the family – Land Rover Discovery 4 or Mercedes GL350 CDI or Kia Sorento or Volkswagen California or Nissan Murano or Mercedes E350 CDI or S350 CDI or Toyota Land Cruiser V8

For posing – Audi TT coupe or BMW Z4 or Citroen C3 Picasso or Nissan Cube/Juke or Bentley Continental GTC

For around town – Ford Ka or Toyota iQ or Kia Picanto or Fiat 500 or Hyundai i10 or Mini Cooper or Renault Twingo

For business – Jaguar XF or BMW 5 Series or Cadillac CTS or Citroen C5 or Kia Borrego/Mohave

For those spur of the moment getaways – Citroen C1 or 2011 Hyundai Sonata or Jaguar XK or Mercedes SLS AMG or Audi Allroad – A4/A6

For fun – Lamborghini Gallardo or Bugatti Veyron or Dacia Sandero

For green credentials – Smart ForTwo CDI or Toyota Prius or Lexus LS600h

For admiring – Bentley Brooklands or Azure or Citroen C6 or 1965 Ford Mustang

Citroen C-Cactus too radical for customers

The Citroen C-Cactus concept car will reach production in a different form, after customer clinics questioned the car’s back-to-basics interior.

Research has uncovered aspects of the car that potential buyers were not happy with. The lack of dashboard and the way its instruments are clustered around the steering column were said to be particularly off-putting. Citroen is also considering fitting electric windows instead of the concept’s wind-up units, which reduce complexity.

But Citroën boss Frederic Banzet said the production C-Cactus will still be “an essential car”. That means its feature and equipment content will be pared back to keep the price and weight down, enabling Citroën to produce a cheap, fuel-efficient car. Banzet also said that unlike the Logan - rival Renault’s stripped-down value car, which is not part of the Renault range - the C-Cactus will sit within the regular Citroen line-up. Judging by leaked photos, the car will stay true to its concept.

Citroen is also working on a C6 replacement but according to Banzet, it'll be “something different”. It will still be a flagship car, but of an as-yet-undisclosed format, though some kind of crossover seems possible. Banzet believes that Citroen needs a flagship model “to stretch our designers and engineers”, arguing that the process of its creation will benefit the development of the rest of the range.

GM - Hybrids push up prices for non-hybrid cars, Toyota disagrees

GM vice-chairman, Bob Lutz believes that the high costs involved in building hybrid vehicles is pushing up the price of non-hybrid cars.

'GM will lose money on hybrids,' he said. 'We will continue to build them - and the cost will be spread across other cars.'

Lutz also said he thinks hybrid cars will never make up more than 10% of the U.S market. In the UK, hybrids make up 0.8% of car sales, according to figures from the SMMT. GM will start to sell its first extended-range electric vehicle, the Chevrolet Volt, next year.

Toyota – the biggest maker of hybrids – disagrees with GM's stance on such cars.

A spokesman said: 'We will strive to make a million hybrids a year and as we achieve economies of scale, hybrid prices will come down. Hybrid vehicles are more complex, so there is a premium over non-hybrid vehicles, but we believe the overall cost of ownership, with the lower running costs, outweigh the initial purchase costs over non-hybrid cars.'

No Topolino for British market (UK)

Fiat’s two-seat, 2 cylinder Topolino may not come to the UK. The budget city-car was intended for developing markets as well as richer Western European countries, but Andrew Humberstone, managing director of Fiat Group UK, admitted there are doubts as to whether the Topolino would succeed in the UK.

“The Topolino makes sense globally but is more difficult to position over here. We already have a very good presence in the A-Sector and we have to consider how the market will be affected when the Chinese makers eventually enter the UK. They could start offering much cheaper models, some with Fiat technology, too.”

Fiat has a long history in the Chinese market — most recently the Italian company agreed to a joint venture with leading Chinese manufacturer Guangzhou Auto Group. Construction has already started on the GAC-Fiat factory, which will be able to produce 140,000 cars and 220,000 engines per year.

Fiat is expected to make its new Topolino city car, a 3 metre, two-seater based on the Panda, on Zastava production lines. The car will be positioned below the Panda and the 500 on price and is expected to use Fiat's new 900cc 'MultiAir' engine in 65bhp, normally aspirated form.

