Posts Tagged ‘mercedes’

Mercedes-Benz Helps Infiniti Q50 Expand Powertrain Options

Posted by Stephen On Friday, January 25th, 2013

Last week at the Detroit Auto Show we got a first peek at the brand-new Infiniti Q50. For those of you with a short memory, the incoming Q50 is the replacement for the outgoing Infiniti G37 – the premium Japanese manufacturer’s best-selling vehicle by a mile. However, according to the president of Infiniti worldwide, Johan De Nysschen, the luxury sedan is still missing from some very important market segments.

That’s where Mercedes-Benz comes in.

According to Mr. De Nysschen’s estimation, giving customers a choice between powertrains is an important factor that’s been missing from the brand’s previous luxury sedans. Apparently, this is one of the first things that he observed when he was hired by Infiniti in 2012. He admits that “We [Infiniti] simply lack a vehicle in those segments. We can’t compete with the world’s most powerful luxury auto companies on a part-time basis.”

Inifiniti

Over the course of the next two years Infiniti intends to expand beyond the Q50’s default six-cylinder 3.7L engine (which is actually inherited from the old G37) to offer a turbocharged four-cylinder 2.0L, along with a clean diesel engine exclusive to Europe.

Thanks to a technology partnership that was announced late in 2011 between Daimler and Nissan, both the turbocharged 2.0L four-cylinder engine and the clean diesel one will be borrowed directly from the newest Mercedes-Benz C-Class. This is an excellent deal for Nissan because the Mercedes-Benz C-Class is definitely one of the leaders in the premium sedan segment and a stellar example of good engineering; borrowing anything from such a successful vehicle can only be good news for Nissan’s luxury brand. And it works out perfectly, because while Mercedes-Benz is behind the engineering and design of the engine, Nissan’s own Tennessee-based factory is responsible for the actual manufacture.

As far as specifications, we don’t know very much yet and can only offer speculation. However, remember that the motivation behind offering a smaller engine is to give customers the ability to choose fuel economy without sacrificing performance. This means that even though the new engine will be smaller, the goal is to keep acceleration and fun-factor at a maximum. Rumor throughout the automotive press would have us believe that the 2013 Infiniti Q50’s future Benz-sourced 2.0L engine will run above 200hp but below 250hp.

For our State-side readers wondering about the clean diesel engine, don’t discount it just yet. De Nysschen knows the importance of offering customers a diesel engine, saying “you must have diesel available to be a serious member of the premium market.” Over the past six years diesel has become increasingly popular across Europe and Asia – for example, in India over 70% of the general population’s vehicles run on diesel, as opposed to only 20% 6 years ago. However, whether or not the trend will continue into America remains to be seen; De Nysschen says that Infiniti is “reflecting on the US market,” so a diesel offering isn’t totally out of the picture. It’s just not on the table right now.

Regardless, it is good to see Infiniti taking some initiative with their newest luxury sedan. We were all a little bit worried when Infiniti pointlessly changed their naming structure from “G” to “Q” – it felt more like a New Year’s resolution than a serious marketing move – but seeing De Nysschen’s market-awareness is a huge encouragement. Who knows, in a few years Infiniti could be the name that comes to mind when people think “luxury Japanese car” instead of Lexus, but we’re not jumping on the bandwagon just yet.

Source: Autoweek, Car and Driver


Supercar Pile Up in Yamaguchi, Japan Wrecks Ferraris, Lamborghini and Mercedes

Posted by Stephen On Tuesday, December 6th, 2011

Coming to an auto auction in Western Japan…. A bunch of wrecked Ferraris, with a smattering of crashed Mercedes and Lamborghini.

Driving with your supercar-owning buddies can be great fun – until someone makes a mistake with the resulting pile up taking out all your buddies’ cars, and then some.

The cars involved were all exceeding the 80 KM/H speed limit according to witnesses. One of the lead cars slipped on the wet road when changing lanes, plowing into the barrier before taking out following cars. A total of  14 cars were caught up in the accident, 8 of which were supercars – mainly Ferraris. I spotted an F430, a 356  and a Testarossa.

Check the video below to see if your favorite supercar was one of the unlucky winners.


Renault, Nissan and Daimler Join Forces to Develop EV for 2014

Posted by Stephen On Saturday, September 17th, 2011

Renault, Nissan and Daimler have announced their intention to bring a jointly-devloped EV (electric vehicle) to market by 2014. The new EV venture was announced by Renault and Nissan CEO Carlos Ghosn and Daimler chairman Dieter Zetsche at a joint news conference at the Frankfurt Motor Show.

Each partner is bringing something different to the project: Renault – Nissan will focus on engine technology, while Daimler’s focus will be the Lithium ion battery pack. Renault will base its version on the Twingo, whereas Daimler will be using the Smart model as its platform.

Daimler Renault-Nissan partnership to spawn EVs based on Smart and Twingo in 2014

This is one of the fruit of the strategic partnership that Renault – Nissan and Daimler inked back in April 2010, and which also includes development of small cars as well as shared engines.

Nissan CEO Ghosn also announced  a new small car to be based on Daimler underpinnings and to be launched in 2014 under its luxury Infiniti brand. Nissan predicts that the move to smaller luxury cars will continue and that by using Daimler’s platform, it will be able to achieve efficiency gains in the development process. It is thought that the basis of this new Infiniti model will be Damiler’s Mercedes B Class.

