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The Art of the Sub-Brand: Eco-Friendly

The Art of the Sub-Brand: Eco-Friendly Eco sub-brands may be the new competitive battlefield By Randy Lioz, Editor, Car-ED.com | September 2018 When Toyota built the Prius into an entire sub-brand unto itself, it cast a green glow over the mothership. Now others are trying similar, yet distinctive, strategies in the alternative powertrain market. They range from creating different variants of a single model to planning the build-out of entire lineups. Here we'll take a look at what's out there right now and how things may develop in the future. Where did the trend start? 1st-generation Prius The Honda Insight may have beaten the Toyota Prius to the punch, as the first hybrid vehicle introduced in the United States, by seven months. But the Prius, particularly in its second incarnation, went on to become not just the most successful electrified vehicle in history, but one of the most successful single models of any type, selling over four million copies so far. Toyota realized the gold it had on its hands, not just as a financial success, but as a green halo for the entire brand. So it took the Prius nameplate and expanded it to a larger lineup, from the compact Prius c hatch to the Prius V tall wagon. It has since renamed its plug-in model the Prius Prime, seeking to further differentiate it from the plug-less hybrid, but still [...]

2018-09-12T17:00:17+00:00 Sep 2018|News, Research|

Plug-in Hybrid Electric Vehicles: What You Need To Know

Plug-in Hybrid Electric Vehicles: What You Need To Know By Randy Lioz, Editor, Car-ED.com | July 2018 2011 Chevy Volt, photo credit: GM General Motors introduced a radical new idea into the marketplace with the debut of the 2011 Chevrolet Volt. While some brands, like Nissan and Tesla, wanted to move forward with an all-electric future as quickly as possible, GM recognized that few consumers had full confidence that a pure EV would fit their lifestyles well. Electric vehicle range was still well below that of the typical gas car, and the charging infrastructure wasn't built out to support a fleet of electric cars, giving rise to the phenomenon termed "range anxiety." The solution for this was a car that would combine the advantages of both EVs and gas-powered cars: the plug-in hybrid. The idea behind the Volt was that it would act as a pure EV for the first 40 miles—GM's research had told them that nearly four out of five commuters had a round trip of under 40 miles—but then rely on a small gas engine, dubbed a "range extender," to allow the owner to keep driving even when there was no place to recharge. The final electric range turned out to be 38 miles, however. With the Volt's launch, GM created an entirely new sales category. The company had hoped to replicate the runaway success of the Toyota Prius, which [...]

2018-07-22T18:12:29+00:00 Jul 2018|News, Research|

The Art of the Sub-Brand: Performance

The Art of the Sub-Brand: Performance Performance sub-brands give buyers something special By Randy Lioz, Editor, Car-ED.com | July 2018 Carmakers love to produce "special" cars that appeal to an enthusiast audience. The market abounds with models that display a certain letter that indicates they're ready to take on some of the most high-performance machines out there, and come out a winner. Many of these vehicles have four doors, or even an SUV body, yet underneath lurks the equipment that can enable a super-fast lap time at one of the world's premier racetracks. Here we'll take a look at the history of this trend, and what's out there for enthusiasts in today's market. Where did the trend start? M535i, photo credit: BMW Most enthusiasts credit BMW with kicking off the trend with its Motorsport division, which was shortened to just M. While its origins were in racing, in the late-1970s M started developing cars for the road, the first being its famous M1 supercar. But the first car that really set the template for the models that abound today was the 1979 M535i, a pumped-up version of the first-generation 5 Series. The car pictured at right displays the M division's tri-color striping. E30 M3, photo credit: Rudolf Stricker From there BMW began tuning an increasing number of its models, with some particular versions achieving legendary status, like the M3 [...]

