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15 Sep 2014

Mahindra studying bringing Ssangyong to US

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A South Korean employee talks on his pho

After a valiant effort, Indian automaker Mahindra eventually had to give up its attempt to bring a small, cheap pickup truck to the United States, but it hasn’t completely given up. Korean automaker Ssangyong, which Mahindra controls, might have a confusing name, but it’s taking the first, tentative steps toward bringing its inexpensive SUVs across the Pacific.

Though an American launch is still years away from actually happening, Ssangyong and Mahindra are investigating whether the Korean automaker has a chance of succeeding in the US market. “Right now what we are doing is very early feasibility study of which products will make sense for the US, what will it take to make those products work, whether it will be financially viable to launch in the US,” said Pawan Goenka, president of Mahindra’s automotive business to Reuters.

Goenka didn’t specify to Reuters when this analysis might end, but he indicated once it was done, the move into the US would still need to be ratified by the company’s board. From there, it could be another two-and-a-half years or more to actually put an SUV on sale.

Mahindra had reportedly been considering the Ssangyong expansion as far back as 2012. Earlier this year, the Korean company began working with consultants to determine a more American-friendly name and determine which vehicles from its range might work best here. The two most likely candidates at the time were the Korando and SLV crossovers.

According to Reuters, Ssangyong has been investing into its products and expanding further into China, possibly even building a factory there. Still, Mahindra already learned from experience that launching in the US was no small task. Can it get things right the second time?

Mahindra studying bringing Ssangyong to US originally appeared on Autoblog on Sun, 14 Sep 2014 14:58:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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12 Sep 2014

Mini Cooper Hardtop 4-Door configurator is open for all

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Mini Cooper S Four Door Hardtop configurator

The Mini Cooper five-door hatchback, which the company insists on calling the Mini Hardtop 4 Door, doesn’t start arriving at US dealers until January 2015. However, if you dig the latest model’s styling but can’t live without the two extra doors, you can start speccing one right now in the recently launched configurator.

The new five-door hatch isn’t just the standard model with extra doors squished in. It rides on a 2.8-inch longer wheelbase and is 6.3-inches longer overall. That means more room for rear passengers and extra space to haul stuff in the boot. The engine options are shared though with a 1.5-liter turbocharged three-cylinder with 134 horsepower and 162 pound-feet of torque for the Cooper or a 2.0-liter turbo four-cylinder with 189 hp and 207 lb-ft in the Cooper S. Both are available with a six-speed manual or automatic.

Prices (including destination) for that extra space starts at $21,450 for the Cooper or $25,100 for the Cooper S, which is $1,000 more than the three-door in both cases. However, like any modern Mini, these guys are extremely customizable from the factory. There are an array of colors, 10 option packages and a ton of other add-ons to choose from.

We were pretty indiscriminate when checking the configurator out and didn’t have much problem getting a Cooper S to over $36,000 and could have gone further. If you want to see what your own would cost, check out the Cooper Hardtop 4 Door here and the Cooper S Hardtop 4 Door here.

Mini Cooper Hardtop 4-Door configurator is open for all originally appeared on Autoblog on Thu, 11 Sep 2014 11:30:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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11 Sep 2014

Scion FR-S Release Series 1.0 hits dealers with $29,990 MSRP

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Scion FR-S Release Series 1.0

If you’re familiar with Scion, you likely know all about the Release Series special editions, and back in April, the automaker showed us the first RS example of its FR-S coupe. At that time, we knew the price would come in somewhere “under $30,000,” and while that’s technically true, the final number is a whopping ten bucks below that $30k mark. Yep, the yellowest Scion can be yours for $29,990, not including $770 for destination.

Only 1,500 of the FR-S RS 1.0 coupes will be made, all fitted with TRD lowering springs, a quad exhaust system, TRD steering wheel, HID headlamps with LED running lights, a TRD shift knob, pushbutton start, black seats and, of course, that aero kit. The $29,990 price applies to cars that use the six-speed manual transmission. If you want the automatic, be prepared to shell out $31,090.

Scroll down for more details about the special Scion. And if the super-yellow coupe isn’t really lighting your fire, you can always opt for its Subaru sister, in a lovely shade of blue.

Continue reading Scion FR-S Release Series 1.0 hits dealers with $29,990 MSRP

Scion FR-S Release Series 1.0 hits dealers with $29,990 MSRP originally appeared on Autoblog on Wed, 10 Sep 2014 10:44:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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11 Sep 2014

Subaru ups US sales projections to 500k units

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2015 Subaru Outback

Subaru is going absolutely gangbusters so far in 2014, with growing year-over-year sales every month this year adding to the streak of 33 consecutive months. The prognosis is so positive that the Japanese brand is revising its 2014 forecast to 500,000 vehicles or more, from a previous estimated 460,000. If it reaches the goal, it would be the first time that the automaker hit the half-million mark here.

