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13 Oct 2014

Maserati rapidly expanding dealer network

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Maserati showroom

With the new Quattroporte and Ghibli sedans out on the market, and the new Levante crossover and Alfieri coupe on their way, Maserati is making serious headway towards revitalizing its lineup. Now all it needs in order to reach its ambitious sales targets is to expand the network of dealers where they’re to be sold. And according to Maserati chief Harald Wester in speaking to Automotive News at the Paris Motor Show, that’s exactly what it has in store.

At the end of last year, Maserati had 79 dealerships across the United States. It has already boosted that number to 100 so far this year, but before 2014 is over, it plans to open another 20 to bring the total up to (carry the two, divide by the square-root of Pi)… 120 showrooms.

Globally speaking, Maserati reportedly closed 2012 with around 220-230 dealers around the world, and currently has about 355, but aims to close 2015 with a worldwide network of 450 dealers, representing a doubling of its network in two years’ time. Having more than a quarter of those in the US alone is testament to how seriously Maserati takes the American market.

With its vehicle lineup and dealer network both expanding, Maserati is getting on track to reach lofty sales targets. Last year it sold 15,400 units around the world, this year it aims to sell more than twice that at 35,000, next year it hopes to reach 50,000 and by 2018 it’s targeting its ultimate goal of 75,000 units.

That would put it right on pace with Jaguar, which reported less than 77,000 vehicles sold last year. By comparison, Porsche sold far more at over 162,000 units last year, of which over 40,000 were in the US alone. However higher-end marques Bentley and Aston Martin sold just over 10,000 and 4,200 units respectively in 2013.

Maserati rapidly expanding dealer network originally appeared on Autoblog on Mon, 13 Oct 2014 08:00:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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12 Oct 2014

Refreshed 2015 Subaru Impreza priced from $18,195*

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2015 Subaru Impreza

It was just a few weeks ago that Subaru unveiled its refreshed 2015 Impreza with refinements like a tweaked front fascia, upgraded infotainment system, standard rearview camera, slightly better fuel economy and other goodies. The Japanese automaker has finally decided to tell us what all of this new kit costs, and it actually hasn’t increased too much over last year.

A base model 2015 Impreza 2.0i sets back buyers $18,195 for the four-door sedan or $18,695 for the five-door hatch (*not including $795 destination and delivery on all models). All of those prices are $300 more than the 2014 model year.

Moving up to the Premium trim requires $20,995 for the sedan or $21,495 for the five-door and adds 16-inch wheels, heated seats, heated mirrors and a windshield wiper de-icer. The Sport Premium pack, offered exclusively on the hatch, goes further with features like body-color side sills, 17-inch wheels, foglights, and more for $20,995 with the five-speed manual or $21,995 with the CVT.

Finally, the top-tier Limited trim on either the sedan or five-door and the Sport Limited on the hatch are priced at $22,295, $22,795 and $23,295, respectively. They get luxuries like leather seats, a seven-inch infotainment system, LCD display in the gauge cluster and extra chrome trim.

The Limited trims are also the only place where Subaru’s EyeSight system is an option. Ticking the box adds adaptive cruise control, pre-collision braking and lane departure warning, and it comes packaged with navigation, a moonroof, keyless start and fog lights that respond to steering for $2,795.

Power across the lineup is still provided by Subaru’s 2.0-liter boxer four-cylinder with 148 horsepower and a choice of either a five-speed manual or CVT, which is standard on the Premium and Limited trims. The 2015 Impreza starts hitting dealers in November, and you can scroll down to read the full pricing announcement.