2018-07-14T01:30:24+00:00 Jul 2018|News, Research|

Brand Deep Dive: Alfa Romeo

Brand Deep Dive: Alfa Romeo Alfa's back, and they're ready to rumble By Randy Lioz, Editor, Car-ED.com | June 2018 The Alfa Romeo brand—say “Alfa Ro-MAY-o”—has over 100 years of history, with a strong heritage of racing and sports cars. It’s the marque that gave Enzo Ferrari his big break before he started his own company. Jeremy Clarkson, the prominent BBC and Amazon automotive TV host, said, “you can’t be a true petrolhead until you’ve owned an Alfa Romeo.” And its badge was affixed to the hood of the flashy red convertible that Dustin Hoffman drove in The Graduate, cementing its identity in the minds of American consumers. What does this brand stand for? Image credit: FCA Alfa Romeo has always been about sportiness. From nearly the beginning, ALFA, which stands for Anonima Lombarda Fabbrica Automobili, was involved in auto racing, which helped to set its course through history. For most of that time it hewed to the performance car standard of rear-wheel drive, though more recently the brand’s offerings had been built with the more cost-effective front-wheel drive layout, particularly for its small hatchbacks. These were never sold in the U.S., however. Alfa has been owned by Fiat since 1986, being positioned as a step up from that more affordable Italian brand. The company’s Maserati marque competes in the higher reaches of the luxury market, while Ferrari represents the ultimate [...]

2018-08-23T18:21:55+00:00 Jun 2018|News, Research|

Infotainment: Industry Roundup

Infotainment: Industry Roundup By Randy Lioz, Editor, Car-ED.com | May 2018 New cars these days are being filled with screens, from the central infotainment systems that sit atop the dash, to rear entertainment systems in family haulers. And screens that had previously been the domain of only luxury vehicles—like virtual instrument clusters and head-up displays (HUDs) that project an image within the driver’s sightlines—are now coming down to the less rarified air of mainstream vehicles. All of these screens are increasingly well-integrated so that they work together as a cohesive unit. With the growing number of ways we distract ourselves in our vehicles, car companies get a competitive advantage not only from creating systems that are a pleasure to interact with, but also from the ability to display information while minimizing diversion from the task of driving. The Motor Press Guild, a West Coast-based journalist group, recently gathered a host of cars together to give journalists and industry experts a chance to really fiddle around with their infotainment interfaces, and figure out how these systems really stack up. The day offered a nice mix of both mainstream and luxury systems, with a variety of features and unique selling propositions. Here’s a rundown of the infotainment systems we got to sample, and how they compare, including the following systems: Subaru STARLINK on the 2018 Crosstrek Mitsubishi Smartphone Link Thin Display Audio System on the 2018 Eclipse [...]

2018-05-30T19:23:38+00:00 May 2018|News, Research|

2019 Jaguar I-Pace

2019 Jaguar I-Pace A Worthy Adversary? By Randy Lioz, Editor, Car-ED.com | May 2018 The new Jaguar I-Pace kicks off a flurry of all-electric crossovers from luxury brands. It’s an exciting preview of things to come. What is this vehicle? With the prestige of the Tesla brand building so swiftly, and on the back of a single model, the luxury sector has taken notice. While the Model X crossover has not lived up to the high expectations, due to issues like cost and compromised utility, the consensus in the industry is still largely that whoever manages to create a vehicle that would combine a high-end battery-electric vehicle execution with SUV styling and space could be the first traditional brand to really break through in the electrified mobility race. And there are few brands more “traditional” than Jaguar. That’s not stopping them from putting forth a vehicle they believe will challenge Tesla for the EV crown, offering bold, sporty styling, an impeccable interior, and the type of range and performance that gets people excited about the EV experience. And because it’s been designed from the ground up as an electric vehicle, the I-Pace offers interior packaging that takes advantage of their inherent efficiencies, providing a bit more interior space and cargo room than similarly sized gas vehicles. Who is this vehicle for? The I-Pace is definitely aimed at the Tesla crowd, and other types [...]

2018-05-04T06:38:42+00:00 May 2018|Car Reviews, News|

JM Lexus – Women Leading the Luxury (Auto) Retailing Revolution

JM Lexus – Women Leading the Luxury (Auto) Retailing Revolution The Largest Lexus dealer in the country becomes a Lexus Plus dealer – to remain the best to customers and best for employees By Kevin Joostema, Partner, Car-ED.com / April 2018 Despite handling some of the largest luxury transactions any luxury customer may enter into, the luxury auto makers continue to sell and service vehicles like they have for generations.   While many other industries have seen tremendous innovations in luxury goods selling and  identifying ”experiences” for customers, particularly to attract the millennials to their brands, the luxury auto retailing giants remain a laggard. As new luxury brands come to exist and new challengers rise up once again, it is only through changing the customer experience that the brands can differentiate and create something new for buyers. Leadership by the JM Family Enterprises is across many fronts.   For one, they are leaders in recognizing that it all starts with the needs of customers and the workplace needs of employees – and how these two areas go hand-in-hand.  JM, as one of the largest private businesses in the US as well as one of Fortune’s Top 50 Best Places to Work, is obviously a leader on both fronts.  So customers should take note how JM is “running to the future” in luxury retailing. They have been the #1 Lexus dealer in the country in terms [...]