Subaru has been growing steadily in the US for a while now. Annual sales have increased for the past five consecutive years with 2014 not indicating for that to change. For August alone, the company moved 50,246 vehicles, up 22.37 percent year-over-year, and the business proclaimed it as the best month in its history.

According to Subaru, it believes that the growth for the last two years has been fueled by the latest Forester and XV Crosstrek last year and the new Legacy and Outback this year. “The market is telling us that we are delivering products that consumers want at the right prices,” said Thomas J. Doll, president and chief operating officer at Subaru of America. Scroll down to read the company’s full announcement.

Continue reading Subaru ups US sales projections to 500k units

Subaru ups US sales projections to 500k units originally appeared on Autoblog on Wed, 10 Sep 2014 15:45:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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11 Sep 2014

How Dodge dealers are earning the right to sell Hellcats

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2015 Dodge Challenger SRT Hellcat

We all hate the idea of the dreaded dealer markup when it comes to buying a highly anticipated new car. Take the 2015 Dodge Challenger SRT Hellcat, for example. You might spend hours reading about its supercharged V8 and speccing the model just right in the configurator, but when it finally comes down to laying down the cash, the dealer adds thousands of dollars as a “market adjustment” on the muscle machine of your dreams. As it turns out, when the Hellcat starts hitting showrooms in the third quarter, Dodge is trying to make sure that’s not the case.

Dealer orders for the much-hyped Hellcat recently started, but Dodge boss Tim Kuniskis has put some special caveats in place to ensure that the Hellcat makes it to the road quickly. The initial allocation is based on the number of Dodge products that a showroom has sold in the last 180 days, and a second allotment in December is based on the last 90 days of sales and 30-day turnover. “You sell a lot of Darts for me, Journeys for me, Durangos for me, I’m going to give you the rights to this one, too, because this is a halo of the brand,” said Kuniskis to Automotive News.

Furthermore, how quickly the Hellcat sells is also going to decide whether showrooms get more of them. “If you want to market-adjust the car, that’s your right. But if your days-on-lot goes above what the other guys that are selling them at MSRP is, they will end up earning the allocation because their days-on-lot will be lower,” he said to Automotive News. Obviously, this doesn’t prevent dealers from marking up the Challenger SRT, but the strategy certainly discourages it.

The strategy is about elevating the brand consciousness, according to Kuniskis. The Hellcat is probably the most salivated over Dodge product since the Viper. People are supposed to buy these muscle machines and show the off to their friends. That gives Dodge a boost in public perception and maybe gets a few more folks to buy one.

How Dodge dealers are earning the right to sell Hellcats originally appeared on Autoblog on Wed, 10 Sep 2014 17:44:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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09 Sep 2014

2015 Dodge Viper price drops $15k for 2015

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2015 Dodge Viper SRT

2015 Dodge ViperWe recently saw updated specs and new trims of the 2015 Viper, but it looks like the folks at Dodge were saving the biggest surprise for last. Prices on all levels of the American sports car are seeing an immediate, across-the-board price cut of $15,000; even 2014 models still remaining on dealer lots.

The new MSRP for the 2015 Viper in its base SRT trim now starts at $84,995, and when the TA and GTS come to the lineup later next year, they start at $100,995 and $107,995, respectively. The move seems like a swing for the fences that might help to quell slow sales.

Obviously, current Viper owners might be somewhat peeved that their investment was just re-priced by the company. However, to assuage some of their concerns, Dodge is giving all fifth-gen owners a certificate worth $15,000 towards the purchase of a new one, which comes in addition to the price reduction.

The latest price cut actually puts the 2015 on par with the original 1992 Viper when adjusting for inflation. Those first models carried a cost of $50,700 when new or about $86,130 today, according to Dodge.

The 2015 Viper is getting mechanical updates too with all models upgraded to 645 horsepower and a highway fuel economy rating of 20 miles per gallon, a 1-mpg improvement. There’s also the new GT trim with an adjustable suspension and five-mode stability control to split the difference between the SRT and GTS models.

Production of the 2015 models begins in the fourth quarter of 2014 at the Conner Avenue plant with deliveries beginning in the first quarter of 2015. The Viper is also going to be sold at some Dodge dealers now, rather than just SRT-branded locations. Scroll down for the full announcement.

Continue reading 2015 Dodge Viper price drops $15k for 2015

2015 Dodge Viper price drops $15k for 2015 originally appeared on Autoblog on Mon, 08 Sep 2014 09:35:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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09 Sep 2014

2015 Dodge Challenger configurator has all the Hellcat you can dream of

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The 2015 Dodge Challenger SRT Hellcat has sucked up a lot of air in the automotive news world this summer, so it’s good to know that you can actually go out and, you know, buy the sucker. With 2015 models headed for your local showroom, Dodge has seen fit to also pull the wraps off it’s latest Challenger configurator, complete with the supercharged Hemi V8 option that we just can’t seem to get enough of.

We’re still enamored of the $58,995 starting price for the 707-horsepower SRT, but the online tool finally gives us a chance to see just how optioned up our dream super-muscle coupe can get.