Continue reading Refreshed 2015 Subaru Impreza priced from $18,195*

Refreshed 2015 Subaru Impreza priced from $18,195* originally appeared on Autoblog on Fri, 10 Oct 2014 10:00:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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12 Oct 2014

Kia’s brand perception still painfully lags behind reality

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Kia K900

I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been driving with friends or family in a decidedly nice Korean press car, only to have a passenger notice the logo on the steering wheel and exclaim, “Wait… this is a Kia?” For every time I roll my eyes at a story with a lede about how Hyundai “is really gaining momentum these days,” I get equally annoyed when people comment on how Kia is finally starting to make decent cars. This is hardly news. The brand has been pumping out really solid stuff for a while now.

But as it turns out, not everyone knows that. According to Ward’s Auto, speaking to Kia marketing chief Michael Sprague, the automaker recently placed third-to-last in a recent ALG Brand Perception of Quality study, only besting Suzuki and Smart. Wow.

Ward’s notes that Kia recently earned a credible sixth place in J.D. Power & Associates’ Initial Quality Study, and yet still fell way behind pretty much every other brand in the ALG study. The Korean automaker’s cars have also won numerous awards in recent years, and have generally earned positive reviews from the media, Autoblog included.

So, what is Kia doing to change this? “It’s doing ride-and-drives at the auto shows, it’s showing up at food-and-wine events with vehicles like the K900,” Sprague told Ward’s. He also cited the company’s growing presence in motorsports, and its major advertising push in recent years as part of its effort to improve its reputation.

After 20 years in the US, you’d think Kia’s perception would certainly be higher, but Sprague’s Kia indeed has a long road ahead. “When I came into the position six years ago, in my head I thought it was going to be about a five-year period of time to change (Americans’ perception of us),” he told Ward’s. “And it has changed. But I’d like it to go faster. I haven’t gotten everybody yet.”

Kia’s brand perception still painfully lags behind reality originally appeared on Autoblog on Sat, 11 Oct 2014 14:58:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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10 Oct 2014

What you missed on 10.9.14

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uturn

This or That 442 vs. BMW 635CSiWhich $10,000 ’80s coupe would you choose?

In the end, there can be only one. And, while we’ve got another six days left in the balloting, one of these two vehicles is leading in the early running by about two to one. You can probably guess which it is. And that means, if you’ve got an opinion, feel free to cast a vote in favor of the 1980 Oldsmobile 442 or 1989 BMW 635CSi and help us crown a winner in our second-ever This or That vehicular showdown.

Mid-engine Porsche models at Laguna SecaMid-engine Porsche models at Laguna Seca

Porsche may be best known for the 911 – and rightly so, we may add – but the German automaker certainly knows a thing or two about moving the engine from the very back to the middle, where it’s most beneficial for the type of driving an enthusiast is likely to do. To wit, take a look at this feature, where we dissect mid-engine Porsche models from the 550 all the way to the current, mind-bending 918.

Bugatti Veyron penis vandalismPenile pranksters punk a Bugatti Veyron

They say a picture is worth a thousand words. In the case of the Bugatti Veyron you see to the right, much fewer are needed. In fact, you really need only one: penis. But that’s no fun. We had at least three alternative headlines written and discarded for this unfortunate image, and there are surely some inventive wordsmiths just itching for a caption contest…

Top Stories

What you missed on 10.9.14 originally appeared on Autoblog on Thu, 09 Oct 2014 19:31:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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09 Oct 2014

Billions of dollars at stake as dealers, Feds face off over auto loan regulations

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Car Dealerships Ahead Of Total Vehicle Sales Figures

“Dealers have to discount those rates to be competitive. The current system saves customers money. Period.” – Forrest McConnell

Auto dealers and the federal government are facing off over proposed rules to regulate auto financing, and this week the head of the nation’s largest dealer lobby came out strongly against plans to tighten lending practices and extend federal oversight.

“The government is trying to take away the consumer’s right to get a discount,” said Forrest McConnell, chairman of the National Automobile Dealers Association. Speaking at an Automotive Press Association event in Detroit, McConnell said dealers need the ability to “discount” interest rates for auto loans.

“Dealers have to discount those rates to be competitive,” he said. “The current system saves customers money. Period.”

The government disagrees.