Swiss driver gets £180k speeding fine (CH)

A Swiss millionaire has been given a record speeding fine of $290,000 (£180,000).

The Ferrari Testarossa driver was caught driving at 137km/h (85mph) through a village with a speed limit of 50mph. According to the BBC, the penalty was calculated based on the unnamed motorist's wealth - assessed by the court as $22.7m (£14.1m) - and because he was a repeat offender.

It is more than double Switzerland's previous record speeding fine.

Daihatsu showrooms running out of stock (UK)

Daihatsu customers are finding it ever more difficult to find a car of their choice because dealers are running out of stock.

IM Group, the company that imports Daihatsu’s, hasn't brought in any new cars since last Summer because of the poor exchange rate between the Pound and the Yen. An IM spokesman admitted that numbers of new Daihatsu’s in the UK 'are limited'. However, a Daihatsu dealer told a mystery shopper: 'We are out of new Daihatsu’s, as are most dealers in the UK. The manufacturer hasn't exported any new cars to the UK for a while and will not be doing so for the foreseeable future.'

According to the latest figures from the SMMT, Daihatsu sold 22 cars in January, compared with 97 in same period 12 months earlier. Daihatsu has around 100 dealers in the UK and currently sells the Materia, Sirion, Copen convertible and Terios 4x4.

Sunday 21 February 2010

Volkswagen Polo Bluemotion on sale (UK)

Volkswagen's cleanest and most fuel-efficient Polo has just gone on sale.

Its 74bhp, 1.2 litre diesel engine produces CO2 emissions of just 91g/km, which means the car is free to tax and puts it in the lowest company car tax band of 13%. It also returns 80.7mpg on the combined cycle. The car can accelerate from 0-62mph in 13.9 seconds and has a top speed of 107mph. As well as the new engine, the Polo Bluemotion gets longer gearing, regenerative braking, aerodynamic tweaks and an engine stop-start system.

The Polo Bluemotion is the cleanest 5 seat, 5 door fossil fuelled car in the UK.

Air conditioning, alloy wheels, cruise control, ESP and x4 airbags come as standard. The new Polo Bluemotion starts from £14,445 for the 3 door and £15,045 for the 5 door model.

Tuesday 16 February 2010

Hyundai chairman ordered to repay £38m

The chairman of Hyundai has been ordered to repay the company £38m to compensate it for losses resulting from his business decisions.

The ruling follows as Chairman Chung Mong-koo 2008 conviction for embezzlement and breach of trust, for which he was given a 3 year suspended jail sentence before being pardoned by South Korean President Lee Myung-bak.

"This is a case that reveals the problem of family-run management that focuses on the interests of major stockholders and the executives of Hyundai Motor," the judges' ruling said. One of the groups that filed the civil law suit, Solidarity for Economic Reform, called the penalties too low and said it would appeal to a higher court. It wanted a fine of more than £300m to be imposed.

Ferrari sales still remain strong

Ferrari says it weathered last year’s global economic storms with sales of 6,250 cars, only 5% down on 2008.

The company says that while the luxury sports car market collapsed by 35% in 2009, Ferrari’s market share rose to 10%, making it the leading manufacturing in the segment. The Italian company says it is also set to invest 18.5% of its revenues in new products, a very high proportion for the car industry.

Cadillac BLS replacement under development

According to a recent report, the Cadillac ATS will be available as a sedan, wagon, coupe, and convertible.

While details are limited, a source has stated "We're finalising the four-door showcar of the ATS first. Then we'll follow quickly after with a wagon, a coupe and a convertible." The concept will likely be shown at a motorshow later this year.

Perhaps the most interesting detail is the report of an ATS convertible. It seems that Cadillac hasn't decided whether to use a conventional canvas roof or a folding metal unit. As the source said, Cadillac is "not too sure about the compromises of a folding hardtop."

Expected to be launched as a 2012 model, the ATS will replace the Saab-based BLS. It will rival the BMW 3 Series, Saab 9-3, Volvo S60, Mercedes C-Class and Audi A4/A5.