Buyers can choose from three interior treatments and nine paint colors, with two hues (Ivory White and Phantom Black tri-coats) coming for a $500 premium. For $1,795 Laguna Leather SRT bucket seats can be added in place of the (very nice) stock chairs, and a fancier infotaiment system with navigation and HD radio runs $695.

Functional options include replacing the standard six-speed manual transmission with the eight-ratio automatic for $1,995, or summer performance tires in place of all-seasons for $395.

When we included every cost-add option to our virtual build – including $1,195 for the power sunroof, $995 for the satin black aluminum hood, and $95 apiece for an engine block heater and red seatbelts ­- our fully loaded price was $68,350 with delivery and destination. Not bad.

Go build your own Hellcat, and tell us which options you wouldn’t live without, in Comments.

2015 Dodge Challenger configurator has all the Hellcat you can dream of originally appeared on Autoblog on Mon, 08 Sep 2014 16:00:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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05 Sep 2014

Car sales strong, but increased incentives are worrying

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Auto Sales

The auto industry in the US is doing great in 2014. According to our latest By The Numbers report, the Seasonally Adjusted Sales Rate climbed in August to about 17.5 million units, the highest figure since 2006. However, when you scratch underneath the positive surface, the rosy situation might not be as good as it seems. There continues to be a concern among insiders and analysts that while sales are strong now, they might not be sustainable. To keep financial results looking encouraging, some automakers might be going after buyers who can’t necessarily comfortably afford a new vehicle.

According to a report by The Detroit News, companies are throwing cash on the hoods of their vehicles to keep customers coming into dealers. As of July, the average incentive was $2,702, 5.5 percent higher than last year, and automakers are predicted to keep sweetening the pot even further in the coming years. However, analysts think that the huge growth in the industry is over and peak sales may be almost here in the next two or three years.

While the rising incentives are just one issue, the state of auto lending might be a problem, too. The average loan is now 66 months long, and according to The Detroit News citing data from LMC Automotive, 32 percent of them are now 72 months or longer, compared to 23 percent in 2008. Also, 26 percent of vehicles are leased these days, up from 18 percent in 2008.

In an effort to find more customers, there’s also more subprime lending, which now amounts to about $46.2 billion, an eight-year high, according to a recent study by Equifax. They also account for about 12 percent of all auto loans, according to The Detroit News.

“It could be a disaster later on,” said Morgan Stanley analyst Adam Jonas to The Detroit News. “We’re clearly robbing Peter to pay Paul.”

Some people in the industry are trying to fight back against these trends. Notably, American Honda Executive Vice President of Sales John Mendel recently shot back against the practices. The automaker won’t do “stupid things in the short-term that damage the person who bought yesterday,” he said.

Car sales strong, but increased incentives are worrying originally appeared on Autoblog on Fri, 05 Sep 2014 10:15:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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05 Sep 2014

Volvo XC90 First Edition sells out in 47 hours

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Volvo XC90

Two days ago, Volvo opened the order books on its completely new 2015 XC90 crossover, and just like that, all of the 1,927 First Edition models were reserved in a scant 47 hours. According to Volvo, most of the vehicles were reserved within one hour of the online ordering site launching, and at its peak, seven cars were being sold each minute.

First Edition models wear a unique Onyx Black exterior, and ride on eight-spoke, 21-inch wheels. Inside, amber nappa leather covers the seats, the dashboard is lined in charcoal leather, and there are walnut inlays throughout the cabin.

Under the hood, the XC90 First Edition can be had with either a four-cylinder Drive-E gasoline or diesel engine (if you live in markets outside the US, of course). The twin-charged T6 petrol model comes with 320 horsepower, and sends its power to the ground via all-wheel drive.

All First Edition vehicles will get unique numbered tread plates, as well as a special badge on the tailgate. 1,927 models were offered to represent the year in which Volvo was founded.

Read more in the automaker’s press blast, below.

Continue reading Volvo XC90 First Edition sells out in 47 hours

Volvo XC90 First Edition sells out in 47 hours originally appeared on Autoblog on Fri, 05 Sep 2014 10:56:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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03 Sep 2014

Volvo opens order books for XC90 First Edition

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Volvo XC90

The new Volvo XC90 breaks new ground in any number of ways. It’s based on a new modular platform, packs new engines, introduces a new design language and incorporates a whole slew of new safety systems. Even in its sales approach, it takes Volvo into new territory.

In what Volvo calls an industry first, the first 1,927 examples of the new XC90 will be sold online. Those First Edition models, whose production numbers honor the year of the company’s founding, will come fully equipped in T6 AWD guise with the twin-charged (but not hybrid) 316-horsepower engine, air suspension, Bowers & Wilkins audio system and 21-inch Inscription alloys, decked out in black with a tan Nappa leather interior, all for $65,900.

As you can see from the online store, ordering has officially begun. Get one while they’re hot.

Volvo opens order books for XC90 First Edition originally appeared on Autoblog on Wed, 03 Sep 2014 11:27:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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