The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau wants to extend its ability to regulate auto financing and argues a move to a flat fee system for auto loans – rather than discretionary interest rates – would benefit consumers and allow for more transparency in the process.

Continue reading Billions of dollars at stake as dealers, Feds face off over auto loan regulations

Billions of dollars at stake as dealers, Feds face off over auto loan regulations originally appeared on Autoblog on Wed, 08 Oct 2014 16:27:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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09 Oct 2014

MI man bonds with late father by buying his old Corvette

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Bachman father and son with '73 Corvette

A few years back, I was catching up with my childhood friend Adam, who told me he had stumbled upon his late father’s tow truck in the used-car listings. When I asked him if he’d buy it, he shrugged, “What for?” Maybe if it was a Corvette instead of a tow truck, he’d have felt differently.

One Scott Bachman of southern Michigan did. Cherishing childhood memories of his late father’s orange ’73 Stingray convertible, Scott began searching for the car recently, and when he found it, he bought it. Memories came rushing back: “It wasn’t until I got into the seat and put my hand on the steering wheel,” Bachman told Fox 2 News, “that I felt like I really connected with him again.”

Watch the local news report on the automotive family reunion and let us know what you think in the Comments.

Continue reading MI man bonds with late father by buying his old Corvette

MI man bonds with late father by buying his old Corvette originally appeared on Autoblog on Wed, 08 Oct 2014 16:58:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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08 Oct 2014

Is Lincoln MKC cutting into Cadillac SRX sales?

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Lincoln MKC

Cadillac SRXThe two big American luxury brands of Cadillac and Lincoln are on surprisingly similar paths at the moment with both divisions hoping to redefine themselves and grow popularity. They’re still early in the process with no clear winner yet, but things might actually be looking up for Lincoln’s latest model, according to a monthly sales analysis from The Motley Fool. It seems, at least early on, that the new MKC crossover might be taking a bite out of the Cadillac SRX’s growth.

The MKC launched just a few months ago and has been getting a big marketing push from a series of oft-mocked ads starring the smooth-talking Matthew McConaughey. The luxury CUV has been the popular, new kid on the block with growing sales since its introduction. While smaller than the SRX, the Lincoln starts at a lower price and offers better fuel economy.

Through June, the SRX performed well with sales up over 20 percent on average through June, according to The Motley Fool. However, July and August saw things plummet with year-over-year drops of 7 percent and 37 percent, respectively. It still far outsold the MKC in terms of actual units in a given month, but the Caddy’s continued growth has appeared to stagnate.

The results for the SRX have seemed to echo recent struggles for the whole brand. According to The Motley Fool, Caddy trounced Lincoln last year with sales up 22 percent to the Blue Oval’s brand drop of 0.6 percent. However, that has reversed through August of this year with Lincoln up 13.4 percent, compared to a drop of 4.7 percent from Cadillac.

The popularity of small crossovers has been huge, as of late, and the MKC might have been at the right place at the right time. However, Cadillac has said it has more CUVs on the way. Only a few months of data might not be enough to tell the whole tale of the final winner, but it’s an exciting battle to watch.

Is Lincoln MKC cutting into Cadillac SRX sales? originally appeared on Autoblog on Tue, 07 Oct 2014 15:44:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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07 Oct 2014

Price cut boosts Dodge Viper sales dramatically

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2015 Dodge Viper

It may go without saying that slashing the price on a new car – especially one this enticing – would only serve to boost sales. But in case you needed hard evidence, look no further than the Dodge Viper.

Last month Chrysler announced it was chopping a solid $15k off the price of a new Viper, dropping the MSRP of a base model to under $85k, the Viper TA to just over $100k and the top-of-the-line GTS to under $108k. The result has been more than a doubling in sales: According to Yahoo! Autos, Dodge sold 108 Vipers last month, which emerged as the best results the model has racked up in its current iteration. This compared to only 38 units sold in August, 48 in July and 36 in June – or, for year-to-year comparison, just 45 units in September 2013.