Friday 12 February 2010

Next generation Fiat Panda due in 2011

Fiat will launch a redesigned Panda in 2011, after CEO Sergio Marchionne lifted a 15 month spending freeze. Marchionne’s spending freeze ran from October 2008 to December 2009 and saw the delay of the new Panda, Alfa Romeo Giulietta and a replacement for the Lancia Ypsilon.

In a telephone conference with financial analysts, Marchionne said launching any major new models last year in the middle of the global financial downturn would have been a “waste”.

“That's the reason why I think we intelligently postponed a number of our programs to make sure that it coincided with what I consider to be a structural recovery in demand in 2011 and later years,” he said. Fiat’s investment in 2009 was 32% lower than 2008’s. In 2008, it stood at €4.97bn (£4.34bn) and will be €4.5bn (£3.93bn) this year.

The Alfa Romeo Giulietta will be launched in Geneva next month – a year later than originally planned. The Panda will be launched in 2011 – two years later than originally planned.

Although information on the forthcoming Panda is scares, it will underpin the current model – which has been on sale since 2003 and styling will be influenced by the current 500 city-car, which itself is based on the Panda.

Under the bonnet, we can expect a 65bhp naturally aspirated , 80bhp – 105bhp turbocharged, 0.9 litre two-cylinder MultiAir petrol engine to be used. On the diesel side, a 1.3 litre MultiJet engine producing 95bhp is expected to be lifted from the current 500. In addition to the regular car, the 4x4 model is in the pipeline, alongside a sportier Panda.

Marchionne has also revealed plans to extend Lancia’s European range by four models in 2011. Rebadged versions of Chrysler’s Sebring saloon and cabriolet, 300C and Voyager will all be added to the Lancia range.

Cadillac plans European return (EU)

Cadillac is planning to announce a new distribution arrangement for the UK and Europe before the Geneva motorshow. Cadillac is viewing ‘multiple proposals’ for the distribution arrangements, which are thought to include various different independent distributors and the possibility of Vauxhall/Opel taking over the responsibility itself.

"We’ve got multiple proposals along all those lines and we’ll make a decision soon. I’d like to be at Geneva with a solution,” said Cadillac general manager Bryan Nesbitt.

Cadillac needs a new distributor because its previous arrangement came to an end last year when its Dutch partner, Kroymans hit financial trouble. As a result sales are mothballed while Cadillac sorts out its future plans, but the company desperately needs new and solid distribution arrangements in Europe because a new range of cars with a more subtle design language are on their way.

These will more obviously target the three major executive car segments – in BMW terms, 3, 5 and 7 Series.

The 5.1m long XTS saloon concept shown at Detroit is the first sighting of this evolved design language which takes the heavily-creased Art and Science theme developed in the late 1990s. Although the XTS is sized around the Mercedes S-Class, it won’t necessarily be the flagship of Cadillac new range. Most immediately it will replace both the DTS and STS, but in pricing and positioning it still leaves room above for a super-luxury Cadillac saloon in the mould of the V16-powered Sixeen concept of a few years back.

“A real luxury flagship is still on our wishlist,” says Clay Dean, Cadillac design chief.

Wednesday 10 February 2010

Lexus LFA demand set to outstrip supply

Lexus expects demand for its new £343k LFA supercar to outstrip supply when order books open in Spring.

Just 500 units will be produced, with around one-fifth of these assigned to Europe. European sales are taking place at Lexus’ Park Lane showroom in London and the car’s dedicated salesman, Devshi Varshani believes the LFA has already cemented its place among the great supercars.

“The level of interest we have witnessed reinforces just what an exceptional car the LFA is,” he said. “Even though few people have even seen the car in the metal, let alone experienced its breathtaking performance, it has quickly achieved the status of a truly rare and highly sought-after machine.”

Prospective buyers can register their interest in the LFA up until the end of the Geneva motorshow. So far, more than 500 people have expressed an interest, ensuring Lexus will have to hand pick who it sells each individual model to. After this registration process, Lexus will decide how to allocate the 500 models to the 56 countries where it will be sold depending on how much interest there has been in each region.

In the U.S, the LFA will be leased to customers and not sold, in order to avoid second-hand prices over-inflating and to keep the cars exclusivity.
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