Source: Nikkei


Mercedes Launches New C Class – Prices from 3.99 to 7 Million Yen

Posted by Stephen On Tuesday, May 31st, 2011

Mercedes launched the new version of its compact sedan-based C Class in Japan on May 3oth. The new model boasts fuel efficiency gains of up to 31% over the out-going model, and Mercedes is looking to it to maintain its number 1 slot in the premium compact segment in the face of competition from BMW’s 3 series.

The interior, power train and safety equipment have all been improved with over 2,000 changes. Although this is what is usually called a “mid-life” upgrade rather than a complete model change, the scope of the changes over the previous model mean that this new C Class is somewhere between the two.

Mercedes Benz Japan launches new C Class 30 May 2011

The new body features a class-leading 0.26 cd aerodynamic efficiency that, when coupled with weight savings and other efficiency improvements results in the headline figure of up to 31% gains in fuel economy. As a result, all models in the C Class range are going to be eligible for “EcoCar” status under Japanese law, which will reduce the tax payable by purchasers. During the launch it was also announced that even the range-topping C63 AMG performance version will qualify for this EcoCar status – which either means that AMG is deploying some incredible technology to generate huge power with minimal environmental impact, or that Japan really needs to rethink the standards by which cars can qualify for this EcoCar status.

As I have already mentioned in my previous post today, when it comes to import cars, the Japanese love the German brands. I am expecting that the tax-saving benefits of the EcoCar badge are going to help Mercedes in driving C Class sales even further.

Source: Auto C-One (Japanese-language)


Japan’s Love Affair With German Imports Continues

Posted by Stephen On Wednesday, May 25th, 2011

Does anyone out there remember the trade negotiations every year between Japan and the US in the 80s and early 90s? It usually seemed to revolve around Japan opening its doors more to US car imports.

Well, here we are decades later, and looking at the sales of import cars in April 2011, no progress has been made: Ford is the highest-placed US maker, who sold a  massive …. wait for it … 186 cars in April. Not just 186 of one model – 186 Fords total.

On the other hand, the top of the import charts is absolutely dominated by German (and honorary German – Mini brands. VW leads the pack, with 2,970 cars sold, well ahead of BMW (2,260) and Mercedes (1,755). BMW’s Mini brand rounds out the top 4 with sales of 1,181 cars. That’s 8,166 new vehicle sales between these top 4 brands, which accounts then for 66% of the import car market.

Now that is what I call market dominance.

Despite the crash in Japan’s domestic makers’ new car sales in April, sales of import cars have risen 21.6% over the previous year. But before you get too excited about Japan’ auto market finally opening up to foreign cars, let’s put this in perspective: Even with sales down 43.7% in April, Japan’s car makers still far outsold their foreign rivals at home. The whole import car sales total for April is more than swallowed up by the April sales of Honda’s Fit and Toyota’s Prius – respectively the number 1 and number 2 best-selling cars in Japan during April.

Source: JAIA (Japanese-language)


Japanese Car Auction Finds: Mercedes G-Class (G Wagen) G500L

Posted by Stephen On Wednesday, May 25th, 2011

The G Class is one of those cars that you though had already passed on, but then it turns out that it is still around – and not only still around, but it has actually been reintroduced to a number of markets (UK, South Africa etc) recently. Which makes it rather ironic that Mercedes is actually phasing it out this time.

From the exterior you can see that it comes from a similar generation to the first generation Range Rover. But while Range Rover has moved on through a couple of styling upgrades since then, the G Wagen has stubbornly stuck with the old, clunky look.

Despite this, and despite competition from Mercedes own off road alternatives, the G Class has survived all these years. And the big M does not intend to let the G Wagen sail off quietly into the sunset. No, apparently, the power-mad boffins at AMG are cooking up a 600 horsepower version. So, even if you had thought the G Wagen had gone out to pasture a long time ago, the AMG version will quickly disabuse you of that misconception.

This one in the car auctions in Japan is a very clean G500L from 2005 with just over 11,000 KM on the odometer. The exceptionally low mileage is going to push the price up – possibly over 7 million Yen when this is auctioned on Thursday.

Mercedes G Class (G Wagen) G500L in Japan's car auctions - front

Mercedes G Class (G Wagen) G500L in Japan's car auctions - rear


Japan Car Auction Finds: Mercedes Benz SLS AMG

Posted by Stephen On Friday, April 22nd, 2011

The SLS was the first car to be designed in-house by AMG. In terms of model progression, it follows on from the more expensive McLaren Mercedes SLR although it comes very close to it in performance terms at a much lower price point. 100 km/h comes up in just 3.8 seconds and the SLS can go on to hit 197 mph.

I suspect that this is one of those cars that looks much better in the metal than it does in photos. Personally, although I can see the references to the historic 300SL gullwing, the modern spin on the design comes uncomfortably close to the Nissan GT-R as far as I can see. The GT-R may be a great performer, but its looks are an acquired taste, and when you are going head-to-head with the likes of the Aston Martin DBS, or the Ferrari 458 Italia, how the car looks is an important factor.

In that sense, one of the stand-out features of the design are the gullwing doors. Unlike Lamborghini-style scissor doors that pivot on the front, gullwing doors are hinged at the roofline – hence the “winged” appearance when both driver and passenger doors are open.

This particular car is a 2010 model that has been imported into Japan but never registered.  It has just 315km on the odometer, but there are some very slight scratches and scrapes at the right front area, which is probably why is it classified as a grade 5, rather than the grade 6 or higher that you would usually expect of a car of this low mileage. That said, I would be surprised if it sold for a lot less than the current list price of 24.9 million Yen, which is $303,500 USD at today’s rates. Even the bidding start price of 19,8 million Yen would buy you a nice house in most countries.

2010 Mercedes AMG SLS in Japanese car auction (grade 5)