2018-05-03T00:27:07+00:00 Apr 2018|News|

Subaru Forester

Subaru Forester Staying a Successful Course By Randy Lioz, Editor, Car-ED.com | April 2018 Subaru unveiled its redesigned Forester at the New York International Auto Show recently. It's an important launch for a brand that seeks to continue its momentum in the hottest segment in the industry. What is this vehicle? The Forester is Subaru’s number-two selling nameplate, a compact crossover that is entering its fifth generation. Subaru is relying heavily on the Forester to keep its sales momentum going in the U.S. market, which have been growing for 10 years straight, so its redesign in the hottest segment is definitely something to watch. Subaru keeps the same formula, while making tweaks to size and specs to help its competitiveness against segment leaders like the Honda CR-V and Nissan Rogue, and especially the Toyota RAV4, which also debuted at the New York Auto Show. Who is this vehicle for? Compact SUVs are taking over as the default choice for families, and indeed for many different types of consumers. One of the biggest flows of consumers between segments involves midsize sedan drivers trading into compact utilities, which offer similar interior room and pricing, but with better cargo space, a higher view of traffic and available all-wheel drive. This segment may have one of the most diverse buyer groups out there, attracting everyone from young people with active lifestyles who want to load it up [...]

2018-04-19T16:20:47+00:00 Apr 2018|Car Reviews, News|

Battery Electric Vehicles: What You Need To Know

Battery Electric Vehicles: What You Need To Know By Randy Lioz, Editor, Car-ED.com | April 2018 Over the years we’ve been taught to evaluate vehicles based on a few well-known metrics. Horsepower and fuel economy are two of the most familiar, with drivers fantasizing about the day when they draw upon the 500 horses under the hood on the way to getting 50 miles per gallon. But it was always a tradeoff, and this combination seemed beyond the realm of possibility. With our move toward electrification, however, we’re being asked to look at vehicles differently. Indeed, Tesla will sell you a Model S with over 500 hp that gets the equivalent of around 100 mpg. But there are other trade-offs now asked of us, particularly when it comes to refueling. It’s not possible to jump out of a battery electric vehicle (the category of EVs that lacks a “range extender” internal combustion engine) and restore its full range in a matter of a few minutes. But of course there are some positives, too. You can’t have your gas tank refilled overnight while you sleep, and each mile of range for your internal combustion car comes at a much higher price. With these differences in mind, we’ll lay out what the most important metrics are for evaluating BEVs, and how each one now available in new-car dealers stacks up. Range: How far can I go [...]

2018-04-11T20:14:47+00:00 Apr 2018|News, Research|

Toyota RAV4 & Corolla Hatchback

Toyota RAV4 & Corolla Hatchback Cores of the Brand By Randy Lioz, Editor, Car-ED.com | April 2018 Toyota debuted the new RAV4 and Corolla Hatchback at the New York International Auto Show on Wednesday. As Toyota's best-selling vehicle, the RAV4 is a particularly important launch. What is this vehicle? The RAV4 is a compact crossover, which follows a pretty similar formula to the outgoing model. It does, however, add some new features and a new approach to its trim lineup. The RAV4 invented the compact crossover segment, but as Toyota pointed out in its press conference, it wasn’t until the 3rd-generation model—when the brand really nailed the size equation, following the lead of the Honda CR-V—that sales really took off. The 2006 RAV4, which grew by nearly 15 inches in length, also more than doubled the sales of the 2005 model. The length has stayed nearly identical since then, with this new fifth generation coming down just 0.2 inches from the third- and fourth-gen vehicles—Toyota bragged that the RAV4 keeps its compact dimensions, unlike some competitors that have grown a bit unwieldy. The vehicle is now slightly lower and wider, and with a stiffer structure it should provide improved handling. Who is this vehicle for? Realistically, the new RAV4 will have wide-ranging appeal. It was the best-selling vehicle in the U.S. in 2017, aside from the domestic pickups, which indicates how complete the [...]

2018-04-05T16:47:58+00:00 Apr 2018|Car Reviews, News|
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