The sales initiative – which also saw recent buyers compensated with a $15k voucher towards the purchase of a new Viper – came in response to lagging sales. Back in March, with sales plummeting and stock piling up, Chrysler idled the Conner Avenue plant that builds the Viper. It then extended the shut-down in July for another few weeks. But with production back online, prices adjusted and sales picking up, hopefully we’ll have seen the last hiccup in the life of one of America’s finest performance machines – especially with the MY2015 enhancements in store.

Price cut boosts Dodge Viper sales dramatically originally appeared on Autoblog on Mon, 06 Oct 2014 10:15:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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06 Oct 2014

Average Bugatti owner has 84 cars, 3 jets, 1 yacht

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Bugatti Veyron 16.4 Grand Sport

Between Audi, Porsche, Lamborghini, Bentley and Bugatti, the Volkswagen Group has no lack of prestige marques under its umbrella. And while some of these marques may produce models that compete against each other, each seems to be profitable enough in its own right to justify its existence. But what about Bentley and Bugatti? Surely these marques cater to the same customers, right?

Not according to their shared CEO. “The clientele between Bentley and Bugatti is remarkably different,” said Wolfgang Dürheimer in an interview with Bloomberg. “The Bentley customer on average owns 8 cars. The average Bugatti customer has about 84 cars, 3 jets and 1 yacht.”

That may be a slight exaggeration (we’d have expected three yachts and one jet), but it puts things into perspective: Bentleys are for the one percent. Bugattis are for the one percent of that one percent. Which only goes to show why it’s taken Bugatti over eight years to sell 450 Veyrons – a number of units it would take Bentley about two weeks to move, albeit at about one tenth the price.

With only about 20 units left to go, the Veyron is about to roar off into the sunset, after which Bugatti will introduce its replacement sometime late next year or early in 2016. The Alsatian marque is reportedly working on three different versions, and the final design – thanks in no small part to a hybrid assist – is expected too pack some 25 percent more power than the 8.0-liter quad-turbo W16 in the current Veyron, which produces 987 horsepower in standard form and 1,184 hp in the Super Sport and Vitesse models.

Average Bugatti owner has 84 cars, 3 jets, 1 yacht originally appeared on Autoblog on Sun, 05 Oct 2014 19:07:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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03 Oct 2014

Warren Buffet buys largest private US car dealership chain [w/video]

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Buffet buys Van Tuyl Group

When Warren Buffet makes an investment, people pay attention. That’s just one of the perks of being one of the richest men in the world, and his latest move is a big one. Buffet’s Berkshire Hathaway investment company is to hopping into the auto business in a huge way by buying Van Tuyl Group, the nation’s largest privately owned auto dealer network, for an undisclosed sum.

Van Tuyl Group is the fifth-largest dealer network overall in the US and operates 78 stores in 10 states. According to the release from Berkshire Hathaway announcing the purchase, Van Tuyl has over $8 billion in revenue. However, because the company is private, the actual price of this investment is not being disclosed. Under the arrangement, Van Tuyl Group will become Berkshire Hathaway Automotive with its headquarters in Dallas, and Larry Van Tuyl will become its chairman.

While this investment would be big enough on its own, Buffet isn’t stopping with just Van Tuyl’s network. He tells CNBC that he expects to buy even more dealers. He even reiterates the point in the press release for the announcement saying, “This is just the beginning for Berkshire Hathaway Automotive.”

The deal still has to be approved by automakers and regulators, but Berkshire Hathaway expects everything to be completed in the first quarter of 2015. Scroll down to watch Buffet’s interview on CNBC and read the press release announcing the deal.

Continue reading Warren Buffet buys largest private US car dealership chain [w/video]

Warren Buffet buys largest private US car dealership chain [w/video] originally appeared on Autoblog on Fri, 03 Oct 2014 07:30:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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